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Everything we know about Final Fantasy XVI, Square Enix’s next big RPG

It is coming.

Square Enix
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An epic tale of brotherly love and loss in a war-torn land awaits gamers in Final Fantasy XVI, the next mainline entry in one of the greatest role-playing game series of all time. But what will this grim and decidedly more mature adventure entail?

FF16 was announced during Sony's September 2020 PS5 showcase with a meaty four-minute trailer. Subsequent news about the game has been sporadic at best. Developers like Naoki Yoshida, director Hiroshi Takai, and the rest of the team at Square Enix had been mostly quiet about the game until a second trailer was released at the end of Sony’s June 2022 State of Play livestream. There’s also an official teaser website with tons of lore details.

Is there a Final Fantasy 16 trailer?

Sony's September 2020 PS5 showcase opened with a FF16 trailer titled "Awakening." It reveals a medieval fantasy world full of magic and familiar Final Fantasy Summons referred to as "Eikons.” Several distinct kingdoms are engaged in war connected to these Eikons, which include Shiva, Titan, and Phoenix. In the trailer’s opening scene, we see a massive battle where the ice goddess Shiva attacks the earthen giant Titan.

We also meet a princely young boy named Joshua who is a "Dominant" blessed with magical powers connected to the Eikon Phoenix. In Final Fantasy terms, he’s a new kind of Summoner. Not only can Dominants literally summon their Eikon (or maybe transform into them?), but they can channel some of their magic. For Joshua, that means using Phoenix’s fire to heal — or to burn.

Things are at once more and less confusing with the context from the second trailer called “Dominance.”

This trailer teases some kind of all-out brawl between all of the known Dominants, seemingly as a way to destroy the entire Dominant system. But the nuanced details remain unclear — which is just the sign of a good hype trailer.

The third trailer is titled “Ambition,” and puts a major focus on revealing more about the story and characters.

In this trailer, we see a bit more of the six different kingdoms in the land of Valishtea, as it walks through each one sequentially. One of most important details here is more info on Bahamut’s Dominant, Dion Lesage, who seems to be in league with Garuda’s Dominant. More than anything, the Amibiotn trailer sets the stage for an epic story filled with political intrigue, one in which the Eikons play a central role.

At The Game Awards 2022, we were also treated to the “Revenge” trailer that included a release date confirmation, along with a closer look at what happened to Joshua and how it affected Clive’s journey for — you guessed it — revenge.

When is the Final Fantasy 16 release window?

The June 2022 State of Play trailer confirmed a release window of “Summer 2023,” but it wasn’t until The Game Awards 2022 in early December that a release date of June 22, 2023, was confirmed. In all fairness, that’s barely summer!

What is the Final Fantasy 16 story?

One of the kingdoms in 'Final Fantasy 16.'Square Enix

Final Fantasy 16 takes place in a new world called Valisthea where the Mothercrystals bless the people with aether, which allows them to conjure magicks. Over time, distinct nations developed: the Grand Duchy of Rosaria, the Holy Empire of Sanbreque, the Kingdom of Waloed, the Dhalmekian Republic, and the Iron Kingdom. Leading up to the present, a Blight spreads across the land, causing tensions to rise and a war to break out. It seems like the game begins right before the start of the war.

Classic Final Fantasy summons appear in FF16 as "Eikons," a new term for these magical creatures that evoke the "Eidolens" of Final Fantasy IX. They each reside in a "Dominant," a single person blessed with the ability to wield their Eikon's power. "In some nations, these Dominants are treated like royalty in admiration of this strength — in others, they are bound in fear of it, and forced to serve as weapons of war," the official teaser website reads.

The young boy Joshua Rosfield, featured in the trailer, is the Dominant of Phoenix from the Grand Duchy of Rosaria. There, all Dominants are treated like royalty. An October 2020 Famitsu issue notes that Joshua "uses fire to heal wounds" and is called "The Phoenix" outright. The teaser site also refers to him as "frail and bookish."

