Six years have passed since the last mainline installment in the decidedly not-so-final Final Fantasy series, making this one of the largest gaps between games in the series' 35 years of history--though all that waiting seems to be for good reason. What we've seen from Final Fantasy XVI makes the game look like a high-fantasy epic combining the grandeur of older titles with the cutting-edge technology of newer games, making us hopeful that this next entry will be well-worth the wait.
We received a fresh look at Final Fantasy XVI during the summer showcase season, and even more details thanks to frank interviews with producer Naoki Yoshida. The game appears to be an incredibly ambitious Final Fantasy title, with unique larger-than-life battles and an expansive scope spanning decades of time. Here's everything we know about Final Fantasy XVI.
Final Fantasy XVI might not have an official release date, but we do know it's targeting a summer 2023 release. In a recent interview Yoshida said that the developer is at the "finale" of development.
"Unlike an online game that depicts multiple players simultaneously, FFXVI focuses on an individual so the state of immersion into the story will be different," he said. "I feel like the story will be very deep."
Much like Final Fantasy 7 Remake, Final Fantasy XVI will be a limited-time PlayStation exclusive. Unlike FF7 Remake, however, it won't be cross-generation, meaning PS4 owners will have to make the move to PS5 in order to play it.
Square Enix shared this news during the game's reveal trailer, noting, "The following content is captured on PC emulating the PS5 experience," before adding the latest entry in the Final Fantasy saga will, "not [be] available on other platforms for a limited time after release on PS5."
Is Final Fantasy XVI coming to PC or Xbox?
Rejoice, PC gamers! The trailer also stated the game is coming to PC following its exclusivity window, though as of right now there's no word on how long that might last. If it follows the same trend as FF7 Remake, it's likely FFXVI will make its way over to PC about a year and a half after its initial console release. It also wouldn't be too much of a surprise if FFXVI comes to Xbox at some point, given that a handful of Final Fantasy titles already live on Xbox platforms.
Massive Eikon battles
The second trailer, shown at Sony's June State of Play, showcases the massive Eikon vs Eikon battles that will serve as major setpieces. Yoshida told GameSpot in an interview that these Eikon battles will all be unique--one might emulate a wrestling match while another might look like a 3D shooter, for just two examples--and estimated there are roughly 20 of them in all. While these battles are a big emphasis in the game, Yoshida also says there will be smaller-scale battles against standard enemies, mini-bosses, and even Eikons appearing as human-sized.
While these battles take place in wide open spaces, Square Enix has since clarified that FFXVI isn't an open world game. That would seem to make the Eikon battlefields more like arenas.
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Behind the scenes
In addition to the detailed reveal trailer, Square Enix also launched an official website with in-depth looks at FFXVI's new world and characters to get you started on understanding the backstory. What's notable about this entry, in particular, is that it's being developed by Creative Business Unit III--which is the not-so-flashy name for the division behind the incredible MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV. It's promising given that Naoki Yoshida is leading production on FFXVI--he led the team behind the rebirth of FFXIV and continues to direct the MMO, which keeps getting better and is regarded as top-tier in video game storytelling. FFXVI itself is being directed by Hiroshi Takai, who has a lengthy history with Final Fantasy and Square Enix, and was even part of developing FFXIV's reboot.
The story so far
From what we can tell from the trailer and official website, there's conflict between realms (basically nations) in the world of Valisthea and a bunch of political drama, but also a focus on Dominants. Domnants are the few special people who can wield the power of Eikons, which are what summons are called in FFXVI's world (and in FFXIV).
It looks like you'll go through two separate time frames in FFXVI's story, which you can see from main character Clive Rosfield's evolution from a spiffy young man with a fancy haircut to a grizzled veteran with a scruffy beard and a mark tattooed on his face later in life. Yoshida told us the story will span three different eras: Clive in his teens, 20s, and 30s.
