Game Theory

FFXIV Dawntrail Has a Huge Link to Final Fantasy IX

More than a throwback.

Final Fantasy XIV Viper
Square Enix

Fan Fest in Tokyo revealed a wealth of new information about Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail, including the new Pictomancer job inspired by Final Fantasy VI. That’s not nearly Dawntrail’s only source of inspiration, however, as Final Fantasy IX looks like it could be tremendously important to the expansion. As it happens, the last few years have also seen several rumors about a Final Fantasy IX remake, and Square Enix has certainly shown the classic game a lot of attention lately.

One of the big reveals at Fan Fest was Dawntrail’s new Solution 9 zone, a futuristic cityscape that looks like something out of Blade Runner. FFXIV is no stranger to sci-fi, but Solution 9 looks leagues above anything we’ve ever seen, and it’s the name that’s particularly interesting.

Solution 9 is highly futuristic, sporting a neon pink hue that’s reminiscent of Trance from Final Fantasy IX.

Square Enix

In FFIX, Solution 9 is the name of one of Zidane’s Dyne moves when he’s in Trance mode. Furthermore, the pink hue to the zone is tremendously reminiscent of the neon coloring FFIX uses in trance. This isn’t the first reference to that game either, as the expansion's new job, Viper, is seemingly inspired by Zidane. The job uses dual blades just like Zidane, and if you look at the description for his weapon Runetooth, it says another name for it is “The Viper.”

Those two details alone are pretty direct references, but fans also translated the in-game language on one of the signs in Solution 9, which has directions to a “Soul Supply.” Souls were a central part of FFIX’s narrative, especially in the latter half of the game when you learn about the planet Terra. This means that certain ideas from FFIX could very well clue us into some story details in Dawntrail.

The giant tree-like structure has featured prominently in many Dawntrail promos, and it might be this game’s equivalent of the Iifa Tree.

Square Enix

To keep things as simple as possible, in FFIX, the residents of Terra seek immortality by putting their Souls in stasis, separating them from their physical avatars that walk the world. As Terra fell to ruin, the people created Garland, who was tasked with watching over the Souls and finding a new planet to assimilate with. The assimilation doesn’t happen, and Garland instead hatches a plan to take over Gaia, the main planet in FFIX. To this end, he plants the Iifa Tree, which blocks the process of Gaian Souls reincarnating and lets Garland put Terran Souls into that reincarnation process.

The Iifa Tree could be another vital piece of FFIX’s story that makes its way to Dawntrail, as there’s a very prominent tree-like structure that’s appeared in both the key art and logo. This tree-like temple seems to be the focal point of Dawntrail’s main city, Tural, and its function could be very similar to FFIX. With the Soul elements in Solution 9, perhaps the tree is serving as some kind of siphon for Souls.

FFXIV hasn’t been afraid to use classic characters in new roles, so seeing the likes of Kuja or Garland in Dawntrail isn’t out of the question.

Square Enix

What makes all this seem even more likely is that FFXIV already has a precedent of directly adapting other games from the series. The first Alliance Raid series in A Realm Reborn adapts the Crystal Tower from Final Fantasy III, using plot points and bosses from that game. More recently, the post-Endwalker patch series adapts ideas from Final Fantasy IV, making Golbez and Zeromus major antagonists in the main narrative. There are a half-dozen other examples too, like Shadowbringer’s Eden raid series drawing from Final Fantasy VIII.

Time and again, the team behind FFXIV has put twists on classic Final Fantasy stories, and all the evidence points to that happening in the ninth entry. In 2022, the kart racer Chocobo GP featured Steiner and Vivi from FFIX as playable characters. Two mobile games introduced FFIX collaborations in the last year. Square debuted quite a few new figures and products from the game recently, and then there’s the animated series that was quietly announced a couple of years back. As they say, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.

Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail launches Summer 2024 for PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

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