Warning: full spoilers follow for the events of Final Fantasy 16.
As you’d expect of a game in this series, the final hours of Final Fantasy 16 go to some wild places. This is a game that features massive monsters beating the heck out of each other, after all, and so naturally the finale had to go super size. If you’ve completed the game and want a detailed breakdown of what it all means, or don’t plan on playing it and want to skip straight to the end, then you’re in the right place. We’re about to reveal everything that happens in the last few hours of Final Fantasy 16, so prepare yourself for the biggest spoilers.
Long ago, the god Ultima and his kin created magic. It allowed them to flourish, but it also came at a price: the world-destroying Blight. The gods were powerless to stop it, and so sixteen survivors fled to a new world: Valisthea. But the Blight followed them to this new land, and so the gods realised there was only one option: to build a whole new world.
Casting the spell to create this new world would require a huge amount of magical power, and a vessel strong enough to wield it. To gain that power, the gods sacrificed their own physical forms to create the Mothercrystals, huge structures that would drain the natural aether that flowed through Valisthea’s soil. To acquire the vessel, they created humanity. After many generations this new race would eventually produce the Mythos; a human capable of harnessing unimaginable power. The Mythos could then be inhabited by Ultima, who would use the power harvested by the Mothercrystals to cast the world-creating spell.
Such a plan would take a thousand years to unfold, so Ultima and his kin went into hibernation. But by abandoning their godly duties over humanity, the new people of Valisthea were lost. Forced to fend for themselves, they eventually gained their own will and self-determination. That led to the discovery of magic, which in turn led to conflict and war, and ultimately the world-devouring Blight. In short: humanity repeated the failures of their creators.
Ultima was awoken when Clive and Cid destroyed Drake’s Head. While Joshua managed to use the power of the Phoenix to cage Ultima’s spirit, the god had already recognised that Clive, who can harness the power of multiple Eikons, was the Mythos. And so Ultima began the final stages of his plan. By influencing King Barnabas and Emperor Olivier, Ultima ensured that Clive came into conflict with the major powers so that he would kill their Dominants, absorb their Eikons, and gradually build the power of the Mythos. He also used his influence to drive Clive’s quest to destroy the Mothercrystals, as each one shattered meant another god’s spirit was freed.
Now that Clive had absorbed the power of every Eikon, the Mythos had almost reached full potential. It was time for Ultima to prepare “Raise”; a spell he reveals will allow the gods to ascend to paradise but destroy all of humanity and Valisthea in the process.
Mythos and Ifrit Risen
The Mythos’ final form is Ifrit Risen, a colossal creature that is a combination of Ifrit and Phoenix. The image of Ifrit Risen can be seen all over Valisthea as part of religious murals, but it is not until Joshua visits Gjallarhorn in Waloed that he discovers the full version of the mural.
The painting shows seven Eikons – Garuda, Ramuh, Shiva, Titan, Bahamut, Odin, and the lost Leviathan – all looking up in adoration at Ifrit Risen. The absence of Ifrit and Phoenix in their solo forms suggests that they, and by extension Ifrit Risen, are not Eikons in the same way as the other summons. This is further hinted at when Clive and Joshua come across Ultima Prime, a decaying body that looks like Ifrit, in The Interdimensional Rift. It makes sense that Ultima’s vessel would have a similar appearance to his own former physical form.
While Ultima’s plan revolves around the creation of the Mythos, he also predicted the possibility of the Logos; the corrupted version of Mythos that has its own will. This is what Clive has effectively become. Because humanity was abandoned by their gods, they gained their own will, and thus Mythos was born with the self-determination to make their own choices. Furthermore, in the generations since Ultima abandoned Valisthea, human faith in him has faded, which in turn has weakened him. But Clive, strengthened by the faith of his friends, is able to resist Ultima and put an end to his apocalyptic plans.
After a battle at Stonhyrr fortress in Waloed, in which the last of Valisthea’s five Mothercrystals is destroyed, the defeated Ultima retreats to Twinside. The city is revealed to be built on top of Origin, the ark in which the gods came to Valisthea a thousand years ago. Ultima lifts Origin into the sky and encases it in crystal, which immediately begins to drain aether from the land. As it does so the Blight spreads faster and aether floods the land, turning people and animals into mindless servants of Ultima known as Akashic.
Clive, Joshua, and Dion decide to launch an attack on Origin. Dion transforms into Bahamut and flies the brothers through Ultima’s army and into the Origin crystal. Inside, the three use their Eikons to create a massive explosion. The blast only stalls Ultima, but Dion is killed and Clive gravely wounded. Joshua uses the power of the Phoenix to heal his brother, but this severely weakens him, leaving him barely able to walk.
Clive carries Joshua to the Core of Origin, where Ultima awaits. The god merges with the spirits of his kin who have been freed from their Mothercrystals, and then pulls the final piece – the spirit trapped back at Drake’s Head – from Joshua’s chest. With all the gods combined into a single consciousness, and Origin filled with all the required aether, the spell to create the new world is primed. All Ultima needs to do now is inhabit the Mythos.
In his final moments, Joshua gives Clive the full power of the Phoenix so that he can become Ifrit Risen on his own. Clive then fights Ultima in a huge, three-phase battle where both use the power of the Eikons to do colossal damage to one another. While Ultima does all in his power to force Clive to submit, he is eventually defeated by his own creation.
As he lies dying, Ultima asks Clive what he will do with his newfound freedom. While Clive recognises that humanity is imperfect and there will likely be generations of hardship ahead, he explains that it is worth those struggles to be free. He then absorbs Ultima’s power, and finally becomes the Logos.
Having learned the toxic effects of magic on not just Valisthea but the world that came before it, Clive realises that to save humanity he must eradicate magic entirely. The only way he can do that is by using the full power of Ultima’s vessel to burn away the heart of Origin and destroy the final Mothercrystal.
“It seems Ultima’s power was too great for this vessel all along,” Clive says. “But while I am it, perhaps I can use it to set things right, and see Ultima’s legacy consigned to the flames. Even if it means the end of me.”
It’s an act that will kill him. But, understanding that it is the only way, Clive makes the ultimate sacrifice. The final Mothercrystal is destroyed, and the world is freed. Later, Clive washes up on a beach. There, he looks up to a newly clear, star-filled sky. He watches as his own magic fades, and then slips away into a hero’s death.
Or does he? We later see Jill and Torgal looking to the night sky, where the star of Metia burns brightly. Among the people of Valisthea, it's believed that wishing upon Metia will make your heartfelt desires come true. Seeing the star causes Jill to break down crying and Torgal to howl, but it may be that they are crying in relief rather than sadness. Jill frequently prayed to Metia for Clive to come back to her, and so perhaps the wish-fulfilling powers of the star have saved Clive? Our hero's fate is left unclear.
After the credits have rolled, we’re treated to a short post-credits scene which acts as a sweet epilogue to the journey. A young boy who resembles Clive is seen making a fire with wood and flint, and he says to his mother he wishes he had the flames of an Eikon. She tells him that magic is just a fairytale. As the boy goes off to play with his blonde-haired brother and faithful dog, the camera moves to show a book: Final Fantasy, written by Joshua Rosfield. It seems that Joshua wrote a semi-complete account of his journey before heading into Origin. But while the real events of the game were recorded, but hundreds of years later they are thought of as little more than a myth. The two brothers and their dog, in a happy echo of Clive, Joshua and Torgal, play in the garden and recreate moments from their favourite book. They live free lives because of the brothers’ sacrifices.
Matt Purslow is IGN's UK News and Features Editor.