Analysing the Final Fantasy XVI “Dominance” trailer

After a long wait, we have finally received a new trailer for the highly anticipated Final Fantasy XVI! Just in case you missed it, on the 2nd of June there was a State of Play showcasing some of Playstation’s third-party games that are coming out in 2023, and to finish off the show was the brand new trailer for FFXVI titled “Dominance”. We’d include it here, but it’s age-restricted on YouTube so can’t be embedded — stop by the link if you haven’t seen it yet.

The trailer gave us a lot to look at and speculate about before the release of the game in the summer of 2023, so today I want to talk about and break down some of the things we saw. This trailer was quite the feast, so let’s dive right in and talk about this amazing-looking game!

Final Fantasy XVI

Combat in Final Fantasy XVI

This is probably the biggest topic to explore, because the original trailer back in 2020 didn’t give too much away when it came to UI, mechanics, and whether the game was going to feel like a whole new system or take from some of the more recent games like FFVII Remake. After seeing this trailer, it definitely feels like the game will be something original for a Final Fantasy game, but with bits and pieces from other titles such as FFVII Remake and even FFXIV. 

First let’s take about the ground-level combat of the main protagonist, Clive. While watching the combat, I got an instantaneous Devil May Cry feeling when I saw just how active the combat looked, as well as the way the UI was presented. This makes total sense, as Final Fantasy XVI has some ex-Capcom pedigree working on the combat for this game: Ryota Suzuki, the combat designer for Devil May Cry V.

Underneath the health bars in the top right of the screen, there were icons for each of the eikons, the summoned monsters which the game heavily focuses on. If you’ve played Dante in DMCV, this will probably look familiar to his stance options — and from the way they are used in the trailer, they appear to be operating in an awfully similar way. This presumably means we will be able to constantly switch between the eikons, intertwining their abilities. I love this idea for a combat system as it’s simple on the surface, but has a crazy depth should you wish to explore all of the options. 

To focus a little more on the UI now, besides the similarities with DMC, there are a few other bits that are really quite interesting when we break down the trailer a little more closely. Each of the eikon icons — I know, I know — has an image of the eikon’s face on a coloured background: blue for Shiva, green for Garuda, purple for Ramuh and so on.

However, there is a part of the trailer where we see Clive attacking an enemy with the Shiva eikon equipped, but where he is also using lightning abilities while wielding a staff awfully similar to Ramuh’s — and to top it all off his abilities have purple backgrounds. This could be hinting at some kind of customisation that we might be able to take advantage of as we progress through the game and Clive gains access to more of the eikons’ abilities. 

Final Fantasy XVI

Eikon Battles

This is still a part of combat, but I want to separate it into its own little section because it’s too damn cool and crazy to just throw in as an afterthought! So from what we know about the story of Final Fantasy XVI, the eikons play an incredibly important role in the game world’s politics and warfare — they are basically being used as weapons of mass destruction — something which Hugo Kupka, the huge guy who is Titan’s Dominant, alludes to in the trailer. 

Throughout the trailer, there are points where we can see eikons fighting one another, and this looks like gameplay rather than cinematics. We can see health bars in these sequences, similar to that of the main character, but for the eikon. The one that continues to pop up on the player side of the screen is Ifrit, which leads me to believe that our main boy Clive will be the Dominant of Ifrit, and that we will be assuming control of Ifrit when these eikon battles happen throughout the game. 

This is a really cool thing that we haven’t really seen in a Final Fantasy game before and I am 100% here for it. I can’t wait to find out how each of the eikons fights and whether or not, once we beat another Dominant, Clive will gain that power and become the Dominant of multiple eikons. There is so much to be excited about with this alone, but let’s continue on. 

Final Fantasy XVI

World and Story

Let’s quickly go over the world of Final Fantasy XVI first, as we’ve only had small glimpses at environments throughout the trailer and screenshots on their website. From what we’ve seen already, though, it looks as if we’re in for a fully open-world game with Final Fantasy XVI. We see an image of Clive in a huge open area with a city and tower in front of him (above) as well as other shots where he is wandering through forest and deserts — it’s just a hunch, but I get strong open-world vibes, and this would be in keeping with both FFXIV and XV. 

Now for the story. We know that this game is primary a revenge-fuelled, character-driven story that will be focusing on protagonist Clive, mixed in with the politics of the world and the roles that the Dominants play.

Something a lot of Final Fantasy fans noticed in this trailer was the lack of anything resembling party members — although we do see a scene of two characters in bed who look a lot like Clive and the Dominant of Garuda, Benedikta Harman.

A Playstation Japan blog mentions that Benedikta’s motivations line up with Clive’s, resulting in her allying with him. Whether this means we will be seeing party members later on in the game is still to be confirmed, but this suggests that we might. 

Finally, this game is going to be dark. This trailer showed us a lot of different things, including the heavy role that politics will play, war, and sex — I’m all for it. I am always down for a good satisfying story about an individual and their quest for revenge. I hope everyone else is as excited as I am for more on Final Fantasy XVI, and I’m sure we’ll have some more teasers to enjoy before the game finally releases next summer!

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Conor Evans
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