I’m a few days past my Final Fantasy XV blitz and I’m still enmeshed in a quagmire of feelings and emotions. Since finishing the game, I watched Kingsglaive the prequel movie, I’ve considered re-watching the prequel anime, and I’m one retail therapy session away from buying the novel. I’ve already raided Etsy looking for cute Chocobro knicknacks, I’m thinking of a tattoo (seriously), and I’m five seconds away from taking up a permanent residence on Final Fantasy XV’s AO3 page.
OK, so maybe I’m a little bit obsessed. It feels like a weird honeymoon period. My memories of the game are still shiny, new, and comforting, and all I wanna do is go back. I don’t want to necessarily play the game again, at least not so soon, but I feel so strongly attached to those characters and their world that I’m starting to harbour fantasies of what it would be like to live there. And because I’m me, I’ve started to think practically about what it would be like to live in the world of Eos as a normal person.
And then my fantasy falls apart.
Eos fucking sucks. Sure, the early parts of the game make the world attractive. Insomnia is a bright, glittering megacity, though knowing the city is built on a teeming spawl of slums dims some of that glow. Tenebrae and Altissia are beautiful and lush, and the Niflheim Empire-controlled territories of Duscae and Cleigne give me the same small-town, grassy-fields vibe of my native Ohio.
But by the end of the game a sickness turns nearly everyone into monsters and the world’s been covered in perpetual night for 10 years. Now I can deal with the monsters, but I get severe seasonal affective disorder even with the scant few hours of daylight winter affords. 24 hours of darkness? Nope. Can’t do it.
So, as one thought experiment quickly spirals into another, my mind wonders about which Final Fantasy world I could actually live a good life in. Going through the list of modern, post-Final Fantasy VI single-player games, I’ve come up with recommendations based on a regular person’s likelihood of survival and happiness. It’s not a comprehensive list, but one I think might prove useful if you, like me, are harbouring any serious isekai (final) fantasies.
Gaia (Final Fantasy VII)
Even before Sephiroth’s petty arse punched a big hole in the world, Final Fantasy VII’s Gaia is a terrible place to live primarily because of the Shinra Electric Power Corporation. The cartoonishly evil mega-conglomerate isn’t content to keep its atrocities quarantined to its headquarters in Midgar, branching out like a many-tentacled hydra destabilizing local economies, starting wars, and literally draining the life out of the planet. If you do end up in Midgar, you’re likely to live in one of the slums that sit under the main city, with the only daylight you’ll ever see artificially beamed down from giant sunlamps. Of the other areas, Nibelheim is a bombed-out mess, Wutai’s still recovering from war, and Junon’s got a big-arse cannon as its primary attraction. At least you could have a nice time in the resort-y Costa Del Sol, or do what I would do: Park your arse in Cosmo Canyon and never leave.
Unnamed High-School Death Squad World (Final Fantasy VIII)
Final Fantasy VIII’s world (which as far as I can tell doesn’t have a special name) is one of the chiller places to live. Yes, there’s a lot of war and an uncomfortable amount of child soldiers fighting in these wars, but overall the place seems OK for your average person. A fellow Final Fantasy isekai traveller could take up and be mostly ok in any of the cities since most of the devastation is contained to what is essentially mobile rival high schools settling their differences with missiles and memory-eating magical bombs. I say “mostly” because there are a few minor incidents — the attack on Esthar for example — and the little problem of time compression (don’t ask). But thanks to those aforementioned and extremely problematic child soldiers, time compression (seriously, do not ask me to explain this) can be stopped before it gets too bad.
