Yesterday, Sony and Square Enix blessed us with the most Final Fantasy XVI news so far during the State of Play event. Square Enix released not only a new trailer, but also a new blog and updates to the official Final Fantasy XVI website which has laid a good foundation on which we can start to build an idea of what this game is all about and what we can expect. Despite the number, Final Fantasy XVI is not the 16th entry in the series; It’s not even the 16th entry in the mainline single-player (thanks to the FFXIII sequels and the FFVII remake). There are a million and a half Final Fantasy games, too many to count. This is simply the one that comes after Noctis and his bro-dtrip. Final Fantasy XVI takes place in the kingdom of Valisthea. Valisthea is home to these huge magical superstructures called mother crystals that give people the power to use magic in their daily lives. All of the major geopolitical players in Valisthea have organized their government and culture around these crystals, as they are a major source of power and conflict. An integral part of these political entities are the Dominants, who are people born with the ability to summon and control Eikons, i.e. the typical Final Fantasy summoning. There’s even a witty song at the end of the most recent “Dominance” trailer to remind you who all the Eikons are. In this miasma of great magical mummy mountains and walking weapons of mass destruction is a certain Clive Rosefield. He is the eldest son of the Archduke of Rosaria and exudes the same kind of Final Fantasy main character energy as Squall Leonhart or Noctis Lucis Caelum. Basically, he is a sad looking emo boy-man who can wield a sword very well. He was expected to inherit the power of the Fire Eikon, Phoenix, but that power was passed over in favor of his timid younger brother, Joshua. Between the two trailers, there appears to be a time jump, as the Clive we meet in the Dominance trailer is a bit older (and much sadder) than the Clive we met in the first Awakenings trailer. Both trailers also show a bit of combat where we can see Clive summoning a rock-covered fist to pummel his enemies. From the information shared so far, we know that Dominants can share a part of their powers with others. That Clive can essentially punch people tells us that, at some point in his journey, he engaged or defeated Hugo Kupka, the Eikon of the land. We were also introduced to Benedikta Harman, Master of the Wind Eikon Garuda. I’m not quite sure if these Dominants are party members to befriend or boss fights to beat.
Image: Square Enix Based on what I got from the trailers, each Eikon is an avatar of a particular element, and only one element can be represented by an Eikon at a time. Titan is the Eikon of Earth, Garuda is the Eikon of wind, Bahamut is the Eikon of…dragon powers, I guess, and so on. Joshua controls the Fire Eikon, but something seems to happen to him that causes him to be possessed by a second Fire Eikon, Ifrit. Joshua now has two Eikons on the same body, a theory supported by the FFXVI logo, which features Phoenix and Ifrit seemingly locked in battle. I guess one of the main points of the story is Clive trying to figure out how to free his brother from the warring Eikons while the other nations want to control him like a weapon. Another part of figuring out what’s in store for this game is examining who leads the team that makes it. Naoki thee Yoshida is the HPIC or main producer in charge of the game. If you’re new here, Yoshida is basically the guy who led the resurrection of the decaying corpse of Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 after its initial disastrous release and turned it into the critically acclaimed and now eternally memeed MMORP: you get the point. . With Yoshida at the helm, whatever FFXVI is going to be, it’s going to be exceptional. Right next to Yoshida on the hit list is combat director Ryota Suzuki, who helped design the combat systems for Devil May Cry 5 and the Dragon’s Dogma series. Going through the list of developers, I was a bit bummed not to see my girl Natsuko Ishikawa in charge of the game’s story. Ishikawa wrote the Shadowbringers and Endwalker expansions and is basically the reason why almost every Final Fantasy XIV player seems to have been hit by an emotional steamroller and will burst into tears every time someone says “remember” too softly. However, Kazutoyo Maehiro, the creative director of FFXVI, wrote the Heavensward expansion, which is one of the most perfect Final Fantasy experiences in the game’s 35-year history. So whatever happens in Final Fantasy XVI, know that you will be in his feelings. Rounding out the list of developers is a special name, composer Masayoshi Soken. As a long-time Final Fantasy nerd, I thought Nobuo Uematsu was the pinnacle of Final Fantasy music. He may still be, but Soken proves that something special is happening in Creative Business Unit III’s music department. Soken was the main composer for the FFXIV expansions. He gave us “Heavensward”, “Wayward Daughter”, “Shadowbringers”, “Footfalls” and “Flow”: hits, all of them. Last year, during the FFXIV Digital Fan Fest, Soken revealed that, during his work on the composition of “To the Edge” for Shadowbringers, he was undergoing treatment for cancer and that, “seeing the reactions of all the players around the world, helped conquer this cancer.” Soken’s music is special and the presence of him, along with Yoshida and the others in FFXVI, gives me hope that this game will be one of the best, on a par with V, VII, IX and, cough, XII. There is still a long development road ahead. Yoshida said that while the game is playable from start to finish, his team still has a lot of work to do to put the finishing touches on it. “Even though the world is in crisis,” he said ahead of the FFXVI trailer unveiling, “we will continue to focus on what we do best: making games. Because if, through entertainment, we can provide people with something that they can really enjoy, maybe we can bring a little bit of happiness to these difficult times.”