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Everything we know about Forspoken, Square Enix's next big action-RPG

Forspoken's protagonist
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Forspoken is something of a change-up for Square Enix's big internal studios. Developers who've worked on Final Fantasies have pulled together for a new Square Enix studio, Luminous Productions, to focus on new high profile games. An international effort, this new team took the Luminous Engine that Square Enix created for Final Fantasy 15 and got their heads together to work on a new game. And then they put a bunch of wizard parkour in it. Excellent.

Originally known as Project Athia, Forspoken has steadily emerged with more gameplay and story details, picking up a (shifting) release date along the way. but now we have the proper title for it, and a release date. Here's everything we've learned about Forspoken so far, from its magically-displaced protagonist, to her array of combat and parkour sorceries.

What is Forspoken's release date?

Forspoken will release on January 24, 2023, according to a recent delay announcement. This is the game's second delay, following an announcement earlier this year that its original release window in May 2022 was pushed back into October.

According to the latest delay statement, Forspoken's release date was pushed back once more for "strategic reasons." It's unclear what exactly that means, but the released Twitter statement (opens in new tab) described the game's development as nearly finished, saying "all game elements are now complete, and development is in its final polishing phase." If that's the case, this latest release date will probably stick.

Here's the latest Forspoken gameplay trailer

This 10-minute gameplay overview from August gives a pretty full sense of what the standard flow of gameplay will feel like in Forspoken, as Frey explores the open (and almost entirely corrupted) world of Athia. In the trailer, Frey picks up a sidequest to grab some crafting materials for an artisan in the hub city of Cipal, and then its out into the wilderness to fling fistfuls of magic.

On display is the variety of different combat spells and magic parkour traversal options that Frey can deploy—and it looks to be a substantial one. In some of her shown skirmishes, Frey switches between magic bolts, whips with energy tendrils, and coup-de-grace finishers with a conjured knife. Between fights, Frey can quickly cover the landscape thanks to some magical assistance in the form of wall-running, double-jumping, and pulling herself along with a kind of molten, magical zipline. It's kind of a halfway point between Spider-Man and Dr. Strange.

It all takes place in what feels like it'll be a pretty standard open-world experience: there are towers to ping nearby discoverable points and activities, chests with resources. Hopefully, the magic toolkit will keep it that standard fare from feeling too boilerplate.

There's some additional context to note for this gameplay trailer, by the way. Frey is more quiet than you might expect, particularly if you caught the reactions to another, shorter Forspoken trailer released on Twitter (opens in new tab) earlier in August. Here, Frey's near-terminal "yeah, that just happened" quippiness felt—to seemingly everyone who watched it—like all the most nauseating writing tropes that come to mind when something is described as "Whedonesque." Not surprising that Square Enix turned Frey's zinger dial back a bit for the next video drop, but it's left some fear about how the game's banter will land on release.

What other Forspoken trailers are there?

In Forspoken's debut trailer from March of 2021 (opens in new tab), we're introduced to protagonist Frey Holland by Ella Balinska, Frey's voice and motion capture artist. Beginning with a cinematic of a freshly-isekai'd Frey reacting with understandable distress to suddenly having to contend with things like dragons and big, spooky wolf monsters, the trailer then shows our first glimpse of Forspoken's magic parkour as Frey zips across badlands and forests.

This story intro trailer (opens in new tab) from the 2021 PlayStation showcase doesn't have a ton of story info, if we're being honest. We get a glimpse at Frey's life before stumbling into a fantasy world (mostly characterized by wanting a different one), and are introduced to Frey's companion Cuff, a sentient wristlet with an English accent. Then, over clips of combat gameplay, we overhear as Frey is apparently enlisted for political assassination? I'm sure that'll be developed more.

Who's the main character in Forspoken?

The hero of Forspoken is Frey Holland, played by actor Ella Balinska. In the reveal trailer, Balinska says she's "a young woman in a beautiful yet threatening world." Balinska also said that Frey is a character she "immediately connected with," and she's performing both the motion capture and voice work in Forspoken.

