Game Theory

Final Fantasy XVI State of Play Trailer Reveals a Shocking Twist

The Rosfield brothers are a tragedy.

Originally Published: 
Final Fantasy XVI
Square Enix

Final Fantasy XVI’s State of Play presentation gave us our best look yet at the massive RPG, diving into the ability system, side quests, combat styles, companions, and more. There’s a lot of dazzling footage to take in, and amidst all that are some fascinating looks at the world, as well as some potentially huge hints for the story. The most interesting detail, however, is a blink-and-you-’ll-miss-it moment that confirms a second playable character for FFXVI: Joshua. What’s more is that his status as helpless victim could change ... if he’s the principal villain.

There are only roughly five seconds of footage that shows a playable Joshua, and it's crammed into a sizzle reel that played right at the beginning of the presentation. It seems like a very early segment of the game, especially considering we haven’t seen anything of Joshua once Clive becomes older.

During the State of Play, the presenter mentions that FFXVI will start with Clive in his 20s, but a fully playable flashback will go into the events of the past. It’s possible Joshua might function as a kind of tutorial segment, sort of how playing as Reks did in Final Fantasy XII. This is also likely when the Eikon battle between Phoenix and Ifrit takes place.

So much of the game’s imagery, even the logo, show Phoenix and Ifrit fighting, and that imagery could be hiding the hero and villain of the game in plain sight.

Square Enix

So now we know about a second playable character, but the more important question is why Joshua was chosen to be playable, and just what happens to him? Joshua is obviously going to be a vital part of the overall narrative, and up until this point, trailers have seemingly suggested that he dies, killed by Ifrit after he’s turned into Phoenix. That might not be the truth, however.

In a wild twist, Joshua could actually end up as the main villain of Final Fantasy XVI, although we don’t exactly know what his motivations would be yet. Trailers haven’t actually confirmed his death, and there has been a scene showing an older 30s Clive interacting with him, or at least some kind of vision or specter. Then there’s the issue of the mysterious hooded figure we’ve seen pop up a few times.

It’s possible this figure could be Joshua after the time jump, and Clive’s main goal has been to hunt down his brother, who’s gone missing or is on the run. During the State of Play, we see a moment where Joshua loses control of Phoenix and incinerates a couple of soldiers attacking him. It’s possible that Joshua could completely lose control of his power, going insane or becoming possessed by the Eikon.

Could this mysterious figure from the “Ambition” trailer be a time-skip Joshua?

Square Enix

It’s also interesting to note that Clive has the power of Phoenix, as it’s one of the Eikon power sets we’ve seen in a lot of the gameplay footage. Then there’s also the question of how Clive gets Ifrit's power in the first place, as we know Joshua is the Dominant of Fire. An interesting piece of lore from the State of Play even confirms that Clive and Joshua’s mother, Anabella, is the one that betrays Rosaria, which is presumably the event where Joshua loses control, and after that, she sends Clive away as a slave. There’s clearly a strained relationship in the Rosfield family, and the dynamic between the two brothers seems to be at the center of everything.

Final Fantasy has traditionally made its villains highly interactive in the story, even putting them in the party on occasion. Final Fantasy VII’s Nibelheim flashback makes Sephiroth a party member, while Final Fantasy XV had Ardyn accompany the party for a lengthy section. At the same time, the series also has a tradition of making family members villains.

Final Fantasy IV’s main villain is Cecil’s brother Golbez, at least before the twist, and Zidane and Kuja in IX are essentially siblings as well. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Final Fantasy XVI return to this trope, especially since Naoki Yoshida has been very vocal about taking inspiration from past games, turning FFXIV into a veritable theme park of the series.

For all intents and purposes, it feels like Square Enix has been careful not to show or talk about Joshua too much, which only makes him feel even more important. Seeing a playable Joshua is the only info we need to confirm he’s likely the second most important character in the game, just behind Clive.

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