There’s a fan theory circulating that Final Fantasy XIV is the nexus of the franchise multiverse. Essentially, the idea is that Hydaelyn and Zodiark are close enough to the usual series-wide meta-deities of Cosmos and Chaos, and so many of the things that other games are built around are also found within the world of Etheirys. Do I believe this theory? Not really; it’s a post-hoc theory attempting to create a justification for intentional references. But it’s still amusing.
Regardless, there are large chunks of the franchise referenced by various parts of the game, to the point that it’s almost impossible to pick out all of them. But I will do my best. This is going to be kind of sprawling, covering the backstory, races, and locations of the world and how it ties into prior games. There’s a lot there, in other words.
Perhaps not surprisingly, we’re actually a bit light on references to Final Fantasy in the world of Etheirys… but they abound on the First. Elves and Dwarves are a clear reference to the first game, as are the Duergar Mountains where the latter live and Mount Gulg in the center. It’s especially worth noting that Elves don’t really appear in the franchise other than the first game, except for on the First.
We also have Matoya’s Cave, obviously, where Matoya resides. That one is a clear reference to the equally wise character from the original game, albeit one with worse eyesight.
Final Fantasy III has obviously made a pretty big impact because its setting ties directly into the entire Crystal Tower series that has a huge role in backstory about Allag. Emperor Xande, Amon, the Crystal Tower itself and the connected raids, the Eureka that we venture through as a Deep Dungeon – all of that stuff comes directly from FFIII. This is the game’s big and obvious contribution to FFXIV, and it’s been a point of major importance for three of the five expansions.
Meanwhile, Final Fantasy IV loaned out a bunch of stuff for Endwalker. The Tower of Zot and Tower of Babil were obvious connections, along with the Archfiends, Golbez, the Lunar Subterrane, and Asura. The Fell Court of Troia is also a reference to the nation of Troia, two-thirds of the Lunar Subterrane actually takes us back to Baron (another part of FFIV, the home nation of the protagonist), there’s the Red Moon… basically, it seems that the Void is actually FFIV-land much as how the First seems to have a lot of ties to FFI.
We know that Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI both exist in Etheirys as stories, specifically because the bosses for the first two Omega trials are drawn from fiction that exists in-world. Omega and Shinryu are also both from FFV originally (and drawn in those styles), and the Warring Triad comes from FFVI.
FFVI is also the origin point for Doma, both as a nation and a locale, although the Eastern influences are a little downplayed in the original game. It’s also technically the game with the first auction house, although obviously it works different from online games. Perhaps more importantly, a large amount of Garlean hardware comes directly from FFVI’s Gestahlian Empire, and Castrum Abania could be argued to basically be a version of FFVI’s Magitek Factory. I’ll go into more detail when I talk about specific enemies ported in, though; it’s just worth noting.
Final Fantasy VII doesn’t have as much impact on the world as one might think, but there is one big impact because it’s the original appearance of the Gold Saucer, which serves as FFXIV’s catch-all minigame zone. Costa del Sol is also a resort town in that game, mirroring its role on the coastline of La Noscea in FFXIV.
The one big backstory-and-world element that Final Fantasy VIII contributes is fairly minor, as it turns out: It’s Triple Triad, the card game found the whole world over. It also serves as an influence for the Eden raids, with Eden having been that game’s “ultimate” summon; there’ll be more to talk about, again, when I cover monsters and enemies.
It’s not really a secret why Final Fantasy IX doesn’t have a whole lot of impact because so much of that game is already very explicitly a reference to prior games. (A lot of its fans seem to miss that fact, for some reason.) However, there is one potential reference, but it’s hard to be sure, and it’s also why I seemingly skipped over Final Fantasy II, because the raid we dealt with in Endwalker, Pandæmonium, may be a reference to the location named Pandaemonium in FFII or Pandemonium in FFIX.
Why am I hedging? Well, because none of the above really looks the same, and there aren’t really further references beyond that; the bosses aren’t really a reference to anything other than the game’s own lore, for example. So I’m including it as much for completeness as anything.
There isn’t much tied directly into Final Fantasy X within the game, although there is one obvious parallel in the form of the Hrothgar being known as the Ronso on the First. Similarly, Final Fantasy XI is currently mostly absent aside from thematic similarity in the original Eureka, although we know that the alliance raid in Dawntrail will tie directly into that title. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more FFX references there, as well.
Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy Tactics get a huge chunk of references, on the other hand. The Return to Ivalice raids establish that Ivalice is a region of the world, and that includes races from those games such as Bangaa and Viera, areas such as Rabanastre, Lesalia, and Orbonne Monastery, and major lore elements such as magicite. In addition, the names of the Convocation correspond to the opposite numbers of the Espers in Ivalice, with Zodiark itself first appearing as a summon in FFT.
The later titles are a bit of a different story because most of them started development after FFXIV as already being developed or were already in the middle of being made. Final Fantasy XIII was well into development, Final Fantasy XV was being developed and being wildly revamped about every four months when Tetsuya Nomura had a new idea (can’t imagine why that turned out so badly, such a mystery), and Final Fantasy XVI was, if anything, based on some of the ideas that went into FFXIV in the first place.
That being said, those games still have had some impact via crossover events that did, objectively, occur during the storyline of FFXIV; however, it’s not really clear how widespread those events are. It’s not that we couldn’t get zones based on these games, and it would make perfect sense to have a major reference to Cocoon tied to whatever is going on with Solution Nine. But at this point? We just don’t know yet.
I have no doubt more of this stuff will get pulled in with time, though. There’s a wealth of different ideas that can be pulled from these games, and if we expand from direct references to conceptual ones, there are tons of dungeons that pull a clear reference to older ones.
As always, feedback is welcome down in the comments or via mail to email@example.com. Next week, we’re going to continue on this train by looking at some of the major enemy and monster references, trying to stick mostly to distinct ones… because there are a lot here. Seriously, just so many.