The biggest gaming misnomer might just be Final Fantasy. Despite its resolute name, the mainline series has been going on strong with fifteen numbered titles under its belt. That’s not even counting the numerous spinoffs, standalone sequels, and other projects like films and mobile games. And the next mainline entry, Final Fantasy XVI, is almost within our grasp.
Beginning development in 2015, the game made waves when it was announced back in 2020. It immediately made an impact thanks to its dark fantasy setting, action-heavy combat, and mature story tones. Needless to say, long-time fans and newcomers alike were excited.
Final Fantasy XVI is set to drop on June 22, 2023. It promises to be the biggest and boldest Final Fantasy game in the history of the series. Before you jump into FFXVI this summer, here’s everything you need to know.
Flights of fantasy
If you’re unfamiliar with the Final Fantasy series (we doubt you are), you know doubt expect to see lots of fantasy elements throughout. And that’s been true over the past sixteen entries, although the series has recently strayed further away from the more Middle Ages style of fantasy we all imagine.
Final Fantasy XVI seeks to redirect the series back toward its origins. While many FF games implement some science fiction or urban fantasy elements to varying degrees, it looks like the sixteenth main game is pure fantasy all the way through.
That’s not surprising given the talent signed on for development. Naoki Yoshida (AKA Yoshi-P) is the chief producer, fresh off the heels of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and its expansions. Co-directors Hiroshi Takai (SaGa, The Last Remnant) and Kazutoyo Maehiro (Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy XIV) are also lending their expertise to the team.
It hasn’t been easy for Square Enix, however. World events like the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine shifted the development process. Yet the team has persevered and the game is almost here. So let’s dive into the deeper details of this latest fantasy adventure.
A dark cloud is on the horizon
In Final Fantasy XVI, you control Clive Rosenfeld, the son of the duke of Rosaria — one of many kingdoms that inhabits the land of Valisthea. Despite his royal birth, he’s not the next in line for the duchy. That honor belongs to Clive’s younger brother Joshua, who Clive is sworn to protect. Joshua is a Dominant, meaning he controls one of the many Eikon (or mystical elemental beasts). His Eikon, Phoenix, represents fire, and it and the other Eikon live in harmony.
That is, until the second fire Eikon Ifrit is mysteriously summoned during a period of unrest in Rosaria. Clive inherits the power of Phoenix to fight back against this strange new force, but not before tragedy befalls his family as Joshua is killed. Thirteen years later, Clive sets out to rid the world of the dark Eikon for good.
When the first trailer dropped, fans noticed the mature attitude right away. Compared to other Final Fantasy games, XVI is dark and brooding with a story centered around inner conflict and familial loss. Clive’s angry and out for revenge — and he’ll stop at nothing to get his way.
Swords and sorcery clash again in Final Fantasy XVI
For Final Fantasy XVI, Square Enix wanted to create the most intense and action-driven combat system to date. Taking inspiration from games like Devil May Cry, the game retains some of the heavier aspects of Final Fantasy combat while also implementing a faster pace and snappier combat.
Clive can equip himself with numerous weapons and armor, as you’d expect from an RPG character. With a combination of basic strikes, magic attacks, blocking, and jumping, you can strike down foes with ease.
The Limit Break, a Final Fantasy staple, returns as well, allowing Clive to unleash powerful attacks once the meter has been charged up. In addition, the various Eikons you encounter and persuade to your team can provide a devastating attack. You’ll be able to cycle between selected Eikons in battle, though it’s likely that they’ll have to recharge after use.
All in all, it looks like a difficulty-to-master yet engaging combat system. It’s unknown exactly what difficulty slider options FFXVI will have, but it’s likely that players looking for either a challenge or an easier time will both be accommodated.
The Eikons can be a valuable ally in battle when you summon them. However, other Eikons and the forces controlling them can also be your worst enemy out in the field.
True to the series’ roots, you’ll have a mixture of normal enemies (monster and human alike) on the overworld to deal with. You’ll earn experience points at the end of each combat encounter, leveling up occasionally to get better stats. All standard stuff.
What’s far from standard, however, are the game’s Eikon battles. These hulking monstrosities pose the toughest challenge in the game by a landslide, and you’ll conquer these beasts in two different stages. First, Clive will have to slash his way past their initial defenses. Then, you’ll take command of another Eikon for some intense Kaiju-esque fights that take on a variety of forms. The game is always keeping things fresh in this regard, and if you conquer these bosses, you’ll reap plenty of rewards.
Travel the realm of Valisthea
At PAX East 2023, Square Enix showed off more of the world of Final Fantasy XVI. Valisthea is a fractured world, with two large continents and several biomes to explore. You’ll travel through a variety of environments on your quest, with a number of kingdoms and regions that Clive can visit.
Despite its initial appearances, FFXVI is not a fully open-world game. The immediate areas are very open to the player, but most of the environments are segmented from each other. According to Square, this is due to a lack of time and resources — which is absolutely understandable. No matter how the land is structured, this world looks absolutely stunning.
It’s in this world that you can also see the attention to detail in the artwork. Art director Hiroshi Minagawa is a familiar name to FF fans, as he led art on Final Fantasy Tactics and co-directed Final Fantasy XII. Minagawa flexes his artistic muscles once again, as the world of Valisthea looks astounding on the PS5 hardware.
The Final Fantasy XVI Deluxe and Collector’s editions
You’ll have a few options if you’re looking to purchase a physical copy of Final Fantasy XVI. The Standard Edition costs $69.99 USD and just comes with the game. Then there’s the Deluxe Edition which costs $99.99 USD. This version includes the base game alongside a cloth map of Valisthea and a unique Clive Rosenfeld SteelBook case.
For the ultimate Final Fantasy fan with some cash to spend, you can spring for the Collector’s Edition. This package comes with the Standard Edition plus an additional in-game item: a bonus weapon called the Blood Sword. In addition to the cloth map and SteelBook case, you’ll also get a premium Phoenix vs. Ifrit statue and a metal Eikon pin collection as physical goodies. The Collector’s Edition costs $349.99 USD.
When can you play Final Fantasy XVI?
Final Fantasy XVI is wrapping up development at the time of writing. It is being published by Square Enix and developed by Square Enix Creative Business Unit III. The game will launch on June 22, 2023 for the PlayStation 5 as a timed exclusive. We don’t know what other platforms will receive the game post-launch, but it seems that the exclusivity period will only last for six months.
Pre-orders for all versions of the game are available now. You can pre-order the game yourself via our Amazon affiliate links below. Every pre-order, regardless of version, receives the Braveheart weapon DLC and Cait Sith Charm DLC for in-game items.
Are you looking forward to playing Final Fantasy XVI? What’s your favorite Final Fantasy game? Let us know!