Soapbox: Final Fantasy 16 is the most excited I’ve been for the series in nearly 20 years.
I’m a huge fan of Final Fantasy. As no doubt many of you reading this, my gaming tastes were shaped by seminal PS1 titles like Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX. As a kid, those RPGs showed me that games could be more than Crash Bandicoot or Tekken 2 — that they could tell epic, 50-hour stories filled with unique characters and high stakes drama. Even on the PS2, there was Final Fantasy X. In all its angsty glory, I really related to it as an equally angsty teenager.
But I think my obsession with the franchise really peaked with Final Fantasy XII. Europe had to wait long Time for it – about a year after its Japanese release in 2006 – and I remember being hyped beyond belief. Up to that point, no gaming series had struck a chord with me like Final Fantasy, and for XII, after months of reading about it in magazines, I was determined to be there on day one, ready for the next great adventure.
It ended up being a divisive installment, but that 10/10 review score in Official PlayStation Magazine told me all I needed to know. Bought it, loved it, replayed it at least three or four times, and it’s still one of my favorite Final Fantasy games to this day. But I didn’t know at the time that it would take nearly 20 years for the series to be revived like this again.
Which brings us neatly to Final Fantasy XVI. It’s crazy to think that a franchise that was once so dear to me hasn’t caught my eye like this in nearly two decades, but here we are. From my point of view, XVI has always had a lot going for it. The project is led by the team that made Final Fantasy XIV such a phenomenon, and they are joined by former Capcom battle designer Ryota Suzuki.
We’re back to a medieval fantasy setting. It’s got an actual release date that’s stuck. It didn’t go through development hell like its immediate predecessors. And, perhaps most importantly, the footage we’ve seen is full of style, polish and potential. This is a company that is very rare to see This A few months before the launch there is confidence in its product.
To be honest, Final Fantasy lost me after XII. I played and somewhat enjoyed Final Fantasy XIII when it came out, but the magic just wasn’t there for me. The characters didn’t resonate, and the lead up to release was marred by reports of a very tumultuous development cycle. Plus, there was that whole Xbox-driven controversy that added some unwanted drama to the whole saga. Unlike XII, it seemed to crumble under the years of hope.
It’s easy to forget, but Square — back when it was called Squaresoft — was pumping out a new mainline Final Fantasy title every year. Of course, the games were underresourced back then, but the frankly tedious development cycles of both XIII and XV did nothing to win me over. It can be difficult to get hyped about a game that is Obviously Struggling behind the scenes, and that was certainly the case with the aforementioned Final Fantasy XV.
What a strange, patchwork game it was. I like XV, but not once did it feel like a complete, cohesive experience — even though it was dramatically improved by the Royal Edition. By comparison, everything we have seen of XVI strongly suggests that there has always been one the direction; A vision that the team has worked towards since the concept stage. And for a XIII and XV Final Fantasy game, that’s a pretty big deal.
This is probably the main reason I’m so onboard with the upcoming action RPG – it’s great to see the series seemingly on track. And look, I know some people don’t share that sentiment. XVI is treading a bold new path for the franchise, which has mainly featured turn-based or command-based combat systems thus far – and some fans don’t like it. But as someone who loves A good action game, and thought someone like Devil May Cry 5 is near the top of the genre, Final Fantasy XVI is a dream come true.
If it wasn’t already abundantly clear, I can’t wait for it, and I say that as someone who has been playing Final Fantasy games for over 20 years. Although not connected to Final Fantasy XVI Everyone, I’d still enjoy seeing Square’s series return to the top of the gaming pantheon — a property synonymous with quality. Let’s hope it reaches those heights.
Well, Rob’s hyped, but how hyped you? Do you think Final Fantasy XVI will take the series back to the top? Start your quest for revenge in the comments section below.
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