Feature Article

Final Fantasy 16: Release Date, Story, And Everything We Know

Here's everything you need to know about the next Final Fantasy game's story, characters, gameplay, and world.

June is shaping up to be a great month for new entries in long-running video game series, as Final Fantasy XVI is almost here. The latest game arrives six years after the last numbered entry in the mainline series, with this chapter returning to its fantasy genre roots with a more mature tale revolving around magic, political drama, and war. It's one of the biggest and most highly anticipated games on PlayStation 5 in 2023, and with that in mind, here's everything that we know about Final Fantasy XVI.

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Release date

Final Fantasy XVI is scheduled to release exclusively for PlayStation 5 on June 22, 2023.

It's worth noting, however, that the game will not be cross-generation, meaning PS4 owners will have to make the move to PS5 in order to play it. Square Enix shared this news during the game's reveal trailer, noting, "The following content is captured on PC emulating the PS5 experience," before adding the latest entry in the Final Fantasy saga will, "not [be] available on other platforms for a limited time after release on PS5."

Final Fantasy XVI has officially gone gold, which means that the game is ready to be pressed onto discs--though development will still continue.

Is Final Fantasy XVI coming to PC or Xbox?

Rejoice, PC gamers! In the most recent trailers for the game, Square Enix not only confirmed Final Fantasy XVI is coming to PC, but also elaborated on how long its exclusivity window will last. According to a recent trailer, PlayStation 5 exclusivity will end December 31, 2023, or roughly six months after the game's initial release. While this does not necessarily mean Final Fantasy XVI will hit PC immediately after, we're just thankful this window is much shorter than the one for Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

As for if Final Fantasy XVI is headed to Xbox, we've yet to receive any confirmation from Square Enix. Given that a handful of Final Fantasy titles are already on Xbox platforms, it wouldn't be too surprising. That being said, we're still waiting on that Final Fantasy 7 Remake port so it really could go either way.

The story so far

From what we can tell from the trailer and official website, there's conflict between realms in the world of Valisthea and a bunch of political drama, but also a focus on Dominants. Dominants are the few special people who can wield the power of Eikons, which are what summons are called in FFXVI's world.

It looks like you'll go through two separate time frames in FFXVI's story, which you can see from main character Clive Rosfield's evolution from a spiffy young man with a fancy haircut to a grizzled veteran with a scruffy beard and a mark tattooed on his face later in life. Yoshida told us the story will span three different eras: Clive in his teens, 20s, and 30s.

Clive is the son of his realm's archduke, and wields Eikon-related powers in combat but isn't necessarily a Dominant himself. He's sworn to protect his brother Joshua, the young boy in the trailer who was fated as a Dominant instead. However, as shown in the trailer, Joshua couldn't control his Eikon--he summons Phoenix after watching someone presumably important get killed right before his eyes. These events are capped by a battle between Phoenix and Ifrit, which might be the tragedy (stated in the official character profiles) that drives Clive in FFXVI.

Yoshida told us that one of the main themes in FFXVI is the clash of values between multiple different people with different ideals sharing the same space, and trying to decide together what is right and wrong.

"You're going to focus on those motivations and those struggles, and then, you're going to delve even deeper and into darker themes when it comes to how people should live; should people live the life that was chosen for them or fight to break free from that kind of destiny?" he said.

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Another character seen in the trailer is Jill Warrick. She's the young girl with grayish hair who accompanies Joshua. She's said to have a complicated life and comes from another realm. She was essentially adopted by the Rosfields, and acts as a mediary between warring nations. She's said to be a trusted confidant to both Clive and Joshua.

Throughout the debut trailer, you see other characters in battle and in conversations about the political turmoil that seems to be fueling the war in Valisthea. You see other iconic Eikons like Shiva and Titan being used on the battlefield. It looks like Eikons, and Dominants by extension, are akin to powerful weapons of war that shift the balance of power between realms in Valisthea. There's also a fight against an armor-clad lance-wielding Dragoon, said to be an Imperial Viper, which has the characters shook--another series staple.

