To kick off the new year, we’re shining a spotlight on some of the biggest and most anticipated games of 2022 across all platforms and genres, today looking at Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XVI. We’ll be looking at its journey so far, which previous games it’s taking inspiration from, and whether it could be the biggest RPG of 2022. Here’s everything you need to know about Final Fantasy XVI, including its history, story, known gameplay mechanics, and release date info.
Though the franchise had a rocky road through the early part of the 21st century, Final Fantasy seems to be back on course as one of the most important series in all of gaming. Final Fantasy XV received years of post-launch updates that ultimately turned it into a fascinating game well worth revisiting. And with the release of Endwalker at the end of 2021, Final Fantasy XIV has proven to be one of the biggest MMOs on the planet. This momentum shows no sign of slowing down, with the next core installment in the series, Final Fantasy XVI, set to release sometime in 2022.
First revealed back in September 2020 at a PlayStation 5 showcase with a trailer titled “Awakening,” Final Fantasy XVI made a strong first impression. It’s being developed by Square Enix’s Creative Business Unit III, the group responsible for the resounding success of Final Fantasy XIV over the past half-decade. It’s produced by FFXIV’s beloved Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida, and its battle director is Ryota Suzuki, who previously served as a designer for Devil May Cry 5 and Dragon’s Dogma.
The “Awakening” trailer introduced us to the setting of Valisthea and a more mature political intrigue similar to games set in the world of Ivalice, such as Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, and Final Fantasy XII. The real-time combat looks like it takes notes from recent Square Enix games like Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy VII Remake, as well as the upcoming Forspoken.
More story details were revealed the following month, including the importance of Eikons, which are this game’s versions of summons / Guardians / Eidolons. Eikons each reside within a single person imbued with their power, known as Dominants. The trailer centered on the presumed player character Clive Rosfield, a noble knight who thought he would be the Dominant destined to carry the flame of the Phoenix. But fate intervened and chose his younger brother Joshua instead, who is a kind, frail, and bookish child. Aside from Phoenix, other familiar Eikons in the trailer include Shiva, Titan, and Ifrit. We also got a look at other recurring creatures in the Final Fantasy universe, such as Marlboros and Chocobos.
Final Fantasy XVI was initially revealed for PlayStation 5 and PC, but Square Enix quickly clarified that the PC announcement was a mistake and that the game would instead be a timed PS5 exclusive. There is no word on how long that exclusivity might be or whether that means it could eventually come to Xbox. However, given how it’s been nearly two years since Final Fantasy VII Remake hit PlayStation 4 in 2020, Sony is clearly eager to keep mainline entries in the series on its own platforms and PC.
We’re currently in the longest stretch between core Final Fantasy games in the series’s history, with Final Fantasy XV releasing back in 2016. That said, shortly after XVI’s 2020 reveal, Bloomberg’s Jason Schreier said on his Triple Click podcast that at the time the game had been in development for over four years, so it could be “coming sooner than folks think.” However, Square Enix spent most of 2021 silent on the project, with the game being a no-show at its E3 2022 presentation.
It wasn’t until the final days of 2021 that Yoshi-P took to the game’s official Twitter account to explain the situation, saying that COVID-related setbacks had caused Final Fantasy XVI a delay of “almost a half year.” He promised that the team was putting together a big blowout for spring 2022, so expect that to be the next time we hear from the project.
Square Enix as a whole is currently in an interesting position. Crystal Dynamics is trying to right the ship after the rocky launch of Marvel’s Avengers, recently adding heroes like Black Panther and Spider-Man to the mix. Crystal Dynamics is now assisting with development on Xbox and The Initiative’s Perfect Dark project. Eidos Montreal released Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy last fall, which was one of the year’s most pleasant surprises. In terms of Japan, outside of the aforementioned recent release of Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker, we have Team Ninja’s Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin slated for March 18, 2022 and Forspoken coming to PC and PS5 on May 24, 2022.
Questions remain around when we’ll hear from Square next on the second installment of Final Fantasy VII Remake, though 2022 would be a good time for some news — not only because the first part was a massive hit, but also because this year is the 25th anniversary of FFVII and the 35th anniversary of the series as a whole. So far, Square has been celebrating with the Pixel Remaster versions of Final Fantasies I–V for Steam and mobile, with VI coming in February 2022.
With all of this, Final Fantasy XVI remains a core pillar for Square Enix going forward. Whether it stays as a 2022 release or ends up being delayed to 2023 is unknown, but given that XIV’s beloved Creative Business Unit III is helming the project, it’s clear that Square expects big things out of the next core installment in the beloved 35-year-old franchise.
That’s everything you need to know about Final Fantasy XVI right now — check out the full list of our biggest, most anticipated games of 2022 for more insights: