September 16th’s PlayStation 5 showcase left us reeling over many different revelations. The price of the PS5, release date, and the existence of God of War: Ragnarok, to name a few. But perhaps one of the biggest bombshells of the presentation was not only that Final Fantasy 16 is a thing, but the sheer amount of information we got from the announcement. It’s not uncommon for a developer to only have a short little teaser to show when announcing a brand-new game, especially a game as big as Final Fantasy 16 which could easily justify a very long reveal. With several teasers in cryptic messages here and there that don’t really tell us anything other than the game exists.
Final Fantasy 16 went a very different way with it though, by opening up the entire PlayStation 5 Showcase with one giant trailer that showed off way more of the game than we would normally see this early on in the marketing process for a major AAA game. As a result of this decision we have a lot of information to work with and we’re able to draw a lot of reasonable theories from the information that we were provided in the trailer. Surely more information is sure to come in the coming months, and at that point some of our speculations here may prove to be obsolete. But from what we can see in this trailer there are lots of things we can read into it and expect from this upcoming massive Square Enix game.
One of the things that the trailer revealed to us is a complete change in tone for this game. While some form of magic and supernatural abilities definitely seem to be present here, Final Fantasy 16 definitely seems to want to take a more realistic approach to many of the elements that the series otherwise wouldn’t. Landscapes, buildings, and character designs are far less flamboyant than what we are used to from the series. Aside from all of the jumping around and magical swords and giant marauding beasts, the things that you see in this game don’t seem too far removed from a place and a cast of characters that could potentially exist somewhere at some point in time.
While this approach might not be the cup of tea that longtime Final Fantasy fans are expecting from the series, it could also prove as a nice change of pace for the series that could reinvigorate interest from old fans as well as bring in new ones at the same time who might have passed up on several of the previous games. It almost has a similar fantastical version of folklore that went so well with Dark Souls, although of course here it seems much more open to streaks of JRPG stylings that we’ve grown accustomed to over the years. Only time will tell if the story remains as grounded in reality as many of the aesthetic decisions seem to be. Odds are, it probably won’t.
We are, in all likelihood, in for a very typical fantastic JRPG style story that only the final fantasy series can give us, and that’s a good thing, but it’s also interesting to see them take this slightly more realistic approach to how people and locations look. On top of that we’re also seeing a lot more blood and violence than we would normally see in a Final Fantasy game. That’s not to say that previous games haven’t dipped their toe into that particular body of water before, but something about the way this game presents itself and its combat seems to indicate a dedication to realistic violence and the damage that someone can take when a giant sword slashes through them or stabs into them. It’s tough to say how it will go over with fans in the long run at this point, but if nothing else, this particular style for Final Fantasy 16 will make the game stand out among its predecessors for a very long time.
Speaking of combat, it does seem like they are borrowing a page or two from Kingdom Hearts with the way the combat seems to flow. Lots of floating in the air for far longer than makes any physical sense. Although here, with the realistic damage that the enemies suffer through and the added horsepower of the PlayStation 5, it’s probably going to look and feel very much like its own thing when all is said and done.
If Square Enix can tweak the combat just enough to make it feel a little bit more like its own thing while relying on the pillars of what has been done in the recent past, they could be well on their way to one of the better combat systems in the entire series. It may take a game like this to get all Final Fantasy fans, both new and old, back on the same page again.
If the long, winding, and at times inconceivably cumbersome storylines of previous Final Fantasy games weren’t your thing before, then prepare to be disappointed yet again with Final Fantasy 16. Although the inverse is absolutely true as well. Based on the dialogue that we heard in this trailer, and what it seems like the characters were generally up to, we are more than likely in for yet another massive, sprawling story that takes characters all over mysterious worlds and crossing paths with infinitely interesting characters along the way. All the talk about defending realms, traveling between them, magical crystals, and shaping history all seems right at home in the Final Fantasy series, and seems like it will deliver a story that old time fans of the series have grown accustomed to expecting from it.
Given that this will be a console exclusive to PS5, one could easily assume that it will be optimized for that platform. In light of that I think it’s reasonable to expect that Final Fantasy 16 will get to take advantage of much of the bells and whistles of the PlayStation 5. Whether that be through the haptic feedback of the DualSense, more raytracing than other games, or just harnessing the advantages of its super-fast SSD, it’ll be interesting to see what they’re able to pull off with this game given that they don’t have to divide up their development I’m making all sorts of different versions for different consoles.
Final Fantasy has been a staple in gaming for a long time, and it would be crazy to think that Square Enix doesn’t completely understand that, perhaps better than anyone else even. Given that, it looks like Square Enix as well on their way to yet another classic entry in this long-running pillar of gaming history. If Square Enix didn’t see massive potential for the series to continue on, they wouldn’t be making a 16th game. But just like all of the fans who have bought the games in the past and loved many of them, it seems that Square’s undying love for the franchise will continue on into this next game with all of the bells and whistles that a new console generation can bring and that really blows the doors wide open on possibilities, that, hopefully will hear much more about soon.
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