All the information we currently have on Final Fantasy XVI!
The Legacy of the Crystal
Final Fantasy XVI will release for PlayStation 5 sometime in the Summer of 2023. Us Final Fantasy XIV veterans know that when Producer Naoki Yoshida says 'Summer' he means sometime in June, July, or August. Let's be honest here, knowing Square Enix, I would pencil in a late August or September release window.
So let's first talk about who is behind the next mainline Final Fantasy, we have a more detailed version of that here. Directed by Hiroshi Takai who has been with Square Enix since the last 80s and has been involved with Final Fantasy since Final Fantasy V and produced by Naoki Yoshida. Yoshida is probably best known as the director and producer of Final Fantasy XIV and the head of Creative Business Unit 3. The two of them have spent the last 10 years working together on Final Fantasy XIV.
Then there is creative director Kazutoyo Maehiro who had his debut at Square Enix with Yasumi Matsuno's masterpiece Final Fantasy Tactics. Get used to Matsuno's style in Final Fantasy XVI (which you can witness in the upcoming remaster of Tactics Ogre) because most of the team on XVI can be traced back to either working with the man or being heavily influenced by him. Maehiro is probably best known for writing the main scenario for Final Fantasy XIV's award-winning Heavensward expansion. A similar start hat Hioshi Minagawa who also worked under Matsuno and eventually became his replacement as the director of Final Fantasy XII.
Many in the gaming world will however have their awakening with composer Masayoshi Soken. Mostly known for his work on Final Fantasy XIV, Soken is a bit of an enigma. While he has been involved in anything from mainline Final Fantasy titles, to Mario Hoops 3 on 3 for the DS and even Drakengard, it was only after he took over as the main composer on Final Fantasy XIV that people really took notice of him. And while his powers have been contained in the veil of Final Fantasy XIV, the larger gaming space will soon realize why he will go down as one of the greatest of all time.
To put a long story short, Final Fantasy XVI has assembled an All-Star team full of industry and Final Fantasy veterans who themselves have worked with legends of the industry. And XVI will be the closest thing we'll ever get to a spiritual successor of Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, and Final Fantasy XII.
The Matsuno Gene
I mention Matsuno a lot here because despite him not being at Square Enix anymore for the better part of two decades, there has since been a desire to make a game in his style. If you've played Tactics, XII, or Vagrant Story you'll probably know I mean, but for the uninformed here is a short recap.
Yasugami Matsuno happens to be a man involved in the careers of many as I mentioned above. Turns out that most of the FFXVI veteran staff in one way or have been involved with his games. Going so far that producer Naoki Yoshida once stated that he was jealous that he could never make something like Final Fantasy Tactics, stating it has a 'level of completeness as both a game and work of art'.
And you can see shades of it in Final Fantasy XIV and some of the teams previous work, The Last Remnant. But what is the Matsuno Gene? Well, Matsuno's stories are known to be full of political intrigue and well-realized characters. The more magical elements of his stories tend to take a backseat and are used as props in the drama to come.
You can tell already that Final Fantasy XVI steers hard in these directions, so you can expect a story full of well-thought-out characters that will have their morality and ideals questioned constantly.
With that out of the way, we can talk about the Story of Final Fantasy XVI, summing up everything we know so far. The protagonist this time around is Clive Rosfield a noble knight whose life story is told throughout the game. We already know from interviews with the producer that we'll be following Clive from his time as a teenager all the way to being a grizzled adult in his late thirties.
But let's talk about the world first, Final Fantasy XVI is set in the world of Valisthea, a land blessed by the light of the Mothercrystals. These Mothercrystals are scattered all around the world and are a source of aether, the magic of this world, and allows people to cast magic and live in comfort.
But as time went on, the power of the Mothercrystals is slowly draining and their influence is slowly fading. Areas outside their reach are visited by the Blight, a mysterious miasma that drains the land from life and magic, leaving it barren. Which is stated as the main reason for the conflict of Final Fantasy XVI.
This conflict is based on the six realms that have claimed a Mothercrystal as their own, as some of the Mothercrystals, if not all of them are slowly losing power. Everyone starts having an eye on the crystals of other realms, this would eventually lead to a war that makes up the background of XVI.
But it is called the War of the Eikons for a reason, in this world, some few people inherit a magical power of creatures called Eikons. Those blessed or rather cursed with the power of an Eikon are called Dominants. There is one Dominant per kingdom and they are treated as weapons of mass destruction. So the Dominants end up being forced into battle by the country and their leaders without having any say over it.
