The upcoming Mobius Final Fantasy game recently drew a lot of attention for a controversial change. Its hero, Wol, (an abbreviation of ‘Warrior of Light’) underwent a costume change. But this isn’t your average redesign— citing feedback from players, the game’s developers changed Wol’s costume because it was deemed “too sexy.” Calling costumes too sexy is not new in the gaming industry, but it’s usually a criticism leveled at the costumes female characters wear.
So, what’s the difference here? Is it purely that the costume was on a man rather than a woman? Are developers finally taking complaints about ridiculous costuming trends seriously? Most importantly, did the costume need to be changed in the first place?
Revealing Armor in Final Fantasy Is Nothing New
If a sexy male costume was an aberration in the Final Fantasy series, it would be easy to attribute the costume change to the complaint that it makes the character “too sexy.” The problem is, such costuming isn’t at all aberrant; the series is no stranger to sexy male armor— take a look at Vaan or Jecht’s bare chest, or the revealing armor in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, which is equally scandalous for male and female avatars.
Of course, the series’ portrayal of skimpy armor skews heavily in favor of scantily clad women over men. Look no further than Final Fantasy X-2, which features an all-girl cast whose costumes default to bikini tops and tight leather pants.
That Wol’s outfit was changed due to criticism is an interesting explanation. Granted, his outfit shows a lot of hip and thigh, unlike Vaan and Jecht (though the point still stands with the ridiculous outfits in A Realm Reborn). But does it actually seem like that’s the reason behind his costume change?
The Inequality of Sexy Outfits in Final Fantasy
Unfortunately, it doesn’t look that way. Cindy’s controversial outfit remains unaddressed, despite annoyance from other fans of the series. For most, the complaint isn’t about the outfit in isolation, but rather about her outfit in relation to the rest of the cast. All of Cindy’s male counterparts have been dressed in outfits appropriate to their occupation. By contrast, Cindy wears booty shorts and a bikini top to work on cars. The moment the character is a woman, her outfit gets skimpier, but criticism of that trend doesn’t seem to herald any outfit revamps.
Why was Wol’s outfit deemed “too sexy,” when plenty of female characters wear the same thing (or less) and aren’t viewed that way? One possible explanation of this is the way much of our culture equates sexiness—and femininity—with vulnerability. This isn’t a belief that everybody holds, nor is it true of all video games, but it’s not an uncommon theme. Putting Wol in a revealing outfit makes viewers question its practicality, a question that wouldn’t be asked of Paine’s warrior outfit, for instance.