With Endwalker approaching, and the eighth anniversary of Final Fantasy XIV’s relaunch, Warriors of Light around the world have been given a lot to reflect upon from their adventures. An integral part of such has been the cast of characters accompanying our protagonist through thick or thin and, quite literally, throughout a universe of heartfelt and riveting story. And for English players in this Japanese game, the localization and acting has played a major part in delivering such.
We had the exciting opportunity to reflect upon the past few years with the English cast representing the current Scions of the Seventh Dawn about their characters’ journey — and their own adventures in bringing the game to life.
MMORPG.COM: What's the strongest point of change you've noticed in your character?
Bethan Walker (Alisaie): I think she is really starting to stand on her own two feet, she is increasingly fearless despite everything thrown at her. She knows her own mind, what she believes in and doesn't need anyone's permission to fight for what she believes in.
Colin Ryan (Alphinaud): It’s been such a pleasure to navigate Alphinaud’s development and to see him growing up to become the person and the leader that probably he never envisaged himself at one point. At his core, he’s a good person with such a strong sense of morality which I just love about him. For all of Alphinaud’s flaws, which I actually find quite endearing about him, something I admire about him is his ability to acknowledge them, to be able to recognise his hubris and his vanity and to learn from his mistakes. That has undoubtedly led to him being the kind of leader he is today. Our own world leaders could learn a thing or two from him!
Timothy Watson (Urianger): As with all huge imaginary worlds, like that of Final Fantasy, the characters undergo changes from time to time that surprise and intrigue the player. That’s a necessary part of the storytelling and is a mark of the quality of the writing. Urianger is an enigma and I look forward to each and every twist as it comes along!
Robyn Addison (Y’shtola): I think that over the past few years that I’ve been voicing Y’shtola I’ve noticed her becoming more vulnerable or rather showing her vulnerability more. She is always considered and commanding, authoritative and strong… But, I’ve really enjoyed the moments where she allows us a glimpse at what gives her doubts or what frightens her.
Peter Bramhill (Thancred): Thancred certainly has changed a lot over the past few years! But I suppose, for me personally it felt like there was definitely a real shift both vocally and mentally during Shadowbringers. In the exchange and ensuing battle between Thancred, Minfilia/Ryne and Ran’jit, when Thancred had his near-death experience and went into an almost confessional evaluation of his feelings toward Minfilia, I felt like something switched in him. Thancred was always someone who didn’t like to wear his heart on his sleeve but kept any personal feelings well hidden beneath his jokey, flippant and strong demeanour. This seemed like a real turning point and one which for me gave him new depths. He now seems much more capable of losing himself on odd occasions into nostalgia or regret. This certainly adds some interesting layers to Thancred’s complex character and makes him even more fun to voice as you get to scratch beneath the surface of his troubled past and present.
Robert Vernon (Estinien): I really loved the change of direction when Estinien was recovering, unmasked. As he opened up to the others, laying down his title of Azure Dragoon. That was the beginning of a journey to where we are today. Estinien has...friends. Though he still hasn't entirely abandoned his lone wolf ways.
Gemma Lawrence (Krile): I think Krile has gained a heaviness throughout the game. She has witnessed a lot of terrible, painful things and I can really sense that has taken its toll emotionally.
MMORPG.COM: Have you ever disagreed with something your character did? What would you personally have done?
Walker (Alisaie): No, I don't think that's my job really. I think it's really important to be able to stand back and be objective. I do admire a lot of her choices though, she is far braver than I!
Ryan (Alphinaud): Alphinaud has had a tendency to rush into things and take quite rash decisions. I'm much more cautious than him and have to deliberate about every possible option before actually deciding to do something. But we love Alphinaud despite and for this zeal!
Watson (Urianger): Urianger is complex. He has a rather forbidding appearance and uses a measured delivery to sometimes conceal his true motives. Those motives are always ‘true,’ however! So I don’t disagree with his approach – even if it brings him into conflict on occasion.
Addison (Y’shtola): I don’t think I’d dare disagree with Y’shtola! She’s certainly smarter and more intuitive in crisis situations than I would be.
Bramhill (Thancred): Oh wow! OK. Haha! Where to start? He’s done some pretty shady stuff over the years! I mean I’m not much of a slayer/warrior myself but Thancred’s gotta do what he’s gotta do to save his world, right? Sometimes you’ve got to break a few rules to get things done!
I guess on a more human level, even though I understood how disenchanted Thancred must have felt when he knew Minfilia had really gone, it always felt mean how cold and gruff he sometimes was with Ryne. I’d like to think that perhaps I personally might have been able to keep my own personal grief and hurt in check enough to remain kinder and warmer towards her, after all she was just an innocent child caught up in this complex crazy web of Minfilia and Thancred’s relationship!
That said, from a voicing and character point of view it has been a far more interesting ride to be able to play their relationship as it’s grown through that initial frostiness into a more paternal bond. Full credit to the writers on that one.
Vernon (Estinien): Estinien, was blinded by the shadows of the past, and all he had lost in the Dragonsong War. By ancient grudges. It almost cost him his life and his nation. For me, diplomacy always has to be the solution, even in the face of adversity. They just needed to talk it out!
Lawrence (Krile): It's hard to disagree with Krile; she is so loyal and always does the right thing. I don't know if I could always be as 'good' as her - she's definitely the most selfless character I've ever played! If it were up to me, I'd do a few more things for Krile herself.
MMORPG.COM: If you could revisit a moment in bringing your character to life, what would it be?
Walker (Alisaie): Oh so many. Playing Alisaie has been the highlight of my voice career so far so it would be too hard to choose. There have been a few very tender moments in the studio when the director has asked me to 'do less' which often means just relax and just 'be' in the scene and stop acting. It sounds counterintuitive but it's a great note for an actor as it helps us fully relax, breathe and engage with the truth of what we're saying. Sometimes the simplest quietest moments have had the most impact on me. Aliasie has had some beautiful moments with Ga Bu, but perhaps the moments with Alphinaud are the ones that I hold closest to my heart.
Ryan (Alphinaud): It's got to be that time when he destroys Vauthry with the sass and eloquence that only Alphinaud is capable of. Iconic.
Watson (Urianger): I try to make it a rule never to wish I’d played something differently. That way madness lies!
Addison (Y’shtola): It would be quite fun to go back to my first voice session and see how much the character has grown. I think my performance would be very different, although I’m not sure I know how.
Bramhill (Thancred): Good question! I think like most actors, if you’re lucky enough to end up doing a long running character, over time you become more and more comfortable as you gradually build and inhabit them. So sometimes you inevitably wish you could go back and re voice those early bits knowing the voice and character as you do now.
For me though it’s all about the journey, those early incarnations are important in the development into the Thancred we all know now. Just like in life, we all change a bit each time we go through different events, and Thancred has definitely been through more than most! So, it’s only right that his voice should reflect that. Hopefully this comes across as his voice changes in tone and register over the years, just as mine has in real life!
Vernon (Estinien): Wrestling for control with the eye of Nidhogg was an early moment that really gripped me. It just felt so dark and epic. Though I was worried that would be it for Estinien.
Lawrence (Krile): I'd love to go right back to the beginning when Krile meets all the characters for the first time. She was so happy and full of joy. A really interesting thing about recording this game over so many years is that you have no idea where your character is going to end up, or what is going to happen to them. So at the beginning neither me or Krile knew anything of the loss or heartache that lay ahead!