With ‘Closing Fantasy XVI’, the collection tries a brand new route

Written by Jeff Lampkin

Square Enix needs a success Closing Fantasy recreation that’s simply as in style as any recreation within the storied historical past. It’s taken seven years to get from the tepidly-received Closing Fantasy XV to Closing Fantasy XVI, and the corporate continues to wrestle with what a FF recreation is in 2023.

The corporate courted nostalgia with FF7 Remake (and the Pixel Remaster collection). On the similar time, its MMORPG, Closing Fantasy XIV, continues to be an enormous success – however what in regards to the status title? It has a plan, and it entails giant-summoned monster battles with totally different types of play, a single controllable protagonist with guest-star allies, a assist canine that grows up with you, sexy antagonists, depraved mothers and several other bleak plot twists to assist set up the plot and characters comparatively early on. I gained’t spoil the story a lot, however the early section covers warring nations, vicious household dynamics, slavery and extra. I spent six hours enjoying via the sport’s opening chapters, and thought: This plan would possibly work. Though heavy in battle tutorials, the opening of the sport does a superb job of teasing the narrative beats and main gamers, which is essential not solely to JRPGs like Closing Fantasy, however to fashionable video games basically. It’s only a disgrace the principle character is known as Clive.

I performed some early chapters, which centered on the childhood years of Clive, flanked by his youthful, ailing brother, Joshua, who was chosen to accommodate the facility of the Phoenix (large legendary flaming chook, often wielding therapeutic powers in Closing Fantasy lore). That is the sport’s first instance of an Eikon; magical summoned beasts that appear to dwell via their wielder, handed on via lineage and seemingly the reason for uneasy peace between nations. Every is assigned to an elemental beat of a fantasy RPG.

Through the demo, I bought to see roughly six Eikons in motion. Typically they have been going toe-to-toe. Different instances, their human host channeled them for upgraded strikes and injury. I significantly loved the opening beats of Clive’s maturity chapter, the place you’re compelled to navigate a cliffside as Shiva and Titan hurled large glaciers and boulders at one another. I caught a glimpse (or fought with) beasts representing hearth, ice, earth, lightning and wind. Nonetheless, as you’ve most likely gleaned from the teasers and snippets up till now, Ifrit, one other fire-based beast, is setting issues aflame. That’s not allowed, apparently. Why? I have no idea.

Blessings from these Eikons kind the premise of Clive’s expertise and magic. Geared up with “a blessing from Phoenix” (his brother), the protagonist begins with sword expertise, together with lifting, speeding, and elemental assaults. Sq. Enix claims that is the primary fully-fledged motion RPG in Closing Fantasy historical past, and it doesn’t play like all of its predecessors.

Final Fantasy XVI preview

Sq. Enix

There isn’t any menu. All of your gadgets and assaults are achieved via button combos and assigned shortcuts, with some extent of customization. I had my doubts from Closing Fantasy XV, however Clive proves to be surprisingly agile and most battles have been fluid and, actually, thrilling.

Whereas permitting you to swap between enemies, the battle system shines brightest once you’re pitted towards massive solo enemies or boss fights. As quickly as a number of enemies are dashing round, and the digicam’s spinning, it’s a bit chaotic – so much like Forspoken, one other recreation from Sq. Enix.

Like Forspoken, there’s a smoothness and elegance to fight right here that comes as extra strikes and expertise are added. Clive can swap between Eikon-based movesets, not solely differentiated by elemental attributes however by playstyle, too. For instance, earth-based Titan assaults supply up a defend and counter system, whereas wind-based expertise manipulate the gap between you and every enemy. If you happen to can counter, or make a well-timed dodge in battle, you’ll be rewarded with a star. On the finish of the combat, these stars will translate to battle spoils: further equipment, gadgets and sources.

My demo was nearly completely controlling the heroically named Clive. Nonetheless, there are assist actions you’ll be able to set off from the d-pad, which directs your devoted hound, Torgal, to heal, strike or distract enemies. I additionally briefly fought alongside allies, however there didn’t appear to be any technique to information their conduct.

As you’ve most likely seen teased in a number of trailers, FFXVI gives up totally different types of battles when large Eikons go face to face, razing castles, actually creating canyons and glaciers. Typically these performed like rhythm motion video games, rigorously timed evasions and assaults, whereas one other was like an on-the-rails shooter. Hopefully, this selection spreads throughout all the recreation.

Past the Eikon battles, all ofthe boss fights are the place this technique shines most. And in the event you’re cautious of the notion of a live-action Closing Fantasy, the sport does characteristic an clever technique to make the sport extra accessible via particular equipment.A few of these will auto-heal you (in case you have the potions for it) whereas others can widen the timing window for counters and parries. These supply a technique to tailor the sport to maintain it difficult however keep away from problem partitions – and there have been a number of even on this early demo.

Exterior the fights and the principle marketing campaign, there have been hints of fetch quest horror, however the ones included in my demo have been blissfully close by, working extra to point out the place to get your provides and do extra lore-building – which is what facet quests ought to do. Nonetheless, there wasn’t something reaching Witcher 3 ranges of facet quest hell simply but.

Final Fantasy XVI preview

Sq. Enix

One other characteristic launched in FFXVI is Energetic Time Lore (a play on Energetic Time Battle, the turn-based battle system of older FF video games). Right here, you’ll be able to pause in the course of the recreation and cutscenes and dive into who’s speaking, the place they’re from and even the area you’re in. It’s a unbelievable means of transmitting the plot and every part with out overwhelming the participant – it jogs my memory of the X-ray characteristic on Amazon Prime Video.

FFXVI producer Naoki Yoshida has identified that he sees the newest entry as closely impressed by the likes of God of Warfare, mentioning each the books and TV present Sport of Thrones in the identical interview. There’s a number of the latter right here. Additionally, I feel that is the primary time I’ve seen Closing Fantasy characters present… lust? There are some sexy folks right here and for as soon as it’s not tongue-in-cheek, so to talk. To this point, this seems to be a unique sort of recreation – I’m intrigued to see how the entire thing seems. Sq. Enix has added that it will be launching a demo that includes the opening beats of the sport forward of its launch.

Closing Fantasy XVI launches on twenty second June 2023.

Sq. Enix famous this was a particular preview construct of the sport constructed for press. Content material might differ from the ultimate model.

About the author

Jeff Lampkin

Jeff Lampkin was the first writer to have joined He has since then inculcated very effective writing and reviewing culture at GamePolar which rivals have found impossible to imitate. His approach has been to work on the basics while the whole world was focusing on the superstructures.