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Running animations are everything in Final Fantasy XIV

As someone who proclaimed that they didn’t like MMORPGs anymore, I’ve somehow slipped into Final Fantasy XIV. Everyone says it gets really good eventually, so I’m standing resolute in the face of many a fetch quest to reach this famed ray of light.

Progress is slow, though. Not slow as in, “I’m taking my time”, but slow as in, “I cannot stop creating characters, help me”. Seriously, help me. Right now my progress towards that light is slow because I cannot stop running. Let me explain.

So far, the character I’ve stuck with the longest is Shadow Hulk, who’s a spitting image of the green angry man but in a bluey grey shade, reminiscent of his original comic book colour. I like to think that in a parallel universe filled with thousands upon thousands of mischievous cat-boys, there exists a calm Bruce Banner who rather enjoys their company.

And it’s safe to say that I’ve grown rather fond of Hulky. We’ve been to lots of places together, after all. That includes plodding along hot desert sands to bonk a huge sandworm to a pulp, or traipsing across bustling cities to serve thirsty officers herbal tea. He also got his first Chocobo mount recently! We named him Kiryu after his hero, the Dragon Of Dojima. Perhaps one of my favourite things about Hulky is the way he stands. There’s something quite adorable about the way his trunk-like arms flop to the side.

As my EXP bar rises, so does my love for this beefcake.

There’s just one thing that’s holding me back from basically proposing to my digital avatar, and that’s Hulky’s run. It’s not that it’s bad, or ungainly or anything like that. It’s just not what I’m looking for. I’m after something oddly specific. I don’t know precisely what it is that gets me going, but it can only be described as “pleasing gusto”. After much analysis, I’ve decided that this is something that’s missing when Hulky puts one leg in front of the other.

To me, Hulky’s run feels a bit too smooth and lacking in heft. It’s reminiscent of the low-effort half-jog you might break into when you’re crossing the road after a car’s given way to you, but strung out for as long as you hold down the W key like a tired puppeteer.

Naturally, I tried out all the other races just to see if there was running animation that would make me pay attention, and this is where the delay has come from. Each needed careful analysis, and I have decided that the cat-boys, dragon-boys, and teeny Lalafell people have nice runs. Why? Because they don’t glide along the surface of the floor like a skimming stone, but positively gallop as if the floor’s a hotplate. There’s gusto here; the fetch quests will not complete themselves! And I find this enthusiasm for herbal tea deliveries incredibly satisfying.

I just wish there was a way to sample your character’s run animation before you commit to creating them in FFXIV. It would’ve saved me so much time. I mean, every option exists to help you make a decision, apart from a running one. Theres one for horndogs that’ll strip your character down to their underwear. Another for their signature pose or dance. Even fancy backdrops so you can see your characters in different environments. All great, all lovely, now show me your jog.

Maybe I’ll grow to love Hulky’s run as time wears on. I can hear his gruff voice whispering in my ear – “You’ll grow to love it pal, stay strong” – but I’m still fighting the urge not to swap to a cat-boy again for that oh-so-satisfying run. But then my grey Banner wouldn’t be there to keep everything in check anymore. I don’t know, it’s a really tricky situation and I’m exhausted. I can’t be the only one obssessed with running animations can I? CAN I?!

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