It’s finally here. After the rumor mill had been churning at a breakneck pace ahead of Sony’s PS5 Showcase, a four-minute reveal trailer of Final Fantasy XVI kicked off the highly-anticipated presentation.
The next-gen continuation of one of gaming’s most beloved and enduring RPG franchises generated excitement. But many couldn’t help but note that Final Fantasy XVI bore a striking resemblance to an earlier Final Fantasy. Namely, 2013’s Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, which was one of the odd MMORPG entries into a series that is primarily composed of single-player experiences.
The notion that some shiny new thing is being likened to a much older title could be construed as a kiss of death for some game releases. However, in the case of FFXVI, it should be music to every Final Fantasy fan’s ears.
Despite its considerable legacy and Final Fantasy VII Remake’s recent critical and commercial success, the Final Fantasy franchise has been the ultimate mixed bag for over a decade. Let’s review:
FFXII was good, but its MMO-inspired combat turned off a slew of longtime fans.
FFXIII was well-reviewed by critics initially, but fan response was mixed at best as many struggled with the game’s complex storyline and excruciating linearity.
More recently, FFXV may have saved the mainline series, but its lengthy, hellish development — which ultimately resulted in an awkward sprint to the finish line and a host of compromises to get something, anything, out to market — resulted in an experience that soared in parts but fell short of its lofty ambitions in the end.
The original FFXIV may have been the worst of the bunch when it was originally released ten years ago. However, Square Enix eventually brought in Naoki Yoshida — colloquially known as Yoshi-P — to reimagine the game a few years later as A Realm Reborn. He and his team not only made the game playable, but they also transformed it into what was arguably the best Final Fantasy-related release since the PlayStation 2 era.
Yoshi-P has been brought on as FFXVI’s producer , while his Creative Business Unit III cohort, Hiroshi Takai, will serve as director. Their distinct style is prevalent throughout the game’s PS5 Showcase trailer, which offers hope that FFXVI has a clear, coherent vision that will be competently executed.
For years, a sizable contingent of longtime Final Fantasy fans have lamented the series’ continued evolution into hardcore, cyberpunk fare, calling for a return to the fantastical, sword-and-shield elements that initially made the franchise a hit. In 2019, Yoshida denied working on FFXVI, but did state that the new game should be “straightforward fantasy” that doesn’t have “much machinery.”
By the looks of the trailer, he’ll be giving fans exactly what they’ve asked for. The gameplay shown in the trailer also indicates that FFXVI will further build upon the action-based combat that worked so well in FF7 Remake, with a further foray into Dark Souls territory. This is huge given how the series struggled to adapt when its turn-based combat began to feel dated.
So, if FFXVI looks FFXIV: A Realm Reborn, you can count me among the group that is even more excited about what the next mainline Final Fantasy has to offer.