Unlike other FF games, such as FF6 and FF7, there are no optional characters in FF8. That being said, I definitely used certain characters less than others on my first FF8 playthrough, and missed the opportunity to test out all of the characters in the party as much as I’d have liked.
But, just how many Final Fantasy 8 playable characters are there? Here we’ll go through all of them, and when they appear in the game.
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1. Squall Leonhart
Squall is the marmite protagonist of FFVIII – you love him or you hate him, with seemingly no in between. Personally, I think Squall is a great character and his story progression from an ansty teenage Balamb Garden student to a formidable warrior with an important part to play in Rinoa’s story is an engaging one.
According to the character designer, Tetsuya Nomura, Squall was modelled on the late American actor, River Phoenix. His silver gunblade, fur-lined leather jacket, and stoic personality gave him a “cool” appearance that makes him stand out from the other Final Fantasy 8 playable characters, and also gives him a unique feel among the franchise’s other protagonists.
2. Rinoa Heartilly
Rinoa is one of the principal Final Fantasy 8 playable characters in the game. Her love story with Squall is part of the main story arc, and her encounters with the sorceress Ultimecia lead to some of the most rewarding boss battles in the game.
As with Squall, Rinoa was designed by Tetsuya Nomura. She was designed to be “cute” and an adept leader who is a believably capable member of the Forest Owls resistance faction. In English, Rinoa is voiced by Skyler Davenport, whereas Kana Hanazawa voices the character in the Japanese version.
Rinoa’s relationship with Squall is often highlighted as the best thing about the game, and their romance will certainly live long in the franchise’s history.
3. Laguna Loire
Laguna is a 44 year old gun-wielding soldier who is a temporary Final Fantasy 8 playable character. Most of the time, though, Laguna appears in the game via playable flashbacks.
Many have reported that Laguna is actually Squall’s father, but this has never been confirmed or denied by the game’s developers. Laguna is a moral and kindhearted soul, and this is showcased by his endless quest for justice and to make the world a better place.
4. Seifer Almasy
Seifer is a lot of people’s favorite character in Final Fantasy 8. He’s only available as a playable character briefly, but he’s a prominent feature of the story throughout. He serves as Squall’s main rival and is one of the principal antagonists in the game.
This tall, blonde SeeD mercenary has a brash and outspoken personality, and is the leader of a mini posse that consists of his good friends Raijin and Fujin. It is hinted that both Seifer and Squall have a deep respect for each other, but Seifer’s jealousy and frustration at Squall’s gunblade skills often lead to his temper getting the better of him.
Seifer easily has one of the most interesting story arcs, and his story ends in a way that is befitting of his intriguing nature.
5. Quistis Trepe
Quistis is an instructor at Balamb Garden who has a no-nonsense, stoic, and revered aura about her. She was a child prodigy and, at the age of 18, is the youngest person to serve as an instructor at Balamb Garden.
As a Blue Mage, Quistis is an intimidating figure, but her age and lenience lead some of the Garden’s students to dismiss her and not take her seriously, including Squall at one point in the game.
6. Selphie Tilmitt
Selphie is an energetic, yellow mini-dress wearing, spunky mercenary who was born in Trabia Garden and is a fellow student of Squall at Balamb Garden. She wields a Nunchaku and has a tremendously powerful Limit Break, Slots (which is different from Wakka’s slots in FFX).
All in all Selphie is a lovable character whose infectious vitality adds a lively dynamic to the game, particularly when Squall is being… well Squall.
7. Zell Dincht
Just like Selphie, Zell has an infectious energy and is a loud, brash, and outspoken character (if a little dim…). On my first playthrough, Zell was my favorite party member as I loved his hand-to-hand combat.
Zell has distinctive spiky blonde hair (possibly to offset his short height), and dons a tattoo on the side of his head a la Mike Tyson. All in all, Zell is a well-rounded character who can provide moments of comic relief, but is also dependable in the times you need him most.
8. Irvine Kinneas
One of the most popular Final Fantasy 8 playable characters is the cowboy hat-wearing gun-wielding ladies man. Irvine is the sharpest shooter in Galbadia Garden and he joins Squall’s party as a sniper during a SeeD mission to assassinate Sorceress Edea.
Of the permanent party members in FF8, Irvine is the last to join. He is a self-proclaimed loner, an image he has intentionally cultivated over the years in order to appear mysterious and intriguing to his desired opposite sex. He is also a caring soul, though, and learns to care for the others in the party.
9. Kiros Seagill
Kiros is a temporary playable character in Final Fantasy 8, and fights alongside Laguna and Ward in the flashback storyline. He is a tall and imposing figure who yields dual-blades known as Katals.
Kiros is a Galbadian soldier and one of Laguna’s most reliable accomplices, as well as his close friend. His warm and compassionate nature have led to him often being named as a favorite playable character in FF8, despite not having a huge role in the game.
10. Ward Zabac
Ward is a brutish harpoon-wielding soldier for the Galbadian army. His biggest loyalty is to his friends Laguna and Kiros, whom he defends fiercely. At 7 feet tall, he is one of the tallest playable characters, and is an intimidating presence wherever he goes.
During his final mission for the Galbadian Army, Ward was wounded during an escape attempt that left him without his voice. Despite this, Kiros is still able to understand whatever he wants to communicate.
11. Edea Kramer
Edea is a powerful and beautiful sorceress who, despite only being a playable character for a short period, is one of the most crucial figures in the game. She is a sophisticated and imposing figure who Ultimecia takes advantage of when she possesses her.
Despite being possessed when you first meet her, Edea is a gentle and caring soul who ran an orphanage with her husband, Cid, for children who became orphans during the Sorceress War.
Get in Touch
Who is your favorite of the Final Fantasy 8 playable characters? Did you tend to stick to the same party members each battle, or do you like to keep it varied? Let us know in the comment section below!
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For an even more detailed look into the Final Fantasy 8 playable characters (and some NPCs), check out the great video below on YouTube by impulsecody.