Should Final Fantasy 16 get a sequel, or are we done here?

With a potential DLC expansion or spin-off in the works, we have to ask: would we be interested in playing a Final Fantasy XVI sequel?

Should Final Fantasy 16 get a sequel, or are we done here?
Lee Brady

Opinion by Lee Brady

Published

As many of us have likely just finished collecting all of those Final Fantasy XVI trophies, a process that takes easily over 100 hours, it feels like many of us have just had our fill with the Square Enix RPG. Yet with news of future Final Fantasy XVI DLC plans making the rounds, it feels like now's the right to ask ourselves: is there really enough going on in FFXVI's world to justify making a Final Fantasy XVI sequel or spin-off?

Lee

Three reasons why Square Enix should just start making Final Fantasy 17

While fairly even-handed in my Final Fantasy XVI review, I've still been fairly vocal in my thinking that it's easily one of the best PS5 games of 2023 so far and a rock-solid entry for the esteemed franchise. Yet when the game's producer, Naoki "Yoshi-P" Yoshida, implied that fans had shown significant enough interest to potentially warrant the production of additional FFXVI content, I couldn't help but wonder: "really?"
An earlier interview with Yoshida expanded the scope of the yet-unconfirmed DLC too — rumblings of additional story content and potential spin-offs were bandied around. That means this content could really be anything, including a sequel if the story were to take place after FFXVI's finale. And so I asked myself, and by extension you, dear reader: should Final Fantasy XVI get a sequel?

In my opinion, my gut says 'no' — Final Fantasy XVI doesn't need a sequel and does very little to warrant the creation of any additional content at all. As much as I enjoyed my time with the game, I can think of at least three good reasons why Square Enix should just move on and double its efforts on making Final Fantasy XVII.

FFXVI guideNo potential left unlocked.

Reason 1: FFXVI tells a complete story

I certainly feel a little disappointed with the execution of Final Fantasy XVI's final hours. After having hooked me in with such an engrossing set-up with a roster of charismatic characters, to see it all devolve into medieval Naruto by the end felt like a considerable downgrade. That said, I also think it's to the design team's credit that they not only set out to tell a single conclusive story with FFXVI, but that they were absolutely able to do just that.

The problem is, in terms of any future story beats, they've essentially left themselves with zero lingering narrative threads to work with. All-in-all, Clive's story comes to a satisfying conclusion. While there could be plenty of smaller human conflicts left to see in the years following the story, it definitely feels like the overall threat to the world has been dealt with. Any future tale in the world would either have to be super removed from the events of this story to hold any weight, or it would have to diminish the drama of the original tale just to keep it all going — neither of which sounds like fun.

Final Fantasy XVIWe know what this is all about now.

Reason 2: Valisthea is a solved puzzle box

Final Fantasy XVI's plot is, in essence, similar in structure to a puzzle box show like Lost — it's a collection of interlinked character mysteries that get slowly unraveled, all of which are contained within a world that has been primarily designed to link and support those mysteries. It's a format that works well for FFXVI because it keeps us thinking about the game's world, Valisthea, and how its mechanics and origins inform the mysteries surrounding Clive and our main cast.

However, the major drawback of making your game's world a puzzle box is that puzzles are considerably less interesting once solved, and for all intents and purposes, Final Fantasy XVI's Valisthea is a solved puzzle. As opposed to the open-ended collection of mechanics and rules that popular RPGs use a sandbox for telling stories — e.g. Dungeons and Dragons, Cyberpunk, and so on — Valisthea is built to support a certain set of narrative arcs, and once those arcs are fulfilled, the idea of returning to Valisthea feels rather pointless.

JillWe've seen the best already.

FFXVI's world works perfectly fine when it's telling Clive's story, and it also works fine when it's acting as a conduit through which the game's writers can deliver a message on the nature of sacrifice in the face of man's hubris. Yet Final Fantasy XVI struggles even in its own attempts to establish world-building elements.

Early plot threads like the cultural differences between Valisthea's people and the magical elements that govern them are used to convince you that Valisthea is a functioning place with rules and struggles and that it can exist largely in the background of Clive's conflict. At least, that's how the game starts — by the last two acts of the game, these elements fold directly into Clive's story and largely become nothing more than background motivation for the characters.

