From start to finish Final Fantasy XVI’s main focus is on narrative, with a twisty narrative that starts out as Game of Thrones-inspired political intrigue, but eventually moves into the more weirdo sci-fi/fantasy mix the series is known for. The last half of the game holds some huge revelations for Clive and his friends, right up until the climactic ending. In what is seemingly a tradition for the series, the actual ending of Final Fantasy 16 is a bit ambiguous. Because of that, we’re here to help break it down, step-by-step.
Who Is Ultima?
Roughly halfway through Final Fantasy 16 Clive first meets Ultima, but just before the final battle you learn about the villain’s real origins when he and Joshua are trapped in the Interdimensional Rift.
Ultima is a being from another world, where he and his people created magic that helped their world flourish. However, all their innovation couldn’t protect them from The Blight, and they were forced to flee to the barren land of Valisthea. Here Ultima split himself into copies that transformed into Mothercrystals, designed to suck the aether from the land, aether Ultima would need to revive his people. At the same time, he created humans for the sole purpose of birthing the perfect vessel named Mythos, a vessel that has the power to cast the spell Raise.
Because Mythos would take millennia to cultivate Ultima went into hibernation, but in that time humanity discovered its free will, growing out of the god’s control.
With Ultima’s plan laid bare, Clive knows the only way to save humanity is to use his own free will and his power as Mythos to destroy the god. A giant crystal known as Origin has appeared in the sky, which is the original ship Ultima traveled to Valisthea on, which he plans to feed aether into and use to cast Raise.
Clive, Joshua, and Dion are the only ones traveling to Origin, with Dion transforming into Baham to ferry the brothers and conserve their energy. Of course, the trio are promptly attacked by Fallen forces once they reach the structure, but Dion manages to blow a hold in the side of the crystal, creating an opening for Clive and Joshua. After confronting Ultima, Dion is eventually defeated and plummets into the depths. Presumably, this means Dion is dead, but the game never outright confirms or denies that.
Clive and Joshua, after being defeated, climb through the rest of Origin to reach its central room, and confront Ultima again. There’s some typical villain monologuing and Ultima rips the crystal out of Joshua’s chest. As Joshua dies in Clive’s arms he gives him the power of Phoenix, thus completing Clive’s transformation into Mythos. A massive three-part battle ensues, and as Ultima is baffled at his loss, Clive says it's his connection to other people, the wills they’ve built, that allows him to win. The villain is destroyed utterly and Clive absorbs his power.
Clive then goes over to Joshua’s body and uses Phoenix’s power to heal the wound on his chest, but it’s not clear if he successfully managed to use Raise on his brother. Clive concludes that his human body can’t handle Ultima’s power, but in a final effort, he uses all of his power to destroy the final Mothercrystal, and banish magic from the world entirely.
After the final battle and collapse of Origin, we see a shot of Clive laying on a beach. His magic powers have clearly vanished the curse is starting to take hold, petrifying his arm. We see Clive lay back and say his journey has come to an end. Again, the assumption here is that Clive died to save the world, but we don’t actually see that happen.
The next scene, however, switches to the Hideaway, with Jill and Gav witnessing the birth of Edda’s child. Looking to the sky Jill sees the red star, Metia, disappear. She previously wished on this star to protect Clive when they were children, and Jill sees this as a sign Clive has passed. She rushes out of the room crying followed by Torgal, who howls in pain. Tears start streaming down Gav’s face as well, as he realizes what Jill’s reaction means.
Interestingly, though, Jill’s expression changes to something else after she looks up at the moon. There are two interpretations here, with the first being Jill realizing that Clive is still, somehow, alive, but changed. The more likely, however, is that Jill is pregnant and her softened expression is the acceptance of a new future that might help her move on from the grief.
A Future For Valisthea
After the credits there’s one final scene, focusing on a small house with a mother preparing dinner while her two sons play. The two children are playing a game of “Eikons,” and after the mother asks one son to light the fire, he comments it’d be so much easier if he could use magic like in the story. The mother teases him by saying magic isn’t real. As the kids run back outside the camera zooms in on a book called “Final Fantasy” and written by Joshua Rosfield. Again, you could theoretically have multiple interpretations here. The less likely interpretation is that all of Final Fantasy 16 was a novel written by Joshua, with most of the events being imagined stories
The more likely explanation is that we’re seeing Valisthea hundred or thousands of years in the future. Clive successfully used Raise to bring Joshua back to life, and he spent the rest of his days chronicling events and making sure his brother’s story was recorded. The existence of magic and Eikons has now become nothing more than a fairy tale that’s faded into history.