Return to the world of Final Fantasy in the latest entry, Final Fantasy XVI, developed by Square Enix Creative & Business Unit III. Travel through a world on the brink of ruin while wielding the power of the Eikons in this action role-playing game. Final Fantasy XVI is available right now on PlayStation for £64.99. Also for purchase is the Digital Deluxe going for £84.99
Walk tall my friends.
I have only played a few entries in the Final Fantasy series, with the tenth being my favourite for turn-based combat. Final Fantasy XV is another favourite for its character development and the interesting aspect that it was more of a road trip. I found Fifteen’s combat quite interesting. When I saw that Final Fantasy XVI was heading in the same direction, it immediately caught my interest, especially with the emphasis on the god-like beings duking it out. Let us know in the comments below what your favourite Final Fantasy entry is and why.
In Final Fantasy XVI, players will take control of Clive Rosfield, a man on a quest to bring peace to a dying world. He will have to overcome the hardships of war-torn countries and face off against strong individuals known as Dominants. These chosen champions wield one of the eight Eikons, powerful god-like beings that control a single element. Some of the Eikons Clive will meet consist of the powerful colossal earth Titan, who can cause the ground to split open simply by walking. Or Shiva, the magical ice Eikon who can summon blizzards and impale her foes with large ice spears.
Wield the power of the Gods.
Clive is the Dominant for the flame Eikon Ifrit. What sets him apart from others is that he also can steal the power of other Dominants. Players at the beginning won’t have access to Ifrits power just yet. Instead, they will use the blessing of the Phoenix. Later in Final Fantasy XVI, Clive will get additional Eikon abilities, such as Ramuh, who offers more ranged moves to help dispatch foes. Eikon powers can be triggered by holding R2 and pressing either square or triangle. When in combat, Clive can use three Eikons at once, each with two ability slots. My favourite Eikons to use so far are Titan and the Phoenix since using them in a combo gives a lot of damage.
The combat isn’t all about using the power of the gods. Clive also has his trusty sword and best friend, Torgal, at his command. Players can command Torgal with three actions, Sic, Ravage, and Heal. Sic is a basic pounce attack, while Ravage lets Torgal throw an enemy up in the air for Clive to intercept and perform aerial combos. The Heal command doesn’t provide a quick recovery but gives Clive regeneration. It’s a shame that there’s not much to say about swordplay. The game emphasises the use of powers which is annoying, as often using the sword, you will be spamming the square button with the occasional triangle here and there for spells. Spell casting doesn’t tie to Eikon’s power other than taking the respected element. For example, Garuda will turn the blast to the wind element.
Upgrades and shops.
At the beginning of Final Fantasy XVI, Clive meets two important characters Lady Charon the merchant and Blackthorne, the Blacksmith. Though there are other merchants in the game for Clive to buy potions from, Lady Charon gives a wider selection, from materials used for crafting or equipment that players will get throughout the game. Blackthorne, however, is the only smithy in the game that allows Clive to upgrade weapons and accessories though players will have to bring their own materials. The lack of crafting players do in the game makes the whole mechanic feel redundant since most of the equipment given is bought rather than found.
After fights and finishing quests, Clive will earn experience and Ability Points (AP). Levelling up will increase base stats such as Will, Strength, and Health. AP is used to upgrade Eikon’s skills. Some skills can upgrade multiple times. When mastering a skill, it can equip it to a different Eikon, such as using Ramuh Thunder Bolt with Titan instead. I found mastering skills pointless as each Eikon fits their move set pretty well, and mastering doesn’t provide any other benefit. If you level up the wrong ability, don’t panic because the game allows the player to reset all AP spent for free.
Epic battles between Eikons
The biggest thing that drew me to Final Fantasy XVI was the fights between Eikons. Instead of playing as Clive player will now transform into the Eikon of Fire Ifrit. This form plays much the same as Clive’s but with minor tweaks. One is the movement ability that lets Ifrit charge forward and deal damage. Potions aren’t available in this form. Instead, players will have six healing crystals to use during the fight. During cinematic combat, one of three prompts can pop up called Cinematic Event. These are quick-time events in the game to give the player more interaction.
Eikons and larger enemies get a stagger bar that Clive can break down to half to get a stun. Entirely breaking the bar will put the enemy in a stunned state and give the player a damage buff while also leaving them open to attacks for a short period of time. When attacking continuously, Clive will build up his Limit breaker. Limit Breaker is another form known as Semi-Priming. Limit Beaker gives Clive passive healing a minor damage buff. Unlike the scripted boss fights for Ifrit, the players can activate the Limit Breaker anytime.
