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Final Fantasy 16 release date, trailer, and story for the PS5 timed exclusive

The next mainline entry may be here sooner than you'd think.

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An epic tale of brotherly love and loss in a wartorn land full of political intrigue awaits gamers in Final Fantasy XVI, the next mainline entry in one of the greatest role-playing game series in existence. Graphics will closely resemble Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, but it’ll have gritty Soulslike combat and one of the most mature stories in series history. But when will it finally launch on the PlayStation 5?

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 producer Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida, director Hiroshi Takai, and the rest of the team at Square Enix have kept mostly quiet on updates. As reported by Video Games Chronicle, Yoshi-P confirmed in an October 2021 live stream during Tokyo Game Show that the game “only has a few quality improvements left.” The main development and character models have been completed, and all that remains is some polishing on the games’ remaining side quests.

The official teaser website already details tons of lore for the upcoming fantasy epic, but it’s unclear when we can expect the next major reveal. For now, here's everything we know about Final Fantasy 16.

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.

While the trailer seems to feature two playable protagonists, a PS Blog post confirms they're actually the same character at different points in time. It seems likely that most of the game will take place when the protagonist Clive Rosfield is older. Clive is the elder son to the Archduke of Rosaria and also Joshua’s older brother, and as a master swordsman, he’s sworn to protect Joshua. But the trailer hints at something terrible happening to Joshua, implying that a traumatized Clive then goes on a quest for revenge that lasts years.

During the Tokyo Game Show 2020 in late September, producer Naoki "Yoshi-P" Yoshida clarified in an interview that the entire trailer features in-game scenes rather than pre-rendered footage:

"I saw some comments from Americans saying that if we [released a trailer that was all pre-rendered], they wouldn't see the game until 2035 … So we decided to release a proper trailer." (Translated by @aitaikimochi.) Yoshi-P also said the team was under deadline pressure and didn't have time to fine-tune the graphics, so they might release a more polished trailer at some point in the future — and the graphics in the final build of the game will be far better than what we see in the trailer.

When is the Final Fantasy 16 release date?

Shiva is back.Square Enix

There's no official release date just yet, but producer Yoshi-P confirmed in official press materials that "the next big information reveal is scheduled for 2021." In July 2021, Yoshi-P said that the team was hoping to deliver an update at Tokyo Game Show 2021, but very little was shared beyond the update that the game “only has a few quality improvements left.” A Square Enix recruitment page translated by Gematsu in October 2020 noted that most of the development had been completed at that time, so it seems likely that it’s getting very close to completion.

“We definitely want to show it [at Tokyo Game Show], but isn’t it better if when we do, you’re able to play it right after?” Yoshi-P had said back in July (translation by @aitakimochi). If they just missed the mark on the Tokyo Game Show, then it’s possible that Square Enix might release another trailer during The Game Awards 2021. It would make for the perfect opportunity to announce the release date then, but the real question is what Yoshi-P means by “play it right after.”

As of this writing, it seems like the earliest we can expect FF16 is mid-2022, but that’s pure speculation.

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 evokes 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 as 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 as 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?

We don't know what tragedy happens in Clive's life, but it has something to do with Ifrit confronting Phoenix. The logo for the game does depict the two Eikons facing off, so the whole story must hinge upon this moment. "The legacy of the crystals has shaped our history for long enough," an older Clive says in the trailer.

In the later timeline, Clive is empowered by the earth Eikon Titan and is seemingly part of the Dhalmekian Republic's army as they attack an army connected to the Eikon Shiva. It's unclear which nation that is based on redacted names on the teaser website, but it's probably either the Holy Empire of Sanbreque or the Kingdom of Waloed.

Is Clive trying to destroy the Mothercrystals outright as revenge? Or merely trying to defeat one or more "dark" Eikons? We'll have to wait to find out more.

What are the Final Fantasy 16 Summons or Eikons?

The Final Fantasy 16 trailer confirms that Titan and Shiva will be present in the game as more traditional Eikons. It seems like Ifrit's presence as a "dark Eikon" is an anomaly, based on one random guard's reaction to seeing "Two fire Dominants!" So it's possible that we'll see a dark and light version of each primary element?

Based on the banner for the Kingdom of Waloed on the FF16 teaser site, which features a horned horse-type figure, it seems like that nation's Eikon might be Ixion, a lightning unicorn that has appeared in many modern Final Fantasy games since FF10. Thus far, the name of the Eikon is omitted from the description, so this could change.

The Holy Empire of Sanbreque, whose Eikon name is also redacted, has a banner that features a humanoid and two dragons. Perhaps this is 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, a water-type Eikon like Leviathon would make sense here.

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.

Final Fantasy 16 is currently in development.

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