Wisdom of Nym: What people don’t really get about the Warrior of Light in Final Fantasy XIV

With strong eye contact.

Not so long ago, I saw a very foolish comment complaining about Final Fantasy XIV from someone who did not play or think about the game beyond disliking it. This, in and of itself, is not actually unusual; much like other games in the past, the game is at this point big enough that a lot of people believe reflexively contrarian opinions based on disliking something they know very little about are somehow advanced takes. But this one stood out to me because it was based on a misunderstanding of the game’s basic story structure and one that persists through a lot of people who at best are not paying much attention.

To wit, it’s the tired and inaccurate assertion that in FFXIV, you play as the Warrior of Light, a divine being blessed with a superpowered destiny who is so immediately so super special and awesome you become the pivotal axis around which the world revolves.

There are, to be fair, a large number of games in which this is almost indisputably the case, but it is decidedly not the case in FFXIV. To the extent there’s any degree of destiny going on, it’s entirely within a closed loop, and it’s not the way people tend to frame it. And with that in mind, I want to spend the column defining what the Warrior of Light is. The Warrior of Light is not, in the story or elsewhere, a hero because of being the Warrior of Light. It’s the exact inverse.

In order to talk about the Warrior of Light, of course, we have to make it clear that we are talking about two overlapping concepts at the same time. The first concept is the character in every single expansion trailer and who shows up in screenshots. The dark-haired, stubbled man with blue eyes who shows up in each trailer is the Warrior of Light. But he’s not a person; he’s a stand-in because sometimes the developers want to show a player character, and so he becomes the seat-filler.

He’s had many names, from Meteor to Derplander to Warrior of Light. But he is, ultimately, a non-character. He’s a sign to put your character here, not an actual person with agency. He stands in direct contrast to the Warrior of Light, who starts the game after what may very well be a dream sequence as… just an adventurer. You are an adventurer, and you have the Echo.

Neither of these things make you the Warrior of Light because nothing actually does.


The Warrior of Light is not a role. It’s a title, and it’s a title bestowed by observation and action. No one declares your character the Warrior of Light because you fulfill a prophecy. Jennifer Hale does not descend into the afterlife to rescue your specific soul. You are not the survivor of a fated shipwreck. You are an adventurer doing adventuring jobs, and while you happen to run into some important people early on, the reason it leads to more things happening is that you survive those jobs.

“But you have the Echo!” Yeah, and as it turns out so do a lot of people. The Echo is, like, mildly special. It’s unusual, but not that unusual. It’s not until literally the final battle against the Ultima Weapon that you get anything that makes you specifically special, and even that it’s basically a one-shot deal. There is one person who actually gets any sort of guidance, and she’s taken out before we even get to Heavensward.

What makes the Warrior of Light a hero isn’t some profound destiny. It’s doing heroic things, consistently. And the entire point of the position is that it is not a singular role. You are playing the Warrior of Light in the story because a singular story requires a singular protagonist, but it’s also clear from every sidequest ever that your face is not known worldwide as the fearsome godslayer and the mightiest lord of lords. You are, fundamentally, still an adventurer. You are a person who gets wrapped up in things and does your best, and even if you assume you’re in Radz-at-Han as part of your personal journey as the Warrior of Light…

It’s not unusual other people are there. The game shows you there are tons of other adventurers out there, doing all sorts of things. You overlap with them sometimes, but they’re always around. Roleplayers in this game – and there are a lot of us – do not all play The Inestimable Supreme Warrior of Light because it’s clear that there is a ton of space for everyone to exist in this world – a world of crafting, homesteading, fighting monsters, guarding locations, and so forth.

And the capper on all of that is when you meet the one person in the entire game who gave you your destiny… and then you find out why it happened.


We’re aware that Hydaelyn has been an influence on our journey for a long time, but in Endwalker we travel back to meet Venat, the woman who would become the core of Hydaelyn. And it’s then when we recount our journey to her. We outline our path. And so very explicitly, the path we followed to become the Warrior of Light was set out for us only because we already did all of it. Venat as Hydaelyn helped us in her future because we established it would happen.

She didn’t find us and give us a special destiny. Our “destiny” was what we had created, the choices we had made, and her hand reached out only because we’d already grasped it. The Warrior of Light is not the destined warrior who was always going to save the world but someone who decided the world was worth saving and ultimately created the conditions to make that happen.

And that’s the key that can, in fact, be easy to miss if you don’t really play the game or get why people like it all that much in the first place. It can be easy to assume that the game hands you a You Are The Hero card right out of the gate, but it’s the opposite of what happens. Heck, it’s been the opposite of what happens in basically every mainline title in the franchise for the past thirty years at a bare minimum, which is just another reason why Final Fantasy XV biffs it so badly; it’s a series not about being the Chosen One but about choosing to be the one.

The Warrior of Light isn’t a job. It’s a description of what you’re already doing. And that’s what makes the game sing for people who love the story, that sense of not being destined to bring the One Ring anywhere but deciding that you’ll do it, even if you don’t know the way. Gosh, that feels familiar.

Feedback, as always, can be left in the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, I want to talk about something that we know is coming in Dawntrail that might be an odd sort of thing – how can we possibly get a crossover with Vana’diel in here? And more importantly, how can we do so without repeating the sins of the past?

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.
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