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Final Fantasy XVI – PS5

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An epic dark fantasy world where the fate of the land is decided by the mighty Eikons and the Dominants who wield them. This is the tale of Clive Rosfield, a warrior granted the title “First Shield of Rosaria” and sworn to protect his younger brother Joshua, the dominant of the Phoenix. Before long, Clive will be caught up in a great tragedy and swear revenge on the Dark Eikon I…
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Awards

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You Might Like

  • Looks fantastic
  • Plays fantastic
  • Eikon on Eikon battles are fantastic
  • Great story and characters
  • You can pet the doggo

Might Not Like

  • Missing RPG mechanics
  • Suffers from half-baked fetch quests
  • Totally pointless crafting and equipment
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Description

An epic dark fantasy world where the fate of the land is decided by the mighty Eikons and the Dominants who wield them. This is the tale of Clive Rosfield, a warrior granted the title “First Shield of Rosaria” and sworn to protect his younger brother Joshua, the dominant of the Phoenix. Before long, Clive will be caught up in a great tragedy and swear revenge on the Dark Eikon Ifrit, a mysterious entity that brings calamity in its wake.

Titanic Clashes - When rival Dominants come head to head, epic battles between their Eikons ensue!

Eikonic Action - Clive utilizes the powers of multiple Eikons in breakneck battle to deliver dynamic action combat.

A true Dark Fantasy - Discover a gritty and mature narrative steeped in realism.

Explore the realm of Valisthea - A stunning world plunged into conflict by nations at war with each other.

Everyone that pre-orders FINAL FANTASY 16 will receive the Braveheart (Weapon) DLC and Cait Sith Charm (Gil Boost Accessory) DLC.

Final Fantasy has been a household name in the world of gaming for far longer than I have graced this earth. I can’t say for sure about their earlier titles, but Square Enix always seems to try its best to change up the core gaming formula of FF titles between main releases. I am sure you are aware that FFXVI is no exception to this. Dropping all notions of previous combat mechanics and adopting a purely action RPG hack ‘n’ slash approach instead. But does it work? Does it feel right? Is this truly a Final Fantasy experience? Here are my thoughts on Final Fantasy XVI.

Phoenix – A Series Reborn

So, let’s get this part out of the way first. If you are a fan of older FF games with turn-based combat, then you may be disappointed with this game. I myself am not a big fan of turn-based combat, and vastly prefer those seen in action RPGS; so, I was more than happy with this approach. There is no changing the combat style as we saw in FFVII Remake, and there is no hybrid approach as we saw in FFXV. Final Fantasy XVI is the first in the series to fully utilise a fighting style reminiscent of that in games such as the Devil May Cry series.

Another decision made for this game was the separation between playable characters. This time around, you will only get to control Clive. Whilst this is not as big a revelation as the entire fighting mechanic changing, it does mean you won’t be switching control of party members during combat, or even customising their equipment.

Ifrit – The Fire In Its Belly

There are of course things that fans of Final Fantasy will find familiar. Whilst the setting of the game is more medieval than fantastical, there are still some familiar facets. The main one of these of course is the inclusion of the Eikons. You know them, they have been called everything from Aeons to Espers. You already know this of course as the Eikon battles are smattered across all the advertising material released for the game. And they are undoubtedly the stars of the game. Being able to embody Ifrit and battle the other elemental gods we have become accustomed to over the years is brilliant. These battles are all highly cinematic, engaging and heart-pounding.

I really love the character designs in the game too. Considering we are used to all kinds of characters in FF games such as anthropomorphic animal people, clown things with big tongues, shadowy creatures with hats too large for their bodies etc it is somewhat refreshing to have a cast of all very well-designed human characters. Even if I do miss the varying races that we are used to.

