The long rumored Final Fantasy XVI was finally unveiled at the PlayStation 5 Showcase this week and there are lots of interesting aspects to the announcement. Beyond the topline fact that we are getting a new mainline entry to the Final Fantasy series (!), it’s notable that the game is being developed by Creative Business Unit III, which is Naoki Yoshida’s team. For the unfamiliar, these are the folks who develop the incredibly popular MMO, Final Fantasy XIV.
This is new for the series and significant in the sense that the FFXIV team has been largely responsible for the series’ success in the modern age. Square Enix’s handling of the series outside of the MMO has been spotty at best for some time now and having the guy who miraculously turned FFXIV around in around two years producing FFXVI has instilled a lot of hope in fans (including myself!).
FFXVI also has a medieval, almost low fantasy look and feel to it that has been a bit divisive amongst fans, but not surprising, as anyone who has heard Yoshida talk about a new mainline FF game knows that this is the direction he would’ve liked to see.
Personally, I’m all for it. Some of my favorite RPGs in existence are Yasumi Matsuno’s Tactics Ogre, Vagrant Story and, of course, Final Fantasy Tactics. While Matsuno is not working on the project, his influence here is clear. I’ve been dying for something along those lines for many years now and I frankly couldn’t be more excited about the direction FFXVI is going for when it comes to its theme and aesthetic.
My only concern with the game’s aesthetic is that it kind of looks just a tiny bit generic compared to other games in the series and even Matsuno’s work to some extent. Games like FFT had a medieval look, sure, but the characters still had a distinct quality to them and this is also true for other games set in Ivalice such as the Final Fantasy Tactics Advance games and Final Fantasy XII. I’d be a bit less worried about it if this didn’t also extend to the game’s protagonist, as we’ve only seen a small slice of the game so far. Not a huge deal, but something to note.
What I’m less excited about what I’ve seen of the gameplay. FFXVI’s combat designer comes from the Devil May Cry series and it shows. The game looks to be decidedly more action combat focused than either Final Fantasy XV or the more recent Final Fantasy VII Remake and that’s not really a direction I’m excited for the series to take. I feel Square Enix really nailed what modern Final Fantasy should play like with FF7R. The team masterfully struck a balance between action combat and the turn-based elements the series is steeped in and I’d love to see future FF games adopt that sort of gameplay.
I’m also concerned about what this means for party based gameplay as we only see a single character fighting at a time throughout the trailer. I may be jumping the gun, but parties are part and parcel of the Final Fantasy experience, so I truly hope we aren’t looking at a more solo adventure here.
While some aspects of the reveal leave me a bit apprehensive, this is still the most excited I’ve been for a new Final Fantasy game (that wasn’t an MMO or remake) since 2001 with Final Fantasy X. It’s seriously been that long. The overall aesthetic, the Matsuno style political intrigue and the fact Yoshida’s team are on it have given me a lot of hope for the first time in a very long time.
What’s your take on the Final Fantasy XVI announcement? Share your thoughts in the comments below!