CBU3: Please Put FFXIV’s Soul into FFXVI’s Body


Final Fantasy XIV, Final Fantasy XVI

By: Jason Siu


7 min read

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Spoiler Warning

The article below contains spoilers for Final Fantasy XIV and all its expansions, as well as Final Fantasy XVI. Do not continue reading if you do not wish to be spoiled on any of those games!

Twintania caused me to quit Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Over the past week and change, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying Final Fantasy XVI (read my review), but can acknowledge that it has its fair share of flaws. It is far from the perfect video game and it’s not even the best Final Fantasy game I’ve ever played, but it is a very enjoyable experience if its issues don’t bother you too much. Ever since the announcement was made that Creative Business Unit III was working on a mainline Final Fantasy game, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if Final Fantasy XIV wasn’t an MMORPG. I know the team has been working very hard at streamlining the experience and making it as solo friendly as possible, but it’s ultimately underpinned by a cooldown-based combat system that uses tab targeting.

At this point, the barrier to entry for Final Fantasy XIV is pretty high. This is why Creative Business Unit III has been working so hard at making it as close to a single-player experience as possible. The team obviously wants more players to enjoy the world of Eorzea, but there are several deterrents, including possibly 300 hours or so of playtime to even catch up to the end of Endwalker. But I’d argue one of the biggest issues isn’t that the game is an MMORPG and multiplayer, it’s the combat system that turns off a lot of potential players. While Final Fantasy XIV does make the most of the cooldown-based system by packing its dungeons and raids with interactive mechanics (some of which actually involve math), it will always fight an uphill battle to attract a significant amount of new players.

Heavensward was quite the experience

My history with Final Fantasy XIV has been an interesting one. I played quite a bit of Final Fantasy XI, so I was looking forward to what was supposed to be a more modern MMORPG experience with Final Fantasy XIV. I preordered the Collector’s Edition and took a week of vacation time for the game’s launch. By now, even if you didn’t follow the game at its launch, you’ve probably heard just how big of a disaster it was. The original Final Fantasy XIV deserved all the criticism it received. It was by far the worst Final Fantasy game ever released, online or not, and it almost ruined Square Enix. Naoki Yoshida was given the unenviable and seemingly impossible task of salvaging the game and off to work he went.

I still remember the day I got an email inviting me to the Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn beta. It was June 13, 2013 and I was roaming the halls of E3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. I glanced at the email and said to myself, “Oh, cool. I guess I’ll check it out when I get home.” There wasn’t much excitement given how disappointed I was at the original release. Truth be told, I hadn’t been following much of A Realm Reborn’s development, or what Yoshida and his team was doing with the original game. That evening, I was on Ventrilo (remember that?) casually chatting about E3 as I downloaded the beta for A Realm Reborn and logged in, creating an Archer. “Huh, this game actually looks really pretty,” I remember saying on voice chat. After going through the introduction and the early quests, I went out and engaged in combat and said, “Uhh… this game might actually be good!”

Even the "weakest" expansion, Stormblood, tells better stories than the majority of games

I played a ton of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn when it launched. We went raiding in The Binding Coil of Bahamut and were one of the first groups to reach Twintania. Then I got burnt out from days of endless failing and decided to take a very long break from the game. At the time, as much as I loved the experience I had, I actually thought I would never return to the game.

I skipped the release of Heavensward but decided to come back to Eorzea when Stormblood was released. We purchased Heavensward at a discount a couple weeks before Stormblood’s launch and decided to speed through the expansion to get caught up in time. I believe it was about a third way through Heavensward when I decided to not skip the cutscenes and dialogue, because the quality of writing and storytelling actually seemed interesting for an MMORPG. A Realm Reborn wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great either. It had its moments, but nothing that groundbreaking. All that excitement I had read about Heavensward seemed to be true, as I was actually interested in the story an MMORPG had to tell.

Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker

Fast forward six years later and my subscription to Final Fantasy XIV hasn’t been canceled since I renewed before Stormblood’s release in 2017. I actually very much enjoyed Stormblood but it was Shadowbringers that made me completely fall in love with the game. I couldn’t believe the story it told, and the characters it introduced. There is a big reason why Emet-Selch is now one of the most popular Final Fantasy characters ever. Then Endwalker released in 2021 and somehow it managed to surpass the Shadowbringers experience. The team at Creative Business Unit III actually tied up this giant Hydaelyn vs. Zodiark story arc, while introducing an entirely new “villain” halfway through the expansion. And all of it wrapped up so beautifully and so well written, I believe Endwalker might be the best Final Fantasy story ever told.