The game features an incredibly innovative way of handling difficulty. There are certain rings that you can equip that will tailor the game to your liking. If you are struggling with dodging, there is a ring that will auto-dodge for you. If you are dying often then there is a ring that will use a potion for you when needed so you can dedicate your attention to the fight at hand. I think this is brilliant. More games should incorporate simple ways like this to tailor difficulty, instead of just changing the amount of damage you and enemies take.

The story is also well-written, albeit a bit predictable. Sometimes all we need out of a fantasy-esque game is a downtrodden prince hell-bent on a tasty slice of vengeance. The interest comes down to the surprisingly in-depth politics of the world. Each area of the world has its own monarch and usually has its own Dominant to keep the power balance in check. A dominant is what you are, someone who can embody one of the titular Eikons. The world as it stands is in turmoil as there is some sort of rot that is spreading in the world and destroying all fauna and flora in its wake. This causes the different factions in the world to invade each other for viable land in order to survive. Instead of you know, simply helping each other. But hey ho, it becomes your job to save the world and restore it to its former glory. Of course you are saving the world. This is an RPG! With that in mind… you know what it is time for, don’t you? That’s right, something I haven’t done since my review of Tales of Arise back in March last year…. It’s time for…

… Another Rapid-Fire RPG Checklist!

  • Male and female main characters are obviously written as love interests. Check.
  • The cute pet puppy in the backstory clearly survives to the present day. Check.
  • Stupid fetch quests that you feel obligated to complete. Check.
  • Features a ‘they’re dead, no they aren’t, yes they are, no they aren’t’ storyline. Check.
  • Idiot low-level enemies that rush you blindly even if you are massively overpowered compared to them. Check.

Trying to figure out what the heck a moogle’s place is in this world considering no other races made the cut for this game, and why only you can see it, and why it seems like it only cares about sending you on hunts, and why doesn’t Clive ever mention it to the master archivist who seems inexplicably determined to collect information. Kupo. Check. Wait, what!?…

Garuda – The Wind Up It’s A**

So, there is a lot to love in Final Fantasy XVI. It is clear that a lot of love and dedication went into creating the game. But as with each and every game, there are of course things that don’t quite work.

Now, one of the things that the game was criticised for in the lead-up to its release was the lack of diversity in the game. This is because every person in the trailers (both main and background) where seemingly white. To clear this up, there are actually people of colour in the game, they just live in another area further south. Make of this what you will, but for me, the letdown was the lack of diversity of races in the game. My favourite FF game is (and still is) FFXII. That game had a grand total of 12 intelligent races: all totally different in design, religion, philosophy etc. Along with even more races that are at least capable of speech and communication. In FFXVI there are humans and one single Moogle: there seemingly only for novelty’s sake.

I understand the need to iterate game designs, especially if there are dozens of games in the series, but some things feel missing. For example, the blacksmith and shopkeeper are there, but they don’t really serve much purpose. The blacksmith has a new sword, and a new accessory of each type (of which there are only 2) for you to craft after every story mission or so that slightly improves upon the one you have. And the shopkeeper replenishes your potions – of which you can count on one hand the amount you can carry at a time. No more 99 of all kinds of potions in your equipment.

There is also the present issue that I found was prevalent in Hogwarts Legacy too. You get loot, that you do nothing with. You sometimes need some of it to craft your next sword, but nowhere near as much as you will end up with in your inventory. You could sell it for gil, but then you have nothing to buy, so what is the point? There is not much point in exploring the beautiful world because all you will possibly get is more of the pointless loot.

One further thing to note that I feel is a missed opportunity was that there are no enemy weaknesses. If you are fighting a bomb for example (a literal ball of fire) using fire-based attacks causes the same amount of damage as wind-based attacks, other elemental-type attacks etc. I feel like this is something that should be present in that game but isn’t.

