We still know very little about the upcoming Final Fantasy XVI, but some mysterious character art that’s emerged online seems like a major clue about how the dark story takes shape.
Following a tasteful apology from producer Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida in late December, this is likely the only tidbit of info we’ll get until a promised “big reveal in spring of 2022.” But, if we read between the lines, this pseudo leak could be a major clue — and if some fan theories prove to be true, then it may be central to the game’s plot.
What happened — In the early hours of January 3, character design artist Kazuya Takahashi shared a drawing of a young woman to his @short__pieces Twitter account. She has blue eyes, dark hair cut short, and an ornate dress. She’s holding what looks like a plate with a complex blue crystal on it. All things considered, she’d look right at home in most Final Fantasy games.
Many of the Twitter replies point out that she could be an older version of Jill Warrick from Final Fantasy XVI. It’s certainly possible, but is it true?
Who is Jill Warrick in FFXVI? The upcoming game takes place in a fantasy world called Valisthea where Mothercrystals bless its competing nations with magic. The crystalline sources of that power, however, are a point of great contention. At an early age, Jill Warrick is taken from her home in the fallen Northern Territories and raised as a ward in the Grand Duchy of Rosaria, all in the effort of maintaining peace between the realms. As such, she grows up with our protagonist Clive and his brother Joshua, both sons to the Archduke of Rosaria. This sort of arrangement is common trope in fantasy storytelling, and it’s somewhat common in real-life history as well. (Think Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones.)
The game’s initial reveal trailer from September 2020 makes it seem like Clive, Joshua, and Jill are good friends. In one scene, she chuckles happily in Joshua’s direction. (Is love in the air?) Most materials describe her as a “confidant” to the brothers. A PS Blog post from a month later refers to them as “three characters swept up by the winds of fate.” That suggests she’s every bit as important to the story as Clive and Joshua, but how?
It’s worth recapping here that Joshua is the Dominant of a magical Eikon called Phoenix, essentially making him something similar to a Summoner in Final Fantasy terms, except he “transforms into the Phoenix” rather than conjures the mythical beast. When all three characters are in their teenage years, something terrible happens that involves the Dark Eikon Ifrit. The trailer shows moments from the “tragic events that change Clive's life forever.” To be frank, it seems like Joshua might meet an untimely end, and Clive’s failure to protect his brother sends him on a quest for revenge.
A grizzled, older Clive is shown in the trailer as well, sporting a face tattoo and a whole lot of anger directed at destroying the Mothercrystals. It’s likely that most of the game takes place after this time skip. We’ve yet to see Joshua or Jill at that point in time further into the future, so is this new image a look at Jill in the present day?
What we know for sure — Takahashi has worked on various art pieces for Square Enix’s Final Fantasy series starting with FFIX. Notably, he’s drawn much of the art for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and now Final Fantasy XVI. If you have a favorite work of art featuring characters from either game, Takahashi is probably responsible for it.
Takahashi does not seem to have a personal website, and most of the titular “Short Pieces” featured on his Twitter account seem like random sketches. Most of the characters look like they stepped right into an official Final Fantasy XIV or XVI art book, but they aren’t necessarily official art. While this could be a sly reveal before what’s to come later in the year for Jill, it’s just as possible that it’s a totally random character sketch.
That being said, we know suspiciously little of Jill Varrick. The official website describes her as “gracious” and “unassuming” which is pretty sus, isn’t it?
The Inverse Analysis — Looking at the images side-by-side, it seems likely that these are actually the same character. The hairstyle and color are almost identical, and even the eyes are a similar blue-grey. The general shape of the dress and even her cross-legged stance is the same. Furthermore, this would jive with another fan theory — that Jill is secretly Shiva’s Dominant. The icy crystal and trim on the right figure’s dress could hint at just that.
The twist of her being Shiva’s Dominant would be quite the bombshell. Remember that Clive seems to be hunting for Shiva’s Dominant in the opening scene of the original reveal trailer set during the present day. When we see Shiva facing Titan, is that actually Jill? Is she secretly responsible for Joshua’s demise, and that is what sends Clive on his angry quest? We can’t wait to learn more later in 2022.
Final Fantasy XVI has no confirmed release date, but a launch in 2022 seems possible.