Ok, so the first step is just getting the game installed. I will say this once: if you've played before, DO NOT INSTALL FROM YOUR DISKS. PlayOnline still exists, and it's still hideous, and you'll have a 14 hour patch process if you do.
Instead, grab the files from here and install from these. FFXI Windows Installer. This is an installer of a version of the game from a couple of years ago, and will cut your patch time down to about an hour.
2) Account Setup
Not going to cover this one in detail as there are a bunch of articles about. But in short, the game now runs through your SquareEnix account rather than just PlayOnline. If you want to save an old character, you'll have to link the accounts. If not, you just sign up. Either way, you need to do this here: Square Enix Account Management System
3) Install Windower
If you've played the game before, you'll remember Windower. If you've not, it's a way to launch the game that lets you alt tab. But it's also now a lot more than that - they've built a load of plugins and addons into it (which are configurable and install directly through the client), so is the basis for how you'll customise the game.
For now, just install it from here: FFXI Windower
Documentation for all its addons and plugins are here: Addon Documentation and Plugin Documentation
There's too many to go over individually here, but I'll list the ones I use as a basis:
- CONFIG Plugin - This is essential, it lets you adjust stuff like Drawdistance and apply the HD graphics mod.
- BARFILLER Addon - Displays an EXP bar that you can move around the screen (basically like FFXIV and most other MMOs have)
- FFXIDB Plugin - Displays a minimap (really useful)
- ENEMYBAR Addon - Displays an enemy health bar, can be useful for NMs
- GILTRACKER Plugin - Displays the amount of gil you have, so you don't have to search through menus
4) HD Graphics Mod
So the games graphics are dated. But there's a handy dandy mod out there that basically replaces all the textures in the game with HD versions.
You can find it here: FFXI HD Texture Pack
It comes in two versions. I'm using the basic version, because I eventually intend to be in busy areas, but the Prime version is also there if you want even better. Follow the instructions on the site to install. Bear in mind that you will need to install XIPivot as a prerequisite, using the latest stable release for Windower.
5) Install Remapster
In the base install, ingame maps are tiny little JPGs stretched to hell when you use them, with no discernible useful markings on them. Enter Remapster, a project to redraw them all in beautiful HD and add useful information onto them so you don't need to constantly be referring to a wiki.
Grab the map packs from the Remapster website and follow the instructions there. I'd recommend you use the larger version for higher detail, but that's up to you. Beat in mind you'll need to have XIPivot (mentioned above) installed to do this.
6) Boost Your Drawdistance
By default the game runs a measly drawdistance that has everything vanish in fog. Fortunately, we can change this and make everything pretty.
Load the game, and when you hit the main menu press INS, then type "config drawdistance 7" (you need to be using the CONFIG plugin mentioned above to do this). You can replace 7 with any number between 1 and 10. 1 is the default. I've settled on 7, but go with what works for you.
7) Install XIView
I've been struggling in the last couple of weeks with the game making my eyes very tired. I think I've narrowed this down to UI size (which you can control through Windower) and the fact that the fonts and icons etc are so low res.
Step in XIView. I've just installed that and spent a bit of time configuring it, and things seem much better at an initial glance. Worth doing, I would say.
That's it for now. You should be good to go with the above done! I'll update with any more tweaks etc as I implement them though