FFXVI’s world also revolves around Mothercrystals, which are said to bless the land with aether (basically magic). But a destructive force called The Blight is also washing over the world. It's worth keeping in mind that FFXVI's tagline is, "The legacy of the crystals has shaped our history for long enough." We're not sure what it means, but it's provocative and may have to do with what's been happening to Valisthea.

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The first trailer for FFXVI was titled "Awakening," and offers four minutes of story, cutscenes, and gameplay. It also features a powerful orchestrated theme with a few Final Fantasy touches, like the iconic Crystal Prelude. If we had to take a wild guess, it sounds a bit like composer Masayoshi Soken's work on FFXIV: Heavensward, suggesting a similar tone.

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A new trailer was revealed at the TheGame Awards 2022, and is titled "Revenge." The trailer features more of the fast action gameplay we've seen in previous trailers, as well as a glimpse of the Espers players will find throughout their adventure, including Odin and Ifrit.

This will also be the first Final Fantasy game to receive an M-rating, which Square Enix told GameSpot was an intentional move to make a more mature story. According to the game's rating, the upcoming Final Fantasy will include sex scenes that are "not fully shown" and plenty of violence including "blood, intentional deaths, torture...victims suffering" and "hate crimes."

"To make sure that we could tell the story that we wanted in the way that we wanted to, we decided to pursue a mature rating in most of the regions that will be releasing the game," producer Naoki Yoshida said. "But again, this is not because we simply wanted to make the game more violent or the game more explicit, this is because we felt it was necessary to allow us to explore those more mature themes that the game tackles."

Massive Eikon battles

The second trailer, shown at Sony's June State of Play, showcases the massive Eikon vs Eikon battles that will serve as major setpieces. Yoshida told GameSpot in an interview that these Eikon battles will all be unique--one might emulate a wrestling match while another might look like a 3D shooter, for just two examples--and estimated there are roughly 20 of them in all. While these battles are a big emphasis in the game, Yoshida also says there will be smaller-scale battles against standard enemies, mini-bosses, and even Eikons appearing as human-sized.

These battles take place in wide-open spaces, but Square Enix has since clarified that FFXVI isn't an open-world game. That would seem to make the Eikon battlefields more like arenas.

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What the logo can tell us

We can always count on artist Yoshitaka Amano to create a new logo for each Final Fantasy that tells us something about the game's story. In the case of FFXVI's logo, it features Ifrit and Phoenix face-to-face in a fight, which is a battle that concludes the trailer. With Ifrit as a key opposing force and Phoenix being the Eikon that the Rosfields wield, this seems to be a central conflict that drives the game. It also appears that Eikons are pivotal to how FFXVI's world operates, more so than previous Final Fantasy games.

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FFXVI takes on an action-RPG style of combat and looks like it shares similarities to FFXV and FF7 Remake. This is not all that surprising, given producer Naoki Yoshida's sentiments regarding turn-based systems and their lack of allure to younger gamers. In battle, protagonist Clive can cast fireballs, engage at melee range with his sword and warp-like abilities, and use a few powers that look like they're tied to Eikons (indicated by the stone fist summoned in the fight against a Dragoon).

While Clive is the central character and the player protagonist, he won't be the only adventurer on a quest. Clive will be accompanied by AI-controlled party members who will banter and connect throughout the game, as well as a "faithful buddy" character to whom you can give direct commands to. Clive, though, will remain the central character, and the game will follow him through three periods in his life: his teens, 20s, and 30s.

Ryota Suzuki, who was a combat designer for Devil May Cry 5 and Dragon's Dogma, is the battle director for FFXVI, which could result in something quite exciting. And despite this renewed focus on action, producer Naoki Yoshida noted that this new approach will not come at the expense of the game's story.

During April's State of Play, PlayStation and Square Enix showed off 20 minutes of gameplay that revealed more about combat, world exploration, story, and side content. Real-time action combat, which is relatively new for the franchise, will see Clive fighting enemies using his powerful abilities and with Eikons that he can control. You'll be able to customize Clive throughout his adventure by investing experience into his massive skill tree, and those abilities can be reset at any time during your journey.

