Even in a year that’s looking as packed as 2023, Final Fantasy 16 is shaping up to be one of its biggest new releases, and as we get closer to its Summer 2023 launch, Square Enix is beginning to reveal more about the RPG. The last few days and weeks have seen plenty of that as well, with new footage and several new details on its story and gameplay being shared, and we’ve learned quite a bit about the game in the process. Here, we’re going to round up a few of those key details that you should know about.
Final Fantasy 16 is set on the continent of Valisthea, which in turn is comprised of a number of powerful kingdoms. Due to the spread of something known as the Blight, the world is dying and kingdoms are clustering around Crystals, but with the light of the Crystals also failing, conflict is erupting between these kingdoms and their Eikons. Final Fantasy 16’s most recent trailer shed some more light on several of these kingdoms- there’s the Grand Duchy of Rosaria, a prosperous kingdom that’s home to protagonist Clive; the Empire of Sanbreque, a large, theocratic, and highly influential power in the world; the Dhalmekian Republic, located in the desert and ruled by an organized parliament; the Iron Kingdom, a small group of islands where the Crystals are held in greater regard than anywhere else in Valisthea; and the Kingdom of Waloed, isolated from everyone else.
DOMINANTS OF ODIN AND BAHAMUT
Nearly every kingdom in Final Fantasy 16’s world has its own Dominant, a single man or woman who has the ability to call upon the powers of that kingdom’s Eikon, and Square Enix has recently revealed some intriguing details on a couple of them. There’s Dion Lesage, the Dominant of Bahamut, who is the crown prince of the Empire of Sanbreque, and the leader of the order of dragoons. He’s loved and respected by his soldiers, and has been known to singlehandedly turn the tide of battles. Then there’s Barnabas Tharmr, the Dominant of Odin, who arrived on the shores of Ash as a landless and titleless wanderer, but through his leadership and skill with the blade, managed to quell a revolt by local beastmen and unite the entirety of the realm under the banner of the Kingdom of Waloed.
Length tends to be a crucial factor in most games, and doubly so when they’re RPGs- so how long can we expect Final Fantasy 16 to be? Square Enix has provided some rough estimates, and it looks like it’ll be a suitably meaty adventure. Speaking recently to Everyeye, director Hiroshi Takai confirmed that its main story will take roughly 35-40 hours to finish. Meanwhile, if you add in endgame content, side quests, and other optional content, the overall playtime will supposedly hit the 70 hour mark, as per the developers.
While we don’t yet know an awful lot about exactly what Final Fantasy 16’s optional content will entail, its developers have given some rough details. For starters, side stories “give a lot of insight into the lore and show different sides to the characters” will be interspersed throughout the game for players who want to track them down, as confirmed by the aforementioned Hiroshi Takai in an interview with IGN. The game will also feature several areas of varying sizes, some of which will be large “fields” roughly two square kilometers in size, containing plenty of points of interest, including settlements to visit. In addition, players will also encounter areas called “stages”, which will be more challenging locations where Clive’s powers will be limited, but players will be able to gather resources by beating stronger enemies known as Elite Marks.
NEW GAME PLUS
If you wrap up everything that Final Fantasy 16 has to offer and you find yourself still wanting for more, the game will have you covered on that front as well. Square Enix has confirmed in an interview with 4Gamer that a New Game Plus mode will also be available, which will let you carry over your level, equipment, and abilities from a finished save into a new one. As you’d expect, New Game Plus will be a much more challenging experience and will see players going up against harder foes.
HARDER DIFFICULTY MODE
While New Game Plus will give players the option to ramp up the game’s difficulty with all of your progress carried over, those looking to make things more challenging right off the bat will have the option to do so as well. Just as it will feature the easier Story Focus mode for those who just want to enjoy the story, similarly, Final Fantasy 16 will also feature a harder difficulty mode who really want to get into the weeds with the combat and progression mechanic. Specific details on this front are currently scant, but it’s good to know that the option will be included.
Square Enix has been pretty consistent about releasing pre-launch demos for its titles, big or small, so it’s no surprise that a demo of Final Fantasy 16 is also planned. This was confirmed recently by producer Naoki Yoshida in an interview with Dengeki Online. According to Yoshida, there won’t be too much of a gap between the launch of the demo and the full launch of the game itself, but of course, Square Enix hasn’t made any official announcements on that front yet. The last mainline Final Fantasy release, Final Fantasy 7 Remake, got a demo roughly a month before its launch, but it remains to be seen whether Final Fantasy 16 will follow in its footsteps.
CHOCOBOS AND MOOGLES
Final Fantasy 16 is clearly going for a dark fantasy tone and aesthetic- in fact, it’s going to be the first mainline numbered game in the series to launch with a Mature rating. Even so, it’s not going to completely turn its back on some of the goofier and more light-hearted iconic elements of the series. For instance, both Chocobos and Moogles will be present in the game and serve different purposes. That said, it’s clear that the game will try hard to keep its tone consistent. Speaking to IGN, creative director Kazutoyo Maehiro said: “The world of Final Fantasy 16 is quite serious in tone, so we’ve not gone out of our way to include anything overly comical or things that don’t fit clearly into an ecosystem.”
If you’re worried that Final Fantasy 16 might end up slipping beyond its Summer 2023 launch window- well, don’t be. According to the RPG’s developers development is roughly 95% complete, with the development team now being focused primarily on debugging and polishing the experience. Of course, if there’s one thing that the last few years have taught us, it’s that you should never bet against delays, but it does seem like Final Fantasy 16 is on track to launch as scheduled. Square Enix says it’s going to reveal more details on the game before the end of the year, which will most likely also include a specific release date.
Final Fantasy 16 will be following in the footsteps of Final Fantasy 7 Remake and releasing exclusively for PlayStation, but how long will its exclusivity period last? A recent PlayStation ad confirmed that the game will be exclusive to PS5 for at least six months after launch. Whether this means that only the game’s full exclusivity will end after six months (allowing for a PC release), or whether its console exclusivity period will end as well (at which point it could also release for Xbox) hasn’t been specified. Back in 2020, industry analyst Piers Harding-Rolls had said that it would be the former, with the game’s console exclusivity period lasting for a year.