Final Fantasy might be best known for Chocobos and fair-haired protagonists, but one other thing has been an essential part of the series’ DNA over the years: minigames. From Triple Triad to fishing, almost every Final Fantasy game features some prominent minigame, but there’s a clear fan favorite. Ever since the release of Final Fantasy X, fans have been clamoring for the return of the aquatic sport Blitzball, and the Dawntrail expansion for Final Fantasy XIV creates the perfect opportunity.
Square Enix describes Dawntrail as a tropical “vacation” for the Warrior of Light, after the climactic events of Endwalker. It’s clear this expansion is taking a much more light-hearted approach to its storytelling, and trying to set up the next decade of FFXIV. At the same time, it’s clear FFXIV’s development is trying to get more playful with side content, evidenced by the Fall Guys collaboration.
During Final Fantasy Fan Fest in July 2023, director Naoki Yoshida said a new game would be coming to Gold Saucer, to which multiple people enthusiastically screamed, “Blitzball!” When Yoshida said, “No Blitzball,” there was an audible disappointed gasp from the crowd. That’s because there’s never been a better chance to bring it back than Dawntrail.
The upcoming expansion is going to take players to the “New World” of Tural, an unexplored land that lies to the West of Eorzea. During the keynote, Yoshida explained that Tural has a very different culture and aesthetic from anywhere else seen in FFXIV, which conceivably would mean new leisure activities.
FFXIV has always taken inspiration from other games in the series, whether it’s for story elements, raid bosses, or minigames. The Gold Saucer (inspired by FFVII) already features Triple Triad from FFVIII and the minion-based minigame Lord of Vermillion, named after the Japan-only card game of the same name. A Blitzball game would feel right at home here.
You could keep the turn-based nature from FFX and have only two players, with one controlling each team. Or you could make everyone take turns. A more active approach would be to make the whole thing real-time. The dev team could dive full-force into Blitzball with seasons, stats, and tournaments, or keep things simple as a limited-time event.
The tropical setting of Dawntrail is the perfect excuse to bring Blitzball back, whether the game is played in stadiums or simply in the ocean. There is a little bit of evidence to suggest Dawntrail takes inspiration from FFX — the new Allied Tribe is the PeluPelu, a race first introduced in FFX’s world of Spira.
Yoshida is already trying to downplay the possibility of Blitzball, but let’s keep our fingers crossed that it’s a fakeout. Love it or hate it, Blitzball is one of the most inventive minigames Final Fantasy has ever seen, and considering Final Fantasy XIV’s theme park-like approach to the franchise, its inclusion seems inevitable.
Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail launches in summer 2024.
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