Wisdom of Nym: It’s OK that your Final Fantasy XIV character is going to look different in Dawntrail

With strong eye contact.

So we’ve all had a chance at this point to play around with the benchmark for the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion, and that includes playing around with the character creator. This also means that we’ve had a chance to see what the characters will look like in motion, and some people have noticed issues with the look of characters. Some of these are, well… actual issues. Some textures are misaligned and obviously cause errors. Some hairstyles cause Viera ears not to attach to their heads properly. There are some actual “whoops, that should not look like that” moments that people have flagged, and those are real problems.

And then there are the reactions that come down to “my character looks different now.”

Now, let’s not pretend that isn’t a real issue; Yoshida came out and said that the lighting during character creation is weird and tailored to specific variables, which is why another benchmark is on the way. (And I think a lot of those issues are ironed out once you see characters in motion instead of just on the creator screen.) But I’m not going to sugarcoat it: As someone who has been playing this game for its entire lifespan, I can say… yes. You are correct. Your character is just plain going to look different when Dawntrail launches. And that’s fine.

So why am I saying that’s fine? Well, I’m going to type a sentence down below. It’s not a long sentence, but I’m going to bet dollars to donuts that you are going to hear it in the voice of a very specific actor because of what it contains. But it might not be the same actor for all of you. Ready?

I am Batman.”

Whom did you hear? Was it Kevin Conroy? Adam West? Michael Keaton? Will Arnett? Robert Pattinson? Ben Affleck with a mouth full of marbles and battery acid? That last one raises a whole lot of questions about your taste, but there are even more choices beyond that. This is a character who has a lot of different people playing him over the years.

Objectively, though, one of them is going to sound right to you. One of them is going to be The Voice Of A Man In A Bat-Themed Costume, and everyone else is going to sound like a simulation. For me, personally, it’s Conroy. Hearing him voice the character just sounds right in a way no other actor ever has, even though none of the people I listed are bad actors.

But I’ll never hear another project voiced by Conroy because he passed away in 2022.

Coarse air.

This is not a piece mourning an amazing talent who wasn’t celebrated or respected as much as he deserved, though. In no small part, the reason that is the voice that sounds right to me has as much to do with the fact that Conroy voiced the character in a show that came out when I was nine. And then he continued to voice the character for the next thirty years in various adaptations, ranging from the sublime to the tawdry. It is the voice I got used to hearing as Batman. To me, it sounds like Batman.

I’ve been playing FFXIV for 14 years. When the relaunch happened, characters looked different. Oh, it wasn’t a huge revamp that felt like everything was different, but body proportions changed. Details were no longer quite the same. The character I had played for years by that point did not look quite like she had before. We all got over it, but when the change first happened, it was a bit of a disconnect.

And we’re having that happen again because now some parts of our characters don’t look the same any more. You’ve had a decade to get used to your character, and your brain has definitely filled in some gaps and developed certain traits that you see on your character even if they’re only vague suggestions.

Players have tried to make this a universal thing across multiple vectors. Light-skinned characters don’t look right, dark-skinned characters don’t look right, Au Ra don’t look right, red hair is the wrong shade, and so forth. But I haven’t seen any consistency – and believe me, I’ve been looking. For every one person saying “my dark-skinned characters look wrong,” I’ve seen another dozen amazed at how good their dark-skinned characters look, including me personally.

But it seems to me that there is a very clear unifying line: A whole lot of players are looking at the character on the screen and saying, “My character doesn’t look right to me any more.” Because that character looks different. Similar, sure, but not the same.

Please keep in mind, I’m not saying, “Hush up and stop whining,” because this a real problem, and it’s the hardest kind of problem to fix. If I could say “just switch your graphical options to B” and that would fix it, then hey, no column, just a PSA. When I first looked at my character as imported, I noticed that she definitely looked different. Not wildly different, but different enough that I did need to tweak a couple of things!

It’s more that… well… that’s all right. It’s all right you’re going to look different.

I have a thought.

Maybe this is a chance to explore a new look for your character that you hadn’t used before because now that character looks just different enough that it feels less jarring. If you’re not a roleplayer, maybe this is your chance to go from Au Ra to Miqo’te or Roegadyn or whatever your heart desires. Or maybe it’s time to make some changes and just embrace the fact that things are going to feel a little different now.

Because they should feel different.

Endwalker was, in many ways, the end of an era. Not just in the sense that it was a conclusion of a major story arc (and how many MMORPGs ever really get that right?) but in the sense that it wrapped up a portion of the game. I think it’s fair to look at that expansion as the end of FFXIV in its “prove myself” era. The game has proved itself. It needs to evolve and change with the times.

And yes, that does mean graphical changes, and yes, that was always going to mean your character looks a bit different now. If you’ve gotten very accustomed to how your character looked – and I definitely have – it’s going to be more than a wee bit jarring. But if you have a strong vision for how your character should look, it’s hardly impossible to bring back the right shading and details. Will a little work be involved? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Also absolutely.

Your character is just going to look different. The designers have done their best to minimize that, but it’s inevitable. But that’s all right. It beats never getting a second dye channel, doesn’t it?

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, as we enter the “less than two months” phase of waiting for Dawntrail, I want to advise you in things that you can and perhaps should do ahead of time by way of preparation.

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.
Previous articleNetmarble (not Nexon) is working on a new Game of Thrones MMO
Next articleLord of the Rings Online defends its decision to plunge back underground in Update 40

No posts to display

Subscribe to:
oldest most liked
Inline Feedback
View all comments