At this point, Final Fantasy XIV has directly crossed over with three separate titles in the Final Fantasy franchise: Final Fantasy XI, Final Fantasy XIII, and Final Fantasy XV. This is, of course, a bit of a fine line to cut. After all, the whole Return to Ivalice plotline definitely had crossover-ish elements, but in this case I am specifically counting events that were temporary and very explicitly acknowledged that they were crossovers from other games. Return to Ivalice made Ivalice and points related into part of FFXIV’s world; the crossover with FFXIII featured Lightning as a guest from another world.
There was never really any doubt in anyone’s mind about Final Fantasy XVI getting its own crossover event, especially when (as Yoshida himself joked) the person making the decision on both sides was always going to be him. And rest assured, I am quite excited at the prospect of getting Clive’s outfit for everyone to wear and possibly a Torgal minion. (Hopefully.) But I do think it’s worth thinking about this because in some ways FFXVI is unique compared to the other direct crossovers we’ve had.
Let’s start by taking a step back and looking at the commonality. FFXI and FFXIII both involve crossovers with a protagonist who is quite normally seen as crossing some strange boundaries. (This is equally true for Iroha and Shantotto, but the Iroha event is the one that’s gotten brought back, so it seems more relevant.) FFXV‘s protagonist is a bit more dimensionally locked, probably thanks to him having all of the charisma of a moldy lemon, but it still feels pretty normal for him to have a crossover. After all, he couldn’t stop having crossovers in his own game, there’s no continuity of world to preserve.
But FFXVI isn’t the same. Clive does not do any dimensional jumping. The most abstract and weird journeys he goes on are very explicitly journeys inside of his mind, and all of those are at the hands of the game’s primary antagonist. Having Clive show up in FFXIV’s world would feel wrong in a way that the others wouldn’t.
That’s not to say that FFXVI is somehow more grounded or less magical, seeing as the game literally starts with a slugfest between Ifrit and Phoenix. (It’s a particular bugbear of mine that people act like this is some sort of late-arriving element of the game’s story, but that’s a me thing.) It’s just to say that it would feel more out-of-character for Clive to show up out of nowhere.
So how to handle this? Well, I think there are a few different options, leaving aside the simple and most obvious method of just shrugging and repeating to yourself that it’s just a show and you should really just relax. And the first one would have some definite basis by suggesting that it’s not actually a crossover at all – it’s a story.
We’ve had previous crossovers with the series based on in-universe stories. For example, the first two wings of the Omega raid series are entirely predicated on the assumption that Omega is recreating stories and the characters from within those stories. This is not a subtle or marginal dimension of the fiction, either; it’s very clear that there is a large-scale tendency toward these sorts of inherited points of fiction within Etheirys.
Heck, the term “Eikon” exists in both FFXVI and FFXIV, just adding a bit more fuel to that fire. It would be entirely in keeping with the spirit of both games to have the War of the Eikons or something similar be an in-universe book, complete with a costume replicating the appearance of protagonist Clive Rosfield. There! Crossover achieved, and there was no need to make it more difficult!
But this seems rather unlikely to me, because… well, as much as it would preserve worlds and the like, I can see it being considered just a bit too meta to carry a crossover. So I think the more likely course of events will involve actually having Clive Finalfantasy meet up with our character, Warrioroflight Finalfantasy. Unfortunately, the easiest way to have that happen would also involve spoiling the heck out of FFXVI‘s ending, since (without spoiling it) there is definitely an opportunity of sorts there!
What can be done? Well, there is some ambiguity about what, exactly, happens to Clive during his definitely very healthy and not at all disturbing little journeys into his mind space. Or conveniently unreal boss arenas when an actual arena might cause issues. Theoretically, you could put a crossover there, although that would raise some issues there about whether or not Etheirys is real, if you think about it too long. (I definitely think about these things too long.) All well and good.
Is there another way? Yes. But it might be too much.
See, as a rule, our crossovers have followed along with a straightforward principle. Etheirys is the place characters cross over to, while other characters wind up there to eat our donuts or whatever. But there is a mechanism in FFXVI wherein strange things and people wind up imported into Valisthea… and there is, in fact, nothing saying that people cannot wind up summoned in as some form of echo. In fact, there’s nothing saying that we couldn’t get a full-on crossover dungeon of some sort.
Well… all right, there is one thing saying that, and it’s the fact that it would take a whole lot of work and be kind of expensive for a time-limited thing. Especially since the previous most extensive crossover we had for FFXV still just involved a repurposed Garuda arena. So it seems like it’d be a lot for a time-limited event, especially one that had to be level-synced and would not be meant for only players at level cap. So that seems unlikely to me.
But if there were an arena where a slight retexturing could still provide the right feel and thus wouldn’t require the same degree of work as making a totally new map… it’s plausible. The game had some pretty extensive work done in the service of offering event dungeons and areas before. And it would at least solve the slight issue of figuring out how to make the crossover work in the process.
Now, do I think Square is going to put in a huge amount of work for this? No. I honestly don’t think it’s going to be anything particularly ornate; I think the devs are probably going to stick with a more predictable setup and not worry too much about the weirdness of having Clive dimension-hop. If the explanation for having to see Noctis was essentially just a shrug and a “just go with it,” there’s definitely a degree of repeating the MST3k mantra and just letting yourself move forward without thinking about it. But all things considered, it’d be nice if the effort were made to give this particular crossover a little bit of extra attention considering the people involved.
Hey, at least this time people won’t get weird about a cool car.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, we’ll be talking about patch 6.45, naturally.