That threatening world is doubly so, since Frey is actually a "gritty yet street smart young woman" who is unexpectedly transported from New York City to the nightmarish fantasy world of Athia. Thankfully her passage into this world is accompanied by the discovery of magical abilities, which she'll need as she fights her way to the "twisted all-powerful matriarchs" known as the Tantas, who control Athia. Sounds like she needs to get rid of them.

The first thing we saw in the debut Forspoken trailer was Frey's sneakers, which seemed ill-fitting in a fantasy game. Well: now you know why she's wearing sneakers! This has the whiff of an "isekai" story, a popular genre in Japan where characters are transported to a fantasy world. Y'know, like Space Jam.

This bit of text from the official site summarizes that setting: 






How about the other characters?

Cuff is your main companion in Forespoken, and as his name implies, he's a cuff. Literally. He's a "magical, sentient bracelet of uncertain origin" who speaks in an arch English accent, as witty videogame companions are wont to do. He's played by Jonathan Cake.

We've also learned of Tanta Sila, who is played by Janina Gavankar. She's the big baddy among the Tantas, the group of "twisted" matriarchs you'll be targeting in Forespoken.

Two other key characters have also been revealed: Johedy is played by Keala Settle, and is a "hard-nosed archivist who provides Frey with guidance," while Auden (Monica Barbaro) is a young woman Frey meets in Athia. They become besties.

What will Forspoken play like?

The most recent Forspoken trailer released in September provides a good overview of how the fantasy RPG will play, and then we got a virtual preview of Forspoken in December that gave us even more. 

  • Square Enix is going for high fidelity cutscenes and environments here, much like its Final Fantasy games
  • Frey moves fast
  • Frey can run up/climb cliff faces and do some twirly moves to gain bursts of speed. Think magically aided parkour. Platforming is a key part of the game's traversal, as is Spider-Man style swinging
  • Enemies shown in the trailer: an imposing golem, an imposing zombie bear, and some wild-lookin' sabretooth cats
  • Frey's magical powers include forming a shield of light and making vines explode out of the ground. She can also fire high speed magic projectiles at enemies. 
  • Spells seem to be from a variety of schools, that can be swapped between like stances.
  • Spellcasting is mobile - Frey fires off her spells on the move, not rooted in place like so many others.
  • The open world appears to be a mix of medieval fantasy architecture, cliffy and craggy wildlands, and open green pastures
  • Frey is accompanied by a fairly unconventional companion in 'Cuff'. He's literally a golden sentient bracelet attached to Frey's arm

Based on what's been shown so far, Forspoken reminds me of open world games like Insomniac's Spider-man and Sucker Punch's Infamous, where using your movement abilities to get around the open world is as big a part of the game as combat.

Who's working on Forspoken?

It's a Luminous Productions game, but the studio has recruited some high-profile talent to write the script. These writers include Star Wars writer (and ye olde PC Gamer editor) Gary Whitta, Naughty Dog veteran Amy Hennig, as well as Allison Rymer and Todd Stashwick. Square Enix has brought out the big guns, so expect a narrative-driven adventure.

It's also confirmed that God of War (2018) composer Bear McCreary will be handling Forspoken's score.

Seriously, check out this freaky bear

Forspoken - Frey confronts a weird bear in the woods

(Image credit: Square Enix)
Wes Fenlon
Senior Editor

Wes has been covering games and hardware for more than 10 years, first at tech sites like The Wirecutter (opens in new tab) and Tested (opens in new tab) before joining the PC Gamer team in 2014. Wes plays a little bit of everything, but he'll always jump at the chance to cover emulation and Japanese games.

When he's not obsessively optimizing and re-optimizing a tangle of conveyor belts in Satisfactory (it's really becoming a problem), he's probably playing a 20-year-old Final Fantasy or some opaque ASCII roguelike. With a focus on writing and editing features, he seeks out personal stories and in-depth histories from the corners of PC gaming and its niche communities. 50% pizza by volume (deep dish, to be specific).