After a year long wait, PlayStation’s last State of Play finally gave us another glimpse at Final Fantasy XVI.

The new trailer titled ‘Dominance’ was primarily focused on the Eikons, the summons of previous Final Fantasy games such as Titan and Odin, and how the newest mainline entry tackles their inclusion (massive Kaiju Eikon battles). Alongside that we got to see some new gameplay of our protagonist, Clive Rosfield, fighting various enemies with powers based off the Eikons themselves in intense action combat.

One thing has stood out to classic Final Fantasy fans since the very first look at the game in 2020: where is the party?

Parties are a classic staple of basically every single Final Fantasy game, giving players access to a wide variety of different characters and playstyles as well as their unique stories and character dynamics. For the last few years, the series seems to be moving away from a typical party format and with Final Fantasy XVI it may be gone for good.

So, will there be a party in Final Fantasy XVI? Let’s have a look at what we know so far.

Final Fantasy Only One

Let’s take a look at the currently released gameplay for Final Fantasy XVI to see what we can discover.

So far, in both the ‘Awakening’ trailer from 2020 and the ‘Dominance’ trailer from the State of Play, Clive is the only one engaging enemies by the player. He is the only character present on screen during combat, where he can perform a number of combos and attacks in DMC styled action sequences. The most recent gameplay even showcases him switching magical Eikon powers to combo enemies: one such example involves Clive freezing a Ceourl with the ice magic of Shiva before juggling the enemy with the airborne claws of Garuda and finishing with a fiery slam from Phoenix.

While this is a very cool addition to the action oriented combat, it does step further into the territory of not having a traditional party.

In most Final Fantasy games, player characters generally only do one thing – they slash, they heal, they blow stuff up, the works. Clive, however, appears to be able to do much more than that: with the power of the Eikons, he seems able to side step the constraints of a typical class system in a way that augments his playstyle and would make him far more fun to play, but also in a way that would detract from a party system. Why would you need a Black Mage casting Blizzard when Clive can just do it instead?

Additionally, all provided screenshots and gameplay does only show Clive, arguably the most important being those of him alone in some of the game’s beautiful environments. Square Enix may just be saving information for the party at a later date, but pairing this solitary look at Clive alongside the information we can gleam from combat does give a sour taste to any hoping for a party to make a return.

Official Final Fantasy XVI Website, Square Enix

However, not all hope is lost. There are a few crumbs, however small they may be, that point to some sort of companion system.

Related: A Look At PlayStation’s June State of Play

Evidence of a Party

At the moment, all gameplay we have been given has Clive as the singular focal point: he is the cool guy doing cool things, alone. There is one exception to this though and that is the Eikons.

Dominants in the world of Final Fantasy XVI are ‘a single man or woman who is blessed with the ability to call upon their {the Eikons} dread power’ and so far, it appears that there is one Dominant linked to each Eikon. Joshua, Clive’s brother, is the Dominant of Phoenix, and newly introduced characters Hugo and Benedikta are the Dominants of Titan and Garuda respectively.

In the scenes of the massive Eikon fights, Clive’s name and form is replaced by those of various other Eikons. While fighting Garuda and Titan, it is Ifrit (who is somehow connected to Clive, potentially as his Dominant) but there are later clips of a fight against Shiva where the player can seemingly switch Eikons.

Dominance Trailer, Final Fantasy XVI, Square Enix

As with when Clive is fighting on his own, the top right hand corner shows the different forms of the Eikons. This potentially means that players can switch which Eikon they are fighting with at any time during these fights. What this could mean is several things, but one key one is that it may mean that other Dominants accompany Clive on his journey and that they can ‘switch’ in during these fights.

How Clive can use the powers of the other Dominants is currently unknown and it may simply be that he ‘absorbs’ their power and that allows him to turn into those Eikons. Another possibility is that his companions take his place during these Eikon fights: if only one person is linked to each Eikon, then it should be that only one person can turn into each Eikon. Once again, this is unconfirmed and it may simply be a case of Clive’s unique abilities but it is something to ponder.

