Wisdom of Nym: Speculating on the newly announced Final Fantasy XVI

    
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Wisdom of Nym: Speculating on the newly announced Final Fantasy XVI

So, uh… hey! Final Fantasy XVI! That’s a thing we learned about yesterday, huh? I’m sure we’re all shocked that Naoki Yoshida’s very specific dismissal of rumors about him and the title turned out to be not actually a denial after all. If only someone had noted at the time that it was a very specific denial of certain things that didn’t actually skewer the rumor. If only, huh?

OK, personal snark about “yeah, called it” aside, there’s actually not much to unpack here, but there’s a whole lot of stuff to consciously re-pack. I’ve already seen lots of reactions to the game across the social media sphere packed with a whole lot of assumptions, and a lot of those assumptions are based on forgetting what I just mentioned above about specific denials and a careful control of information. So let’s take a deep breath, share some theories, and repeat to ourselves that Naoki Yoshida clearly loves trolling expectations.

First of all, let’s recap everything we currently know about Final Fantasy XVI:

Oh, and Yoshida mentions that the next big release of information will be in 2021. So let’s all settle down and wait for next year, so we can… no? We’re not going to do that? All right, let’s watch the trailer again, maybe?

I promise, this isn’t just me being snarky; it’s more along the lines of being pedantic. The point here is that what we know about the next title is contained wholly within that trailer, and that trailer doesn’t actually give us a whole lot. It gives a loose outline of some world elements, a feel, someone who might be the protagonist, and a handful of names that are either series staples (Shiva and Phoenix) or referring to someone who is clearly a figure of note (Joshua).

A lot of assumptions have been made as a result of this. And it’s here that I would note, again, that Naoki Yoshida is an expert at saying what he wants to say and no more.

For example, the assumption being thrown around is that this is Yoshida making a single-player game, but there’s no actual statement to that effect. The official announcement does not say that. The trailer doesn’t say it. No, you can’t see the little “online” tag beneath the title, which was the case for Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV, but you can also see how the logo art intentionally obscures part of the title. That could be a tell.

Or, just as plausibly, it could just not be there. Based on the actual information we have so far, there’s evidence pointing in both directions.

Similarly, is Tattoo Lad the main character? Well… maybe. He seems to be referred to only by role, and he’s never given a name. He might be the main character, or he could just as easily be the FFXVI equivalent of FFXIV’s storied Derplander. Heck, it’s entirely possible at this point that he’s the antagonist; I can’t imagine that Yoshida wouldn’t be down with the idea of tricking people into assuming someone is the main character from early trailers.

Is all of this certain? Of course not! My point here is that there is a hard upper limit on our speculation and the worthwhile data to be gleaned. We are guessing in the dark, but more than that we’re guessing in the dark with someone who loves to hint one thing while planning another.

Thus should we temper any and all guesses. What we are doing at this point is less a practice of analyzing and speculating based on revealed information, but more based on the people involved in the project and a gut-check sensation. Do I have speculation? Of course I do, but I also recognize that I am largely guessing about an elephant in the dark.

Lad

First of all, I feel at least reasonably comfortable that this is not going to be a pure MMO a la FFXI and FFXIV. That’s not confirmed yet (a point I just made, after all), but it feels like a bigger point would have been made if it were even from the announcement. None of this changes my expectation that planning and work is in process for what comes after FFXIV, but I suspect that FFXVI is going to have a multiplayer option rather than be another MMO per se.

Why a multiplayer option? Well, I think the vagueness about the protagonist is intentional. People are already calling allusions to Dark Souls and the like, and it really wouldn’t surprise me if FFXVI does let you define your own protagonist in a way the series hasn’t allowed you to do since Final Fantasy III. So while the game is not a full MMO, it will definitely feel like a half-step closer in that direction, possibly with shared open areas or even just a general feel.

Another equally likely possibility is that the nameless character in this trailer is the first of four protagonists. Usually games that focus a lot on the crystals focus on the Big Four (Wind, Water, Fire, and Earth), and while the trailer features hints of what might be Water and Earth, the focus is clearly on Phoenix and Ifrit who tie in with Fire. Giving each of the four protagonists a background against these four crystals would make perfect sense, too.

The speculation that it’s going to be set on another shard of FFXIV‘s cosmology, meanwhile, strikes me as entirely wrong-headed. Not just because that’s never been done before (although there’s that too); it’s mostly the simple fact that it wouldn’t really add anything to the game beyond a parallel that is already achieved by calling the summoned beasts “eikons.” (And let’s face it, it’s better than “esper” as a continued term.)