The world and visiting The Hideaway
When you’re not out fighting monsters and saving the world, Clive will be at his home called the Hideaway. Here several services are found for the player, such as visiting Old Tomes, also known as Harpocrates. He will act as an encyclopedia on all the events and creatures within Final Fantasy XVI. Bounties are unlocked later in the game for Clive to hunt down. These beasts are much tougher than ordinary enemies and, when killed, will give Clive rare materials for later weapons. The side quests in the game are okay but nothing to talk home about as they make players complete the most mundane of tasks. For example, I had to tell three NPCs that the quest giver had wine. It wouldn’t be an issue if the NPCs weren’t right next to one another and the rewards were terrible.
After finishing bounties, side, and main quests, Clive will earn a reputation. There are different reputation tiers, each with its own rewards. To check what rewards are available, Clive can visit the Patron Whisper, to find out. A neat feature in the game comes from Vivian, a scholar who tells the player the relationships between characters. I don’t see this in many games. And it helped me understand different characters’ roles in the game better.
Graphics & Audio
Saying that the graphics in Final Fantasy XVI are outstanding is an understatement. The colours are ferociously vibrant, beaming through the greying environments and elements bursting across the screen like fireworks amid boss fights. The designs for Eikon’s are incredible, though Titan was my absolute favourite. Seeing these colossal deities duking it out and tossing each other around like ragdolls was brilliantly entertaining, to say the very least.
The sounds of the fights, roars and screams, and general battle were intense and crisp. Between the beastly fighting, elemental explosions, and the goosebump-inducing roar of combat, it’s easy to get drawn in and feel giddy for every action scene. The cutscenes are excellent and sometimes heartwrenching. They keep you on the edge of your seat, and the pained cries of the characters when tragedy strikes drive a stake through the player’s heart.
Animations & designs
The sounds of the fights, roars and screams, and general battle were intense and crisp. Between the beastly fighting, elemental explosions, and the goosebump-inducing roar of combat, it’s easy to get drawn in and feel giddy for every action scene.
The cutscenes are excellent and sometimes heartwrenching. They keep you on the edge of your seat, and the pained cries of the characters when tragedy strikes drive a stake through the player’s heart.
However, this is where I feel the game put all of its eggs in one basket. I cannot deny that the cutscenes and Eikon fights are sensational; that’s where I believe they put all of their energy. Outside of the cutscenes, the animation is lacking. The hair animation doesn’t seem as smooth as in previous entries. The facial animations feel dead and lifeless and don’t move much. I noticed some lip-synching issues, which extended to the cutscenes a handful of times. On one such occasion, Clive shouted after someone, and his lips didn’t move. Additionally, often the NPCs would stand nearly motionless and stare at you while giving you a quest, and even when expressing upset, they barely felt reactive in their animation.
The world also felt quite lifeless at times. Besides some cities, the open plains were incredibly plain indeed. Asides from a handful of generic enemies milling about, there was little else to look at. There weren’t any secrets, and there was a lot of emptiness. I was disappointed with the enemy designs too. Considering they wanted to go back to their fantasy roots, many enemies were just quirky variations of animals like antelopes or leopards. I was hoping for more magical and fantasy enemies and not so many generic animal or insect enemies.
After playing Final Fantasy XVI for forty hours, I still haven’t finished the game, but from what I’ve played, I don’t see any real reason to replay the game or to look around. There is an arcade mode available in The Hideaway, but that’s for replaying levels and trying to get a high score which isn’t for me personally.
Though Final Fantasy XVI is a fun game in its own right, much of the appeal comes from the visuals. The combat is fun, with its flashing colours, but spamming square for forty hours isn’t much fun. Though the boss fights look great, once again, it’s all visuals and doesn’t leave much for the player to do except do enough damage to trigger a cinematic and then do some quick-time events. Story-wise, they do well, with the overall goal being for Clive to destroy the Mother Crystals. However, how the story goes about this is rather messy. Characters don’t get enough development for me to care, with Benedikta Harman being a good example. Without spoilers, it felt as if they couldn’t decide her role in the story.
Unless the enemies are large or bosses, they don’t really fight back and will just get smacked around. The game says you can do builds but doesn’t offer a proper way for the player. There are no different weapon types or spells. The only two stats used for combat is solely staggering and attack. They decided to go with smaller maps instead of a larger open world. Which is fine, but these areas are lifeless and lack any secrets. I was shocked to see that for a game about gods who control the elements, the elemental effect didn’t play a part in the game.
Final Fantasy XVI relies too much on its visuals and not enough on the gameplay. That’s why I’m giving it the Thumb Cultures Silver Award.