The most interesting parts of FFXVI's world — its beastly Eikons, its magical slave culture, its warring countries, and its magic-based economy — all become tied to a handful of characters and an overarching narrative that has nothing to do with the majority of the world's actors. Getting these elements to work beyond Final Fantasy XVI's conclusion would require so significant a rewrite of Valisthea and its established lore that it would defeat the purpose of connecting the story to FFXVI in the first place.

Reason 3: Mechanical sequels are better

My favorite thing about Final Fantasy as a franchise is how each of its mainline sequels offers you a completely unique and isolated world to experience. Yet while this means each mainline Final Fantasy game abandons the narrative of the previous title, that doesn't mean these games completely throw away the mechanics of the preceding game.

When I think of what I would like most from a sequel to Final Fantasy XVI, I think far less about the potential of its narrative and far more about those exquisite mechanics: the combat, the exploration, the level design, and the various interlinked RPG systems at play. For example, I like to look at certain elements of FFXVI's combat and wonder what might happen should its lead designer, Ryota Suzuki, be given the opportunity to evolve it in some way.

Final Fantasy XVIFinal Fantasy XVI combat good.

Personally, I was a big fan of the combat in FFXVI, though I felt by the end the reliance on cooldowns and the rigid nature of Clive's playstyle eventually left the late-game feeling more like a MOBA than an action game. That's not inherently a bad thing, of course, but I found it detracted a little from the mechanical skill required to master the early sections of the game, and so I was left fairly uninvolved in the combat by the end of the game.

Now, you might argue that this kind of revision of the game's combat would be a perfect fit for a direct sequel to Final Fantasy XVI, but I'm not so sure. Certainly, I can imagine Suzuki retuning his work within the confines of FFXVI's lore and making a solid revision of what all is there, there's no doubt there. Yet, I can't help but think the result would be much more interesting were the designer to be given the conceptual freedom afforded by a blank canvas.

Final Fantasy XVIBigger explosions. That's all I really want.

That's where the potential of mainline Final Fantasy sequels truly shines. By opting to create a Final Fantasy XVII instead of a Final Fantasy XVI-2, the creatives would be afforded the opportunity to look at everything that did and didn't work in their previous effort and experiment freely with the next game. The potential of such a project fascinates me far more than any direct sequel to Final Fantasy XVI. So, rather than waste time on DLC, I say let's just get cracking on the next big thing.

Counterpoint: Final Fantasy XVI-2 could be hilarious

With all that said, I'm sure it'll be difficult for Square Enix to reject the demands of Final Fantasy XVI's many PS5 fans — if it's a direct sequel to FFXVI they want, then a direct sequel they shall likely have. And I would never be so callous as to say there's absolutely no potential in such a project — just that it would be tricky to make good.

Final Fantasy XVIThere's always potential.

As complete as Final Fantasy XVI is as a whole, it does leave hints at some intriguing stories throughout its lore — most fans are keen to point out the mystery regarding Leviathan, the "lost" Eikon. It would take some extraordinary leaps in storytelling to make such a tale feel meaningful in relation to the deeply resolved Final Fantasy XVI, but at least it sounds like a cool idea on paper to go back in time rather than forwards.

Plus, there's always the opportunity to just go crazy on it and make a Final Fantasy XVI sequel that abandons all pretense and just uses the game's established brand to create something completely different. Something like Final Fantasy X-2 jumps to mind — a game that largely did away with Final Fantasy X's sports boy epic in favor of making a sort of high-fashion Charlie's Angels.
There's really no telling what you're asking for when you demand a sequel to a Final Fantasy game — so, in turn, it's also no safe bet to say you wouldn't want them to make it. Maybe I wouldn't be interested in playing Final Fantasy XVI Part II, in which Clive trains under King Kai and unlocks the power of Super Ifrit, but Final Fantasy XVI-2: Kill Jill? Maybe I came out a little too strongly against this FFXVI sequel after all.

Now it's your turn — would you play a Final Fantasy XVI sequel? Do you think it could potentially surpass the original, one of the best PS5 games so far? Let us know in the comments below.
Written by Lee Brady
Staff Writer Lee keeps one eye on the future (Shadow x Sonic Generations), one eye on the past (PS Plus Premium games), and his secret third eye on junk he really likes (Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts games). Then he uses his big mouth to blurt out long-winded opinions about video games.
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