Clive is the son of his realm's archduke, and wields Eikon-related powers in combat but isn't necessarily a Dominant himself. He's sworn to protect his brother Joshua, the young boy in the trailer who was fated as a Dominant instead. However, as shown in the trailer, Joshua couldn't control his Eikon--he summons Phoenix after watching someone presumably important get killed right before his eyes. These events are capped by a battle between Phoenix and Ifrit, which might be the tragedy (stated in the official character profiles) that drives Clive in FFXVI.
Yoshida told us that one of the main themes in FFXVI is the clash of values between multiple different people with different ideals sharing the same space, and trying to decide together what is right and wrong.
"You're going to focus on those motivations and those struggles, and then, you're going to delve even deeper and into darker themes when it comes to how people should live; should people live the life that was chosen for them or fight to break free from that kind of destiny?" he said.
Another character seen in the trailer is Jill Warrick. She's the young girl with grayish hair who accompanies Joshua. She's said to have a complicated life and comes from another realm. She was essentially adopted by the Rosfields, and acts as a mediary between warring nations. She's said to be a trusted confidant to both Clive and Joshua.
Throughout the debut trailer, you see other characters in battle and in conversations about the political turmoil that seems to be fueling the war in Valisthea. You see other iconic Eikons like Shiva and Titan being used on the battlefield. It looks like Eikons, and Dominants by extension, are akin to powerful weapons of war that shift the balance of power between realms in Valisthea. There's also a fight against an armor-clad lance-wielding Dragoon, said to be an Imperial Viper, which has the characters shook--another series staple.
FFXVI’s world also revolves around Mothercrystals, which are said to bless the land with aether (basically magic). But a destructive force called The Blight is also washing over the world. It's worth keeping in mind that FFXVI's tagline is, "The legacy of the crystals has shaped our history for long enough." We're not sure what it means, but it's provocative and may have to do with what's been happening to Valisthea.
The first trailer for FFXVI was titled "Awakening," and offers four minutes of story, cutscenes, and gameplay. It also features a powerful orchestrated theme with a few Final Fantasy touches, like the iconic Crystal Prelude. If we had to take a wild guess, it sounds a bit like composer Masayoshi Soken's work on FFXIV: Heavensward, suggesting a similar tone.
This will also be the first Final Fantasy game to receive an M-rating, which Square Enix says was an intentional move to make a more mature story.
What the logo can tell us
We can always count on artist Yoshitaka Amano to create a new logo for each Final Fantasy that tells us something about the game's story. In the case of FFXVI's logo, it features Ifrit and Phoenix face-to-face in a fight, which is a battle that concludes the trailer. With Ifrit as a key opposing force and Phoenix being the Eikon that the Rosfields wield, this seems to be a central conflict that drives the game. It also appears that Eikons are pivotal to how FFXVI's world operates, more so than previous Final Fantasy games.
From the snippets of gameplay in the trailer, FFXVI takes on an action-RPG style of combat system and looks like it shares similarities to FF15 and FF7 Remake. Clive can cast fireballs, engage at melee range with his sword and warp-like abilities, and use a few powers that look like they're tied to Eikons (indicated by the stone fist summoned in the fight against a Dragoon).
While Clive is the central character and the player protagonist, he won't be the only adventurer on a quest. Washington Post reports he'll be accompanied by AI-controlled party members who will banter and connect throughout the game, as well as a "faithful buddy" character who you can give direct commands to. Clive, though, will remain the central character.
No UI or HUD elements were shown, so it's hard to tell if or how it incorporate parts of the series' iconic ATB (active time battle) system, how spellcasting might work, or even how combat encounters flow. We've also only seen Clive in action, so we're unsure if there's a party system or how it would work (if it exists). In fact, Yoshida even mentioned that the studio hid UI elements during its Eikon battle trailer, because the UI itself would be a story spoiler.
Ryota Suzuki, who was a combat designer for Devil May Cry 5 and Dragon's Dogma, is the battle director for FFXVI, which could result in something quite exciting. And despite this renewed focus on action, producer Naoki Yoshida noted that this new approach will not come at the expense of the game's story.
How to preorder
Sorry, folks. You'll have to wait a bit longer for preorders to go live, but rest assured we'll let you know when they do.
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