2023 might go down as the year of Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy XVI, the next mainline instalment in the beloved JRPG series, already has a release date pinned for 22 June next year but more significantly, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth could also launch later in the year (or early 2024, but we’re betting on a late 2023 date). Needless to say, it’s a good time to be a Final Fantasy fan and next year might be one of the most important in the franchise’s history.
For many fans today, their Final Fantasy journey began with the release of the PS1 classic Final Fantasy VII. Before that, the brand held little power in the West before the seventh instalment catapulted it to the mainstream gaming spotlight. That’s why the current Remake trilogy means so much to players and why Rebirth might be one of the biggest and most anticipated releases of the entire year.
Final Fantasy VII Remake was released in 2020 and rewrote the rulebook for what a video game “remake” can be. Sure, it wasn’t exactly a one-for-one remake of the original (up until a certain point, at least), but it managed to put enough of a fresh spin on the classic tale to break tradition and turn it into something else entirely – something that’s now just as unpredictable as a new experience in the Final Fantasy VII universe.
Square Enix revealed that the ambitious Remake project of Final Fantasy VII would encompass a trilogy, with Final Fantasy VII Rebirth being the second offering. The team seemed to have made good (and significantly faster) progress over the past few years as Rebirth is expected to launch in Winter 2023. However, it’s worth noting that the Winter window could extend into early 2024, but we believe Square Enix might go for a double punch next year.
Final Fantasy XVI, on the other hand, is being helmed by Creative Business Unit III, the same creative team behind Final Fantasy XIV Online (which is already a cause for celebration). It aims to return to the series medieval fantasy roots, meaning classic monsters, English accents and strong themes. The story will also revolve around the Summons this time – a first for the series as most Final Fantasy games made them powerful allies (or foes) in battle. This time, they’re the stars of the show.
Judging by the trailers released so far, the Summons (or known as Eikons) will clash in epic, large-scale kaiju-sized battles the likes of which we haven’t seen in the series before. It’s delivering on the kind of big-budget AAA spectacle that has the power to appeal to both hardcore fans and newcomers. Furthermore, it’s also changing up the formula a bit with regards to combat, which looks absurdly fast, flashy and stylish – no surprise considering that it’s being worked on by Devil May Cry 5‘s combat director Ryota Suzuki.
Do we think that we’ll be playing both Final Fantasy XVI and Final Fantasy VII Rebirth before the end of 2023? There’s a slim chance. Square Enix recently released Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion on the cusp of the holiday season this year which means that the company is planning to bank on the holiday profits. If Crisis Core is already stirring sales, can you imagine what Final Fantasy VII Rebirth can do in the same holiday window?
Final Fantasy fans have a lot to look forward to next year and we think it’s going to be a pretty substantial year for the franchise. On another note, we’re also getting the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster for PS4 and Nintendo Switch (finally!).
Final Fantasy XVI releases on 22 June 2023 exclusively for PS5. Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is expected to launch in Winter 2023 (also) exclusively for PS5.