Square Enix teased a smidgeon of information about Final Fantasy 16’s plot after first announcing the game in 2021, but a new Famitsu interview with producer Naoki Yoshida, translated by Aita Japan CEO and Twitter user Audrey, sheds a bit more light on what drives the people of Valisthea to war in the upcoming RPG. Each nation is built around a Mother Crystal, a source of aether that Yoshida says is the Final Fantasy 16 equivalent of an oil well. The continent is awash in this magical oil, and eventually, countries formed around each crystal.
War breaks out when that supply starts drying up, but it’s not your usual war.
A country’s proximity to the aether, the amount of it available, and how they choose to use it shaped the culture of the developing nations and, more importantly, their views of the Dominants and the Eikons who dwell within them. Yoshida compares the Eikons and Dominants to nuclear weapons. They help guide national policy in some countries, earning places in legislative bodies or even taking leadership roles, though other countries exploit them as tools of destruction.
Normally, using Eikons in battle is forbidden, but when the war for aether breaks out, every nation seems pretty happy to overlook this rule.
The trouble is, The Grand Duchy of Rosaria, where Final Fantasy 16 protagonist Clive hails from, has two Eikons. One is Phoenix, the duchy’s usual Eikon in the form of Clive’s younger brother Joshua. That should be the only Eikon of fire allowed – except Ifrit evidently didn’t read the rulebook.
The struggle to harness these powers and how the conflict shapes the lives of the Dominants inextricably tied to the Eikons is the backbone of Final Fantasy 16, Yoshida says, and gives rise to its themes of bonds and freely choosing one’s own destiny. It also means we get to control the massive summons directly.
Elsewhere, Yoshida said the goal is releasing another Final Fantasy 16 trailer sometime later in 2022 ahead of the game’s launch in summer 2023. If that seems like far too long to wait, Square Enix has plenty of Final Fantasy in store for this year, including a Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 remaster.