The protagonist of the game is Clive Rosfield, Joshua's older brother who trains in "mastering the blade" after he isn't chosen by Phoenix as the Dominant. (Both brothers seem to resent this odd twist of fate.) At 15, Clive wins a combat tournament and is then tasked with protecting his brother as the "First Shield of Rosaria." Both brothers are close friends with Jill Warrick, a ward from the Northern Territories whose presence helped broker peace between the nations.

Clive Rosfield, Joshua Rosfield, and Jill Warrick in 'Final Fantasy 16.'Square Enix

The trailer only hints at some sort of tragedy involving Joshua and the "mysterious dark Eikon, Ifrit." It seems like Ifrit might kill Joshua and/or Phoenix outright. Official descriptions do say that Clive is set "on a dangerous road to revenge," so some kind of tragedy early in the game is likely. What else might spur his transformation from bright-eyed young knight to grizzled badass with a chip on his shoulder?

The second trailer makes it seem like Clive is actually Ifrit, which makes it probable that he transformed unwittingly in the prologue sequence and then killed his brother. That sent him on a quest to destroy the world order. “I unite the Dominants,” he says, “that we may bring an end to the strife and found a new order to see us unto tomorrow."

Based on the third trailer, Ambition, it seems like Clive’s main goal may be travelling around Valisthea to fight the other Dominants, and somehow take their power. In the trailer we see him fighting Titan, Garuda, and even Odin. At the moment, it’s unclear if the other Dominants will survive these massive battles.

What are the Final Fantasy 16 Summons or Eikons?

The second full trailer makes it clear that these are the Eikons that are present:

  • Phoenix
  • Titan
  • Garuda
  • Ramuh
  • Shiva
  • Odin
  • Bahamut
  • Ifrit

That’s eight in total ... so far. However, there may be nine in total as a painting featured in the “Ambition” trailer shows all eight of the aforementioned Eikons but also pretty prominently features Leviathan, another one of the Final Fantasy series’ iconic summons.

Ifrit's presence as a "dark Eikon" is treated as an anomaly, based on one random guard's reaction to seeing "Two fire Dominants!"

The banner for the Kingdom of Waloed on the FF16 teaser site features a horned horse-type figure, which is certainly Odin.

The Holy Empire of Sanbreque, whose Eikon name is also redacted, has a banner that features a humanoid and two dragons. This must be Bahamut, one of the classic Final Fantasy Summons. It's unclear if other nations have Dominants, but the Iron Kingdom sees them as "abominations" that are killed. Considering this area is a group of islands, so that must be where Garuda and/or Ramuh come from.

However, even though Eikons take inspiration from Summons, they aren’t exactly the same. Eikons can also be friend or foe, depending on the situation. Not all Eikons use the same kind of battle format or UI, either. In an interview with Game Informer, Yoshi-P revealed that the battles take inspiration from a variety of genres from shooters to fighting games.

“For example, maybe one Eikon versus Eikon battle, if you have Eikon A versus Eikon B, that battle will be reminiscent of a 3D shooter. Whereas another Eikon versus a different Eikon, it’s more like a pro wrestling match, and then maybe even a third with one Eikon versus another Eikon will transform an entire area into a battlefield,” Yoshida said.

We have yet to see exactly what he means. Yoshi-P claimed that revealing the UI in trailers could spoil the story.

What is Final Fantasy 16 gameplay like?

Now that's a nice new logo.Square Enix

The most recent interesting update about gameplay came during Tokyo Game Show 2021 during an interview in which Yoshi-P spoke with Final Fantasy series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi. He noted that the game will have an “expansive” skill tree system where players will “grow” their character in unique ways, saying that it “expands out” in a similar way to Sakaguchi’s Fantasian.

According to a sketchy leak on 4chan from May 2020, FF16 is going to draw some inspiration from Dark Souls while retaining combat elements from Final Fantasy XV. If the trailer is any indication, then that's totally accurate. In fact, combat looks a touch more fluid and engaging when compared to FF15. It'll definitely be a role-playing game, but FF16 will be closer to a story-forward action game than anything like a classic FF.

An early October 2020 Famitsu issue translated by Twitter user @aitaikimochi confirms that "the protagonist can do a Shift Warp as well as use Summon attacks in his moves." So it'll be a mix of martial combat and magically enhanced moves.

