We discovered Final Fantasy 14’s best character, according to fans

Final Fantasy 14
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Unlike many MMOs before it, Final Fantasy 14 thrives not only on the basis of its colorful and welcoming community but also as a result of its tightly written stories and lovingly crafted cast of characters. 

The internet is full of “best characters” listicles, offering harmless fun, and enthusiastic analysis for fans. Despite having written a fair share of these myself - and here’s a secret - they are often fairly arbitrary. Though they often reflect earnest authorial intent, it’s a tall task indeed for any writer to capture the thoughts and feelings of an entire fanbase, especially when it comes to the best RPGs.

However, thanks to a community poll shared with us by Square Enix, we’re one step closer to doing just that. Though any sociologist would be quick to criticize the poll’s small sample size of several dozen, this community survey offers valuable insight into the thoughts and feelings of Final Fantasy 14 fans from across the world and helps us get to grips with what it is that makes the characters in one of the best MMOs in recent years so memorable.

Spoilers for Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker follow

Across all the fan responses, one name came up again and again: Venat. 

Simultaneously a friend, confidant, political iconoclast, and demigod, Venat’s story is interwoven into the game’s main story quest, influencing our path long before we even learn her name. 

Over the course of the central narrative, we eventually learn that Venat was responsible for sundering the world into 14 different realities, all as part of a plot to give humanity the tools to fight an impending apocalypse: The Final Days. During this process, she becomes Hydaelyn, the goddess of light who blesses the protagonist with their powers and gives them the ability to stand up to the plots of the nefarious Ascians. 

Light the way

Venat close up

(Image credit: Square Enix)

For most of the story, Hydaelyn remains this abstract figure, an aloof yet supportive being that can only communicate with mortals through heralds and cryptic visions. Only in Endwalker do we meet Venat, the human who would become Hydaelyn. 

Across the survey, fans effused about their love of the character. “I can't listen to her theme without welling up,” said one fan. “her character is so endearing, funny, and wholesome, but she can kick your butt at the same time.” With another adding that “She’s kind, curious, open-minded, and a little bit mischievous”. 

Through a series of time-travel shenanigans, we meet Venat before the sundering. She’s warm, personable, and supportive – acting as a friend and mentor to the player character. Eventually, she comes to realize the truth of who we are, and the importance of our mission to save the world from The Final Days. It’s through these scenes that we see what makes her so appealing to Final Fantasy 14’s fanbase. 

She’s warm, personable, and supportive – acting as a friend and mentor to the player character

In one deeply moving conversation, she asks us about our adventures in the future and talks about her motivations, not as a demigod, but as a “fellow traveler”. She asks us of our own journey: “Has it been good, has it been worthwhile?” 

In that moment, Venat has us reflect on our time with the game, mulling over every battle fought and every environment explored. There’s something conclusive and resonant about that moment that sits with fans – it certainly sat with me during my own playthrough.

The scene marks a passing of the torch; if Venat is responsible for the past, then the player character is responsible for the present. It’s a powerful gesture and makes for a memorable and emotionally satisfying story beat – establishing Venat’s relatability with exactly the sort of efficacy you’d expect from the team that would go on to make Final Fantasy 16’s emotional rollercoaster.  

Full party


(Image credit: Square Enix)

Though Venat’s charm, determination, and relatability caused her to take the crown, fans had a lot to say about a whole range of characters. What’s particularly telling is that even minor characters saw themselves represented across fan responses, highlighting the love and attention Final Fantasy 14’s designers give even to secondary players in their grand story. 

Take Jullus Pyr Norbanus. Leader of a group of refugees in the frigid remnants of the once-great Garlean Empire, Jullus’ story is tumultuous. Beginning as a loyal servant to what remains of the Empire. Jullus is cast adrift after his commander takes his own life. Taking charge, Jullus steps up to lead the refugees, inspiring them to cooperate with the player character in an effort to rebuild the shattered lives of his community. 

From the mightiest demi-god to the humblest refugee, Final Fantasy 14 reflects a wide spectrum of the human experience

Though fundamentally a secondary, supporting character, Jullus’ arc stuck with players, with fans celebrating how “inspiring” it was to see Jullus “take a stand” for his people. 

Jullus isn’t a powerful mage or a buster sword-wielding mercenary; he’s a regular Joe who, thanks to a war beyond his control, has been thrust into a horrendous situation. Despite all that, however, he tries to make the best of it, standing up for himself and his community. 

Final Fantasy 14 acknowledges that heroism comes in many forms, and it’s this quality that gives even its secondary characters a real sense of emotional resonance with players. 

From the mightiest demi-god to the humblest refugee, Final Fantasy 14 reflects a wide spectrum of the human experience, weaving a tapestry in which players of all kinds can see themselves. 

Thanks to the game's welcoming community, Final Fantasy 14's multiplayer is some of the best co-op play out there, making it one of the best PC games and best PS5 games out there.

Cat Bussell
Staff Writer

Cat Bussell is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Gaming. Hailing from the crooked spires of London, Cat is an experienced writer and journalist. As seen on Wargamer.com, TheGamer.com, and Superjumpmagazine.com, Cat is here to bring you coverage from all corners of the video game world. An inveterate RPG maven and strategy game enjoyer, Cat is known for her love of rich narratives; both story-driven and emergent. 

Before migrating to the green pastures of games journalism, Cat worked as a political advisor and academic. She has three degrees and has studied and worked at Cambridge University, University College London, and Queen Mary University of London. She's also been an art gallery curator, an ice cream maker, and a cocktail mixologist. This crash course in NPC lifestyles uniquely qualifies her to pick apart only the juiciest video games for your reading pleasure. 

Cat cut her teeth on MMOs in the heyday of World of Warcraft before giving in to her love of JRPGs and becoming embedded in Final Fantasy XIV. When she's not doing that, you might find her running a tabletop RPG or two, perhaps even voluntarily.