Tale of Two Princesses
So, people keep to write me that well-written, relatable, developed beyond “I love Noctis” heroine with her own story is impossible for game with POV of male protagonist.
First of all, I don’t hate Luna, I want better for her. Everyone in this game deserved better.
I hate situation, when developers can write a heroine, who was raised to serve a male protagonist, who was killed for him; who hasn’t anything in her life beyond him, and people praise it as “strong female character”, because Square Enix said so.
I don’t want to say that you shouldn’t write fics or draw fan art with Luna. Give this girl some love and better story, because Square Enix deprived her of anything. They may say otherwise, but I wrote this post, because I want to show how could be written female character in game with male POV, when developers don’t treat her like total garbage.
I don’t get this logic, when people blaming someone for “hating” female character, but at the same time they think she must be sacrificed on Altar of Man’s Story and everything else is bad storytelling.
I hate situation, when developers can cut important story content from game, sell it as Season Pass, and people would defend it as unique artistic desicion and example of good writing, because Square Enix said so.
It’s not like there are dozens of other games, including previous Final Fantasy entries, which managed to have deep, complex characters without selling their story arcs as DLC.
It’s not like one of the most critically acclaimed, best-selling open-world RPG is story about man, who is looking for woman with her own important duty to fullfill.
And this heroine isn’t written as empty husk, who exists only to cry about her love for protagonist, because he is POV character.
Meet princess Cirilla Fiona Elen Riannon, main heroine of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
[it’s even funnier, concidering that Witcher 3 has reputation of very sexist, misogynistic dudebro-simulator on tumblr, because it shows some tiddies.]
[This is big post. If you are impatient and have some questions already (”why are you comparing Western Game with JRPG?”), you can read ending part, where I explained some things further]
Ciri is former princess of Cintra, small country annexed by Nilfgaard Empire when Ciri was little girl. She is heir of Elder Blood and Lady of Space and Time, who must stop The White Frost and save the world. Her fate is intertwined with fate of main male protagonist, her adoptive father Geralt. They had been separated for several years before game events, but in Wild Hunt Geralt finally got an opportunity to find her, while Ciri is on her own jouney to prevent new Ice Age.
Story is shown from Geralt’s perspective strictly and until certain point Ciri appears only in flashbacks told by other people. And by saying “certain point” I mean - not all developers support the idea that killing female characters is mandatory way for making story more tragic.
This is very first promotional shot of Witcher 3:
This is how this scene looks in game now (second screenshot from PS4 version, don’t mind quality). Sorry, Geralt, you might be protagonist, very masculine and stoic bearded white dude, but our girls important too.
Look at Geralt’s expression. He is very proud of his daughter.
Square Enix hadn’t been bothered with adding second throne chair for Lunafreya in ending scene. She seats near King Noctis on the floor. After all her sacrifices she deserved only to merely stand near male protagonist on her knees.
For further humilation Noctis can show her photo of Cidney’s double D’s as the most beautiful memory of his mortal life.
[You don’t need another 10 years of developemt to copypast single chair in 3D modelling soft. If you care about your main lady, of course.]
Instead of forcing Ciri into poorly written romance with someone she met once in 12 years right before passing into the fridge, CD Project give player an option to keep her bisexual (I can’t deny her romantic relationships with men in book canon).
Male protagonist didn’t stop Witcher 3 from passing Bechdel test. The first flashback of Ciri’s journey showed how she saved little girl from wolves. They also discussed about girl’s problem in family (not all little girls exist only for telling protagonist how much heroine loves him) and later Ciri helped her to find new home and made a spinning toy for her.
During her journey Ciri made a lot of friends. Former princess is very familiar with common people. Yet she isn’t flawless angel, who is too good for you. She is hot-headed, very stubborn, she can’t control her abilities properly, she can steal horses for her friends of kill someone for self-defence. Ah, and she is messy eater.
No one in Witcher 3 perfect, but these people still capable to built deep relationships with each other, without being attached to protagonist only.
[I don’t think that 2 lines, which depicted that Ciri good at carving and with kids, took half of TW3 budjet.]
