The best and worst Final Fantasy party members

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For some reason we have a lot of opinions about every Final Fantasy game at PC Gamer and this sometimes causes argume—er, energetic discussions that we now feel the need to share. It happened with Bioware companions. It happened in weirder form to Sonic, now it's happening to Final Fantasy. Which companions annoyed us? Which companions made us want to wear a cool red cloak and pose on rooftops like Batman? Read on to find out.

Samuel Roberts

Likes...Ignis (Final Fantasy XV)

This was a hard one. I originally picked Auron from Final Fantasy X, because he's a dead guy who clings onto life just so he can save Spira. That's pretty damn cool. On reflection, though, Ignis makes food like the above, and I'll be friends with anyone who can cook me a wonderful dinner. Plus, the ludicrous British accent doesn't hurt things either. I think the more detailed interactions of the FFXV characters means they're easier to like than some of those from the older games.

"I mean, I nearly destroyed reality because I liked a bad movie once, but at least I've found some inner peace."

Hates... Seifer Almasy (Final Fantasy VIII)

There are some really obvious choices for this one: Hope from Final Fantasy XIII, the whiny teenager who, to be fair, loses his mother early in the story, but is super irritating in all ensuing cutscenes. There's also Cait Sith, the one party member I completely ignored in FFVII, and FFVIII's Irvine Kinneas, who makes the terrible error of dressing up as a cowboy. Unfortunately, his limit break is far too cool to put him on this list, and his freakout as he's meant to headshot the Sorceress is one of that game's best character moments, so he doesn't make the cut. 

I instead picked Seifer for several reasons. He's technically a member of your party for the Dollet mission at the start of Final Fantasy VIII, and even has his own limit break, so he meets the criteria for this list. After that, he becomes the game's primary antagonist and his dickishness spirals out of control. 

His dream of being the Sorceress's knight—a dream based, seemingly, on a bad movie that you as Laguna Loire in flashback get to help create—means he almost destroys time and space by awakening Sorceress Adel. And instead of being punished for that, he cuts Odin in half (which I'm still mad about), then gets a happy ending where he's stood on the docks at Balamb looking pretty pleased with himself. A bad man.

Tom Senior

Likes... Red XIII (Final Fantasy VII)

He is a good boy who is my friend. Red is a wise and level-headed doggo when you break him out of the Shinra lab, but he really comes into his own when you visit his home at Cosmo Canyon. The reveal of his father’s fate, which causes him to howl at the moon—because he is a dog and not a cat—is one of the game’s most poignant moments. Also, when he howls in battle during limit breaks he bombards enemies with stars and space lasers. 

As much as I like him, he’s not great in combat and I do tend to drop him for other party members. I’m always happy to see him pop up in cutscenes though, because he is one of the few truly heroic characters in Final Fantasy VII’s team of broken misfits.

Hates... Hope (Final Fantasy XIII)

Children in games are almost always annoying because they don’t behave like kids at all. Hope is the perfect example. He is earnest and pure of heart and has an infuriating voice. 

He’s a good counterpoint to Lightning’s battle-hardened attitude, at least. I particularly like the bit of the game where she tries to inject some nihilism into his worldview. I hoped she would crush his spirit and knock the shrill weepiness out of him, but in the end he ends up making Lightning a more caring person instead—oh no! 

Now I think about it Snow, also from Final Fantasy XIII, might be worse, but he’s so boring I can’t think of anything to say about him, the useless trenchcoated lump. God, why did I spend so many hours of my life playing this game?

Andy Kelly

Likes... Vincent Valentine (Final Fantasy VII)

Sullen, brooding, and draped in red, Vincent is one of the two optional party members in Final Fantasy VII. Thanks to the genetic meddling of the villainous Professor Hojo, he can transform into powerful monsters including DEATH GIGAS, a weird Frankenstein thing that has a move called GIGADUNK, and HELLMASKER, a chainsaw-wielding dude straight out of an '80s slasher movie with an attack called SPLATTERCOMBO.

Aside from all that wonderful silliness, there's a tragedy to Vincent too. After a series of events involving a woman called Lucrecia that are far too long-winded to go into here, he locks himself in the basement of the Shinra mansion in Nibelheim, spending his days sleeping in a coffin and lamenting his sorry existence. That is until Cloud and the gang free him and he joins them on their quest to save the world.

Vincent is one of the most melodramatic characters in VII, and that's saying a lot in a Final Fantasy game. "Hearing your stories has added upon me yet another sin," he moans after Cloud fills him in on their mission. "More nightmares will come to haunt me now!" Alright, mate. Calm down. But that's why I love Vincent. He's theatrical and bloody miserable, but he can also turn into a daft cartoon monster and chainsaw people to death.

