Final Fantasy XVI: Everything we know so far

Final Fantasy XVI: Gameplay, story and rumors
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Final Fantasy XVI was recently revealed at Sony’s PS5 Showcase Event, giving us a first look at the game in a four-minute-long trailer. 

The announcement of FFXVI is quite an exciting one, especially since the previous numbered title (FFXV) was published four years ago. Not only that, but the original FFXV had been revealed in 2008 under the name Final Fantasy XIII Versus.

To put it simply, players have been waiting for a FFXVI for a long time. If you’re interested in the series, here’s everything you need to know about Final Fantasy XVI, including details on its release date, gameplay, story and trailer.

Final Fantasy XVI State of Play: Everything shown

We recently were graced by a Final Fantasy XVI State of Play, showing off nearly 25-minutes of the game. It opened by throwing us right into the gameplay, showing the protagonist on a mission to find Shiva's dominant. We're immediately thrown into gameplay, with a promise that it is "the first true action RPG in the series." It was likened to a "high-speed roller coaster ride," showing off what the primal combat looks like alongside tons of mind-blowing combos against bosses.

The story follows a character named Clive throughout his teens, twenties and thirties. It is designed to play like an epic saga chronicling the story of this man's life throughout the kingdoms of Valisthea. We also get a look at the main menu, showcasing Gear and Eikons, Abilities, Attributes, Items, Journal and a Map. There is a world map with fast travel options to jump around the world.

Final Fantasy XVI

(Image credit: Square Enix)

At some point it goes through a long-form showcase of its various environments, and my god is it breathtaking. From majestic forests to enormous cities to mysterious temples to expansive cavern systems, the game seems phenomenal visually. We even saw an absolute ton of combo-heavy gameplay segments, featuring Clive taking down anything from huge monsters to beefy humanoid figures by utilizing the classic abilities we adore from the Final Fantasy series.

Final Fantasy XVI

(Image credit: Square Enix)

One newly revealed feature includes For those who want to focus on story rather than action, players can select story-focused gameplay style.

Final Fantasy XVI

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Not only will players have access to tons of wonderful party members who develop differing types of relationships with him, but Clive also has a wolf-companion he can issue commands to while in combat. And of course, don't forget to feed your little buddy!

Final Fantasy XVI

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Players get access to Hide, Hideaway after a certain point in the game, which will act as the game's main hub to receive side quests and train in the training room. You can also conversate with NPCs to learn about side-quests all throughout the world.

Final Fantasy XVI

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Players can take optional hunts to go after certain monsters and something called the Thousand Tomes, which allows the user to go deep into information on monsters, items and characters. There's also a librarian-esque character who will offer information on the deeper politics of the world.

Final Fantasy XVI

(Image credit: Square Enix)

The gameplay demo ended with Clive battling huge foes, terrifying shadowy assassins (and fighting off their attacks by button mashing), and battling the iconic dominants themselves and the power they wield. All of the incredible bosses and battle encounters we're being shown just absolutely takes my breath away, from gigantic fire beasts to huge sword wielding knights and how the player encounters them in combat.

Final Fantasy XVI

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Of course, you'll be able to battle the icons themselves in epic close-quarters-combat. Icon vs Icon battles are the most unique aspect of Final Fantasy XVI, allowing the users to battle to fight other icons in real time, utilizing their epic abilities against the classics, with every showdown being immensely unique. 

Final Fantasy XVI release date 

Final Fantasy XVI is set to launch on June 22 exclusive for PS5. We knew it was coming in the summer, so this isn't a particularly surprising big of info. But it's great to see that it's launching on the earlier side of summer.

When Final Fantasy XVI was revealed at the PlayStation 5 Showcase Event, it wasn’t accompanied by a release date or even release window. However, a quote from Bloomberg reporter, Jason Schreier, in an episode of the Triple Click podcast suggests the game could be released relatively soon. 

Jason claims he’s spoken with people who are “familiar with the game’s development,” and that it has “been in development for at least four years in some capacity.” He believes it’s “coming sooner than people think.” While this is quite vague, it could mean we see the game released in late 2021.

Square confirmed that "basic development and scenario production have already been completed," so the game isn't in its early stages of development by any means. This is certainly good news, as it implies that Square Enix didn't just announce the game before development had begun, otherwise we would be waiting half a decade for FFXVI to release.

