The first Final Fantasy XIV fan festival this year seem to have been an exercise in subverting player expectations, albeit with subtlety. Six prior festivals have trained us to all keep a close watch on Yoshida’s shirts, to the point that before the event I even made a joke about using the man’s shirt to predict our next job. And sure enough, his shirt did predict something… but it was the new race, not the new job. My notebook for the event even noted the iconography before the “reveal” without making the connection.
First and foremost, I want to note for posterity that calling the new race “Viera” is being done in the same race that I’d call a new race of tall long-necked elf-looking people either Elezen or Elvaan in lieu of a proper name. I fully expect that they’ll have a different name on release, but the stylings are meant to evoke memories of Viera, and so that’s what we go with for a name. Let’s move on.
Viera have to answer a question that Au Ra had to answer as well: why have we never seen these people before? And the answer is honestly probably going to be easy to understand, just like it was with the Au Ra. We’ve never met them before because we’ve just never gone to where all of them live. Of course, we still weren’t visiting the home of the Au Ra in Heavensward, but I’d like to think or hope that lessons have been learned subsequently.
To a certain extent, this argues against us going into Garlemald proper. Because lest you forget, we’ve seen lots of people from Garlemald… and they’re exclusively Hyur or Garlean.
Obviously, this doesn’t mean that Viera don’t occupy part of the Empire, but it does mean that they’re not at the core of the nation. We know how unusual it was that Gaius had a Roegadyn as one of his immediate lieutenants, for example; the story makes sure to point out that this is something not done within the Empire. So in all likelihood if Viera are within the Empire, they probably occupy the same southern region as Ivalice… which does match up nicely with out-of-game lore and with the prospect of seeing Fran at the end of that raid.
But it also argues in favor of the race naturally originating from somewhere further south. I’m not saying that rabbits are Thavnairian, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they’re from that region, or even from down in Meracydia. That’s just this side of completely plausible, especially as their racial flavor from Final Fantasy XII has been somewhat absorbed by other parts of the game’s mythos by now.
My penchant for Meracydia here is that it gives an even stronger reason for not having seen them before. Going to or from a continent where no one enters and no one leaves is going to mean a lot of people just don’t know about the race, and suddenly opening up a connection to that continent explains the sudden influx as a playable race. But that’s all purely into the speculative territory, and due to the current dearth of useful information you can speculate about pretty much anything.
So let’s similarly speculate about designs. Because we haven’t yet seen what Viera will look like, but I think there’s a hint to be found in the tease of Balthier’s gear for the next raid.
While Yoshida specified we wouldn’t see Balthier himself, he also noted that we would see someone familiar who would tease the new race, which most people – myself included – took as tacit confirmation that we’d be seeing Fran for the Return to Ivalice conclusion. Fran, of course, teases the new race while also serving as another bit of connecting tissue to the cast of FFXII and Final Fantasy Tactics. And we know what she looks like.
It is possible you do not personally know what Fran looks like, but the only people who are going to care about Fran being present in the game are people familiar with her appearance. A tall bunny girl with permanent heels and a rabbit nose tends to stick out in the mind. And it means that the Viera ladies are more likely than not going to be similarly tall and lanky.
This isn’t necessarily a hard-and-fast rule, but if Fran shows up looking like a five-foot-tall Au Ra girl with a soft middle and bunny ears, while it’d be fiercely cute, it wouldn’t look anything like Fran. At that point you might as well have her be named something else entirely, because there’s no connection to the past. And if Fran shows up looking like Fran, but then it turns out she’s built looking nothing like Viera will actually look… well, same problem.
Yes, I know, Yugiri’s model was based off of a Miqo’te for her first appearances. It still wasn’t a major change.
One of the more popular ideas I’ve seen put forth is that Viera will have the same sort of dimorphism as Au Ra, but reversed; then women are large and powerful, the men are short and softer. This definitely appeals to me, although it’s also possible that both genders will have a lanky and lithe build to them. I also wonder if the women are going to draw some from the early concept art for Au Ra women, back when they were closer to the men in size. It’d give the race more differentiation from Elezen and Roegadyn ladies, which is a good thing.
At the same time, my main buddy for the convention pointed out that if we follow the trend from Heavensward, the Viera being from Meracydia would actually involve us not going there this expansion, because we sure as heck didn’t get much setting for the Au Ra until the subsequent expansion. So speculation is in fact wholly speculative.
The statement that this may be the last new race getting added to the game is interesting as well; it’s not exactly stunning, but I’m interested in the stated reason that it’s a lot of work making a new race. To a certain extent this is obvious; any new race has to be rigged for all styles of gear and compounds that workload, as well as needing new animations as the like. At the same time, I wonder how much of it is that compared to other concerns.
For example, unlike a lot of other games, a new race being added doesn’t simply mean you can make a new alt of that race. The system even discourages that. While we certainly have an ample population of lizards in the game at this point, that has to be a consideration, as does the reality of how many races the game’s world even is meant to support.
Here’s hoping we get a little more of a preview of what’s coming next in December. Just a picture of Fran would help…
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next time, let’s talk about some other jobs that could fit nicely into the whole Limited Jobs setup and what they’d work like. (Yes, beyond the ones mentioned by name thus far.)