Hates... Selphie Tilmitt (Final Fantasy VIII)

I feel a little bad for this, because Selphie is essentially blameless and quite lovely, really. But that's actually why I never bothered including her in my party when I played VIII. She's just too bouncy and eager to please, and almost sickeningly friendly and good-natured. I like my Final Fantasy characters to be sullen and moody, with a bit of an edge, and I never found Selphie's constant squawking and chirping all that endearing.

To be fair, she is responsible for some of the game’s funnier moments, particularly when she's trying to force Squall to crawl out of his impenetrable emo shell. But her cries of "Let's PAAH-TAY!" and chanting "SeeD! SeeeeeD! SeeeeeeD!" when she passes her field exam are just annoying. Although I will admit that it's pretty funny when she annoys cowboy sniper Irvine Kinneas by repeatedly calling him 'Irvy Kinnepoo'.

Selphie is the upbeat, light-hearted Final Fantasy character who gets hit extra hard when something tragic inevitably happens, and I'm generally fine with that archetype. But she has no chance when there are characters like Zell and Quistis to team up with instead, and given the chance, I'll always bench her for someone better. But maybe I'm just being a misery guts and she’s actually the heart and soul of the game. Nah.

Joe Donnelly

Likes... Tifa Lockhart (Final Fantasy VII)

Tifa Lockhart is a badass. Not only is she an expert in martial arts, her slot machine-style, multi-hit Limit Break attack is super powerful. Even if mistimed this move can deal copious amounts of damage. But, if timed right, wow, it's a joy to watch unfold. 

Moreover, Tifa's role in pretty much every story branch she features in is interesting. Her tour guide persona in the Nibelheim flashback frames her relationship with Cloud, Sephiroth and Zack. Her place in Avalanche as fighter-cum-gang hideout proprietor depicts her life before the events of FF7. The way she assumes control of the group in Cloud's Mako-induced absence highlights her leadership skills. Escaping a gas chamber before kicking Shinra exec Scarlet’s arse shows her resilience. Even her optional quests are good fun––not least fetching her Premium Heart Ultimate Weapon from the Sector 5 slums, which lets you both revisit an otherwise forgotten area and crack one of the game’s earliest puzzles.   

Unlike, say, I dunno, Final Fantasy 10's Wakka, Tifa is crucial to so many parts of her game’s story. And she also carries a real weapon.

Hates... Wakka (Final Fantasy X)

There have been some right duff weapons in Final Fantasy over the years, not least Cait Sith's megaphones, Lulu's dolls and Edward's harps. But who brings a ball to a fight? Don't bother unsheathing that Celestial Caladbolg, mate, Wakka's brought his Mitre Tactic with him. I don't think so. Worse still, Wakka's weapon of choice is a Blitzball—the most tedious fictional sport in the history of videogames, by the way—which are light enough to be kicked and thrown around, yet this guy somehow reckons them more powerful than his counterparts' repertoire of swords, staffs and lances. Even with spikes tacked on, I'm not buying it.

To make matters worse, Wakka's rubbish at Blitzball till Tidus turns up. And he appears to dislike the the Al Bhed simply because they follow a different religion. And he's a pain in the arse. Wakka is the worst.

Phil Savage

Likes...Yuna (Final Fantasy X/X-2)

This is cheating, right? I'm pretty sure it's cheating. Yuna's character arc is the heart of Final Fantasy X's story. Without her, it's just a game about an obnoxious sports lad and his father who's now a space whale. I mean, that's a perfectly fine basis for a JRPG plot, but Square went the extra mile and made a character who grew and found hope and learned to enjoy life and all of that good stuff. And yet despite that, Yuna's only my favourite because she's also the protagonist of Final Fantasy X-2. (And yes, if you're reading this, chances are you think X-2 is a bad game. You're wrong, but let's not have that argument right now.) X-2 works because it gives Yuna a sense of normalcy. She saved the world in FFX, and was then free to do pretty much whatever she wanted. She chose to hang out in an airship with her cousin and an emo warrior. That's pretty baller, and a well deserved life after the emotional ruin of the first (tenth) game.

Hates...Cait Sith (Final Fantasy VII)

Samuel has this thing where he's almost constantly furious about Winston from Overwatch because of how quirky and naff his character design is. Cait Sith is my version of that. He's a cat, right? But he's on a fat Moogle, yeah? And, get this, both of them are robots remotely controlled by some dude in an office. It's a seemingly random assortment of design traits that amount to a giant trash mess. In-game, the polygonal character model is just a bouncing off-white pile of garbage nothing. On the Final Fantasy wiki, his occupation is listed as “Toysaurus”, which is awful. I was actually glad when he betrayed Cloud and co., because it meant I had a genuine excuse to want him to burn in a big fire. I hate his whole situation, completely and forever.