Final Fantasy 15 and Final Fantasy 16 Seem Like Completely Different Franchises

final-fantasy has kept itself fresh over the years by constantly changing its formula. While iconic visual elements and concepts have been shared across most of the series, how the player engages in combat, as well as progression and equipment, varies greatly. Beginning with a similar gameplay style to dragon quest, final-fantasy quickly began experimenting with its Job system. Active Time Battles (ATB) debuted in Final Fantasy 4and became a staple until Final Fantasy 10.

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Final Fantasy 12 and 13 both used reinterpretations of the ATB system, and Final Fantasy 11 and 14 borrowed from other MMORPGs. Final Fantasy 15 marked the franchise’s shift into real-time action combat, though the Final Fantasy 7 Remake incorporated the series’ classic menu structure into a real-time-with-pause system. Final Fantasy 16 is set to carry on what FF15 started, aiming to be a fast-paced action game that could have open-world elements. However, that’s where the similarities end between these two titles. From its announcement to release, Final Fantasy 15 comes off like a totally different project made by a distinct team.


RELATED: Forspoken Has Serious Final Fantasy 15 Vibes, and That’s Okay

The Lead-Up to Final Fantasy 15 and 16 Are Stark Contrasts

Final Fantasy 15 began life as Final Fantasy Versus 13 in 2006, an entry into the Fabula Nova Crystallis anthology alongside Final Fantasy 13 and Final Fantasy Type-0. It was initially helmed by Tetsuya Nomura of Kingdom Hearts fame, and was conceived as a PS3 exclusive. After six years of unsteady development, Versus 13 became Final Fantasy 15, and Hajime Tabata was placed in the director’s chair. by contrast, Final Fantasy 16 was always intended to be the first numbered PS5 entry, and is being made by the development studio behind Final Fantasy 14. Producer Naoki Yoshida and director Hiroshi Takai have held their positions throughout development, and FF16‘s reveal suggests that the game’s direction has been clear for a long time.


Final Fantasy 15‘s tumultuous development was obvious in hindsight. It got a lot of marketing leading up to its release, but there was a feeling that things weren’t coming together. Several updates amounted to showing off incomplete content, as if Square Enix was obliged to do so given how long the game had been in development. The E3 demo of protagonist Noctis fighting Titan went poorly, and two different demonstrations were released as bespoke demos. Square Enix also surrounded FF15 with multimedia crossover products, including a beat ’em up, mobile game, anime, and a movie. Final Fantasy 16 revealing its concept in one trailer and, apparently, its near-complete form two years later is about as far removed from FF15‘s marketing as possible.


RELATED: Final Fantasy 16 Seems to Be Retreading One FF15 Plot Point

Reality Versus Fantasy

Differences carry into the games’ visual theming and approach to genre. Even though Final Fantasy 16 is not out yet, it represents a massive tonal shift from recent final-fantasy games. There is a clear effort to go back to the medieval fantasy aesthetic of older final-fantasy titles, leaving behind the science-fantasy elements that have been with the series since FF6. Fans see a war in FF16‘s world fought through footsoldiers, mercenaries, cavalry, and magic fueled by summoned creatures. Valisthea is a world firmly entrenched in high fantasy, even more than Final Fantasy 14. It also looks like a particularly dark entry, but more context will need to be seen for its full scope.


from the beginning, Final Fantasy 15 drove far in the opposite direction. Even as Versus 13, the game was pitched to be fantasy based on reality. Characters wore modern clothing with some emphasized fantasy elements. The main party, despite their political ties, was a group of friends taking a road trip. The enemy empire used armies of mechanical soldiers deployed from airships. One stop at the Hammerhead gas station after FF15‘s opening tells players everything they need to know about how this fantasy world blends into the real one.

Final Fantasy 15 and 16’s Character Journeys Could Be Very Distinct

The design approaches to Final Fantasy 15 and 16 permeate all their content. Final Fantasy 15 revolved around the journey of four friends seeking to save their kingdom, each of whom contributes something to the battle system. The player was eventually able to control all of them in DLC and the Royal Edition. Final Fantasy 16, meanwhile, appears to be totally focused on Clive Rosfield, an up-and-coming warrior who experiences the destruction of his family and nation firsthand and becomes a bitter mercenary set on taking revenge. It’s not clear if Final Fantasy 16 even has a party outside of Clive, which would be a first for the main series.


Final Fantasy 15 had an unfinished back half, and the second season of DLC intended to fully delve into its lore and conclude the story for good. There was also a bizarre multiplayer side mode that some players feel has a better combat system than the base game. It’s not clear if Final Fantasy 16 will have any DLC, but it is in its final stages of development. Final Fantasy 16 will not have the aesthetic approach, development cycle, or marketing strategy of Final Fantasy 15, and its story and characters may end up being a massive departure as well. After sitting with the unfinished fifteen since 2016, fans should welcome this breath of fresh air.

Final Fantasy 16 is currently in development for PS5.

MORE: Final Fantasy 15’s Highs, Lows, and Valuable Lessons for FF16


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