Final Fantasy XVI (FFXVI) is the latest installment in Square Enix’s long-standing series of successful Final Fantasy games, and we are excited! June 2023 has been going great, with a free demo on the PS5 and a live stream that got us hooked on everything we will experience once the complete game launches on June 22nd.
And while PC gamers might need to wait a while, the demo gave us quite a bit of lore regarding the story, the protagonists, important NPCs, gameplay, and the overarching political scenario, which is said to have been inspired by Game of Thrones!
By now, we all know a few things, such as the main character, Clive Rosfield, being a ‘Dominant’ with the power to control Ifrit. We will also encounter more of these Dominants, with those controlling Titan, Phoenix, and Garuda being some of the most fearful.
After the FFXVI Pre-Launch Celebration Livestream on 11th June 2023, we were left hypnotized by the sheer amount of brilliance Square Enix has for us in store!
From a gripping storyline to different game modes, the classic summons (translated to Eikon powers in this scenario), to the 2-part game demo, we are truly in for a blast!
And as the FFXVI launch closes in on us, here are a few things to know and expect beforehand so you can enjoy a thrilling gaming experience from 22nd June onwards!
1. The Free Demo
Square Enix dropped the FFXVI demo on 12th June, quickly sparking a massive amount of Twitch live streams paired with excited fans and live reactions to an amazing story with equally impressive gameplay!
The first part of the demo (the prologue) is story-driven, introducing us to Clive Rosfield when he was a wee lad of 15. The full game has multiple timeframes, where we experience 3 distinct periods of his life:
- His teenage years
- His 20s
- His 30s
There are time skips, flashbacks, and flash-forwards, where you go back and forth between past and present, connecting all the dots to Clive’s backstory and where he is at now.
This part of the demo is more or less a tutorial to help you (as Clive) understand the controls and combat mechanics of the overall game. Not to forget, you also got to meet other notable and crucial characters like Joshua (Clive’s little brother,) Jill (his close friend from childhood, adopted by the Rosfields,) and the cute Torgal (his ever-faithful 4-legged companion.)
We also watch the story progressing towards a more grim and tragic ending, pushing us to find justification within the battle-heavy 2nd part of the demo.
In the 2nd part of the demo, FFXVI truly shines as a true member of the critically-acclaimed Japanese role-playing game (JRPG) franchise with gripping boss fights, dungeons, and the protagonist’s abilities to vanquish the terrors that plague the world.
The demo introduces Clive’s abilities to summon Ifrit, a powerful Eikon in XVI. We watch Clive and Benedikta transform into their Eikonic forms, Ifrit, and Garuda, giving us firsthand experience of how XVI handles battle tactics and overall gameplay!
Does the FFXVI demo transfer over to the main game?
The FFXVI demo is packed with lore, battle tactics, and boss fights. The save data from the first part of the demo (the prologue) is transferrable, while the 2nd half is not.
The prologue contains flashback scenes, so transferring it lets you continue where you left off!!
2. The Eikons
Last year back in June 2022, the State of the Play 4k trailer introduced us to the Eikons. But you may be wondering, who are they?
Just like Summons, Aeons, and the like, the Eikons are primal forces of nature given form, who, if left unchecked, can plunge the world into chaos. You (as Clive) and many of the people you will meet are ‘Dominants’ who can summon an Eikon to assist them in battles.
While the demo has you charging into battle as Ifrit against Garuda, the full game has an entire roster of Eikons, such as:-
All in all, there are 7 Eikons, each with its set of unique fight mechanics, varied playstyles, and more! What we learned from the demo is that all your Eikonic encounters are tied to the main story, giving you more insight into the chaos that is to come.
Each of these Eikon battles will have different gameplay styles and abilities based on which Eikon you’re facing off against. Some play like shooter-level encounters, while other Eikon vs. Eikon fights seem to employ wrestling combat tactics. From what we have seen, each of these encounters seems to be wildly different from the others, so be ready to experience boss fights like no other!
Each of the Dominants (including you) wields a terrific amount of power through their ability to summon their Eikons. There’s also some lore to be found with the Lost Titan fight that was shown to us earlier – the absolutely crazy battle format, combined with seamless transitions between cutscene and combat will be quite an experience!
From what we have seen till now, such compelling encounters will consistently be major set pieces within the game – so let’s gear up for it!
3. It’s Not Open-World
According to FFXVI producer Naoki Yoshida, this game will not feature an open world to roam around in. So what is in store for us instead?
