Final Fantasy XVI includes an homage to an infamous monster from Final Fantasy XIV

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Final Fantasy XVI, out today, is stuffed with neat little homages and references to the Final Fantasy games that came before it. One of the game’s menus features sprites of Clive, Jill, Torgal, or whoever else is in your party if you’re nostalgic for the old pixel art from the game’s early days on the NES. When you speak to Harpocrates and have acquired enough lore, the old victory fanfare plays. But there’s one homage that’s more likely to inspire fear than warm fuzzy feelings.

Red Comet is back, and he wants his revenge.

Come with me back in time to 2020 when critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV released patch 5.35 for the Shadowbringers expansion. The patch added typical post-expansion launch endgame activities, including a fight with an overworld boss called Red Comet, which, at first blush, just looked like a spicy chocobo.

But he was a killing machine.

Red Comet was uncharacteristically powerful and vicious for one of creation’s mildest and most beloved fake creatures, armed with moves that could wipe out high-level players. Naturally, in response, the memes poured in.

Even the official Final Fantasy XIV Twitter account got in on the jokes.

Fast forward three years, and the Red Comet has made a triumphant return. In Final Fantasy XVI, the hunt board returns, giving players the chance to hunt and fight unique creatures for special rewards. Though XIV calls it Dread Comet, it seems pretty obvious where the inspiration for this bird came from.

I actually stumbled upon him by chance during a bit of exploring. One of the fun — and by fun, I mean sometimes frustrating — things about FFXVI is that depending on where you are or what you’re doing, the game will suddenly take away control to put you in a cutscene.

That’s fine when you’re expecting it because you’ve hit the next bit of story, but I was out in the middle of the desert on some fetch quest or another, minding my own business. Suddenly, I’m in a cutscene. The music cued up. I heard a chocobo’s famous “KWEH!” cry; then the screen flashes, showing me my enemy.

Reader, when I tell you I wanted to run screaming…
Image: Square Enix

Seeing that it was an A-ranked mark, I — recalling the horror stories from this bird’s infamous namesake — thought to nope the hell out. But I decided to at least try to test my mettle against it and found it was surprisingly easy to beat, disappointingly so.

Maybe FFXVI’s developers, some of whom, including producer Naoki Yoshida, worked on FFXIV, decided to make this bird easier to beat as an apology for Red Comet’s viciousness. Either way, I appreciate the neat little homage to one of the franchise’s deadliest birds.

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