Birb

As for the whole console-exclusivity is-it-or-isn’t-it thing, that one seems pretty obvious to me. If the game is all online, expect it to be a day-and-day release on PlayStation 5 and PC. If not, it’s going to be a timed exclusive. The fact that the messaging on this was a touch mixed does sort of hint at the idea that it might be an online title, actually.

But… right now, we don’t know. We don’t really have much information beyond a title and a feel along with the leadership staff. That’s the problem with speculating this early. It’s not just that we’re working with a fragment of information, it’s that we’re working with a fragment that is specifically designed not to mislead, but to deny the foundational information we need. It’s like extrapolating a whole puzzle from a handful of low-detail pieces as if you’re supposed to do that.

What you’re supposed to do, instead, is acknowledge that there’s a puzzle. And know that if the game does wind up being online, hey, maybe somebody should talk about that from time to time. At the very least, it can’t be half as disappointing as Final Fantasy XV.

So let’s all enjoy the speculation and wait for when more gets doled out in 2021, which will almost certainly not be a release date but will at least illuminate more of what the game is supposed to be. Don’t worry, you’ll probably learn about a new FFXIV expansion pack that is coming out in 2021. There’s plenty to look forward to there.

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.

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elenie

I’m excited by the idea of FFXVI existing but the trailer wasn’t for me at all – I did not enjoy the darker, edgier, more medieval vibes and I’m not particularly interested in combat and “high stakes, save the world” type stories. Not saying that’s all there will be to FFXVI, just there was nothing in this one trailer that hyped me up for the game.
Time will tell!

EvasiveDice
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EvasiveDice

Came here to say I bet it’ll have a multiplayer option but the article beat me to it. I can’t wait for this game to drop. I know it won’t be a full blown mmorpg option or that’ll hurt ffxiv really bad. But I bet it’ll have a nice romp around online with other people. I mean if yoshi is at the helm, you know he is gonna make sure the multiplayer option is still worth your time and take alot of feedback in. But without also snuffing out ffxiv subs. Won’t be surprised when their is collabs later between the games as well. Next year is gonna be a good time for next gen final fantasy on ps5 across the board.

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sersi

I’m not sure what implications it will have for the story, but I feel it should be acknowledged that the person wielding the Phoenix being named Joshua, the Greek form of Jesus, mostly likely wasn’t an accident.

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Sorenthaz

Doubting it will be an MMO or be a primarily online game. Would not be surprised if it did have online multiplayer functionality similar to Comrades. Hoping it somehow ties into FFXIV, though at the very least the collab event will be easy since Yoshi-P just has to ask Yoshi-P if he wants to do a collab.

BlazeVortex4231
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BlazeVortex4231

I feel like the “four protagonists, each of a different element” theory is off-base. Though the Probable Protagonist Boy only uses Fire and summoning Phoenix-wings, Probable Protagonist Tattoo-Man summons green talons at one point, as well as Titan’s fists at another point. My guess is that you only have one controllable character, but they obtain the powers of various eikons (as well as their elements, for magic) across the story, and that you can switch between elements mid-combat.

As for character creation as part of a possible multiplayer element… if such a thing is present, I doubt you’d see your own avatar in the story. It’s heavily implied that Probable Protagonist Boy and Probable Protagonist Tattoo-Man are the same probable protagonist, and if their appearance is custom, either you’d go into the character designer twice to precisely determine how your probable protagonist ages, or you’d design them as a teenager and watch their design change dramatically without your control.

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treehuggerhannah

I don’t think it’ll be an MMO. They may do another one in the future, but not while XIV is still going so strong. They have no incentive to compete against their own product at this point.

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cursedseishi

I mean, we already know a healthy bit for what it’s worth compared to what we’ve gotten!

Eikons are the summons, controlled and brought forth by a ‘Dominant’. I’m also going to assume by how they handle it that select few are chosen as ‘Dominants’, because not all of them can successfully manifest and control what they turn into–because it appears as so we’re operating off ‘Iceheart’ rules here.

Tattoo man isn’t ‘unique’, at least as far as tattoo. The Tattoo is likely a brand to mark a specific group of individuals hence the “Our kind do not question orders, we follow them”. What kind, then? Oathbreakers, ‘criminals’ of the government who failed their rulers…

And I say that because Tattooed man and Protag-kun are likely related in some fashion. Facial structure is a dead-on match, and the pairing of ‘Black hair/blue eyes’ is enough to set a rather… distinct correlation between the two. It’s an odd pairing, which makes it hard for there to be many other reasons it’d be shared in a setting that is otherwise treating itself so seriously. In fact, I think they might be the same person.