Titan – A Testament Of Power

It is clear that I have my gripes with FFXVI. Whilst it sells itself as an action-based RPG, there are certainly a lot of actual RPG mechanics that seem missing. But that does not deter the game from standing on its own merits. The game is still great. Its highs stand tall above its lows. It is simply something that games have failed to be of late – fun. I can see this game marking the cornerstone of the games to follow in its wake. It is a formula that will no doubt lead the charge into a new era of Final Fantasy games.

FFXVI is a call back to a time when games were what they were and didn’t try to be something more. It is a game whose story has been crafted around the desire to simply pit big elemental behemoths against each other for us to enjoy. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. The game is great fun and any fan of action or story-driven games will feel right at home with this one. I definitely recommend checking out Final Fantasy XVI.

Final Fantasy is one of those gaming titles that carries a lot of weight for many people as a series that’s been around for thirty odd years. This new entry of Final Fantasy 16 grounds the series in a darker setting and gives you full control over the action rather than the turn-based battles of older titles.

An Eikonic Epic

As this is a Final Fantasy game, the story is probably the most important aspect to consider so I will steer clear of anything too specific except for a few mild story spoilers for the early sections of the game.

Without a doubt, this is one of the darkest FF entries yet and it’s hard not to see inspiration from the gritty Game of Thrones, especially during some of the opening chapters. Straight from the get-go, you are thrown into an incredibly cinematic battle between Eikons (huge creatures that are known as summons in previous FF games), before flash forwarding to witness a full scale battle with Eikons taking to the field. FF games are known for their iconic openings and I will certainly remember this one fondly.

At its heart, this is a story about vengeance, hope in the face of oppression, and defying your fate. This is a realm where those who can naturally cast magic are branded and treated as slaves, and a select few, known as Dominants, are born with the ability to channel and transform into Eikons. Some regions treat these Dominants with respect and reverence, others use them simply as weapons to be used. The world building of FF16 is some of the best I’ve had in an RPG, with it being given to you as needed, rather than having huge ‘lore-dumps’ as many fantasy settings tend to do so. At a hold of a button, you have access to ‘Active Time Lore’, which gives you details on the people, places, and terms given to you in that cutscene or area. There’s even a comprehensive glossary that fills with these entries and updates as you learn more.

Gameplay (Hack ‘N Flashy?)

This is an action focused game with an emphasis on pulling off combos with your sword, magic, and flashy Eikon abilities while you nimbly dodge incoming attacks. You start the game with the Blessing of the Phoenix which gives you a powerful fire strike and a fast dash ability to close distance with foes. I found the tutorial to be a good start, but the first proper battles did take some getting used to.

Once you get further in the game, there are new features and skill trees added to give you more combat options. Without spoiling anything, these new abilities can really change your approach to combat and there’s definitely fun to be had in finding interesting combinations. A favourite of mine involved placing a trap that caused a shockwave whenever it’s attacked and then summoning swirling fireballs around myself to mow down weaker enemies. These different power sets really expand your combat options, yet I would say that this takes a bit of time to click properly. However, I got into the swing of switching between these relatively quickly and once new options came around, I was intrigued by what new combinations I could find.

The other big addition to combat is the inclusion of Torgal the hound who has quickly become my new favourite dog in a game. Besides being the best dog that you can pet at any time out of combat, he also helps in combat with attacks and a useful regeneration heal. He acts like a support to your combos as tapping his attack buttons causes him to jump in and, with some practice, you can get him to launch enemies up in the air.

If this is all sounding a bit much for you, do not worry as there are excellent options to make combat a bit less daunting. There is a selection of “timely” accessory items made available from the start of the game that can automatically assist you in battle, with effects like automatically use potions when low on health, slowing down time before an enemy hits you, or getting Torgal to auto attack without your input.

There are also a number of huge Eikon based battles where you directly control these powerful monsters. The gameplay here changes depending on the Eikons in play, some are all-out scraps and others involve blasting projectiles at your foe. Each one of these feels incredibly cinematic and it’s hard not to make the comparison to anime fight scenes. These fights do often involve a number of quick time events during some very flashy cutscenes, which I personally do not mind as they feel more impactful than just watching a cutscene, but I’m aware that they are not for everyone.

Just One More

As an RPG by the makers of Final Fantasy 14 (Square Enix’s MMORPG), you can expect quests aplenty. During the earlier stages of the game, these are mostly story based main quests with a handful of side quests that are relatively standard fetch and hunt quests. There are also a handful of main story quests that follow this pattern, meaning there were a few sections of the game that felt like the story had really put the brakes on.

After a certain story event, more side quests start to appear and some of these are marked with pluses and award you unique features such as increased potion capacity. I won’t spoil any details but the first of these gives you arguably the most important reward in the game so do not miss it! I went through every side quest as they popped up and I will admit to that there was one point late in the game where there were so many quest markers on the map that I started to feel a bit overwhelmed. However, most of these quests did offer more context and backstory to the world which meant that it felt worth completing each one. Side characters from the hideaway have their backstories fleshed out and you get to see how events in the main story impact the characters inhabiting the different towns. In fact, those quests I mentioned that piled up all at once were some of the most satisfying to finish outside of the main quest. While I enjoyed finishing every quest to glean every bit of lore and character development I could, I can see other players becoming fatigued with the amount of them and the formula that most follow.

A Thing Of Beauty

One thing that never failed to impress was the overall presentation of FF16, from its massive Eikon battles to the grand orchestral tracks. As previously mentioned, the opening of the game shows off a huge battle with bloody combat between soldiers and cavalry charging across the field, before trebuchets rain down magical fire. Not long after this, the battlefield is dominated by two opposing Eikons who tear apart the battlefield with their magic and colossal strength. As cliche as it sounds, there were moments that I had my jaw drop during these cutscenes and this is the first game in a while that has had me rapidly taking screenshots. Even outside of cutscenes, I found the whole game to be very visually impressive with a good variety of locations throughout the story. The characters are all very well acted and voiced with a good number of regional accents (including some brilliant Northern ones). I was also really impressed at the overall polish of the game as a whole, at no point did I notice any bugs or glitches.

Fanfare Fantasy

Something that is always mentioned when it comes to Final Fantasy is the music and every FF fan has their favourite tracks, whether it’s boss themes or overworld ambience. FF16 is certainly no different and clearly a lot of work has gone into the audio aspect of the game. I played the game with headphones in and it really amplified the whole experience, especially when it came to the dramatic boss fights. The Eikon themes that play during these are the stand out examples here, and opening Eikon fight is a perfect example of this, with its operatic lyrics steadily rising as the battle progresses. Many of these are grand orchestral affairs, though there’s one in particular that becomes surprisingly techno with a Devil May Cry vibe which really impressed despite it being so different in genre. The hideaway features a jukebox that you can collect themes for to have as the background music while you are there, although these are mostly for overworld themes than all the bosses. These overworld themes are also brilliant in a different way, with them giving a different feel to each area of the map. I soon found myself humming along to the theme of the first open area you visit and I don’t think it’s possible for me to not start tapping along to the hideaway’s song. There are also a handful of moments in the story where an arrangement of the classic FF theme plays and that really gives a hit of nostalgia.

Verdict

Final Fantasy 16 was one of my most anticipated games for the PS5 since it was announced and it certainly did not disappoint. The story hits hard with its darker tone, there were tears and even some laughs during my play through. Combat makes you feel powerful once you’ve mastered the powers at your disposal and I was at the edge of my seat during the dramatic boss battles. If you are a fan of fantasy or have played a Final Fantasy game before, you will find something to love in this game.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You might like

  • Looks fantastic
  • Plays fantastic
  • Eikon on Eikon battles are fantastic
  • Great story and characters
  • You can pet the doggo

Might not like

  • Missing RPG mechanics
  • Suffers from half-baked fetch quests
  • Totally pointless crafting and equipment