Diablo 4 transmog is something Final Fantasy 14 should learn from

Liliith from Diablo 4
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

I’m a real sucker for character customization and player expression in games, and that’s something I’ve found Diablo 4 to do exceedingly well across its five distinct character classes. Be it Barbarian or Sorcerer, it’s easy to make your hero look fabulously intimidating.

Diablo 4, a sure fire contender for our best RPGs list, doesn’t exactly have a character creation process as robust as, say, Street Fighter 6 or Wild Hearts, but that’s not where the demonic hack n’ slash adventure’s player expression ends. That’s just the icing on the cake, actually. The best part of Diablo 4’s character customization is yet to reveal itself.

Rock up to Kyovashad (the game’s first major town) for the first time, and you’ll soon be introduced to Diablo 4’s wardrobe feature. It’s essentially a very simple transmog system. But in that simplicity lies a quick, convenient, no-frills method of carving out a unique look for my character. After all, what use is slaying monsters and demons if I don’t look good while doing it? 

Slay or be slain

Diablo 4

(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Diablo 4 is a great game by its own merits – personally, I’ve enjoyed playing so much that it’s now going to endanger my Final Fantasy 14 habit. Quite a feat considering I've spent most of the last decade playing Square Enix's popular MMORPG. 

I mention Final Fantasy 14 here because there is an interesting comparison to be made between it and Diablo 4, and it’s in how both games handle transmog -  AKA the act of changing your gear’s appearance purely for aesthetic purposes while keeping the stats intact.

Diablo 4 handles transmog in a simple, yet very effective way. Visiting your wardrobe in each major hub area, you can change your armor’s appearance to that of pieces you’ve owned and salvaged. Once a piece is in your wardrobe, it’s there for good, and you’re free to change its appearance whenever you want. On top of that, there’s a good selection of alternate colors if you’re finding the default a bit too plain. And yep, you can save wardrobe loadouts if you’ve landed a combination you’re particularly satisfied with.

It’s nothing we haven’t seen before in other games. Both The Elder Scrolls Online and indeed World of Warcraft have similarly convenient transmog features. But the fact it’s here in Diablo 4 is extremely welcome, and its simplicity benefits the fast-paced nature of the game. 

Meanwhile, in Eorzea...

Final Fantasy 14

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Final Fantasy 14, by comparison, has a transmog feature that’s simultaneously more in-depth, but also quite limiting in its own right. While transmog (known here as glamours) has been a staple of Final Fantasy 14 since the A Realm Reborn days, it wasn’t until Stormblood, the game’s second major expansion, that Square Enix added the Glamour Dresser system.

In Final Fantasy 14, the Glamour Dresser is most players’ go-to method of carving out their own look and is accessible by visiting the inn room in each of the major cities. Outfits saved in the Glamour Dresser are applied to a Glamour Plate, which can be accessed from your Character menu for a quick, on-the-fly costume change.

It sounds great, and parts of it certainly are. The problem is that the Glamour Dresser invented its own set of problems that Square Enix hasn’t quite been able to fix. You can’t just unlock an item’s appearance for use in the Glamour Dresser. No, it requires you to insert that piece into the dresser by converting it with a Glamour Prism, which you’ll need to craft yourself or purchase from the in-game Market Board.

On top of that, there are 800 total slots in the Glamour Dresser. That sounds like a lot, but that cap of 800 is shared between all gear types: head, chest, gloves, accessories, weapons, and so on. You’ll hear many a Final Fantasy 14 player claim that fashion is its true endgame, and there’s certainly truth in that. But it does mean that those 800 slots are going to fill up surprisingly fast for fashion-conscious players.

Making matters worse, you can only save up to 20 Glamour Plates, and it used to be even less than that. Now, improvements to the Glamour Dresser over time have made the feature more palatable, but these improvements haven't altered the fact the system is fundamentally restrictive.

Making changes

It’s a shame that a game as brilliantly customizable as Final Fantasy 14 is stuck with such a bizarrely cumbersome transmog system. And it’s one that doesn’t seem to have a rework on the horizon. That said, Final Fantasy 14 will be changing substantially with its next major expansion.

Transmog systems are a dime a dozen these days, appearing in everything from the Assassin’s Creed series to Horizon Forbidden West. Diablo 4 is simply the latest to spearhead the trend, but it does it in such a straightforward way while simultaneously offering everything you’d want. Final Fantasy 14’s has forged its own path to success every step of the way, but it does make me wish the MMORPG's glamour system could be transmogged into something better. 

Rhys Wood
Hardware Editor

Rhys is TRG's Hardware Editor, and has been part of the TechRadar team for more than two years. Particularly passionate about high-quality third-party controllers and headsets, as well as the latest and greatest in fight sticks and VR, Rhys strives to provide easy-to-read, informative coverage on gaming hardware of all kinds. As for the games themselves, Rhys is especially keen on fighting and racing games, as well as soulslikes and RPGs.