Today Square Enix hosted a panel about the next mainline game of the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XVI at PAX East in Boston.
The panel was hosted by producer Naoki Yoshida and localization director Michael Christopher Koji Fox.
We hear from Yoshida-san the four pillars of the game are its narrative, its characters, the visuals, and the battle system. Funnily, Yoshida-san joked about the "only possible with the power of PlayStation 5" marketing line asking Koji Fox whether he works for Square Enix or for Sony.
A video has been revealed to showcase exactly these four pillars (we set the recording of the livestream at the appropriate timestamp. You'll find similar links throughout the article or find the full recording at the bottom of the post). Everything showcased in the video runs in real-time, it's not pre-rendered.
Another video was then showcased to introduce the various areas that we'll be able to explore in the game. Once again, none of what is showcased in the video is pre-rendered.
We also hear about the Dominants, the wardens of the Elements and Keepers of the Eikons. The Eikons are the game's summons and they can obliterate nations if not kept under control. In Final Fantasy XVI they can measure between 60 and 350 feet. The game doesn't just explore their abilities in battle, but also their background. One of the central points of the game is to explore their motivations and goals.
In particular, the story will follow hero Clive Rosfield during his teens, his twenties, and his thirties. The story starts with his obsession for revenge for the loss of his brother, but this will gradually change during the story.
The combat system features Eikonic Abilities and Eikonic Clashes. The former are acquired from the Eikons Clive meets through his journey. There are many and they can upgraded and customized to match each player's playstyle.
Eikon versus Eikon battles have Clive turn into an Eikon himself to do battle against other Eikons. All of these battles are created from the ground up to feel unique. A new video showcases battle gameplay focusing on Clive's Eikonic abilities.
Yoshida-san moved on to provide more information about the game, answering questions sparked by the media tour. First of all, the game isn't all "dark" and the areas aren't all small. The area showcased in the media tour, which focused on the action elements of the game, was a stage and not a field. The game has many different stages on top of fields, and each stage has unique map sizes, layouts, and designs. Gameplay was showcased, providing a look at one of the larger explorable areas of the game. We also get to see the world map showing all the areas that may be explored, which unlock as the story progress.
Incidentally we also see that you can switch between frame rate and graphics modes at any time.
There is also a Hideaway run by Cid. It's like a hub that Clive can return to throughout his adventure. There you can find shops, craft new gear or upgrade what you already have, find sidequests (there are also sidequests that start in other location), access the Arete Stones which let you access the battle training, the Arcade Codes where you can compete on online leaderboards, and Stage Replay which lets you replay any complete any stage at any time. There's also a secret mode that has not been revealed.
We then learn that while there are QuickTime events, not all cutscenes include them. Boss battles are split into multiple phases that are triggered when the boss drops to a certain amount of HP. The transition is shown via a cutscene and simple QTEs are implemented to make these transitions more interactive. This also happens in Final Fantasy XIV. Failed QuickTime events can change the outcome of a cutscene transition, but never result in a game over. There are three types of QTE: Attack, Evasion, and Clash. They are assigned to the same buttons they would usually have in gameplay, and they're designed to keep the player in the action. They're also not "quick" at all, so you'll have time to nail them easily.
Speaking of the action nature of the game, the team loves turn-based games but they also love action games. Luckily, the game is for everyone, even for players who aren't used to action games. To help them, the developers have implemented optional accessories that can be equipped. They're called Timely accessories. You can see how they work in this part of the video.
We have rings of Timely Healing, Timely Assistance, Timely Strikes, Timely Evasion, and Timely Focus.
The Ring of Timely Healing automates potion usage. The Ring of Timely Assistance automates Torgal's (Clive's Dog) assists. The Ring of Timely Strikes lets you execute combos simply by pressing the square button. The Ring of Timely Evasion automates evasion (duh) of incoming attacks. The ring of Timely Focus is similar to the evasion one, but it only slows down time when you're about to receive an attack that can be evaded so you can do your own dodges easier. You can see the descriptions here.
Wearing Timely Accessories lowers the score on the leaderboards of the Arcade Mode mentioned above. On top of that the UI always shows which accessories you're wearing at any given time, so streamers won't be able to hide it when they stream the game.
We also see how if you accidentally attack Torgal he will simply move out of the way, while you can pet him.
As mentioned before, the theme of each Eikon Battle is unique, for instance, the battle against Garuda is quite easy and serves as a tutorial of the feature. We also got a brief video showing a glimpse of various Eikon Battles.
Last, but not least, e learn that more information on the RPG elements of the game will come in April.
If you're unfamiliar with Final Fantasy XVI, it's the next mainline game of the ultra-popular fantasy series by Square Enix. Its development is spearheaded by many developers from the Final Fantasy XIV team, which isn't too surprising considering the success of the latest MMORPG of the series, which has recently passed 27 million registered accounts worldwide.
The scheduled release date is June 22, 2023, for PS5. A PC version is also likely coming at some point, albeit there is no official release date for it at the moment. We also recently learned that a demo is planned and should come shortly before the game's release.