Her mother, Yennefer of Vengerberg worked for Nilfgaard Empire as Advisor of Empreror, who lead the Slaughter of Cintra. But CD Project didn’t give her role of Evil Stepmother, who treats her daughter like nothing, because Geralt must be only prominent figure in her life.
Ciri’s best friend, Triss Merigold is former agent of Lodge, very shady organization, which planned to use Ciri as pawn in their political intrigues. Despite Triss dark past, Ciri still calls her sister, not a lapdog.
Also, I want to add that Triss and Yennefer actually protected Ciri from Wild Hunt during battle in Kaer Morhen unlike Gentiana, who was somewhere offscreen, when Ardyn stabbed Lunafreya. Why mortal woman can do this, but immortal Goddess can’t?
[On my screens Ciri interacted with women more than Luna in whole FFXV]
Ciri has friends and family, even her biological father in game is way more caring person than his book version.
CD Project RED didn’t degrade Ciri into pathetic Pity Sue, surrounded by abusive jerks, in case of making her bonds with Geralt more meaningful and making male protagonist The One Nice Guy Who Can Understand and Support Her.
I don’t think that every character should have 12 siblings, 2 fathers, 3 mothers and 10k followers on tumblr. Character’s loneliness, insecurities, desire to have friends could be major part of their personality. But Square Enix saved this type of development for Prompto, Luna doesn’t have interest in anyone, who isn’t Chosen King.
[ When I’m writing that Luna did something wrong, it doesn’t mean that I blame her, she is fictional person. I blame her writers]
Ciri doesn’t need Chosen King to fix the world, she can be Empress of Nilfgaard herself and restore peace and prosperity by her own hands.
[Keep in mind, according to tumblr this game made by evil sexists]
But she is still Geralt’s daughter, his child of Destiny. They are bound to each other, but Witcher 3 doesn’t push flowery words about Fate and Great Love down to my throat in every cutscene. And it is primarly Geralt, who talks about Ciri. He shares stories about their past, memories of their best or dark days. CD Project didn’t waste Ciri’s limited screentime for crying about Geralt in corner. Of course, she talks about him too, but she is her own character with her own journey and developers showed me this journey.
[There is even snowball fight mini-game. Can you believe these two dorks are almost century old battle hardened witcher and future saviour of the world?]
Meanwhile in FFXV. Little kids having fun times and bonding over… nevermind.
Ciri can have some fun, but she is still Lady of Space and Time with great responsibilities. Ciri’s duty to save the world from White Frost is important and a lot of people sacrifised their lives for it, which caused her emotional breakdown at some moment. You can fail to achieve any of good endings if you don’t let Ciri to properly bury and mourn guy, who helped her to hide from Wild Hunt. She knew him for couple of hours, but she appreciated his sacrifice deeply. How many times Lunafreya mourned Nyx, king Regis? I don’t blame her for it, it’s not even Lunafreya’s problem - lack of grief is common problem of FFXV characters, but Luna has note book. If you run out of budjet and time for rendering cutscenes, you can write sorry letter from your heroine to Noctis. But I guess, I spent more time writing this post on foreign for me language, than Luna’s writer spent on her character.
I don’t have problems with crying woman, but I think that emotional events should lead character to realizing something. When Ciri’s uncle Vesemir
joined uncle Ben in Dead Uncles Heaven it was major turning point for her character development. It is important to help her cope with his death properly by realizing who Ciri is. After this part of story, when she went through the different stages of grief, she grew as person a lot and started to be more proactive.
Lunafreya’s tragic love for Noctis and her desperate desire to see him again didn’t affect her personality beyond just crying about him in every cutscene. She missed every opportunity to see him, she didn’t start to question her or his fate, she is still pawn of destiny. Unlike Ciri, Lunafreya suffers just for pure sake of suffering, because Noctis needs something to be sad about.
But not a single woman had been killed to provide Geralt external sourse of man pain
unless you failed as father. Not a single one. CD Project RED doesn’t treat their female characters as plot-devices, which exist only to love male protagonist, serve him, support him and die for him.
Geralt can have sex with several women, but none of them would ever say that staying behind him is sole purpose of the existance. Witcher 3 has plenty of problems with visual sexualization, but women in this game have they their own goals, duties and story arcs.
