Final Fantasy XV has been criticized for “bro-ing” up the franchise and potentially alienating half of its audience with its focus on a young man named Noctis and his three childhood friends. And fans of the game were even accused of misogyny because of their defense of the upcoming game.
Unlike previous titles, Final Fantasy XV only has women in secondary, supporting roles. They are not part of the player’s party. Hajime Tabata, the director of Final Fantasy XV, explained his decision to feature four male characters—calling it a roadtrip with four childhood friends.
I recently caught up with Ray Chase, who plays the role of Noctis, to discuss the topic.
“Well, if you’re making something that’s telling a particular story and this one is a story about a young man who is going through a turbulent time, then I understand Tabata-san’s take on how ‘if there’s a girl around it changes the whole dynamic,” says Chase.
“And it does,” he says. “Because when a girl tags along with the party for a little while, it’s something that makes you go, ‘Oh, wow, there’s this girl here in the car with us—this is weird.’ But you’re not really allowed to be yourself. You’re not just allowed to be with your best guy friends. It’s a totally different dynamic.”
“If that’s the story they’re choosing with this one, then that’s the story they’re choosing with this one,” explains Chase. “Final Fantasy is no stranger to having playable female characters. They’ve always been equal opportunity from the start.”
It’s true—the last three Final Fantasy single-player titles featured Lightning and her sister as their main characters. And many of the ones before Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels had women as playable characters.
As a publisher, Square Enix has released numerous female-driven games, including Tomb Raider and Life is Strange. Their upcoming NieR: Automata features a female android as its main character.
I quizzed Chase on what he thought of accusations by culture critics that Final Fantasy XV perpetuates “toxic masculinity.” Is the game toxic?
“I wouldn’t think so,” says Chase. “There’s tons of strong female characters in there too. Luna’s great, Aranea’s amazing. It is, too. No, I would say it doesn’t matter.”
Knowing Square Enix’s penchant for creating strong, memorable characters, it is doubtful that the women of Final Fantasy XV will be casualty to the tropes that sometimes render female characters as little more than plot devices.
“You have tons of strong female archetypes throughout the series,” says Chase. “And I think that for this one, if none of them are playable, then that’s fine. We’ll wait until [Final Fantasy] 16 comes out and you can get your female [main character]. We’re telling a different story. This one happens to be about a young man growing up.”