After fifteen entries, Final Fantasy has seen many shifts in tone, style and content often mincing a techno-future with a fantastical past and even slotting in a little bit of modernity in there for good measure.
Square Enix’s new entry to the franchise will tend harder in one direction than previous entries, pushing a hard, gritty, and grim fantasy aesthetic which, at a glance, sits somewhere between Fable and Bloodborne. That said, this aesthetic decision is not really a surprise, seeing that the key leads behind FF XVI are Naoki Yoshida—the producer and director of Final Fantasy XIV—and Hiroshi Takai—known for the fantasy romp The Last Remnant.
While this aesthetic may not immediately catch the eyes of western audiences, I for one am excited to see a darker, grimier take on the series’ fantasy worlds.
Narrative, Locale and Characters
Set in the land of Valisthea, six factions are being pushed to the limits by a spreading malady known only as the Blight—but don’t worry Dark Souls veterans, this blight will not result in bumbling fps drops.
The six groups; the Grand Duch of Rosaria, the Holy Empire of Sanbreque, the Kingdom of Waloed, the Dhalmekian Republic, the Iron Kingdom, and the Crystalline Dominion, factions usually live comfortably thanks to mountains of crystal referred to as the Mothercrystals, but due to the blight that harmony is at risk.
Among this, Eikons, summoned monsters, are wreaking havoc across Valisthea.
As a result, edgy, armoured Clive Rosfield (the player character), the firstborn son of the Archduke of Rosaria, embarks on a quest to avenge a tragic event. Joshua Rosfield, Clive’s brother, and Jill Warrick, their foster sister, set out on this quest together—undoubtedly meeting a colourful cast along the way.
These high-concept fantasy themes may seem disparate for western fans who came to the series with FFXV or the FFXII remake, but you can rest assured that diving into this entry will be diving back to the high-concept heart of the series.
Real-time combat—in an open world?
Although the themes and setting may differ greatly from these previous two releases, from what we have seen so far of the game, fans can expect to dive into a similar action-heavy, combat-focused style of gameplay. Combining the usual aspects of inter-character synergies and abilities in real-time.
This combat, minced with the dark fantasy setting, sets the groundwork for some awe-inspiring set pieces.
One question that remains regarding gameplay, is whether XVI will keep the open world of XV. Seeing as XV was the first open world title in the series, it’s easy to see the series going either way with this decision—however for western audiences lording open world design it may seem like a no-brainer. But, that said, after experiencing the expansive, but somewhat desolate, open world of Final Fantasy XV perhaps moving back to a more tailored experience wouldn’t be such a down-side.
Whatever your opinion, this is one factoid that we’ll have to anticipate with bated breath.
Is it exclusive?
At this point, it’s anyone’s guess whether the title will come to any platform that isn’t the PS5. Originally, the first trailer suggested the game would come to PS5 and PC, but Square Enix quickly retracted the statement and have instead spewed a pretty hard to comprehend cover-up leaving us only sure that the game will come to the PS5.
A release date is also yet to see the light of day.
But regardless of when and where the game will be released—it’s clear that the capabilities of next-gen will surely bring us the most glorious Chocobo rides we’ve had to date.