Final Fantasy XVI: 3 things you might have missed in the trailer
So, here we are - we're not even a year from the release of the lavish Final Fantasy VII Remake, but we've already had our first glimpse at Final Fantasy XVI - and it looks surprisingly far along, like a playable, proper game.
It's rare for a Final Fantasy to be revealed with multiple minutes of gameplay footage, but that's what we got here - and that means there's some stuff to analyse in the trailer. First, we'd recommend you go ahead and watch the trailer again, so we'll embed it once more, 'cos it's great. Then, we have some things we noticed that you fellow FF nerds might find interesting...
FF16 looks like it might take place in two time periods
One character takes center stage in the trailer, and that's the raven-haired young chap whose name we don't yet know - he only identifies himself as 'Joshua's Shield', referring to his sworn duty to protect the young lad we see in the trailer who appears to have a touch of a summon about him.
But what's interesting is that if you pay closer attention to the trailer, you'll see that there are combat sequences with two distinct characters. These characters are that black-haired young man and a slightly older man, also with raven hair. This older character is actually the first one we see in the trailer, with a distinctive facial tattoo shared with some others we catch a glimpse of.
We also see both at the very end of the trailer, where they share a line of dialogue. While the voice-over of differs a little - the older version is gruffer - it certainly sounds like the same person. In the trailer we also see both characters use a special move that seems to summon a Phoenix wing (more on this in a moment), indicating they likely have the same move and skill set.
Based on this, and also based on their extreme physical similarity, it seems to us as though these two men are the same character - one younger, one older.
The start of the trailer seems to suggest he might be part of some group that's hunting summons - and his squadmates share the same facial tattoos. It seems fair, looking at the rest of the trailer, to suggest some summon-related shenanigans when younger end up changing this protagonist's life.
The FF16 protagonist looks like he gains abilities from Summons
In 3D Final Fantasy, summons have almost always played a more significant role than simply being powerful equippable magic, and that certainly carried through to the Final Fantasy XVI trailer, which featured clear-as-day glimpses of Shiva, Titan, Phoenix, and another fiery beast that appeared to be a new design of Ifrit.
As mentioned, it also seems humans can have some sort of intimate connection with summons in this world. The squad of mercenaries talk of targeting "Shiva's Dominant" - which seems pretty clear cut to us as an in-univers name for the person who controls Shiva. It makes sense that these mercenaries would want to target such a person, too - they'd hold immense power. We also see a clear link between Joshua and Phoenix.
But - did you notice what appears to be the power of the summons being used in combat?
While these could very well just be regular special moves, these attacks - which sort of look like they wouldn't be out of place in Devil May Cry - do seem to be themed towards the summons we've already seen - as this first trailer introduced us to quite a few. So we're pretty convinced these attacks are related to the FF staple beasts.
The most obvious instance of this is a Phoenix Wing, which we see deployed and summoned mid-combo by both the young and old versions of the playable character, as you can see above. The wing seems to be able to pop enemies up into the air and appears to have the appropriate fire element, accompanied by a red glow.
We know that the phoenix plays a part in this, as seemingly the young boy Joshua has the power of the Phoenix. The Phoenix also seems to be front and center in FF16's logo.
But the Phoenix Wing isn't the only similar power we glimpse in the trailer. As pictured in the screengrab above, we see the player character summon a stony fist - and given we've seen a Phoenix Wing already, it doesn't seem unfair to connect this power to another eidolon we see in the trailer - Titan.
In the trailer, this fist pummels an enemy while the player character stands safely behind it, his sword sheathed on his back. The fist mimics the movements he makes, turning a small human punch into a large, godly one. Typically in the series, Titan dishes out Earth elemental damage.
There's one more case of this that we've found in the trailer, though it's so short that it's very easy to miss. Just over halfway through the trailer, we see the older, caped playable character facing off with an ogre-like enemy with a club. We see the character brace as if charging a special move, and green sparks appear around them. Next, we see the character engaged in a mid-air combo, but his sword is visibly sheathed at his side.
Instead, what looks to be a giant bird claw is savaging the enemy in huge, broad strikes. Just like with the stony fist we think belongs to Titan, the summoned appendage follows the movements of the player character, exaggerating a human attack into something god-like.
Given this attack doesn't fit any summon in the trailer, we don't know who it could be from. Classic FF10 summon Valefor is of course a bird with huge claws, and over in FF14 - which this game shares development staff with - Garuda appears as a wind-element bird summon with dangerous-looking claws.
Are the player character and Joshua actually siblings?
For this one, we actually need to hop over to the Japanese version of the FF16 trailer, because this observation is exclusive to that version. In the trailer, it appears the young lad Joshua has either transformed into or summoned the Phoenix, which is unleashing his wrath.
We hear what sounds like the player character pleads with him, screaming: "Please, Joshua, wake up!" But in the Japanese trailer, this line appears to be quite a bit different.
Specifically, the same voice-over instead yells "Yamero! Yamete kure! Otouto nan da!!" Without the full in-game context, it's not fully clear what exactly this means, but the keyword here is otouto (or otōto), which most often means little brother or younger brother - though it does also sometimes crop up in an educational context to refer to a pupil. That meaning would be strange here, however - so it seems there's some sort of sibling relationship in the mix somewhere here.
Joshua is the mystery at the center of FF16's first trailer, really. We see that he's connected to Phoenix, but not exactly how. The trailer culminates in a battle between Phoenix and Ifrit - but it's not clear how Joshua is involved.
He might even be a human version of the summon - across the FF series summons have frequently disguised as summons, from Gentiana in FF15 to the various Fayth representations of the Aeons in FF10 right back to Bahamut disguising itself as a human in the original FF.
As with all of this, time will tell. When Final Fantasy XVI releases we can look back on this analysis to see how correct we were - hopefully that's sooner rather than later.