I’m not alone in that belief and it’s a real shame so many people will never experience the story Final Fantasy XIV has to tell. That is, unless, Creative Business Unit III decides to package the Hydaelyn vs. Zodiark story arc (basically A Realm Reborn through Endwalker) into a single-player experience. The team now has an engine with Final Fantasy XVI that could make this possible. Instead of Eikons that players can swap to, it can revamp the system to switch jobs, just like Final Fantasy XIV. Just imagine the ability to switch from being a Dark Knight to a White Mage to a Ninja with a push of a button. The players could be given four skills per job instead of the three in Final Fantasy XVI — Jump could be reserved for the Dragoon class — and some of these skills could be entire combos, just like how Final Fantasy XIV switches it up when the players take control of one of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn during the campaign.

Shadowbringers marked a turn in storytelling and somehow Endwalker surpassed it

If the team manages to really streamline the Main Scenario Quests and remove all of the filler, this single-player Final Fantasy XIV experience would offer non-stop, captivating storytelling with extremely memorable characters and villains. The dungeon structure is already there from Final Fantasy XVI, and some of the endgame raids could be repurposed as hunts. This would allow so many more people to experience the story of Final Fantasy XIV and gets rid of the two biggest concerns: being online and having an MMORPG combat system. It also removes all of the fluff, because even with the MSQ streamlined to only the exciting parts, 2.0 to 7.0 would still be anywhere from 60 to 80 hours of content.

They could even follow a similar formula from Final Fantasy XVI, where the worldbuilding and character building for the Scions take place in the form of side quests. I know this idea is really just a dream and the possibility of it becoming a reality is very slim. But there are so many people who I have tried to convince to play Final Fantasy XIV, and despite it having a free trial, many will never take the plunge. It’s just way too long of an experience to get caught up, and these days, there are too many games to play. Final Fantasy XIV’s biggest fault is that everyone says “it gets better at Heavensward,” but A Realm Reborn is still a lot to play through. But streamlined in a modern engine with the same presentation as Final Fantasy XVI? I wouldn’t be surprised if every single Final Fantasy XIV subscriber purchased the game, including those who only play it for the social aspects.

If you know... you know.

If you know… you know.

All the writing is done, all the voice acting and music is completed, and they are all very excellent. Package it all together in a streamlined, single-player journey and it would arguably be the best Final Fantasy game of all time. Combat could even be tweaked for a better experience, but following the core of Final Fantasy XVI would work, especially with the ability to switch jobs. It would definitely feel more like a “Final Fantasy game” for all those people out there who are complaining that Final Fantasy XVI isn’t a real Final Fantasy game.

There’s a very good reason why members of the Final Fantasy XIV community are so passionate about the game and try so hard to get more people to experience it. You’ve probably heard this meme: “Have you tried the expanded Free Trial of our critically acclaimed MMORPG #FFXIV? You can play through the entirety of A Realm Reborn and the award-winning Heavensward expansion up to level 60 for FREE with no restrictions on playtime!” Even though that worked to get new players, the number of people who have experienced Final Fantasy XIV in its entirety is still relatively low when you compare it to other major AAA titles. Popular streamer Asmongold didn’t even make it through all the expansions, and it’s not like he actually disliked the game. It’s just a lot to play through. Creative Business Unit III has the opportunity to get that story into the hands of millions of players, and if there’s someone who is capable of getting it done, it’s Yoshi-P.

Final Fantasy XVI box art

Buy Final Fantasy XVI

Platform: PlayStation 5

Release date: June 22, 2023

Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker key art

Buy Final Fantasy XIV

Platform: PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC

Release date: September 30, 2010

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With over 20 years of online publishing experience, Jason Siu is currently the Content Director at VerticalScope and used to spend most of his time writing about cars. His work can be seen on websites such as AutoGuide, EV Pulse, FlatSixes, Tire Authority, and more. As the former co-founder of Tunerzine.com and West Coast Editor of Modified Magazine, he has also authored two books for CarTech Books. In his spare time, he founded FullCleared to indulge in his passion for writing about games. Although Jason is a variety gamer, he generally prefers RPGs.

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