Since the first game released in 1987, Final Fantasy has cemented its place in gaming history as one of the best JRPG series ever made. The franchise’s great staying power comes in part from the features it introduced or improved, many of which are now RPG staples. Summons are a prime example of a mechanic the series introduced, and they are still used in most modern Final Fantasy games and spinoffs.
Summons were first introduced in Final Fantasy III. Initially, only the Summoner, Evoker, and Sages classes were able to use them, but they have since become a series staple that almost every party member can use. Unfortunately, a major of Final Fantasy games have used only summons as powerful abilities to quickly dispatch enemies, turn the tides of a battle, or take a chunk of health out of a really strong boss. They have rarely had impactful lore or been part of the narrative. Fortunately, Final Fantasy XVI appears to be changing that tradition.
Final Fantasy Summons Should Feel Important in Universe
Despite being massive magical entities that aid party members with otherworldly powers, none of the games have really explored the summons’ lore. They also don’t have a narrative presence outside of lending their power to the main characters, and no one seems curious about how or why the main characters have these powers. However, Final Fantasy XVI is making summons integral to the story and world-building.
The story revolves around people who are bound to these all-powerful summon creatures, which the game calls Eikons. Instead of just being powerful abilities for players to use, FFXVI treats summons as important parts of the game’s world, exploring how nations would actually treat them and the people they are bound to. Naturally, there are a lot of interesting narrative points here because every nation in the game utilizes the Eikons and their users differently.
Using summons also seems to change gameplay. In previous Final Fantasy games, players would use one of their summons, and they would appear to do a devastating attack, then disappear. In contrast, FFXVI‘s Eikon battles are pillar of the game that pit two colossus beings against each other and let the player control one of them. These battles will introduce new mechanics, change up the gameplay style, and serve as major events similar to big boss battles. On top of that, the trailer shows what appears to be the main character combining normal attacks with a summons’ power in regular combat.
FF16 Gives Summons What They Deserve
Final Fantasy XVI is not the first game to add summons to the narrative. The best existing example is FFVI, which featured summons as a major component of the world and its story. Final Fantasy XV and FFXIII also featured minor story points involving summons. However, none of those games delved into the political and moral turmoil that came with having these massive wells of power like FFXVI appears to. There is an additional level of intricacy that FFXVI adds with its summons, which helps flesh out its world and makes it more believable.
While summons will play a major role in Final Fantasy XVI, it is still unclear how the story will unfold. The trailers have featured several characters bound to many of the summons from the series, and the main character appears to be in possession of Ifrit. However, it is unclear if that’s the only summon players can use and if there are more outside what previous trailers have shown. Regardless, FFXVI is putting summons at the forefront of the game and its narrative, finally giving these powerful beings the credit they deserve.