Additionally, information on the official Final Fantasy XVI website reveals more about Hugo and Benedikta, potentially hinting at further interactions with Clive.

Having emerged from the storm of youth coldhearted and ruthless, Benedikta Harman—Dominant of the Eikon Garuda, Warden of the Wind—turned her talent for swordplay and subterfuge into a command of Waloed’s elite intelligencers. It is on a mission to find the elusive second Eikon of Fire that she crosses paths with a like-minded Clive and is forced to face her past.

Final Fantasy XVI Official Website, Benedikta Harman Bio

Permanent Economic Adviser Hugo Kupka’s meteoric rise to prominence was sudden, if not unexpected. Once a nameless foot soldier in the Republican Army, his awakening as Dominant of the Eikon Titan thrust him to the forefront of Dhalmekian politics. It was here he used his newfound position as the most powerful man in the republic to exert influence over both the nation’s armies and its policy making—amassing a personal fortune in the process. Yet while it is said that a man who has everything wants for nothing, Benedikta Harman will teach him money and power are far from all the world has to offer.

Final Fantasy XVI Official Website, Hugo Kupka Bio

Phrases such as ‘is forced to face her past’ or ‘are far from all the world has to offer’ seem to potentially imply that these two Dominants may play larger roles in the story, even after their encounters with Clive (Ifrit is shown facing off against both Titan and Garuda alone in the ‘Dominance’ trailer). This is unconfirmed, however.

In the ‘Awakening’ trailer, Clive is seen fighting alongside a similarly dressed NPC against some gangly troll-like creature, so even there is even the potential for fighting alongside some companions like in Final Fantasy XV. No one is seen fighting alongside Clive in the ‘Dominance’ trailer, however, so this may only be a temporary thing.

Awakening Trailer, Final Fantasy XVI, Square Enix

Only time will tell whether or not a party system or even a group of travelling companions will aid Clive on his quest around Valisthea. But why is a party so important to Final Fantasy anyway? While I don’t believe a Final Fantasy game needs one necessarily, it does hold a certain place of importance for many, many fans.

The Heart of the Party

Having a cast of diverse and interesting characters has been the hallmark of Final Fantasy for nearly as long as it’s been around. These groups of character mean something to a lot of people and in many cases, these games just wouldn’t be the same without them: Tidus’ story wouldn’t be complete without Yuna or Wakka or Lulu, neither would Cloud’s without Tifa, Aerith or Barret. In these games, the party is what makes you continue fighting forward, they are the ones pushing the players onward and advancing the plot and character dynamics.

If Final Fantasy XVI is made with a lack of party members in mind, if it is solely focused on Clive’s journey, than I do still believe it will be a success: Final Fantasy is a series whose message, morals and meaning transcends needing a White Mage and a Black Mage in the same party.

Party of Characters from Final Fantasy X, Square Enix

However, to many Final Fantasy is about overcoming obstacles that you never could alone. It’s about going on an unforgettable journey with a group of people who become like family. It’s about banding together against an unstoppable force and besting it with the bonds you’ve formed and the lessons you’ve learned. Together.

There are many games who have continued the traditional party system beyond Final Fantasy, some may say that they have even enhanced it, but to many there is a classic style and a taste to the parties of Final Fantasy that cannot be found anywhere else. This series can do what many others cannot, and so for many, seeing a lack of one in the starting trailer for XVI is surely a disappointing one.

With Yoshi-P at the helm (someone who has delivered one of the greatest Final Fantasy experiences… well ever) there is a lot of hype and a lot of hope around Final Fantasy XVI. Whether it has a party or not, I’m sure it will be an enjoyable and worthwhile experience.

For now, though, there are too many questions surrounding the game at the moment in regards to how it handles its companions and supporting cast. Hopefully we get some more answers soon.

Final Fantasy XVI is set to release exclusively for PS5 in Summer 2023. Check out the newest trailer for the game, ‘Dominance’ and the official website for more information.

Check out another article from us at 9 to 5 Gamers here!

Jack Carson

Leave a comment