Final Fantasy XVI Sounds Fun, But Series Vets Might Have It Rough

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Final Fantasy XVI is owed retired connected June 22, 2023 connected PlayStation 5, pursuing what could possibly beryllium champion described arsenic an personality situation for nan long-running RPG series. Promising a radically different reside for some storytelling and combat, FFXVI is fresh to shingle things up and, potentially, make a sanction for itself arsenic a modern high-water people for nan series. Recent previews propose location are plentifulness of reasons to beryllium hopeful, moreover arsenic Final Fantasy XVI risks being a small excessively different for bid vets.

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Following nan Final Fantasy bid hasn’t ever been straightforward. While nan upcoming escapade is number 16 successful nan main series, nan franchise has seen countless remakes, nonstop sequels, spin-offs, and 2 successful MMORPGs. Mainline Final Fantasy titles person been connected shaky crushed pinch fans since astatine slightest 2009’s Final Fantasy XIII. So will Final Fantasy XVI be a beardown return to form? While caller previews do item a halfway Final Fantasy acquisition is to beryllium recovered here, nan newer, darker reside and a greater attraction connected action-oriented combat pinch a azygous protagonist mightiness frighten to overshadow immoderate of what longtime fans person travel to emotion astir nan series.

Combat: Mash them buttons, conflict those bosses

It seems undeniable that Final Fantasy XVI’s combat will beryllium a bully time, but if you weren’t onboard pinch Final Fantasy XV’s arguable action-focused, mostly single-character combat system, well, nan caller crippled seems to spell moreover further down that road.

Yes, location are position effects and equipable items that boost stats and such, but according to Polygon, the crippled tin quickly move into “a brainless, glorious, button-mashing lightshow.” GameSpot is successful agreement, describing nan combat arsenic “mostly [consisting of] mashing nan quadrate fastener to attack, sprinkling successful immoderate ranged magic shots, and waiting for [summon] abilities to refresh from cooldown.” To apical it off, this is simply a solo outing, pinch nan subordinate only controlling 1 character, not a statement throwing retired interlocking attacks, defenses, buffs, and debuffs. This is arguably an improvement of what Final Fantasy XV was aiming for, but 1 that’s looking to clasp moreover much action pinch little accent connected stats.

Clive braces for a conflict against a foe.

Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku

That Final Fantasy XVI borders connected offering mindless, button-mashing combat is seldom spoken astir successful a dismissive reside frankincense acold (Polygon did picture it arsenic glorious, aft all), but it’s a acold outcry from what we’ve typically expected from Final Fantasy combat. That mightiness beryllium bully news for newcomers, arsenic players coming from much action-oriented franchises mightiness consciousness much astatine location here. says that nan action-y leader battles “put to shame immoderate of nan champion fights seen successful different action games.”

Polygon said that nan “boss battles travel heavy and accelerated successful Final Fantasy XVI,” and IGN’s previewer saw “no less than 8 bosses” successful nan game’s first 4 hours. GameSpot drew a crisp comparison to Devil May Cry successful its preview; that should travel arsenic nary astonishment fixed that Devil May Cry 5 and Dragon’s Dogma designer Ryota Suzuki is Final Fantasy XVI’s combat lead.

Final Fantasy XVI’s combat surely sounds for illustration it will connection an exhilarating experience, pinch circumstantial praise heaped connected nan standard and size of leader encounters and Eikon (summons). But nan truth remains that this ain’t your mother’s Final Fantasy combat…hell, it doesn’t moreover sound for illustration it will beryllium your Final Fantasy combat, if you’re a longtime bid fan.

Two characters guidelines earlier a afloat moon.

Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku

Smaller gameplay environments, bigger storytelling

Do you want bully news aliases bad news? Well here’s nan bully news, it sounds for illustration Final Fantasy XVI’s won’t beryllium saddled pinch a bloated, hollow, sprawling unfastened world of nan likes of Final Fantasy XV aliases moreover Square Enix’s caller Forspoken. Here’s nan bad news (at slightest for immoderate of you): Its building reminded Polygon of Final Fantasy XIII.

While caller previews person shown a world representation to traverse (with, sadly, nary tiny chibi characteristic to guideline around), IGN said that it was “slightly amazed by really contained immoderate of its levels tin be.” It described an early situation arsenic “corridors of connecting fights.” That judge sounds for illustration FFXIII to me.

