The first Final Fantasy was released in 1987.since then, every new game in the popular role-playing series has seen it grow, change and often undermine fans’ expectations of what it can be. Final Fantasy XVI could be the biggest test so far, somehow returning to the medieval world: the construction of the series was rooted earlier, while the formula was fundamentally changed in others. So what exactly makes a game a Final Fantasy and does Final Fantasy XVI pass the test?

Released on June 22, five years after the release of Final Fantasy XV, it swaps mid-century modernist vibes for swords, armor and seedy stone castles reminiscent of Game of Thrones. You play as a warrior named Clive in search of revenge, but unlike most previous games, there is no turn-based dimension to action, you only control one character and not a larger number of comrades all the time, and the traditional progression of role-playing games is simplified into a formality that allows you to control a single character.

In terms of the story, Final Fantasy XVI feels at home in the tradition of the series of political conflicts revolving around mythological clashes, while in terms of gameplay it looks more like Devil May Cry with crystals. With simplified skill trees, you can reach the maximum in just a few hours.

The results were praised by many critics, but led others to withdraw from a future in which Final Fantasy no longer feels like a role-playing game. This possible existential tipping point is leading fans on Reddit and Twitter to ask similar questions. “But for me, there’s one undeniable thing about FF that no other game can do, and that’s what makes it FF,” one fan wrote on the Final Fantasy Subreddit.

“It’s the feeling of a truly wonderful, more grandiose and granular adventure through a huge and beautiful world and a smack-by-smack story that focuses the drama of the characters on the international and cosmic upheaval. Another fan had a simpler answer: “Final Fantasy is when the motto is called Gil.”The game certainly meets all these requirements.

For others, it’s a matter of genre: it’s not Final Fantasy if it’s not an RPG, and RPGs consist of specific tropes and basic mechanics. “As far as I can see, the only aspect FF16 is not-found compared to other FFS are multiple playable characters, but there are a lot of single character games that are still RPGs,” one fan wrote in a separate thread. “It still has XP, cities, customizable skill combinations, shops.”Some players pushed back, pointing out that although these systems appear on paper in the game, they don’t offer you meaningful ways to play with group composition or character construction.

What is the official answer to what is a Final Fantasy? “Each main game offers an exciting story that often focuses on the defeat of a powerful enemy who wants to damage the world,” says an official description of the franchise on the PlayStation website. “You can expect epic fantasy scenarios, a memorable cast of characters, magic-infused actions that usually involve calling and recurring elements.”

According to Square ENIX vice president Yoshinori Kitase, a veteran developer of the series since the 90s, the only requirement for a Final Fantasy game is that it contains crystals. Final Fantasy XVI producer Naoki Yoshida told Bloomberg that his definition is a game with “a great story, great game design, cutting-edge graphics, good music” and Moogles and Chocobos.

I asked the Kotaku writers and editors, from pass away-hard fans to people who have barely played the games, what the name Final Fantasy means to them. Surprise, surprise, it means something different to everyone. You can continue the slideshow above to see how everyone’s opinions compare.

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