Pheonix is being used by the younger character throughout it, but you can plainly see shots of the older one utilizing it as well. We also see what appears to be Titan under his use (the JoJo big punches at 2:18) as well as a third summon earlier with what looks like an Aerial bend and swiping claw attacks. If multiples could utilize Eikons, I think it’d be well known.
Of course, there’s spots where that seems contradictory. The main bit of fighting at the second half looks to be in the same spot, but for trailers that can easily be faked (see Last of Us 2 for trailer manipulation). Both seem to be present, but… so far the game has only represented one character fighting, not multiples. So either we follow him as he ages, or we control certain characters at certain times–though that doesn’t explain other elements here and there.

The biggest news though? Dragoons are in, baby!

So they sent in a Dragoon? Imperial vipers… Do they really mean to invade us?

Oh… Dragoons are bad… I… Even in a mainline Sequel, Dragoons are floor tanks then. You wound me, Yoshi-P……

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Sorenthaz

And I say that because Tattooed man and Protag-kun are likely related in some fashion. Facial structure is a dead-on match, and the pairing of ‘Black hair/blue eyes’ is enough to set a rather… distinct correlation between the two. It’s an odd pairing, which makes it hard for there to be many other reasons it’d be shared in a setting that is otherwise treating itself so seriously. In fact, I think they might be the same person.

That’d kind of fit with the logo which looks to be Phoenix VS Ifrit or something else that has horns in a similar style to what Ifrit’s been known for. Basically a light vs dark/yin-yang motif with the usual orange vs blue contrast.

Everything was peaceful until the Fire Nation attacked itself?

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cursedseishi

Definitely Ifrit, they’re leaning into the more bestial version of him like in FF 8 or 10. And it makes sense, as Ifrit and Phoenix are typically on opposing ends of representation for fire as well. Phoenix being of growth and rebirth, while Ifrit is purely destruction incarnate.

And after the trailer references Joshua as “It’s the archduke’s son—The Phoenix.”? There’s an interesting bit of dialogue nestled in. At 2:30, we see a figure apparate from the fire caused by Phoenix being summoned before erupting. And followed shortly after;

A second Eikon of fire…? But… That’s impossible!

Which… means there isn’t meant to be more than one Eikon for a given element, or that it isn’t even known that there may be more. Given that we see Joshua seemingly healing (or passing on some of Phoenix’s power) to young-protag, and is the Dominant of Phoenix, that it is the chosen ‘Eikon’ for fire, but also possesses still that power of rebirth or growth.

Major assumptions here… But it feels as though Ifrit might have been sealed away by some previous Dominant of Phoenix, along with perhaps the Dominant of Ifrit–ensuring nobody knew of Ifrit’s existence. Ifrit was likely a vicious and destructive force, one that couldn’t be trusted to be used well. In a moment of sheer terror, stress, and confusion… Joshua’s Eikon responds and is summoned… But the emotional instability of his state summons something else…

The Dominant of Ifrit, reborn in the flames of Phoenix as whatever sealed it is broken, rises and immediately calls forth his Eikon–which immediately lashes out for Phoenix.

The concept of this could have… interesting fallout within the setting 16 takes place in. Do other Eikons have similar doubles sealed off? Or even killed? Do the Imperials know of Ifrit somehow and that guided the attack? Or was this an accident, unintended and unplanned for.

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Java Jawa

Combat looks very similar to FF15

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cursedseishi

No surprise there. They brought in Ryota Suzuki, who was a Game Design lead and designer for Dragon’s Dogma (and Dark Arisen) as well as Devil May Cry 5. Be a waste to not focus in on his strengths and experiences then. It’s similar to 15, but the movement, if captured in-game, is definitely more fluid.

Strykerx88
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Strykerx88

Which is the most unfortunate, and frankly, game killing thing for me about this whole reveal.

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Vincent Clark

“The speculation that it’s going to be set on another shard of FFXIV‘s cosmology, meanwhile, strikes me as entirely wrong-headed.” I humbly disagree. It existing within the 14 universe, a shard stuck in a different time etc. would actually be quite amazing.

“Not just because that’s never been done before” which is a reason why it would be a stroke of genius from Yoshi-P if it turns out to be true.

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Bryan Cole

Thank you, yes, let’s keep this alive and maybe it will actually happen!! All in good fun though, if we’re wrong, we’re wrong, fun to theorize though.