Setting the Stage
For this beta phase I thought I'd do something I never do and level a physical damage dealer - the pugilist. A brief cut scene served as an introduction to the personae of the area nearby - beasts, intrigue, and power. I never really got into the game originally but it seems like the towns changed their layout quite a bit. I started in Ul'dah (which looks to be tied to most of the physical damage dealers at the moment). Upon entering the town, I was greeted by the tutorial NPC, a swaggering dude who called himself Wymond.
Wymond sent me around the city. I met Momodi, the woman who would be the director of my tutorial missions. She sent me off to the market area of Ul'dah, the Pugilists guild where I met one of the most hilarious mission NPCs in the game - Hamon. Hamon was an amazing fighter at some point or another but lost his ability to fight. Still, he talks a good game and manages to fool everyone except for one student who sees him lose to a squirrel.
Anyway, by the time I had been introduced to the market, the guilds, the layout of the city, and had a chance to meet some of the key players in the central narrative, I had gained 3 levels and it was time to go out and punch bees. So, I went outside and began to work my way through the introductory melee quests. I had to punch 5 bees, punch 5 squirrels, punch 5 of this and 5 of that. It was pretty standard fare. What wasn't standard fare was that I could help anyone punch their bees and I received experience points and quest drops. The most impressive thing was that respawn timers were set to about 10 seconds or less. Yes, even at launch you will never have a shortage of things to punch, set on fire, or stab.
The tutorial missions were the most forgiving and "fun" tutorial missions that I've experienced. Without having to compete or even wait for mobs to spawn, I blazed through the missions and got up to around level 7 or 8 within the first couple hours of play. By the time I had caught up with quests and the quest hubs, I set out to check out the FATEs in the area.