Final Fantasy XVI – The First FF I’ve Completed! (Impressions)

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.

Overall Thoughts

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!


By Andrew Denman

Andrew Denman is currently based out of London. When not playing video games, Andrew is interested in a range of different topics, be it Doctor Who, vinyl records, reading, or playing instruments.

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