Ciri was written by Andrzej Sapkowski, Lunafreya is original FFXV character: Technically, books are prequel, Ciri was young teen during events of Witcher saga. In game she is grown up woman and basically new character, written by another people. Good prequel/sourse material doesn’t automatically mean that further story progression couldn’t ruin character. E.G. Lunafreya was somewhat tolerable in Kingsglaive, in game she is catastrophe.
You think that Ciri is strong heroine, because she is fighter: During this wall of text I never pointed her ability to fight as advantage (and her gameplay sections were kind of tedious). I made focus on her emotional development, presentation and amount of resources, which devepors spent on it.
FFXV went through development hell and Square Enix hadn’t enough time and resources:
In which universe Polish developers had more money and resources than freaking Square Enix. They had enough resources for making quest about Cup Noodles. They had enough resources to release 2 fanservice updates (Carnaval in Altissia and Assassins Festival) and several demos. Their had enough resources to develop Noctis date with Iris. They just don’t care about Luna.
But game told from Noctis point of view (here we go again): Geralt is protagonist of Witcher 3. Story shown strictly from his perspective. Male protagonist isn’t excuse for garbage writing of female characters. There are a lot of games (uncluding FF titles) with male protagonists, where women aren’t portrayed as useless plot-devices. Final Fantasy XII starred male protagonist Vaan, but Princess Ashe is here. Final Fantasy X starred Tidus, but Yuna in spite being love interest, still her own character. All of the listed games are well-known for complex stories without attached to them paid movies and paid DLCs, unlike glorified
hot mess early access FFXV.
Lunafreya doesn’t have enough screentime. Sad, but true. Somehow, Ciri’s flashbacks, including short playable sections are ~1hour long. Lunafreya has 25 minutes of pure cutscenes, half of this time (not to mention her screentime in Kingsglaive and cameo in Brotherhood). Alas, she doesn’t have 1/10 of Ciri’s development. But I don’t think that lack of screentime is biggest problem, because quality>quanity. Another TW3 heroine, Iris von Everec has the same 25 minutes, but it was enough to show one the most tragic, beautiful and relatable stories in history of videogames.
Square Enix will fix Lunafreya’s story with DLC: I refuse to support unhealthy DLC politics by buying content, which should be in game since first day of release. “Games as services” must die. FFVI World of Ruin was part of the base game. Previous FF titles managed to have characters arcs in game. But I’m going to said it again, Lunafreya’s role in game broken beyond repair (so, free update isn’t panacea too). She is still sacrificial lamb for Noctis Man Pain, who was groomed to be sacrificial lamb since age 4.
Square Enix cut off several cutscenes about Lunafreya’s dark past, because they were afraid of SJWs: It’s unconfirmed rumor, very popular one, because it’s easy to blame feminists instead of terrible male writers. If Square Enix didn’t want to provoke feminists, then why Cidney’s bikini is still here? Why Lunafreya was beaten in almost every FFXV universe media peace (Omen trailer, Dawn 2.0 trailer, FFXV)? And I think something is very wrong with statement and over obsession with idea that woman must be raped or abused, so, she can have character development, and this is only possible way to write strong heroine.
You are misogynist, who hates only Lunafreya. Male characters are poorly written too. FFXV writing and narration just sucks. Most of my FFXV text posts and reblogs are critical. Not only me, but fandom discussed a lot about problems with Gladio’s development, Noctis lack of agency, Ignis lack of background and more so. But it was first update in 10 months (if I exclude several lines in Episode Prompto, where Luna played role of guy’s mentor again) with glimpses of Lunafreya. Square Enix had 10 months of players feedback to do something better than another 15 seconds of “I love Noctis”.
You are one of those Witcher-fanboys. Witcher 3 isn’t flawless, there are a lot of problems with pacing, main conflict was resolved by deus ex machina and it struggles from standard issues of open-world games, when you can go and collect all the Gwent cards in the world instead of story progression. I’m not even fan of Ciri, she isn’t in my top-5 list of favorite TW3 girls, but I can’t underestimate developers love and respect for her.
Lunafreya got neither of it from Square Enix.
You can’t compare Western role-playing game and JRPG. They are built upon different traditions, have different sourses of inspiration and Japanese developers don’t care about Western audience and Western gaming in general:
They learned nothing.