Our biggest expectations from Final Fantasy’s next mainline adventure.
It’s hard not to be excited about the prospect of a new mainline Final Fantasy game, but Final Fantasy 16 seems even more special. We haven’t seen much of the game yet, and time will tell how the final product turns out, but early impressions seem to suggest that this is exactly the Final Fantasy game millions of fans have been waiting for for ages. A return to a fantasy setting, a story set in a rich world, a cast of diverse characters- the pieces seem to be in place for something that can, potentially, be one of the series’ best outings in years.
As we look ahead to the RPG’s launch, in this feature, we’ll be talking about ten things that make up the top of our Final Fantasy 16 wishlist. So without further ado, let’s get started.
A STORY THAT MAKES SENSE
Let’s be honest- Final Fantasy 15 is single-handedly responsible for this being something that we even have to talk about. The expectation of strong characters and memorable stories is built into the very concept of a new Final Fantasy game, and though Final Fantasy 15 was a rousing success in terms of the former, where the story was concerned, the game was a bit of a mess. Its story, setting, plot twists, and lore were incredibly hard to follow, its storytelling was scattered and fragmented, and by and large, the game ended up being a narrative mess. More than anything else, Square Enix need to make this a top priority with Final Fantasy 16, because a good story is crucial to any game in this series.
NO RELIANCE ON DLC OR SUPPLEMENTAL MEDIA CONTENT
Speaking of how fragmented Final Fantasy 15’s story was- if you’ve only played the base game, you’ll know perfectly well that the game had the tendency to skip over what seemed like crucial plot points, while vital elements were never properly explained (or explained at all). In fact, the only way to fully and properly understand FF15’s story is to not only play the base game, but to also play all the DLC episodes, watch the Brotherhood anime, and watch the animated film Kingslaive. Final Fantasy as a series does have a history of building multimedia universes with each of its new entries, but FF15 took it a bit too far.
Final Fantasy 16 needs to make sure that that isn’t a priority. We’re not saying we don’t want expansions, we certainly wouldn’t mind direct sequels or spinoffs, while even tie-in TV shows or films wouldn’t be a bad thing per se- but Square Enix needs to make sure that that supplementary stuff remains supplementary, and that the game is completely self-sufficient in and of itself, especially where the story is concerned.
A LARGE PARTY
Final Fantasy, since the day of its inception, has been a classic example of a role playing experience where you take control of large parties with multiple different kinds of characters. Final Fantasy 16 should make sure it continues to proud tradition, and lets players control a party with several different characters with unique strengths and weaknesses. As excellently written and developed as the four main characters in FF15 were, the party in the game lacked that scope that Final Fantasy games’ parties usually have. Returning to a more old-school style of party management is something that would work very well for FF16, especially given its fantasy setting.
GREATER FOCUS ON CHARACTER CLASSES
We spoke about character differentiation earlier, about how playable party members will hopefully be meaningfully different from one another with specific strengths and weaknesses. One of the ways Final Fantasy 16 can do just that is by making use of a class system (or a jobs system, or whatever you want to call it). The game could have many characters that each fall within a certain role, but still provide players with the freedom and flexibility to guide their progression and tweak their builds with sub-classes or specific jobs. Classes aren’t something we’ve seen too much of in Final Fantasy games of late, but hopefully that will change with FF16.
A MASSIVE OPEN WORLD
Strangely enough for a major AAA role playing series in the modern market, Final Fantasy isn’t always guaranteed to be set in open world environments. Final Fantasy 13 tried to strike a balance between open world and linear paths, while Final Fantasy 15 was mostly set in an open world, before Final Fantasy 7 Remake once again went almost completely linear. With Final Fantasy 16, however, we’re hoping Square Enix will let players loose in a completely open world environment, similar to Final Fantasy 12, or even Xenoblade Chronicles. Based on everything that we’ve seen of FF16 so far (which, granted, isn’t an awful lot), the world of Valisthea looks like a fascinating one, not just from a visual perspective, but even in terms of lore and backstory, so having the opportunity to explore every nook and cranny of this world with complete freedom is something we’re desperately hoping for.
SEVERAL MAJOR CITIES
Getting to visit and explore beautiful towns and cities is one of the best things about a JRPG, and that stands doubly true when that JRPG is set in a fantasy setting like Final Fantasy 16 will be. We’ve spoke about our hopes of getting a massive world to explore, but just as crucial as having an open world is having a world that has multiple different locations to visit. Based on the brief story details Square Enix have shared so far, the continent of Valisthea, where FF16 is set, is populated by six different factions that are on the verge of conflict with each other, so getting to explore large cities with unique architectures and their varied atmosphere seems like sort of a requirement for the game.
NO ANNOYING LINEAR SECTIONS
Final Fantasy has really struggled with its linear sections over the last decade or so. Final Fantasy 13’s rigid straight-path corridors were lambasted universally when the game came out, FF15’s linear sections at the end were complete pace-killers, and though FF7 Remake was an improvement, even it was lacking from purely a design perspective. Perhaps the best way for Final Fantasy 16 to avoid this issue is to not have any such linear sections at all, and place the bulk of its gameplay either in the open world, or in handcrafted well-designed dungeons. Even if the game does end up having linear sections peppered in here and there though, we hope they’re significantly better than they have been in recent Final Fantasy games.
IN-DEPTH MAGIC SYSTEM
Even when Final Fantasy doesn’t take place in fantasy worlds, it still places a heavy emphasis on magic, and it will continue to do that in FF16, obviously. But Square Enix should take this chance to leverage the game’s fantasy world and really go all-in on those elements not only from a narrative perspective, but also from a gameplay perspective. Going back to what we mentioned earlier, having specific classes could contribute to that, thus allowing players to specialize in magic. Making magical upgrades and customization a core part of the progression would not only help sell the setting that much better, it would also add immense depth to the gameplay systems.
ATB-STYLE BATTLE SYSTEM
With Final Fantasy 7 Remake, it felt like Square Enix finally found the perfect balance between turn-based and action combat that they’ve been striving for for so long. And sure, Final Fantasy is a series that always innovates and tries new things with the combat systems of new entries- and while we’re hoping (and expecting) that FF16 will do that as well, it would also make sense if it does that on top of the foundation laid down by 7 Remake. The ATB system in that game is flat-out genius, and we really do hope to see something similar in FF16. It doesn’t have to be ATB necessarily, but a similar system that manages to take an action system and add almost turn-based levels of tactics to it would be a dream scenario.
MANY HIDDEN BOSSES AND OPTIONAL DUNGEONS
It’s safe to say that nothing else on this entire wishlist has as much chance of coming true as this wish in particular. Final Fantasy has a long and stories history of populating its games with entirely optional (and elaborate) dungeons and hidden bosses, and we’re completely expecting FF16 to do the same. A big chunk of Final Fantasy 14’s development team is working on 16, and the former is absolutely brimming with optional bosses and dungeons. Sure, an MMO is bound to have that stuff (and in much greater quantities than a single player RPG), but even so, we’re quite optimistic that Final Fantasy 16 won’t be found lacking in this area.