Depending connected your inclinations, this is perchance a spot of an eyebrow-raiser. But I deliberation it’s important to retrieve that moreover nan astir celebrated entries successful nan series, for illustration Final Fantasy VII, IX, and X, were besides rather constricted successful their environments—they excessively had nonstop paths that had nan illusion of opening up into thing much based connected erstwhile their world representation would reappear (or successful FFX’s case, I’d reason that nan characters and storytelling were truthful nonstop and tightly paced that its much linear paths weren’t arsenic overmuch of a sore spot). This is what Final Fantasy XIII and its legendary 25-hour agelong corridor struggled with, and possibly pinch immoderate different trapping, it wouldn’t’ve been truthful jarring for players.

But it seems for illustration pacing, astatine slightest early on, mightiness beryllium a spot of a sore spot for Final Fantasy XVI. Get fresh for immoderate dense fake-politics memorization, folks, because it sounds for illustration Final Fantasy XVI has it successful spades. The weight of this governmental lore connected nan game’s wide communicative is truthful heavy, successful fact, that an full caller strategy has been introduced: “Active Time Lore” virtually lets you look up various humanities and characteristic accusation right successful nan mediate of cutscenes.

IGN likened this characteristic to Amazon Prime Video’s X-Ray feature, which lets you region to spot nan sanction of that character you committedness you cognize from somewhere, someplace. That sounds for illustration a useful characteristic for anyone who’s played Final Fantasy XIII for a twelve hours and still felt for illustration they didn’t cognize what nan fuck a fal’Cie aliases l’Cie was, but that this characteristic exists astatine each speaks to nan level of attraction that mightiness beryllium required. Frankly, moreover reference previews that summarize nan wide premise of “kingdoms” and “war” and “crystals” sounds much confusing than it needs to be, but we’ll spot really that shakes retired successful nan last version.

Multiple previews person stressed that nan game’s opening moments are also, possibly painfully so, ace dense connected hitting you complete nan caput pinch story. IGN said that “cutscenes dress up a batch of Final Fantasy XVI’s early runtime.” Time will show if it’s conscionable nan opening that has this problem, but it sounds for illustration you mightiness want to person immoderate popcorn fresh connected nan broadside (just wash your damn hands earlier rubbing your controller).

Two armies costs warfare against eachother pinch dormant bodies connected nan ground.

Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku

To beryllium fair, Final Fantasy has ever been story-heavy (those of america who were introduced to it successful its earlier days will retrieve that nan games delivered hours and hours of matter panels of speech to read). But this clip nan reside of nan communicative is going for thing rather overseas to nan series—and it sounds for illustration it mightiness separator connected medieval imagination misery porn.

Sad boys and dismal horizons

If you’ve been pursuing on pinch Final Fantasy XVI’s development, past you cognize the crippled is aiming for a darker tone. Games for illustration God of War and shows for illustration Game of Thrones person been cited arsenic inspiration for this caller Final Fantasy…and, you know, we’re conscionable gonna person to spot really that turns out. Previews frankincense acold person stressed that there’s a quality communicative underneath nan misery fest, but they each item that protagonist Clive is simply a sad sad boy who can’t do nan magic point his family tin do and frankincense feels near out, and apparently immoderate defining tragic moments are told done flashback sequences that region nan coming communicative to group nan shape for why Clive is specified a moody saddo.

A characteristic walks guardant while carrying a halberd.

Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku

Final Fantasy has ne'er shied distant from reliable stuff, but it’s ever carried a jovial, hopeful reside that perseveres done evidently tragic stories of nonaccomplishment and hardship, identity, community, love, and vengeance. It begs nan question: Do we request FF to beryllium truthful damn acheronian and miserable to convey what it’s successfully done successful nan past? I’m skeptical, particularly erstwhile Polygon describes characters arsenic “getting spattered successful gore [...] screaming ‘I’ll fucking termination you!’ astatine nan apical of their lungs.” Digitaltrends straight up described it arsenic a “high-fantasy Last of Us,” which is uh…hmm, not my favourite descriptor ever.

It remains to beryllium seen really eloquently Final Fantasy XVI tin grip its darker tones, but it’s clear from various previews that it ain’t holding backmost connected acheronian and mature themes. As GameSpot truthful aptly put it, nan situation will beryllium for FFXVI “to not conflate a darker reside and maturity.” I consciousness skeptical astir its expertise to thread this needle, but I’ll beryllium gladsome if my doubts astir FFXVI’s darker reside beryllium unwarranted.

Even bid fans for illustration myself tin admit that (single-player) Final Fantasy has been successful a reliable spot for immoderate years, pinch it usually emotion for illustration its glory days are long, agelong past. Whether aliases not Final Fantasy XVI’s changes will beryllium to beryllium what’s needed remains to beryllium seen, but astatine slightest we’re seeing Square Enix make a superior effort to reinvigorate this beloved franchise.

Final Fantasy XVI arrives connected June 22, 2023 exclusively connected PlayStation 5.

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