Square Enix has announced that a number of previously gender-locked outfits will be available to everyone with the arrival of Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker. In the past, maid outfits, butler uniforms, dresses, and other such pieces of cosmetic content have been determined by the gender of your character, meaning the act of crossdressing or expressing a level of androgyny in the MMORPG wasn’t easy to pull off. Now it’s all changed for the better, and I don’t think the world is ready for the avalanche of bunny boy twinks coming its way.
Final Fantasy 14 has always been about expressing yourself, creating a bespoke Warrior of Light who represents exactly who you are or who you want to be in a variety of distinct ways. This isn’t just expressed through the race, appearance, or class you happen to select – it’s defined by an endless selection of cosmetic items that are available as part of the complete product or as standalone purchases. The maid outfit, school uniform, butler attire, and so many more fall under this umbrella, but for so long they’ve been confined by arbitrary limitations that you can only fix by necking a bottle of fantasia.
I’ve brought this subject up with director and producer Naoki Yoshida a handful of times, noting how the game’s community is filled with individuals who would love their sense of expression to be expanded, outdated gender norms no longer defining a fantasy world where such things shouldn’t really exist in the first place. He told me that so long as he is in charge of the project – which is will be for a long time to come – that Final Fantasy 14 will continue to exist as a place where everyone can feel welcome, whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, non-binary or anything in between. Saying such a thing is all well and good, but now Square Enix is actively implementing changes to reflect those words.
As our own Issy van der Velde puts it, “I can finally be a catboy maid malewife.” Yes Issy, yes you can. I have always associated Final Fantasy 14 with queerness, whether it be because my free company is made up primarily of trans friends living their best lives as adorable cat and dragon girls or tall giants who would happily step on you, or in-game storylines that aren’t afraid to flirt with sapphic romance such as the gal pal relationship of Ryne and Gaia.
They aren’t an explicitly canon couple, but their entire storyline is queer coded in a way that can’t really be taken any other way. It’s wonderful, the narrative reinforcing an experience where you can marry the same gender through extravagant in-game ceremonies or create outfits that aren’t afraid to be outlandish or somewhat risque. You haven’t lived until you’ve accidentally stumbled across a very explicit erotic role-playing session in the quieter alleys of Limsa Lominsa. Please do that kind of stuff in private, unless you’re into that sorta thing.
The mere presence of Male Viera feels like a gesture of goodwill from the development team. Female versions of the caked-up rabbits were first introduced with the release of Shadowbringers alongside male Hrothgar. Square Enix stated that it didn’t have the resources or time to make opposite gender versions of these races, expressing that they might be added in the future if it has enough time to make it possible. Many fans accepted Male Viera weren’t coming, but with the reveal of Endwalker, our minds were blown as toned bunny boys stepped into frame and were confirmed as a launch feature for the expansion.
It’s such amazing news, and would have been consolation enough without the abandonment of gendered clothing, but now it feels like Male Viera are arriving with the capabilities to reach their full potential. By that I mean that they’re all going to be stuffed into maid outfits the moment players conquer the relentless server queues. I cannot wait to see the excitement erupt from the community when this comes to pass, no matter if it comes in the form of in-game screenshots, fanart, or twitter threads fawning over Yoshi-P and company.
Games, especially MMORPGS, are defined by how they allow players to express themselves, and gender neutral clothing opens up so many new doors. So many people will come to Final Fantasy 14 while living a closeted life in reality, seeking to express themselves with masculine or feminine pieces of clothing or an appearance that isn’t attainable in real life right now. These struggles are more common than you think, and this one will change could make a bigger difference than any of us can imagine.
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