The fantastical world of Final Fantasy XV, known as Eos, is full of vibrant landscapes with peculiar topographical anomalies thanks to the presence of the magical Astrals, or gods, that have shaped the lands over millennia. At least one shrewd Final Fantasy fan recognized similarities between FF15 and other landmarks in Square Enix’s upcoming Forspoken, which received a new trailer Thursday.
Is it possible that these two video games share a universe? The answer is more complicated than you might think.
During the Square Enix Presents livestream on March 18, the publisher revealed a new trailer for the game formerly referred to as Project Athia. It included the official title reveal of “Forspoken.” One Final Fantasy fan on Twitter called @RPGMoogle posted a side-by-side comparison of Forspoken and FF15 art on Thursday, and the resemblance is uncanny.
“Headcanon is that the Forspoken world is FFXV's Eos like 1000 years before the events of FFXV or something,” they wrote. Even if this theory is never canonized, it still seems pretty convincing based on the visuals.
Perhaps the strangest landmarks in all of FF15 are these rock bridges that arc across the landscape, almost like curved pipes sticking out of the earth. You don’t really see that kind of thing in the real-world all that often, which makes it seem like these are magical in nature. There’s also a jagged, sharp-looking mountain on the horizon in both images.
Is the Forspoken protagonist Ella Balinska looking out over the same stretch of land that Prince Noctis and his three best friends traveled through in FF15?
The boring answer is probably not — but it would be nothing short of brilliant if this was the biggest Square Enix fakeout ever.
Forspoken is being created by Luminous Productions, a subsidiary studio within Square Enix that was formed in 2018 from the same team that developed FF15. The team created the Luminous Engine to build video games for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 generation of consoles, along with PC. FF15 was the first to use the Luminous Engine, hence the name Luminous Productions. It stands to reason that the team may have recycled various environmental assets when building the world of Forspoken, which is called Athia.
There’s no denying the obvious resemblance between Athia and Eos, but that may just be due to the fact that they’re two of the only games created with this engine.
Mog also points out in a separate tweet that “Eos (FFXV's world) and Athia (Forspoken's world) are both Greek.” Is that intentional? Could it be the same world at points in time centuries apart? Or is someone at Luminous a big fan of the Greek language?
Consider that before Final Fantasy XVI was revealed in September 2020, there was rampant speculation that Project Athia was secretly FF16. We know by now, of course, that FF16 is a distinct game being created by Square Enix’s Creative Business Unit III, the same group behind FF14. But could there still be a link between Forspoken and a different Final Fantasy?
"What I really wanted to do is use everything I learned from working on Final Fantasy and put it into something new," former studio head Hajime Tabata told EuroGamer in October 2017. "You don't get that many opportunities in the games industry to make something new when you want, so I really wanted to put everything into that."
The new studio head, Takeshia Aramaki, reconfirmed the newness of the Forspoken IP.
"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," Aramaki wrote in a June 2020 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."
All signs point to the fact that Forspoken will be something new entirely, but given how often Square Enix recycles ideas, mechanics, and visual motifs within the Final Fantasy franchise, anybody’s headcanon is perfectly valid.
Forspoken will be released for the PS5 sometime in 2022.