The Final Fantasy series is filled with mechanics and ideas that have been reused for decades, from the job system to crystals. One of its more obscure recurring motifs is the moon. Since the early ’90s, Final Fantasy games have turned to the moon for everything from world-ending antagonists to cuddly new critters. Final Fantasy XIV’s new expansion, Endwalker, continues the series’ lunar fixation, taking players to the surface of the moon as it wraps the free MMO’s nearly decade-long story arc. Fan theories abound as to what to expect when the Endwalker release date arrives, and we think past uses of the moon could provide some clues.
Before we kick off, it’s worth noting that there are some major story spoilers for a bunch of games in the series, including Final Fantasy IV, VIII, IX, XI, XIV, and XV. So read on with caution.
The first proper use of the moon is in Final Fantasy IV, which establishes the existence of a second, red moon with a race of moon folk called the Lunarians. As well as Lunarians, the moon is home to a rabbit-like race known as the Hummingway and is also the resting place of Bahamut, Lord of the Eidolons.
The moon crops up again in the sequel Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, even influencing gameplay. Phases of the moon determine what skills are effective during battle, for example, a Full Moon raises Black Magic damage but weakens physical attacks. The moon also plays a key role in the story of The After Years, with a new True Moon suddenly appearing. The True Moon is actually a giant spacecraft that the Creator uses to visit planets and judge whether their inhabitants are worthy of life.
Just like the moon in the original game, the True Moon serves as a final area and dungeon in The After Years. Even the story of the niche ’90s anime that The After Years is based on, Legend of the Crystal, is about an evil entity of lunar origin.
The moon also features prominently in Final Fantasy VIII, where it’s the source of all the monsters you face. Final Fantasy IX has two moons and a Tetra Master card that references both of them, and Final Fantasy XI also uses phases of the moon to affect the appearance of Notorious Monsters. More recently, Final Fantasy XV has a character named Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, and once she dies the Starscourge takes over the world, and the moon vanishes from the sky.
Despite the series’ inextricable connection to the moon, it’s clear that Endwalker is especially interested in the lunar origin story established by Final Fantasy IV. Square Enix hasn’t been particularly subtle about it, even giving a Lunar Whale mount – the ultimate airship in Final Fantasy IV – to attendees of the 2021 Digital Fan Festival. Recently, Naoki Yoshida also revealed that he’d been intentionally holding back on references to Final Fantasy IV in anticipation of a moon-related expansion.
Similarly, it can’t be a coincidence that the featured class in promotional materials for Endwalker is the Paladin, and just as Dragoon Estinien Wyrmblood is becoming a key player in the story. In Final Fantasy IV, Cecil is a Paladin when he journeys to the moon alongside his Dragoon friend, Kain. On top of that, the final boss of the new Paglth’an dungeon is Lunar Bahamut, who first appeared during Kain’s Lunar Trial in Final Fantasy IV.
Final Fantasy XIV has had a few scenes set on the moon in the past, mostly featuring Elidibus plotting with Ardbert and the Warriors of Darkness. Our best guess is that the moon will be the final area of the Endwalker expansion, much like it was the final area in Final Fantasy IV. But the reason for heading to the moon could have something to do with Final Fantasy VIII. The trailer for Endwalker clearly shows Eorzea being invaded by powerful creatures, which could be a nod to the Lunar Cry from VIII.
Considering Naoki Yoshida and the development team’s fondness for referencing past games in FFXIV, it’s also likely that Endwalker will have a dungeon based on the colossal Lunatic Pandora from Final Fantasy VIII – a high-tech megastructure that’s three miles tall and one mile wide would be awesome to battle through.
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Alternatively, the mysterious towers that have sprung up all over Eorzea could serve a similar purpose, combining to act as the Lunatic Pandora and ushering in the destruction of the planet via a Lunar Cry. Final Fantasy XIV’s Encyclopedia Eorzea implies that Zodiark was imprisoned on the moon by Hydaelyn, which could also lead to a Lunar Cry if the Esper is freed.
And there are still plenty of possibilities outside of the probable. It could be that the ancient Allagan race isn’t extinct, but has instead migrated to the moon, thereby becoming the Lunarians of FFXIV. Or we could learn that Fandaniel has larger ambitions than simply awakening Zodiark, which isn’t unlikely given his previous threats to destroy Eorzea.
Square Enix constantly references older games in the series, from FFVI’s Phantom Train and Kefka showing up in the Omega: Sigmascape raid, to FFV’s Gilgamesh appearing in the Hildibrand side quest. Of course we’ll have to wait and see what Endwalker has in store for us, but we’d be surprised if its story doesn’t borrow heavily from both Final Fantasy IV and VIII.