To explore the world, players can travel to different locations via a world map, which will be updated with new and evolving areas as the game progresses. Final Fantasy XVI won't be an open-world game, and there will instead be several levels to explore, some of which have been rendered in extreme detail. Cid's Hideaway, a headquarters for Clive, will be unlocked later in the game and is where the protagonist can upgrade his gear, buy new weapons and armor, train in a special area, and pick up new side quests.

With this entry in the series sporting hard-hitting melee action combat and huge action set-pieces, some Final Fantasy fans have compared the game to Sony's God of War series. Takai has acknowledged those influences, and the mission structure of Final Fantasy XVI follows very closely to the more recent God of War games, but Final Fantasy XVI has also been influenced by other movies, games, and anime.

Difficulty options let you put a ring on it

Instead of menu options, you'll be able to fine-tune the challenge of Final Fantasy XVI with five special rings that grant different types of assistance. For example, you can simplify combat with one ring that works by pressing one button that automatically controls your combos. Another ring extends the window for a successful dodge, and you can equip these rings in your three accessory slots. This means that you'll have to choose which combination of rings best suits your playstyle, and each slot taken up by one of the assist rings means one fewer accessory that you can use to customize Clive's other abilities.

How long will it take to complete Final Fantasy XVI?

Game director Hiroshi Takai and producer Naoki Yoshida estimate that the base game can be completed in around 35 hours, but for completionists looking to finish 100% of the game, expect around 70 to 80 hours to earn that achievement.

Behind the scenes

In addition to the detailed reveal trailer, Square Enix also launched an official website with in-depth looks at FFXVI's new world and characters to get you started on understanding the backstory. What's notable about this entry, in particular, is that it's being developed by Creative Business Unit III--which is the not-so-flashy name for the division behind the incredible MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV.

It's promising given that Naoki Yoshida is leading production on FFXVI--he led the team behind the rebirth of FFXIV and continues to direct the MMO, which keeps getting better and is regarded as top-tier in video game storytelling. FFXVI itself is being directed by Hiroshi Takai, who has a lengthy history with Final Fantasy and Square Enix, and was even part of developing FFXIV's reboot.

How to preorder

Final Fantasy XVI is available to preorder, but just what bonuses you'll receive with your purchase can be a bit murky. Luckily, we're here to try to clear it all up.

Three different in-game items are available, but whether you get them depends both on where you preorder the game and which version you opt for. Just about every retailer is offering the Cat Sith Charm (which boosts the rate at which you gain Gil) along with the Braveheart weapon, but the Scholar’s Spectacles item (which boosts XP gain) is only available with the following editions:

  • Collector’s Edition
  • Deluxe Edition (Digital)
  • Standard Edition (Digital)

If you're looking for the most affordable way to purchase Final Fantasy XVI, you can pick up the standard edition for $70. If you purchase this version from Best Buy, you’ll also get a free steelbook case.

The deluxe edition of Final Fantasy XVI retails for $100 and comes with a cloth world map of Valisthea and the Special Clive Rosfield steelbook Case. It’s worth noting that the Clive Rosfield steelbook is different from the steelbook offered with Best Buy preorders, so purchasing from that retailer will actually net you two unique steelbooks.

The collector's edition of Final Fantasy XVI costs a hefty $350, but comes with a plethora of collectibles that certainly make the steep cost worth it. If you purchase the collector's edition, along with any preorder bonuses you'll also receive the following:

  • Final Fantasy XVI base game
  • Premium Statue - Phoenix vs Ifrit
  • Metal Eikon pin collection
  • Special Clive Rosfield steelbook case
  • Cloth world map of Valisthea
  • Bonus in-game weapon: Blood Sword
  • Digital mini artbook
  • Digital mini soundtrack
  • The Realms of Valisthea wall banners (6-inch height printed cloth banners)
  • Final Fantasy XVI preorder steelbook

For even more information on how to preorder, be sure to check out our Final Fantasy XVI preorder guide.

The products discussed here were independently chosen by our editors. GameSpot may get a share of the revenue if you buy anything featured on our site.


Michael Higham

Senior Editor and Host at GameSpot. Filipino-American. Ask me about Yakuza, FFXIV, Persona, or Nier. If it's RPGs, I have it covered. Apparently I'm the tech expert here, too? Salamat sa 'yong suporta!

Final Fantasy XVI

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