Final Fantasy 16 was first revealed nearly two years ago, with Square Enix claiming that "basic development" was already completed. Despite that, Square Enix has been comparatively silent on the newest entry in its long-running franchise until very recently, when it finally released a brand-new trailer featuring Eikons – its version of summons.
The trailer shed more light on what to expect from the still-mysterious Final Fantasy 16, but it left fans with plenty of other questions. How will Eikons feature in the combat? And will Clive work with a party – a staple going back to the series' original NES days – or will he be flying solo?
Speaking with IGN in a new interview, producer Naoki Yoshida provided some more insight into how combat, summons and other mechanics will work in Final Fantasy 16, in the process confirming that it will once again feature party mechanics in one form or another.
"We didn't want to overwhelm users in our newest trailer, so we focused solely on Clive's battles. That said, for most of his journey, Clive will be accompanied by one or more companions. These companions will participate in battle, as well as trade banter with Clive. That said, the party members will be AI-driven so as to allow players to focus solely on controlling Clive," Yoshida explains.
While Yoshida wouldn't confirm one way or another, one of those party members could include Torgal, the wolf-pup from the original trailer. Yoshida said fans will have "wait and see" regarding whether the pup will eventually play a role in the combat, promising more info on parties soon.
Final Fantasy 16's Combat Will 'Translate Summons Into Player Actions'
One way or another, it seems like it will be at least somewhat similar to Final Fantasy 15, which also featured AI-controlled party members. This has been a trend in the series since it moved away from turn-based combat, with even Final Fantasy 7 Remake embracing action-based combat.
On that note, Final Fantasy 7 Remake has been widely praised for balancing depth and nuance with speed and excitement, Yoshida says that Final Fantasy 16 will play somewhat differently.
"[Final Fantasy 7 Remake] would not exist without the original [Final Fantasy 7], and those original systems ultimately influenced what Remake became. [Final Fantasy 16], however, is a completely new game with a completely different concept. In order to take the series in a new direction, rather than build off old battle systems, director Hiroshi Takai and battle director Ryota Suzuki made real-time action their focus," Yoshida explains. "Translating traditional summon abilities into player actions, and allowing for the real-time swapping and chaining of these abilities in battle has allowed us to create a system that not only looks great, but feels really good to play."
Summons featured heavily in Final Fantasy 16's most recent trailer, replete with the customary pyrotechnics that fans have come to expect from such sequences. Ifrit, Ramuh, Bahamut, and Shiva – all of whom appeared in the trailer – have been Final Fantasy mainstays for many years now, and their importance has grown alongside the franchise's leap in fidelity.
In Final Fantasy 16, Eikons are akin to weapons of mass destruction, wielded by "Dominants" capable of leveling nations. Many fans compared their visually spectacular sequences to watching the likes of Godzilla, but Yoshida says the "battle type and scale are somewhat fluid."
"Eikons appear in many different situations and iterations. There is no one design concept that covers all of them. Some will face Clive as fierce enemies, some will be friends and come to Clive’s aid," Yoshida explains. "There will also be times where the player will control an Eikon in real-time, battling other Eikons. The battle type and scale are somewhat fluid, and change seamlessly in real-time depending on the battle… keeping things at maximum excitement while maintaining immersion. These varied types of Eikon-driven action-oriented battles are one of the main selling points of [Final Fantasy 16], and we’ll be bringing more to you in the coming months about them."
Final Fantasy 16 Won't Be a 'Final Fantasy Theme Park' This Time
While Final Fantasy 16 will no doubt be compared to more recent single-player entries from the series, its connections to Final Fantasy 14 can't be ignored. Final Fantasy 16 features an all-star cast of developers from within Square Enix, many of whom worked on Square Enix's acclaimed MMO, starting with Yoshida himself.
Nevertheless, Yoshida says fans should expect Final Fantasy 16 to be a very different experience.
"The development concepts for [Final Fantasy 14] and [Final Fantasy 16] are inherently different. [Final Fantasy 16] does something that no Final Fantasy before it has — take aspects of the entire series and incorporate them into what we like to call a 'Final Fantasy Theme Park.' However, while that is a [Final Fantasy 14] concept, it is not a specific [Business Unit 3] development team characteristic," Yoshida says.
"[Final Fantasy 16] is its own entity, separate from [Final Fantasy XIV] and the other games in the series, so you won’t find as many 'tributes' as you will in [Final Fantasy 14]. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be some easter eggs, though! That said, [Final Fantasy 16]’s main focus will be on maintaining that series-wide feel of 'playing a movie' rather than drawing from past titles."
Despite the differences, Square Enix has no doubt that Yoshida and the rest of the development team can carry over some of the magic from the MMO, which keeps growing with each new expansion.
We'll be able to see for ourselves soon enough when Final Fantasy 16 launches in Summer 2023. In the meantime, check out everything we learned from our interview with Yoshida, as well as the rest of our ongoing coverage of the Summer of Gaming.
Kat Bailey is a Senior News Editor at IGN as well as co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Have a tip? Send her a DM at @the_katbot.