Stand By Me: Love & Vulnerability in ‘Final Fantasy XV’

Final Fantasy XV centers around love between men. If you’ve played the game, this is not a contentious statement.

It’s been almost a year since the release of the latest installment in the Final Fantasy franchise, and after playing it, I would argue it’s one of the most emotionally nuanced stories in the series’ history. The game follows Noctis Lucis Caelum, a prince of the kingdom of Lucis, as he undertakes a road trip with his closest friends. His goal to wed his fiancée, Oracle Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, is dashed when the expansionist empire of Niflheim invades the capital city of Lucis. Noctis’ journey refocuses on harnessing the power of Lucis’ old rulers to free the land of Niflheim’s corrupting influence.

FFXV continues the series’ legacy of exploring themes of vulnerability, loss, and intimate relationships among its title characters. While there are women in the game, they feature less prominently than the “chocobros,” and struggle with their own host of problematic representation.

Oracle Lunafreya, Noctis’ promised, takes the role of white mage and, while self-sacrificing, is effective at rallying the gods to save the world until she ends up conveniently dead halfway through the story. Iris Amicitia, sister of the burly Gladiolus, is a cutesy tagalong, but it’s only mentioned in passing that she grows up to be a famous monster hunter.

Aranea Highwind is the sarcastic, jaded mercenary and powerful warrior (that boob armor tho) while celestial servant Gentiana is an enigmatic, helpful spirit, but also a giant, dead, half-naked goddess who’s not actually dead. Pure Final Fantasy. There’s also the expert mechanic yet highly sexualized Cindy Sophiar (don’t even get me started). Characters often comment about how she’s married to her work, which is a slight improvement.

The main focus of FFXV is — for better or worse — on the relationships between Noctis and his three friends; the beefy bodyguard Gladiolus Amicitia, his tactical advisor and perennial mother Ignis Scientia, and his best friend and gun-toting precious little cinnamon bun Prompto Argentum.

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‘Final Fantasy XV’ Sends an Important Message About Toxic Masculinity

Final Fantasy XV

Last Wednesday’s Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV event revealed that Final Fantasy XV will finally come out later this year — ten years after being originally announced back in 2006. It is a game that is well-known both among fans and non-fans of the series due to its unique development history. There are a variety of reasons as to why so many people are anticipating the upcoming installment of one of the most beloved series of all time, and some Western fans are hoping that it will bring the JRPG genre back to the forefront after being in decline for the past few years.

In many ways, Final Fantasy XV could set a precedent for its genre — but what about beyond that? What about its messages and social values? Games are an art to be critiqued not only on their mechanics and visual presentation, but also in what they represent and say. Hajime Tabata, the game’s director, has made it clear that the game is being made with an international audience in mind, which is why they are incorporating influences from different cultures into various locations and aspects of the game.

So what will Final Fantasy XV—with such a massive amount of attention focused on its release — have to say to such a wide audience? The thing is, we do not necessarily have to wait until September 30, 2016 to find out, because it seems to already be saying something — something important about masculinity.

Continue reading “‘Final Fantasy XV’ Sends an Important Message About Toxic Masculinity”

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