I recently went hands-on with Final Fantasy XVI, the next mainline entry in the long-running series due out on PlayStation 5 this summer, to play roughly two hours of the game. Most of that playtime consisted of me controlling Clive as I battled alongside ally Cidolfus Telamon (always a Cid, right?) through a castle dungeon. However, toward the end of my preview, I was able to fight Garuda, one of the game’s Eikons, while controlling Ifrit, another Eikon.
At this point in the game, roughly five hours in according to FFXVI producer Naoki Yoshida, Clive has little control over Ifrit. A special few in the world of FFXVI are Dominants, meaning they can tap into the power of an Eikon and even transform into them. Cidolfus, for example, can become the Ramuh Eikon. Clive, however, is not a Dominant (but his younger brother, Joshua, is).
I’m not exactly sure what story events led to this moment – I tried asking the team but they remained tightlipped – but regardless, it was good fun. Ifrit features just a few attacks and lumbers around the giant battlefield while attacking Garuda. Yoshida says this fight reflects Clive’s inexperience utlizing the power of Ifrit. After I defeated Garuda, Cidolfus even had to transform into Ramuh to put an end to my uncontrolled, anger-filled rampage.
During a group interview with Yoshida, the game’s director Hiroshi Takai, and its combat director, Ryota Suzuki, a question about FFXVI’s Eikon vs. Eikon combat was asked. According to Yoshida, each Eikon fight will be unique to that specific combat scenario. Because of that, developer Creative Business Unit III drew on various sources of inspiration for different fights.
“The Eikon vs. Eikon battle that you got to play today, the Ifrit vs. Garuda – that comes very early in the game,” Yoshida says. “And basically, each of these battles that we have, have themes, and the theme for this one happened to be that we wanted to create something that felt like a giant pro wrestling match, something that had a lot of weight to it. But then, as you might have seen in the trailers and vidoes that we showed you today, the Eikon battles are all very unique. For example, we have one controlling the Phoenix and that’s more like a 3D shooter. We also have the Titan battle, [which is] very…fast paced, high speed action. And so basically, all of these are all different.”
Yoshida says the one I played during my preview – Ifrit vs. Garuda – is inspired by the anime and shows the team watched as children.
“Things like Evangelion, other things like Godzilla or Ultraman, those are the things that we took inspiration for that individual fight,” he says. “But then for the Titan battle, again, we didn’t use those as inspiration. We used different things for inspiration because the battle is completely different. And so we want players to feel that when they play each of these battles, they’ll see that we’ve spent all this time and effort and development costs to create this one battle that feels really, really unique.
And then we never use that again in the game and you think, ‘Wow, that’s kind of a crazy thing to do.’ But that’s what we wanted to do because we wanted to challenge ourselves and challenge the player as well.”