Yoshi-P himself said in a February 2019 interview: "I’d like to see a Final Fantasy that is straightforward fantasy, one that doesn’t have much machinery, and with no mecha in it." It's a funny way to say "this is the kind of Final Fantasy game I'm currently developing," but that's more or less what he was saying.

The FF16 setting more closely resembles FF11, FF12, and the Tactics offshoot series than more modern sci-fi entries like FF10, FF13, and FF15. It bears the most striking resemblance to FF14, however.

Naoki Yoshida, aka Yoshi-P, is producing Final Fantasy XVI.Square Enix via the Final Fantasy XIV blog

Who is the Final Fantasy 16 director?

Final Fantasy 16 is in development under Square Enix's Creative Business Unit III. That's the same branch of the company that maintains Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and produces the expansions for the massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG). This business division, headed up by the aforementioned Yoshi-P, previously focused exclusively on MMOs, including Final Fantasy XI.

But FF16 is an offline single-player action RPG. While development for FF14 remains ongoing, Yoshi-P will serve as a producer on FF16 with Hiroshi Takai as game director. Takai was a crucial combat designer on FF11 and years later proved vital to revamping the disastrous FF14 into the successful "A Realm Reborn" reboot that now boasts a player base of more than 20 million.

Yoshi-P was briefly rumored as the director for FF16 in June 2016. At the time, he expressed his frustration by calling the rumors “annoying” and “big fake news.” Turns out, those rumors were somewhat true all along. He’s heavily involved, but he’s only credited as a producer.

What is Final Fantasy 16 combat like?

Final Fantasy 16 translates summons into player actions. According to Yoshi-P, Director Hiroshi Takai and Battle Director Ryota Suzuki intended to focus on real-time action instead of piggybacking off existing games.

"Translating traditional summon abilities into player actions, and allowing for the real-time swapping and chaining of these abilities in battle has allowed us to create a system that not only looks great but feels really good to play,” Yoshida told IGN.

As mentioned earlier, Eikons play a key role in story and combat. Players fight using their own weapons, but sometimes they take control of an Eikon to battle Eikons. These battles vary depending on the Eikon and can also change in real-time during a battle.

Will Final Fantasy 16 be open-world?

No, Final Fantasy 16 won’t be open-world. It will still take inspiration from open-world RPGs, though. It’s a bit of a surprise, considering Final Fantasy 7 Remake’s success with the format. Yoshi-P told IGN that the team believed an “independent area-based design” could make the world feel even larger than a traditional open-world setting.

“We decided to avoid an open-world design that limits us to a single open-world space, and instead focus on an independent area-based game design that can give players a better feel of a truly 'global' scale,” he said.

A single open-world space can best be imagined as a Breath of the Wild-like setting. The world is seamless. You can teleport between points or travel on foot as far as the edges of the map will take you. Meanwhile, an “independent are-based design” implies something more contained where it isn’t possible to just wander about like in traditional open-world RPGs.

It’s difficult to balance freedom with a lack of engagement in open-world games. No one wants to explore a barren world. Instead, Final Fantasy 16 splits its world into six realms based on European settings.

Will the dog be playable in Final Fantasy 16?

Torgal sports a smoky gray coat, much like your typical wolf.Square Enix

Final Fantasy 16 might be the latest in the series to introduce a canine fighter. In the initial reveal trailer, a barking pup appears in the scene where Clive meets Joshua. Yoshi-P confirms this puppy’s name in an interview with IGN published in June 2022.

“Well, let’s just say he’s more wolf than dog — and his name is 'Torgal,'" Yoshida says. “As for him being a party member, you’ll just have to wait and see.”

Torgal looks like a puppy in the first trailer. If he’s really “more wolf than dog,” he might grow to be a bigger and more effective fighter in the future. Yoshida already confirmed more than one AI companion would fight alongside Clive, so it’s possible Torgal is one of those AIs.

Now, will the dog be pettable? That’s an even larger mystery.

Final Fantasy 16 is currently in development.

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