RPG fans love Final Fantasy not just for its story but its stellar visual design. Thanks to legends such as Tetsuya Nomura, Hironobu Sakaguchi, and Yoshitaka Amano, Final Fantasy always give players a cast to remember. Aside from unique game design, fans love the way the series approaches character design.
Like in real life, presentation says a lot about a person. And in Final Fantasy, outfits always tell a story. Thanks to various compilations and interviews, fans know that a lot of thinking has gone into designing & redesigning the franchise’s main characters. Who shines in their respective outfits? And who just misses the mark?
10 Best: Luneth
Luneth and his friends become Warriors of Light in FF 3 when their discovery of the Wind Crystal prompts them to go on a journey to restore balance to the world. While Luneth’s new outfit isn’t as grandiose as other protagonists’, it’s a humble reminder of Luneth’s flexibility as a character.
In fact, Luneth’s outfit announces he’s a young explorer on the get-go. He wears a leather vest with large buckles on top of a sweatshirt and a turtleneck. He has light grey pants, knee-high boots, and sports a fanny pack. Despite his rather “basic” appearance, his costumes across Jobs focus on a purple motif. Luneth sports a decent and consistent look without going over the top.
9 Worst: Vaan
Despite hailing from Rabanastre’s Lowtown Slums, Vaan of FF 12 has high hopes of becoming a sky pirate. As such, he exudes an Aladdin vibe from the get-go– impoverished but never without a dream. Unfortunately, Vaan’s outfit doesn’t convey this character trait properly.
Unlike his other companions, Vaan looks quite “simple” with his leather vest, pants, and red waistband. However, it’s also unlike a person of his status to have ornamented pants, and for him to possess metal bracers, greaves, boots, and a belt studded with blue gems. This conflicted design choice relegates Vaan to blend with the background compared to other boldly-designed protagonists.
8 Best: Lightning
Lightning in FF 13 leads a group of unlikely individuals in a quest to defy their fates. Despite complaints about the overtly-convoluted plot, players still admire the game for Lightning’s simple yet combat-ready design.
Perhaps consistent with Lightning’s outfits across the games are her knee-high boots and her ever-present gunblade. In FF 13, she sports a sleeveless vest and shorts on knee-high boots, along with gloves and a shoulder plate. Future installments depict Lightning with Valkyrie-like armor, complete with plates, a shield, and a long skirt.
7 Worst: Tidus
People of Zanarkand know Tidus as Zanarkand Abes’ rising blitzball star. Unfortunately, a disaster sent Tidus to Spira, spending his time in FF 10 trying to find a way to go back to his homeland. Tidus sports a blitzball uniform with some alterations to disassociate him with Jecht, his father and known blitzball star. Unfortunately, his stylistic choices leave much to be desired.
Given that blitzball is an aquatic sport, Tidus’ uniform gives the impression of being made with leather or other heavy materials, making it impractical for swimming. Moreover, the chest vest-shirt doesn’t match the suspender-uniforms, and the blue pauldron and armor don’t seem to have any practical benefit in playing the sport.
6 Best: Squall
Squall Leonhart of FF 8 leads the mercenaries of Balamb Garden in tasks that end up saving the world. FF 8 ends up captivating players not with its main conflict, but its central love story. And Squall certainly looks the part of an angsty teenage male protagonist, with matching scar to boot.
Squall’s all-black motif has become a look most commonly associated with him. Some might think his black pants, black gloves, black boots, and black bomber jacket seem extremely “ordinary,” but design choices such as his fur trim collar and lion motif, as well as the signature gunblade, make Squall equal parts brooding and badass.
5 Worst: Noctis
Players help Prince Noctis of Final Fantasy 15 reclaim the throne after the Niflheim Empire takes over the former’s Kingdom of Lucis. In this modern fantasy adventure, Noctis and his companions embark on a boyband tour-esque adventure, all of them wearing black clothing that denote their noble status. Unfortunately, others might argue Noctis lacks this “regal” signature in his attire.
Granted, being on the run might force Noctis to appear more civilian. His cropped trousers, buckled boots, jacket, and simple shirt also emphasize his mobility. However, Noctis’ overall clothing design doesn’t “pack” as much punch as other characters, such as Ardyn’s signature fedora or the dragoon Aranea’s white cloak on black plate.
4 Best: Cecil
Cecil Harvey begins FF 4 as a Dark Knight whose subsequent exile starts a journey that eventually saves the world. Cecil is recognizably one of the few characters to make a permanent Job change in the game. After all, Cecil begins as a Dark Knight but ends up becoming a Paladin.
Perhaps where Cecil’s magnificence lies is in its two sets of outfits, both equally-captivating. Unlike other depictions of the Paladin and the Dark Knight, Cecil’s share body-fitting armor with a prevalence of spikes and spirals. As a Dark Knight, Cecil wears full-body dark plate with a mask and golden highlights. Meanwhile, as a Paladin, Cecil wears white armor with dark spikes and blue details.
3 Worst: Luso Clemens
Luso Clemens appears in Grimoire of the Rift, the sequel to Final Fantasy Tactics. In the game’s lore, Luso stumbles upon the aforementioned Grimoire in their school library, which transports him to Ivalice. Upon his arrival, Luso’s outfit makes one thing clear: he very badly needs a backpack.
It’s much simpler to describe what Luso wears instead of looking at it. He wears a red vest under yellow dungarees with an emblem of a four-leaf clover. Aside from a red hat, he wears a blue belt and a second belt hanging the Grimoire. On top of those is a green shawl. Moreover, he wears a glove on his right arm and wears a blue gauntlet and a silver shield on his left.
If all that seemed difficult to process, that’s because it was– and thankfully, his cameo in FFT: War of the Lions makes his costume a bit simpler.
2 Best: Terra
Terra starts FF 6 a soldier and ends the game a hero. Unfortunately, her skill over magic made the Gestahlian Empire conduct experiments over Terra to enhance their studies into Magitek. Bur thanks to the Returners, Terra comes to terms with her special abilities and helps in ending Gestahlian rule. Terra does this while sporting attire expressing her defiance over the Gestahlian Army.
Terra wears a red dress with a pink sash coupled with red bracers and red boots, as well as a pink cape. Most of Terra’s alternate outfits depict her with a more ornamental approach, denoting her freedom and mystical nature. Despite its simplicity, it’s a unique and recognizable look.
1 Worst: Cloud
Any fan will recognize Cloud from FF 7. In the game’s narrative, this SOLDIER-turned-mercenary becomes involved with an eco-terrorist group as his past haunts him. Despite how “recognizable” Cloud has become in his SOLDIER uniform, it’s not “protagonist” material.
Others might argue that Cloud stuck with the SOLDIER getup to reflect the game’s more grounded and realistic setup. As such, it makes sense for Cloud to wear the staple black shirt, baggy pants, combat boots, and shoulder pads of Shinra’s combat contingent. However, this reasoning doesn’t fit with the fact that other characters like fellow SOLDIERs Sephiroth, Genesis, and even fellow protagonist Vincent have demonstrably unique getups.