As we understood from the PS5-exclusive demo, our modes of travel across the vast land of Valisthea include:
- Fast Travel
- Relying on your own 2 feet (not yours, of course, but Clive’s)
- Riding your ever-ready and energetic Chocobo
Now, why is the game not open-world? As we understand, Yoshida explained that his dev team found the open-world theme a bit restricting, given that their aim was to create unique and independent areas related to the main story and side quests.
Not to forget, Yoshida mentioned that this decision was also to steer away from the fragmented story-telling system of FFXIV. Since XVI is more story-oriented, it did not need an open-world system for the same.
Doing so has made sure that FFXVI stands out in a sea of games that have adopted the open-world approach for the sake of it, as the team has created a story and an accompanying world that syncs with the storyline.
And while it isn’t an open world, the world is divided into separate zones which are accessible from your world map. As the main story quest progresses, you will be able to unlock these zones and access more main and side quests.
The best part? The NPCs who do give you side quests also offer means of teleportation to the quest locations. And since each area is unique, they also double as the main battlegrounds for the Eikon vs. Eikon encounters.
Each combat encounter is unique and never occurs in the same environment. So leaving out the idea of an open-world platform serves FFXVI well in terms of game mechanics, combat systems, and an overall unique visual experience.
As a result, FFXVI feels special with this slight yet paramount shift from the need to conform to game design methods based solely on mass popularity. We can surely expect some exceptional gameplay with new and interesting mechanics to discover around every corner!
Combat in this game is challenging, exciting, and an unforgettable experience for veteran and new Final Fantasy players alike. It’s in the classic Action-RPG (ARPG) style and takes place in real-time instead of turn-based, the latter of which was the norm in a lot of older Final Fantasy titles.
While in combat, you won’t be fighting alone. Clive has help in the form of his allies. These allies are members of your party – NPCs who you encounter along the story and can party up with at various points in the game. While these party members are controlled by the game’s AI, Clive does retain the ability to issue direct commands to his companion, Torgal, so that he can fight alongside his master.
While playing the demo, the combat felt straight out of a Devil May Cry (DMC) game. Don’t be surprised, as the DMC 5‘s combat designer, Ryota Suzuki, is FFXVI’s battle director.
The development team has taken inspiration from various games. such as:
- FF7 Remake
- Marvel vs. Capcom
Clive can evade strong counterattacks, initiate combos, and even unlock abilities from all the Eikons he encounters during the main quest. We can access them through the game’s skill tree system.
This way, Clive can utilize various abilities and special attacks from different Eikons, making him a force to be reckoned with. The best part is that all the abilities are upgradeable with ability points we gain from slaying our enemies.
If you have played FFXIV, this might remind you of the different job classes you can take on to unlock defensive, offensive, and healing abilities. Similarly, XVI allows you to use skills from all the Eikons and not just stick to the skill tree of 1.
Since FFXVI has a plethora of skills to unlock and upgrade, the game also offers an option to auto-spend skill points to unlock required skills from different skill trees.
5. New Game+: Gameplay Focus
The game has 2 modes to help players assess the difficulty levels. They are-
- Standard Mode
- Story Mode
The Story Mode is perfect for new players entering the Final Fantasy game series. It goes easy on the game mechanics and helps the players enjoy the story.
However, this is not done by reducing enemy reaction times or increasing the number of attacks you can make but instead involves us equipping upgraded armor and accessories, which the game does for us automatically.
Players also receive the option to use 5 Timely Rings, each with a unique ability. These include-
- Ring of Timely Healing
- Ring of Timely Assistance
- Ring of Timely Strikes
- Ring of Timely Focus
- Ring of Timely Evasion
These have specific effects like helping Clive dodge powerful attacks, healing him in the nick of time, activating Torgal assists when needed, and more! These rings can be equipped or unequipped any time the player wants, letting them control the level of difficulty best suited for them to have an enjoyable gameplay experience.
Of course, if a seasoned player wants even more of a challenge, the game also has a ‘Final Fantasy Mode’ for increased difficulty in combat. If that’s not enough, the ‘Ultimaniac Mode’ is also available for those who want to raise the stakes a notch!
All in all, FFXVI is a veritable pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. It’s full of surprises and a heavy dose of lore that is sure to keep you engaged with 75+ hours of gameplay, tons of new features, a unique combat system, easy travel, and thrilling boss fights!
Square Enix has taken inspiration from various other games and TV series in terms of worldbuilding and gameplay strategies, such as God of War and Game of Thrones, and we hope to see the best of both of those franchises when the game has its full launch on 22nd June 2023.
It is currently set to be launched exclusively on the PS5, but we are no doubt excited to experience what Square Enix and Naoki Yoshida have in store for us. Good luck to everyone who’s fired up for the full release, and no matter what happens, forge ahead till the end!