Thanks to the folks at Square Enix, I recently attended the Final Fantasy XVI Pre-Launch Celebration in Los Angeles! Anticipation for the title is high with its upcoming worldwide release on June 22nd, and the celebration delivered by providing tons of exciting new information to keep that anticipation going. The event consisted of various panels, each featuring key development team members and various content creators!
Kicking the event off, Square Enix President and CEO Takashi Kiryu, Producer Naoki Yoshida, Localization Director Michael-Christopher Koji Fox, Main Director Hiroshi Takai, Creative Director & Original Screenplay Kazutoyo Maehiro, Combat Director Ryota Suzuki, and Composer Masayoshi Soken all took to the stage and welcomed attendees. Naoki Yoshida proceeded to share some exciting news: developers from PlatinumGames, the developers of acclaimed action RPGs like NieR: Automata, and members of the Kingdom Hearts IV team also contributed to parts of Final Fantasy XVI.
The reveals continued as Yoshida shared the release date of June 12th for the game’s two-part demo, with the first part consisting of over two hours of prologue gameplay (that can carry over into the full game) and the second part focusing on a special battle scenario. This battle scenario allows players to test out skills from later in the game while getting a feel for combat. The developers stressed that they envisioned the game being accessible to fans of action games and those new to the genre. The opening keynote concluded with Yoshida announcing that pre-orders were now available for some Final Fantasy XVI merchandise, including an incredibly cute Torgal puppy plush, an equally cute Moogle figure, a larger Torgal plush, and Clive’s earpiece as a pendant.
Eikon Power Showcase
Next up was the Eikon Power Showcase, which featured Main Director Hiroshi Takai, Combat Director Ryota Suzuki, and content creator Maximilian Dood. Using a version of the party at mid-game levels, Maximilian took on an S-rank hunt to display the game’s fast-paced and frenetic action. The developers emphasized that this was the highest difficulty and would present a significant challenge to skilled players. Maximilian demonstrated how Eikon summon skills are set up in Final Fantasy XVI to showcase how customizable the combat in the game can be. Though skills must initially be equipped based on their corresponding Eikons, they can be assigned to different Eikons after mastering the skill. For example, after mastery, you could equip Titan to shoot Ramuh’s lightning bolts if you are so inclined to use Ramuh’s skills without equipping Ramuh himself.
Maximilian got close to beating the S-rank hunt, and Suzuki was able to complete the battle. The difference in playstyles between the two players highlighted how versatile the game’s action could be: while Maximilian adopted an aggressive strategy, Suzuki played more defensively. The developers emphasized that the game’s combat system would accommodate and encourage different playstyles, including playstyles that they haven’t even thought of yet!
Final Fantasy XVI’s Narrative
The next panel focused on the narrative of Final Fantasy XVI, featuring Creative Director & Original Screenplay Kazutoyo Maehiro, Localization Director Michael-Christopher Koji Fox, and content creator Alanah Pearce. Maehiro explained that the story of Final Fantasy XVI takes the player through various stages of protagonist Clive’s life in a way that will allow them to follow him on his personal journey of self-realization. Pearce asked about the motivation behind adding the Active Time Lore system, which allows players to access pertinent character and setting information and more during cutscenes. Maehiro responded that he hopes the function will help avoid distracting and immersion-breaking moments where the player cannot quite remember a character during a cutscene.
Though the narrative focuses on Clive’s journey, it also provides many opportunities for the player to explore the stories of the world of Valisthea at large. The developers placed a lot of emphasis on side quests building the lore of the world: instead of just needing to slay three goblins, for example, the quests explain why the goblins are in that particular area.
Side quests are optional and will not interfere with the main scenario, but they are available for those interested in learning more about the game’s characters and world or for those who just want to take a breather from intense moments in the story. Side quests provide a variety of possibly rare rewards, and the panel highlighted two new characters heavily associated with lore-building: Harpocrates and Vivian. Throughout his adventures, Clive can check in with these characters about his adventures and completed side quests. By doing so, Harpocrates will, for example, keep track of the game’s lore and provide this information for Clive when requested. Harpocrates will even level up, depending on how much lore he has accumulated from learning about Clive’s efforts! On the other hand, Vivian will often update Clive on how the various nations of Valisthea are doing during Clive’s journey. Harpocrates and Vivian each have stories that players can uncover as they learn more about their relationships with Clive.
The Music of Final Fantasy XVI
The final panel of the celebration consisted of Final Fantasy XVI (and Final Fantasy XIV) Composer Masayoshi Soken sharing the stage with content creator and game composer Alex Moukala. The panel also welcomed Film and Commercial Director Diego Contreras, who directed the new Ascension trailer for the game. The group premiered the trailer on stage, which provides a live-action look of Clive awakening to his Eikon Ifrit.
Soken described his process of creating music for the game, describing how much of a challenge composing for Final Fantasy XIV and FFXVI posed for him initially. He then played two clips of a boss battle to demonstrate how the game’s music mirrors the ongoing action. Though the two clips took different lengths of time to reach a particular cinematic moment in the battle, the music transitioned seamlessly to reflect that moment in both clips. Finally, as Moukala had expressed his admiration for the Final Fantasy XVI Revenge trailer theme throughout the panel, he and Soken performed the theme for the crowd to conclude the discussion. Soken even threw in the Final Fantasy victory theme jingle at the end!
To wrap the event up, the developers returned to the stage and shared their excitement for Final Fantasy XVI’s worldwide release on June 22nd. The game is shaping up to be something truly special, and I look forward to seeing its release so soon! Thank you again to Square Enix for the opportunity to attend such a fantastic event.