Square Enix has long been a pioneer when it comes to role-playing video games with legendary franchises like Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy, and Kingdom Hearts. But there’s one groundbreaking new franchise in the works in development from the creators of Final Fantasy XV. Formerly titled Project Athia, we now know this brand-new third-person action RPG is called Forspoken.
Here’s everything we know about Forspoken from Square Enix’s Luminous Productions.
When is the Forspoken release date?
Forspoken will be released sometime in 2022. The release window was unceremoniously revealed via footnote during a PS5 sizzle reel presented by Sony at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2021, but it was then reconfirmed during the March 2021 Square Enix Presents livestream. That seems like a strong indication that development is progressing smoothly and won’t face any delays, but you never know.
We don’t have a more specific release window just yet, but it’s possible that we’ll get a firm date before the end of 2021.
Is there a Forspoken trailer?
There are now two trailers available for the game. The most recent came during the March 2021 Square Enix Presents livestream when the publisher revealed the official title of Forspoken.
The two-minute video, hosted by actor Ella Balinska, reveals that she plays the lead character named Frey Holland (in vocal work and motion capture). Balinska says the story is about “a young woman in a beautiful but threatening world.” It includes a sneak peek at a cutscene and title reveal.
The cutscene, less than 30 seconds long, shows Ella in some kind of run-down white building that’s dilapidated and overgrown — almost like the normal world suffered an apocalypse decades or centuries ago. She sees “a motherfucking dragon!” and a male voice tells her to hide. “Is it gone?” she asks as the creature flies away. “Yes, and we should leave this place as well,” the other voice says with a certain kind of echo effect. We don’t see his body, so is this some kind of magical being that’s ... possessing her somehow? Why else would he say “we should leave”?
The trailer ends with the Forspoken title reveal, followed by a montage of Ella using her powers to fight enemies with roots growing out of the ground and traverse a barren wasteland at great speeds. It certainly looks like an extension of Final Fantasy 15 Warp mechanics mixed with flow-based traversal like The Pathless.
Square Enix also aired a Project Athia teaser trailer during Sony's PlayStation 5 reveal back in June 2020.
The minute-long video shows snippets of story cutscenes and glimpses at early versions of gameplay, which could be subject to change as Luminous Productions continues its development. It showcases Ella’s superhuman agility and druid-like powers as she effortlessly jumps from cliffs and battles hordes of fantastical beasts.
What is the Forspoken story?
Game Director Takeshi Aramaki wrote in a PlayStation blog post that Frey Holland is “an ordinary young woman who must harness her magical abilities to survive in a fantastical and dangerous land called Athia.” (This sort of explains the working title of “Project Athia.”)
“As Frey, you will embark on a thrilling, other-worldly adventure and face treacherous trials to unravel the mystery behind the unknown land of Athia and awaken something much more from within,” Aramaki says.
We don’t really know anything else about Frey or the land of Athia, but we do know that Frey is not from Athia originally. The March 2021 trailer shows her wearing normal-looking clothes and even tennis shoes. "In a world not her own," the debut trailer says via subtitles, "where resolve will be tested, truths will be questions, and devotions will be doubted, she will rise."
She also has some sort of companion with a male voice who speaks during the encounter with the dragon. The echo effect with his voices make it seem like he’s a supernatural entity of some kind. Perhaps he doesn’t even have a corporeal form? Maybe he’s possessing Frey in a dynamic similar to Celebrimbror and Talion from Middle-earth: Shadow of War and Shadow of Mordor?
The architecture in that same scene does look like the real-world, but in a post-apocalyptic way. Could Athia be the real world centuries after magical creatures like dragons were unleashed upon the world? Maybe. We’ll have to wait and see.
Is Forspoken a PS5 exclusive game?
At launch, Forspoken will exclusively be available on the PS5 and PC. According to a footnote from a PS5 sizzle reel, it will remain that way “at least 24 months” after release (or two years), at which point Square Enix can release the game on other consoles.
Will Forspoken come to PS4?
Don't get your hopes up for a PS4 release. Back in June 2020, studio head Takeshi Aramaki revealed that the game is being developed with the PlayStation 5 in mind while staying true to Square Enix's legacy of hard-hitting fantasy titles.
"Project Athia is the culmination of our philosophy here at Luminous Productions to create completely new and fresh gaming experiences that fuse together the latest technologies with art," he stated in a PlayStation blog post. "With PS5, our vision truly comes to life, and with Project Athia players can look forward to being transported to a vast and detailed world filled with beauty and dismay."
What is Forspoken gameplay like?
Game Director Takeshi Aramaki describes Forspoken as an “action RPG” in a March 2021 blog post, but it also seems like it will offer an open-world experience as well.
Square Enix president Yosuka Matsuda revealed that Forspoken will be an open-world game in an interview with Weekly Toyo Keizai (h/t ScreenRant) in August 2020. This isn't a complete shocker, as the game's teaser trailer appeared to tease its sprawling, fantasy-inspired environments.
"The game Project Athia (title tentative), which we will release for PS5, is an open-world style game in which users can freely move around the game world," he said.
Project Athia will be a bit of a departure from Final Fantasy VII Remake, Square Enix's most recent release, which had more linear maps and didn't give gamers the same type of freedom to explore that defined more traditional open-world games like Skyrim or Grand Theft Auto V.
What has Luminous Productions developed before?
Luminous Productions' is a young developer that was formed as a subsidiary of Square Enix in March 2018. Its 100+ employees were all involved with the development of Final Fantasy XV, which was released on consoles in 2016 and ported to PC and Google Stadia a couple of years later.
Square Enix formed the development team to create a new, AAA title using its Luminous Engine, which powered Final Fantasy XV. We now know that unnamed IP to be Project Athia.
Are there any Project Athia leaks?
Yes! There are numerous tiny leaks that you can sink your teeth into while awaiting more official news.
From what we've heard, the company is heavily invested in making Project Athia their new big franchise. This means if things go well, we'll likely see further entries into the Project Athia world down the line.
Gaming journalist and friend of Inverse Imran Khan mentioned on the Kinda Funny Gamescast that Project Athia stars somebody from the recent Charlie’s Angels film. Ella Balinska was indeed one of the stars in the 2019 film, so that was totally accurate as it turns out.
Square Enix also filed for a Forspoken trademark back in October 2020, so in retrospect that was obviously for the game we only knew as Project Athia at the time.
Forspoken will launch in 2022.
A previous version of this article was written by Danny Paez.