A Brazilian trailer showcasing footage of PlayStation 5 games had a hidden line that suggested Final Fantasy XVI would be a limited time PS5 exclusive. Wccftech translated the line, and it reads "Not available on other platforms for a limited time after launching on PS5." On the PS5 website, something similar is also written under the Final Fantasy XVI entry: "Not available on other consoles for a limited time." This almost certainly confirms Final Fantasy XVI will be coming to other platforms at some point.

Producer Naoki Yoshida has confirmed that the main story scenario for Final Fantasy XVI is complete, with english voice over being nearly finished. Square Enix has recently confirmed its appearance at the Tokyo Game Show 2021, but Yoshida says it's unlikely that the game will appear. While the company did not appear at TGS, Yoshida provided a brief update on the game, claiming that the team has finished its main design and is close to completion. This could mean anything, but there might be reason for excitement rather soon.

On the official Final Fantasy XVI website, Naoki Yoshida placed a message apologizing that the team was unable to dive deep into the game last year. However, he promises they'll be able to showcase something during the Spring of this year, so we have something to look forward to.

Rumors suggest a PlayStation showcase is happening sometime in September, and if it does, we're practically guaranteed to see more of Final Fantasy XVI at the show.

Final Fantasy XVI story

Final Fantasy XVI is being helmed by director Hiroshi Takai, who has previously worked on Final Fantasy XIV. And Naoki Yoshida, Final Fantasy XIV's director, is listed as a producer for the game. The MMO's latest expansion, Shadowbringers, has been lauded as one of the greatest Final Fantasy experiences ever. 

Final Fantasy XVI: Release date, gameplay, story and leaks

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Kyle Campbell at IGN believes “Shadowbringers has only further solidified XIV's status as one of the greatest Final Fantasy games ever made.” Many other critics have shared this sentiment, with the game receiving an astounding 90/100 on Metacritic, making it the most acclaimed title in the series since the PS2 era.

Final Fantasy XVI is in great hands, which is why much of the fanbase is excited for what Takai and Yoshida could accomplish. As far as what we can actually expect from the game, it will feature a story about magical crystals and the power these crystals hold. If you’ve kept up with Final Fantasy, you know this is one of the most commonly used concepts throughout the series.

It also seems as if the english dub for Final Fantasy XVI is taking priority, with the focus being on motion capture in "British English."

Final Fantasy XVI: Release date, gameplay, story and leaks

(Image credit: Square Enix)

However, Final Fantasy XVI is seemingly trying to shake up the formula. A phrase frequently used throughout the game’s marketing is “the legacy of the crystals has shaped our history for long enough.” Additionally, Twitter user ThisIsXel discovered that the game would be targeting a Mature ESRB rating, which isn’t too surprising considering the brutality seen in the reveal trailer.

All of this information culminates into a story that’s straying away from what we've come to expect from the series. The Final Fantasy games have frequently been dark, but Final Fantasy XVI is also shaping up to be bloody, violent and rebellious.

Final Fantasy XVI gameplay 

During the June 2022 State of Play, we received an extended trailer for Final Fantasy XVI. It continues upon its initial promise by being a darker interpretation of the series, one that's wrought with bloodshed and violence. The power of the primals seems immense and terrifying, and there's a massive focus on political intrigue. We see boss battles between giant primals, but it's hard to tell what's exactly happening.

The Final Fantasy series is widely known for its turn-based combat systems. However, this has changed drastically over the years. With the release of Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns in 2013, we saw the introduction of a slightly more active battle system revolving around well-timed blocks, attacks, special moves and dodges.

Final Fantasy XVI: Release date, gameplay, story and leaks

(Image credit: Square Enix)

This began to change even further when Final Fantasy XV introduced a completely different combat style, involving hack n’ slash mechanics that allowed players to teleport around arenas, combo enemies and swap between different weapons amidst combat.

And with the release of Final Fantasy VII Remake this year, Square Enix created an excellent marriage between active combat and turn-based decision making. Players can slash around the field freely, but when using an ability, time freezes and gives them the opportunity to make their choice.