The process of a dominant turning into an Eikon has been portrayed in trailers as a rather gruesome one. In fact, in the latest ambition trailer, we can see the toll the transformation takes on a dominant. Transforming and fighting burns away at their life force until they turn into an empty husk and the cycle continues. How these Eikons are forced into battle is unclear to us, but we can assume it is not by being asked nicely.
So this is where our story actually kicks off, Clive Rosfield is the eldest son of the Archduke of Rosaria. As fate would have it, he did not inherit the power of the Eikon of fire: Phoenix. That honor went instead to his younger brother Joshua leaving him without purpose.
Clive aims to become a knight to protect his brother until tragedy visits the Archduchery of Rosaria. The kingdom is invaded by the neighboring Holy Empire of Sanbreque and in chaos, the Archduke is killed. The mysterious second Eikon of fire, Ifrit appears and seems to take Joshua's life which sets Clive on a path of revenge.
From here on information gets a little murky, but we know that Clive will eventually encounter the other Dominants and forge either uneasy alliances or battles fiercely with them. The bulk of the game will be centered around Clive and the many people he meets weathering the now erupting war all throughout the land of Valisthea while pursuing his obsession to kill the Dominant of Ifrit.
So this is now a rare case, in which we know a lot more about the story than the actual gameplay of Final Fantasy XVI. Unlike XV, it won't be an open-world RPG, instead, they chose to go back to the 'open zone' format or previous titles like Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy X. While you can definitely expect them to be gigantic and full of secrets and extra stuff to do, this a mainline Final Fantasy after all. Don't think we'll see anything of yet unseen scale.
And while haven't seen any party members, producer Yoshida already confirmed that Clive won't undertake his journey alone. We suspect that Clive's companions with change as the narrative progresses, so it'll probably be closer to Final Fantasy IVs structure in which characters will occasionally leave the group and or are replaced.
Combat on the other hand looks like it'll be played solely from Clive's perspective who wields a sword and magics to decimate his foes in a fast-paced combat system similar to the character action game genre. Which itself is rooted in fighting games if all the bonuses we see in the trailers seem to indicate as well. So let's make some educated guesses here.
Clive is quick and nimble and can launch some devastating attacks, outside of melee attacks he can also conjure the power of the various Eikons. We don't know exactly how that works, but Clive seems to be able to imitate or absorb the powers of the dominants to use their attacks. Signature moves like Shiva's Cold Snap and Blizzard are here, as well as Ifrit's Inferno.
It looks also like instead of having a MP bar, Clive seems to use a Limit Break Gauge instead. Since it goes up to 3, we assume that during combat you can build up your Limit Break Gauge by performing various actions and not getting hit, and then you'll get to spend in devastating attacks that take the shape of whatever Eikon you have currently equipped.
Also interesting are the items Clive seems to have on quick select, the classic potions but also a Strengh Tonic that Final Fantasy XIV players might be familiar with. There are also Perks displayed above the HP bar, indicating various bonuses.
So on top of the fast-paced character action game gameplay with the quick dodges and treating big groups of enemies like ragdolls. It looks like the player has to juggle all kinds of short-time buffs via special potions as well perks that can be obtained through various deeds in combat. Like a critical hit after a successful dodge and parry for extra damage or a way to capitalize on a guard break.
Expect Final Fantasy XVI to be very paced compared to previous entries of the series, but that doesn't mean it has to give up on the RPG elements. On the contrary, it looks like the RPG elements will only enhance that fast-paced combat. This makes me wonder how the equipment will work and if there are multiple weapon types to use.
And of course, we should definitely mention the cinematic Eikon fights. These are framed like something straight out of a fighting game and look to be more slow-paced in order to convey the sheer sense of scale here. How that function is beyond me, but not only will we fight against the Eikons as an Eikon ourselves, but also as regular Clive in special arenas.
More to Come?
That makes up pretty much all we know so far about Final Fantasy XVI. We will be updating this particular article as soon as the next press tour concludes and we get to hear more juicy details about Square Enix's upcoming blockbuster title. As well as we keep holding out for an eventual PC and or Xbox Series X/S release.
But so far, Final Fantasy XVI seems to be shaping up to be potentially one of, if not the best game of the series, or at least in recent memory. If you want a taste of what Final Fantasy XVI will be like from a story perspective, we highly recommend you check out the upcoming remaster of Tactics Ogre in November.
If you want to see some of the team's previous work, please do play the criminally underrated The Last Remnant which has been remastered for PlayStation 4 and Switch. And if you want to play a Final Fantasy in that tone, you can grab the as underrated and underappreciated Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiark Age on all modern platforms. Which coincidentally was also made by many of the staff of Final Fantasy XVI.
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