Final Fantasy 16 will be released later this month and promises to usher in a darker and more mature era for the series. Despite a stunning gameplay reveal, and various action-packed trailers, Final Fantasy 16‘s pre-release strategy has left some fans wanting. This stands in stark contrast to its predecessor, Final Fantasy 15, which employed a robust multimedia approach to both its storytelling and pre-release marketing. This led to strong sales, and a high number of pre-orders, the latter of which Final Fantasy 16 has failed to accomplish. Final Fantasy 16 is missing out by not borrowing Final Fantasy 15‘s multimedia strategy, as fans would benefit from a deeper dive into the game’s narrative and unique setting.
Final Fantasy 16 follows Clive Rosfield across three distinct phases of his life. Following a series of unknown events, Clive dedicates himself to freeing the world of the influence of the Crystals. As with the Crystals, Final Fantasy 16 will shake up many classic elements of the Final Fantasy franchise, most notably its summons. The world of Final Fantasy 16, Valisthea, is home to individuals known as Dominants, who host the essence of the game’s summons, called Eikons. However, Clive’s role as Dominant differs from all others revealed so far, as he is host to the Dark Eikon Ifrit, with whom many longtime fans are familiar. Little else is known of Final Fantasy 16‘s narrative, despite an impending release.
Final Fantasy 15 was announced at E3 2015, a full year before its release. However, developer Square Enix decided to use that pre-release period in a way that was unlike most others. The developer took a multimedia approach to Final Fantasy 15‘s story-telling, which saw an anime mini-series, a 40-minute gameplay showcase, multiple demos, and a full-length feature film released, introducing fans to the game’s world and characters. Long before the actual game was released, fans were already invested in nearly every facet of its world, leading to record pre-orders and widespread anticipation within the industry.
The Final Fantasy 15: Brotherhood anime introduced fans to the core party, with each episode focusing on a particular member. In fact, much of the anime’s information became required reading for the party in the game. One example came in Ignis’ episode, when the character tries to complete a recipe, but can’t find the last ingredient. Years later, in the core narrative of Final Fantasy 15, the group finally comes across the ingredient and reminisces on the events of the episode. Final Fantasy 15‘s theatrical feature film, Kingsglaive, portrayed a story that occurred concurrently with the game’s events, introducing a squad of elite soldiers and the game’s female lead, Lunafreya.
Final Fantasy 16 Has Failed to Replicate 15’s Pre-Release Success
Despite strong positive feedback to its gameplay showcase, Final Fantasy 16 is falling short of its pre-order goals. This is likely due in no small part to its pre-release strategy. Unlike FF15, Final Fantasy 16 has kept itself almost entirely under wraps, delivering only fleeting glimpses of its story and characters. Two weeks prior to release, Square Enix has yet to deliver a demo for the title, which was rumored to arrive throughout the past few months. Likewise, much of the game’s world and narrative remain a mystery, with Square Enix focusing on the title’s gameplay, accessibility, and Eikon combat.
Summer Game Fest 2023 is happening this week and stands as the last major stage on which Final Fantasy 16 can present itself before release. The title could recover its pre-order numbers if it goes all-in on a narrative showcase or pairs a new trailer with a surprise demo release. However, pre-orders aren’t everything, and Final Fantasy 16 still looks to be gaining popularity among gamers. Diehard fans of the long-running series have likely already committed to Final Fantasy 16, but those on the fence would benefit from the title’s appearance this week on summer’s biggest stage.
Final Fantasy 16 is coming to PS5 on June 22.
MORE: Final Fantasy 16 Was Shaped By Final Fantasy 15’s Open World Criticism
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