Gaia (Final Fantasy IX)
At first glance, Final Fantasy IX’s world of Gaia seems like another just-ok place to visit. Monsters born of a magical mist roam the low-lying areas, but if you’re fortunate enough to secure lodging in one of the high-elevation cities, you might think you’re gonna be ok. But you’re not ok. If Final Fantasy IX is where you choose to lay your head, please avoid all of the cities. Alexandria, Burmecia, Cleyra, Lindblum…all of them are pretty fucked up by the end of the game. Thanks Kuja! The night city of Treno might be your safest bet, but you’ll have to deal with the whole 24 hours of night thing and make sure your card game is strong. You could venture out to the other continents for a place to chill. Conde Petie on the Outer Continent is like the Las Vegas of Gaia if you took out all the gambling and entertainment and left only the quickie, no-questions-asked marriage ceremonies. You could also be relatively safe if you chose to live in the Black Mage Village. It’s a beautiful place, the villagers are friendly, and they’ve got a chocobo hatchery. But I highly recommend you stay far away from the Black Mage Village, lest you cry yourself to death as you watch all its cheerful, just-happy-to-be-here inhabitants slowly die.
Spira (Final Fantasy X)
No. Nope. No. Never. Do not go there. There should be a big-arse, bright-red neon sign parked on the nearest asteroid outside of Spira saying “Warning! Turn back.” Of all the Final Fantasy worlds to visit, Spira might be the worst. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, and I’m sure the underwater soccer-like Blitzball games are fun to watch. But all of Spira’s beauty and bright, colourful culture is cancelled out by the fact there’s a giant fucking immortal monster that randomly shows up just to destroy shit. Spira is littered with the bones of these destroyed civilizations, and its entire culture has warped around appeasing and stopping this scourge. I love Final Fantasy X more than a lot of games on this list but I would never ever step foot on Spira. Neither should you.
Ivalice (Final Fantasy XII)
This is the one. Ivalice is the place. You could be a normal person in Ivalice and live not only relatively peacefully but dare I say happily too. Now I know y’all are gonna scream at me over playing favourites. Final Fantasy XII is my favourite Final Fantasy and here it is, getting the most glowing recommendation, but think about it. The cities are decent and not too economically depressed — if you don’t mind an imperial coup every now and then. The continents are crawling with monsters but they’re kept relatively under control. There are airships, floating cities, sky-pirates, and bunny-girls everywhere, so the place actually feels like you’re living in a fantasy world. And, most importantly, most of the damage of the game’s events is localised to uninhabited places. Ivalice is pretty damn sweet. It’s not perfect, none of these worlds are, and the scars of war can still be felt, but far more mildly than anywhere else. Final Fantasy XII is a political drama that seems content to leave normal folks largely alone — that’s why it is the best place to shack up if you’re about that isekai life.
Gran Pulse/Cocoon (Final Fantasy XIII)
This is another one of those “stay far away from” worlds. The breathtaking scenery is a mix of technological and natural wonders but they come at a steep price I’m unwilling to pay. No, I don’t want to risk being branded by a god-monster and forced to undergo some inscrutable quest for which the consequences for success or failure leave me either trapped in a crystal or turned into a monster. I also don’t want to ever have the possibility of running into Snow Villiers, the probability of which alone makes Gran Pulse a no go.
Honorable Mention: Hydaelyn (Final Fantasy XIV)
I’ve only played a little bit of this Final Fantasy MMORPG, but what I have seen of FF14’s world I really like, and think it would make a nice place to settle. I’d even venture to say that most people who have played this game in addition to the others would choose FF14’s setting as the premier destination to visit or even live. I am dimly aware that the inhabitants of this world were completely wiped out at one time, so I’m not too enthusiastic to endorse Hydaelyn as a travel destination. But thanks to the magic of time travel (and directorial resets) everything seems to be doing pretty well now.
You already know my feelings on Eos — though it’s home to one of my favourite Final Fantasy games, it’s not a place I’d be too keen to stick around. Of all the worlds I listed here, I’d make Ivalice my home — seems like the best bet. I don’t know what I’d do there, but I’m pretty sure in Ivalice I could live a relatively peaceful, non-protagonist life ogling hot guys with bad hair and petting chocobos.