Hi all, Andrew here – I appreciate it’s been a while since I’ve written an article, so I hope it’s not too rusty! Anyway, on with the topic – I, as a gamer who’s approaching his 30s, have completed my first ever Final Fantasy game – the recently released Final Fantasy XVI. While I have dabbled and played a bit of Final Fantasy VII Remake and Final Fantasy XV, this is the first one where I got to the credits. As a result, I thought it would be interesting to put down my non-spoilery thoughts on what I felt worked well, and what I felt would be better built on!
What I Liked
- As a rule, I’m generally not a fan of turn-based combat (with exceptions such as Persona), so having a more real-time combat focus was definitely a plus for me, and made the series feel a bit more approachable for a beginner.
- The graphics were fantastic, with a minimal difference between the cutscenes and the actual gameplay – it certainly makes the best of the PS5 technology, with some breath-taking scenery and set pieces!
- They used QTEs in a way that make sense – while I personally don’t have too much of an issue with QTEs, I appreciate it’s a divisive topic in the gaming community. However, in FF XVI, the QTEs make sense and are always tied to the same buttons – R1 for dodging, and Square for attack-related moves, and the context of the usage makes sense!
- A lot of the music/soundtrack stands out, with some stings like a reimagining of the FF VII victory theme at the end of skirmishes will please longer-term fans, along with newer tracks – one in particular is Earth-shattering.
- The story was generally well-told, and the characters felt that they had a lot of depth and layers to them – the Active Time Lore feature also helps make the winding story a bit more approachable by allowing the user, with a single press of the touchpad, to view details on characters, events, and locations relevant to where they are in the game!
- The combat and magic was very fluid and visually impressive to experience – the particular standouts to me were the Eikon fights – scattered throughout the game, they are fantastic setpieces that make you feel the true might and power of the characters in this world.
- The Hunt Board was a fun optional activity – being able to search for and fight a range of enemies in return for bounties was a fun side activity.
- DEMO! – While I didn’t play said demo, any game that releases a demo in this day and age definitely is a plus for me.
What Didn’t Gel With Me
- The side quests. As a completionist, I completed as many of the side quests as I could. While some of the scenarios and story surrounding the side quests were interesting, too many of them felt fairly “cookie cutter” to play – go to a location, speak to a concerned citizen, go to another area, fight some enemies, report back to the citizen, quest done. This might sometimes be broken up by speaking to various people in a town, or a fetch quest (typically also involving fighting), but a lot of the side quests from a playability perspective didn’t push the boat out.
- The “sponginess” of some of the bosses – I know it’s a JRPG, and that they’re known for OTT bosses, but it felt like in traditional sword-to-sword combat, some of the bosses felt like they took so much punishment that it felt like a chore sometimes, with me getting into a pattern of rinsing and repeating the same cycle of moves because it works.
- Some of the hub music may drive you up the wall – considering how much time you spend at the Hideaway (the Home hub in the game), hearing the same music over and over again may get on your nerves – your mileage may vary.
As my first ever completed Final Fantasy game, I felt that this game was a good jumping-in point – it felt like it had a good amount of depth and playability without feeling overly long. The gameplay style, at least for me, was a good change of pace and the set-pieces in particular stood out for me.
Has it made me want to explore other Final Fantasy titles? I think so, but not right away – I feel like I need a breather from the series after the time I put into this title. I know that veterans of the series may not be as impressed with the action focus, but I feel like it helps make this long-running franchise that bit more accessible for those wanting to dip their toes into the water.
Do I think it has GOTY potential? Possibly, but I don’t think it’s my GOTY – while I enjoyed my experience, some of my nitpicks above would prevent it from being so, but it was generally a fun overall experience for me!
Not going to give the game a score since I wouldn’t consider this a review, but I would recommend it if you’re a fan of the series, or looking for a fairly beefy action RPG that definitely impressed me at points! If in doubt, be sure to try out the free demo to see whether it’s to your taste!