Final Fantasy XVI will likely continue the trend of active combat considering what we can assess from the trailer. It was quite clear the player was performing combos on enemies, but it’s difficult to tell how these mechanics work without a full demo showcase. I certainly hope we can expect a fluid control scheme with control accuracy unlike anything we've previously seen in the series. 

According to producer Naoki Yoshida, Final Fantasy XVI will also have a mode where players can specifically focus on the story with minimal difficulty. If you're someone who's more interested in exploring the world, getting to know its characters, and diving deep into the story without having to overcome difficult challenges, this mode will be for you.

In an interview with Inverse, Final Fantasy XVI producer Naoki Yoshida claims that Final Fantasy as a series is "currently struggling." He continues, "we receive a wide variety of requests regarding the direction of our game design. To be honest, it’d be impossible to satisfy all those requests with a single title." He explains that multiple types of Final Fantasy games are the only way to satisfy every type of series fan, especially since the franchise is so diverse between titles that no matter what Square Enix greenlights, someone will always be upset they're not getting what they wanted.

Final Fantasy XVI leaks and rumors 

Siliconera reports that Ryota Suzuki has been confirmed as Battle Director for a new AAA title at Square Enix. Suzuki previously worked as Game Design Lead on Dragon’s Dogma and as a designer for Devil May Cry 5.

Final Fantasy XVI: Release date, gameplay, story and leaks

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Whether or not he’s actually working on Final Fantasy XVI is unknown, but if he is, it likely means the game will feature a combat system focused on testing the player's reflexes in high-octane battles.

Final Fantasy XVI trailer 

We're expecting a new trailer to be revealed for the game sometime in October, according to Gematsu's translation of an interview with Naoki Yoshida during TGS. Final Fantasy XVI’s reveal trailer, dubbed “Awakening,” revealed a plethora of details on what we can expect from the game. This showcase is consistently brutal, with characters being impaled, ripped apart and depapitated. The actual trailer doesn’t show any of these details explicitly, but if the game is attempting to hit a Mature ESRB rating, that’s likely more than enough.

Additionally, this trailer reveals how grim the world intends to be. Final Fantasy has its fair share of dark moments, but the games are often fantastical and charming. It seems as if Final Fantasy XVI is entirely revolved around dark fantasy, with each magical element being treated as a threat to the world. 

The environments themselves seem colorless, foggy, burning or partially destroyed. It definitely seems like Square Enix’s vision for Final Fantasy XVI is far darker than anything we’ve ever seen in the franchise before.

Final Fantasy XVI setting and world map

Square Enix recently update its Final Fantasy XVI website with new information regarding the world of Valisthea. The game will be populated by six different realms, which are The Grand Duchy of Rosaria, The Holy Empire of Sanbreque, The Kingdom of Waloed, The Dhalmekian Republic, The Iron Kingdom and The Crystalline Dominion.

This page details what we can expecting from the game's lore. It seems what was previously known as a "Summon" is now being called an "Eikon," and these Eikons reside within a "Dominant." Depending on the kingdom, these Dominants can be treated as royalty, weapons of war or be feared into exile.

For example, The Grand Duchy of Rosaria holds the Phoenix, Eikon of Fire. When the Dominant who holds this powerful creature comes of age, they're enthroned as an Archduke.

This is a fascinating nugget of world building, and it has me quite excited for Final Fantasy XVI's storytelling. It seems as if summons will now be treated with far more relevance to the lore than ever before. Hopefully the game's writers can build upon this new Eikon narrative in ways that feel fresh.

Final Fantasy XVI World Map

(Image credit: Square Enix)

The Final Fantasy XVI page also provides a rough look at the game's world map. Here, we can see hints of classic Final Fantasy-esque traversal, with large mountains and open seas to ride across. 

I'm hoping the world stays relatively contained and doesn't end up as large as Final Fantasy XV. I prefer smaller worlds with lots to do than expansive ones with bulks of nothingness scattered around.

Claire Tabari
Contributing Writer

Self-described art critic and unabashedly pretentious, Claire finds joy in impassioned ramblings about her closeness to video games. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism & Media Studies from Brooklyn College and five years of experience in entertainment journalism. Claire is a stalwart defender of the importance found in subjectivity and spends most days overwhelmed with excitement for the past, present and future of gaming. When she isn't writing or playing Dark Souls, she can be found eating chicken fettuccine alfredo and watching anime.