Somehow, five years have passed since the release of Final Fantasy XV (I know, I feel appropriately crusty too), but really what that milestone represents is just how far we’ve come with the Final Fantasy franchise. Indeed, many of us have grown up with the series and with it, clearly established our favourite and most beloved characters from each game in the process. In a bid to whittle down that selection a tad, we’ve got our list of who we think are the best Final Fantasy characters to coincide with the fifth anniversary of Final Fantasy XV. Strap in!
Arguably the beating heart and soul of Final Fantasy VII, Aerith’s initial appearance as a demure flower seller belies the tremendous compassion and power that lay within her heart. A staunch ally of the planet and a lover of all life, Aerith’s kind and tender nature helps to lift Cloud out of his dead-eyed stupor, while her easygoing (if somewhat naïve) nature ensures that she’s a beloved member of the group from beginning to end.
Final Fantasy X’s Auron is an ultra-cool dude, this much is true. I mean, just look at the lad. With his swept back hair, sunglasses and intricately detailed cloth garb, Auron cuts quite the figure – but there’s much more to him than just the surface veneer. Essentially a stylised and romantic take on the wandering Ronin samurai of Feudal Japan, Auron is a no-nonsense warrior whose tremendous Bushido and combat skills make him a serious asset for Tidus and his party. Though Auron’s katana blade is sharp, his lashing comebacks are sharper, with this staunchly-proud warrior often putting those in place who step out of line on his watch.
Few would deny that the suave Ignis Scientia is anything but the bedrock of Final Fantasy XV’s quartet of road trip-hopping protagonists. One of Prince Noctis’ most beloved childhood friends and a longtime adviser to the royal family, Ignis Scientia is quite literally the sort of chap that can do it all. He can fight, cook, drive, clean, and looks like he just strutted off a Paris catwalk with style to spare. See what I mean? It’s just not fair. Maybe he’s really bad at maths or something. Probably not though.
The resident lovable oaf of the Final Fantasy series, the brilliantly overzealous Steiner essentially serves as the comic relief in Final Fantasy IX, often coming across as a caricature of a heroic knight rather than actually being one. Like many of the characters in the Final Fantasy saga though, looks can be deceiving. Though the stuffy and often pompous-seeming Steiner is a hardcore royalist on the surface with a very dim view of the wider world, his shared experiences with Zidane and company soon open his eyes to the sprawling world that exists beyond the royal palace. He also hits like a truck too. Which is nice.
One of the most iconic characters in any Final Fantasy game to date (heck, they even gave him his own game), the deeply morose Vincent Valentine isn’t just a superb inspiration for cosplay, but also a deeply intriguing character in his own right. By his very nature a loner, Final Fantasy VII’s Vincent’s hatred of the dastardly Professor Hojo is essentially the connective tissue that exists between him and Cloud’s party.
After gradually peeling away Vincent’s guarded personality and despite his Bram Stoker-esque profile, it’s soon revealed that this double-gun-wielding coffin dweller has a sensitive personality and is sympathetic to the plight of the planet; he just prefers to do his own thing, that’s all. I can vibe with that.
With those two bright golden orbs peering at folks from underneath the hem of his towering hat, Final Fantasy IX’s Vivi certainly isn’t your garden variety Black Mage, that’s for sure. Though his spritely and whimsical appearance suggests something of a comical personality, Vivi is anything but. Seeming to be clumsy, self-deprecating and shy to the point of hardly being able to communicate, this diminutive young mage is paranoid about his own capabilities and full of existential self doubt. As such, watching Vivi mature, grow in confidence and find his moral compass with heartfelt vigour is quite honestly some of the best character development in any Final Fantasy game to date.
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