Who doesn’t love a good convention? Exciting panels about interesting topics from seasoned experts or discussions with your favourite celebrities, competitions, meet and greets, and stunning cosplayers that are more than happy for you to snap a souvenir photo with them. Sure, the swarm of bodies on all sides can be off-putting, but not all conventions get this physical. In this case, I mean that quite literally.

LunarCon, Final Fantasy 14’s biggest annual community event, ticks all the usual convention boxes, but without costing a penny or even requiring you to roll out of bed and get dressed in the morning. It ran from Friday through Sunday last weekend and was packed with everything your little con enthusiast heart could ever want, including an Artist’s Alley so you could commission some work of your character with friends by your side.

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When I turned up at the LunarCon Free Company house in time for the opening ceremony, the housing ward was so busy that only pockets of players could be seen at any time. Users couldn’t get into the FC house as it was at max capacity, but outside, the building was swarmed by so many players that people within it couldn’t leave either. Fortunately, every event and panel was live-streamed, so like many others, I lurked in the Lavender Beds while tuning in on Twitch. But much like real cons, not being there in person meant it wasn’t quite the same. Who knew MMO FOMO was a thing?

I visited across the weekend to mingle with other players and check out the events. Getting into any of the FC venues was hard work when things were happening. Much like any real-world convention, a lot of time was spent queuing, and if you wanted to be guaranteed entry, you had to be prepared to camp it out early.

The panels were brilliant, and that’s an understatement. There were so many informative talks to help others learn the game’s content. There were also discussions that dove into things that I didn’t realise would captivate me so much, such as fish lore in Eorzea. One of the best bits was that throughout the weekend there was so much humour surrounding the panels. For example, in the run-up to the first panel, ‘The BIG Cheese by Bi’ig Stack’, cheese was handed out to all beforehand.

I chatted to fellow attendees and asked them what their favourite parts of LunarCon were. It was interesting to see what everyone thought and what had attracted them to the event first, with many learning of it through their favourite content creators.

“I only found out about Lunarcon this year thanks to the excellent Jocat ‘crap’ DPS guide on YouTube,” Alleria Prestor tells me. “My interest immediately peaked when I saw that opening promotion. An in-game con in Final Fantasy 14? I just had to attend that! Naturally, I didn't want to go alone, so I watched one of my favourite twitch streamers, LuLu of the fashionista. So I followed her around and got involved with photo ops. Watched the opening ceremony, which was fantastic. I eventually began to mingle myself. Getting to know people, and getting myself out there trying to make some new friends.

“On day two, I watched the cosplay talent contest. So many talented cosplayers on display, and I was blown away. That evening I travelled to Marlboro to participate in some clubbing at one of Lunarcon's club venues. I danced and had some fun "vending" out food and drinks to patrons. Overall, Lunarcon has been an amazing experience, I have met so many people, and even made some new friends. I can't wait to go again next year!”

Like many others, I loved seeing my favourite content creators or familiar faces from the FF14 community at LunarCon. I don’t mean just at the panels and meet and greets either, but also mingling with everyone else in the crowd and having a great time. Some were easier to spot than others. For example, you can really miss ChiliFarmer’s Karen character.

It was also great to talk about the past year’s content with other players. After all, we’ve had Endwalker’s climatic end to the Hydaelyn and Zodiark arc since the last LunarCon. This expansion was brimming with emotional scenes, so naturally, we all suffered a little heartbreak when playing.

“I really enjoyed this year's LunarCon, especially the cosplay meetups and PvP event,” Mona Lavender, a Hatsune Miku cosplayer from Hyperion, says. “I really loved Endwalker, I'm not much of a crier, but it made me sob, especially when Urianger met Moenbryda's parents.”

I have to admit, one of my favourite parts of LunarCon was spotting all the different cosplayers in the crowd. You had the expected cosplayers, people dressed as characters from Final Fantasy 14 or dressed in outfits that are purposefully re-created in the game, such as Yuna, Tidus, Squall, you get the picture. But I especially loved seeing how creative people got with glamors and dyes to create cosplay outfits, and I spent a great deal of the weekend snapping screenshots of them.

“This is actually my first Lunarcon,” Ten Ko from Exodus told me. “I have only been playing this game for just over a year. I played from ARR to the current content right before the release of Endwalker, so I had to learn a lot really quickly. But the community of the game is amazing and is ultimately the reason I play. LunarCon has been an amazing experience, and I am so glad to have been a part of it!”

It surprised me how many people said that this was their first time attending LunarCon this year. Many players expressed their admiration and gratitude towards the team behind LunarCon and their impressive work in putting the event together. The sheer volume of content was awe-inspiring, and I can only imagine how much time, effort, and planning went into creating something this big.

“I made this character pretty much for LunarCon and joined the cosplay contest this year,” Calia Balor says. “It was an amazing experience, and the fact that one gets a real con feeling despite everything being digital is amazing! Thanks again to Shen and his FC for organizing that all!”

If you missed out on LunarCon this year, you can still catch up with plenty of the events and panels that happened on Shenpai’s Twitch channel, and the Lunarcon_Official or Lunarcon_Official2 Twitch channels.

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