Final Fantasy XIV - Chocobo Forest

When I first learned that Final Fantasy XIV‘s Heavensward expansion had a location called the Chocobo Forest, I was intrigued. What sort of magical place was this? I imagined an expanse of bright green and canary yellow trees, stretching for as far as the eye can see, with distant sounds of contented “warks” filling the air.

How did I come to this conclusion? Well, the Chocobo Farm in Final Fantasy VII is a cheery-looking place, with bright green grass and a rich blue sky. In Final Fantasy VIII, there’s a location called the Chocobo Forest of Fun, which is a bright green mass of densely forested area. Chocobo’s Forest in Final Fantasy IX follows a similar theme. This is what I would have expected from the Chocobo Forest in Final Fantasy XIV.

And, I mean, this is the chocobo theme music:

It seems like a creature that has this surf-rock-lite anthem as a theme song would come from a place filled with wonder and joy.

When I actually visited the Chocobo Forest in Final Fantasy XIV, though, it was more of a “kweh” than a “wark.” It’s not a bright and cheery forest full of magic; it’s actually a pretty bleak, desolate area where very little joy can be found. The color scheme isn’t bright at all — this is a muddy blend of browns, muted greens, and washed-out yellows. In fact, this location feels almost like it might fit better in Dark Souls than in a Final Fantasy game.

Final Fantasy XIV - Chocobo Forest

And the chocobos out here certainly aren’t friendly creatures. In fact, the first time I encountered one, I assumed it was a non-aggressive mob that would only attack if provoked. I put my controller down to make a sandwich, only to come back to find my character had been pecked nearly to death by the sharp beak of a chocobo. By the time I picked the controller back up, my character had died.

Now, I actually like the Chocobo Forest area a whole lot, and the dreary music really sells it. In fact, a huge portion of the land in the Heavensward expansion is pretty desolate, and I respect the commitment to this aesthetic. But I can’t help but feel like the mood of a place called the Chocobo Forest should be a whole lot less bleak.

In fact, if there was one super cheery location surrounded by the bleakness of Heavensward’s other locales, it would have really stood out. It would have felt magical, thematically suggesting that the will of the chocobos can’t be broken so easily; their persistent cheerfulness nurtures their forest, despite being surrounded by ash and desolation and the unending rage of the dragon Nidhogg.

So I can’t help but feel like the Chocobo Forest was a huge missed opportunity for what is otherwise a fantastic expansion. Yes, Heavensward is incredible, but this one location just feels tonally off to me. The chocobos deserve better, Square Enix. The chocobos deserve better…

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x