Like most online games, Final Fantasy XIV is what you make of it. You can dedicate yourself to hitting the level cap in every job, focus on completing tough raids on max difficulty, or simply cultivate a second life through role-playing with your friends. But Chungo Humongo, a level 80 Roegadyn Paladin, has a much different mission: He wants to become as bright as possible.
“My goal is to be a flashbang, an icon of my server and for all that look upon me to have sunspots clog up their vision and for their monitors to have my image permanently burned into their screens as they look at me in awe,” Chungo told Kotaku through private messages. “The next expansion, Endwalker, is to take place on the moon, so I suppose my goal is to become visible from space by then.”
Jokes about damaging fellow players’ screens aside, Chungo has already drawn considerable attention in Final Fantasy XIV. He took his first steps toward gross incandescence when a guildmate gifted him a set of high-level armor that shone so brilliantly on his large, Roegadyn frame that other adventurers would stop and compliment him on how “glorious” he looked. And the in-game attention has apparently only grown since Chungo created a Reddit thread yesterday asking for advice on how to get even brighter.
“I seem to have blown up in popularity,” Chungo said. “People are constantly walking up to me, gawking and telling me they saw me on Reddit or Twitter. I find it to be a very nice feeling.”
The pandemic has become such a focal point in all our lives that it should probably come as no surprise that covid-19 is what ultimately attracted Chungo to the online game. Separated from family and isolated in his apartment during a four-month college semester he refers to as the saddest time in his life, he picked up Final Fantasy XIV and found a playerbase of welcoming veterans willing to show him the ropes. Soon, he was part of a burgeoning guild and socializing with people again.
“Although new and underpopulated, the guild quickly snowballed in size as everyone invited their friends and family,” Chungo said. “It was in this period of expansion that one of the veteran guild members gifted me a shiny suit of armor for achieving level 50. This is the same armor set that I wore in all of the popular screenshots and when I realized I was exceptionally shiny.”
The guild would joke about Chungo sticking out in group pictures as a white smudge, and he started looking in earnest for ways to boost his brightness shortly after. He obtained the brilliant Curtana Nexus sword and Holy Shield Nexus to accompany his outfit, a process he described as “absurdly lengthy” for only a slight visual change, and is currently interested in trying out the Elemental and Edengrace armor sets thanks to a Reddit suggestion. The quest doesn’t stop at equipment, either: Chungo and a few of his guildmates, after being told that the Wind-up Moon minions are essentially floating lightbulbs, took the opportunity to summon a bunch in the middle of an in-game settlement, “effectively causing a second sun to rise in the city plaza.”
“People get separated from each other, and it’s important to find ways to adapt to reality; I think I found this by playing Final Fantasy XIV,” said Chungo. “Now more than ever, people long for social connections, and taking on this ridiculous task, despite coming about organically, means a lot to me because I get to take a bit of the doom and gloom out of their lives.”
Final Fantasy XIV has become a great way for isolated players to meet new people and socialize while stuck at home. While Chungo’s mission is, on the surface, a mostly silly diversion, he’s found real meaning and community in his quest to become a brightly shining beacon in the world of Final Fantasy XIV. I don’t know if online relationships like this will ever be a perfect substitute for in-person interaction, but anything that gets folks out of their heads for a while (in moderation, of course) has to be a good thing.