‘Final Fantasy XVI’ hands-on gameplay preview: Turn-based no longer

It is a particular model made for media to expertise, and contents might differ from the ultimate model.

Closing Fantasy XVI is able to drag the well-known RPG collection from Sq. Enix into the longer term. Or, at the least, a future the place everybody agrees that Satan Could Cry is superior.

After taking part in a pair hours of the most recent entry within the 35-year-old franchise and speaking to a few of its creators, I got here away equal components fascinated and impressed. Sq. and the builders at Inventive Enterprise Unit III have made a lightning-quick, overstimulating motion sport that’s making an attempt to please each followers of the style and individuals who desire a extra conventional and tactical Closing Fantasy expertise.


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It’s a hefty order to convey these two usually disparate audiences collectively, but when the small slice of Closing Fantasy XVI I performed is any indication, there is likely to be actual meat on this bone.

The Closing Fantasy XVI demo expertise

Though its preliminary trailer debuted two and a half years in the past, you’d be forgiven for not fairly understanding what sort of sport Closing Fantasy XVI really is. In any case, it is a collection that consistently reinvents itself; XIII was nearly totally linear, XIV is a large on-line sport, and XV was an open-world journey.

The tiny bit that I performed may also help shed some mild on that individual situation. Whereas the builders assured me that there shall be loads of time for exploring massive expanses within the new fantasy realm of Valisthea, Closing Fantasy XVI just isn’t an open-world sport like its predecessor. The sequences I noticed have been fairly linear, with a tiny little bit of latitude to discover aspect rooms for objects.

Here is a rundown of how the fundamental fight in FFXVI works.

Combo-ing by means of a fort

Dodge and counter.
Credit score: Sq. Enix

The demo began with our protagonist Clive Rosfield, his trusty hound Torgal, and a lightning magic-infused homie named Cidolfus (who goes by Cid due to course he does) hanging out in a fort dungeon. Their goal: Discover a prisoner, get to the highest of the fort tower, and get the heck out of there alive.

Proper off the bat, the largest change from earlier Closing Fantasy video games is that you simply solely instantly management Clive. You may situation some easy assault and heal instructions to Torgal utilizing the PS5’s directional buttons, however Cid and every other occasion members you meet all through Clive’s journey will act on their very own throughout fights.

The excellent news is that controlling Clive is a complete lot of enjoyable. He can mash out primary melee combos, sprint, bounce, and use a seemingly enormous number of magic talents he’ll unlock all through the sport. These talents are tied to Eikons, mystical demigods that seem within the story (which I received’t speak about right here as a result of the demo didn’t give me a lot to speak about). Clive can equip as much as three Eikons at a time, and every Eikon comes with a number of flashy talents, two of which Clive can map to face buttons for straightforward entry in fights.

Final Fantasy XVI equipment menu

You may spend quite a lot of time equipping new gear and skills right here.
Credit score: Sq. Enix

Whereas the fundamentals of fight are easy sufficient to know for anybody who’s performed an motion sport like Satan Could Cry, the exact tuning of FFXVI’s fight is what made it work within the demo I performed. Home windows for canceling into and out of assaults are pretty beneficiant, whereas timing a dodge excellent provides you a quick Bayonetta-like second to counterattack. Touchdown massive hits feels highly effective, and the Eikon strikes add visually resplendent animations to the combination. 

Evidently, unleashing a large combo that features livid claw swipes, flaming chicken wings, and a weighty stone fist slam on the bottom feels fairly superior.

And for individuals who aren’t used to this type of sport, there are optionally available equipment to equip that may make the sport simpler. Certainly one of them considerably lengthens the period of time it’s a must to dodge assaults, whereas one other will routinely bang out sick combos with only one repeated button press.

Bossing round

Final Fantasy XVI boss fight QTE screenshot

Oh yeah, there are quick-time occasions, too.
Credit score: Sq. Enix

In opposition to common enemies, these mechanics come collectively as they do in every other motion sport. I used to be capable of simply spam my finest talents till every room within the fort was clear, swiftly dodging and teleporting (a nifty Eikonic energy) across the gloomy, darkish gray environs. In boss fights, nevertheless, it’s a must to use your mind a bit extra.

As a lot as you may, anyway. Bosses in FFXVI are aggressive, leaving little room for tactical planning with out pausing the sport. Your aim towards bosses (and a few stronger regular enemies) is to deplete their stagger meter by neatly dodging, attacking, and parrying at any time when you may, which requires you to diligently examine assault patterns. As soon as it’s all the way in which down, the boss will sit nonetheless for a number of seconds, permitting you to wail on them.

FFXVI skill tree screenshot

Get able to dump factors into new expertise.
Credit score: Sq. Enix

The bosses I fought, which included two winged sentries in a fort chapel and a serious story character on high of the tower, had a ton of well being to work by means of. Staggering is necessary not solely to cease the aggression, however to provide you an opportunity to truly inflict actual harm. You’ll must handle your potential cooldowns so the whole lot is prepared for this stagger window, supplying you with most harm output.

That is clearly a unique type of stress from what you’d get out of a basic, turn-based Closing Fantasy sport. It’s much less about rigorously planning out a tactical combat and extra about studying and reacting to issues that occur in a short time. Determining which of your many Eikonic talents do essentially the most harm to any given boss shall be key, however principally it’s nearly staying alive and selecting your spots to do harm.

How Closing Fantasy XVI is making an attempt to make you’re keen on motion video games

FFXVI Ring of Timely Assistance screenshot

The “Ring of Well timed Help” will assist out individuals who have hassle dodging.
Credit score: Sq. Enix

Fact be instructed, I don’t know but whether or not or not individuals who desire the extra deliberate fight in older Closing Fantasy video games will choose up what XVI is placing down. Nonetheless, after chatting with a number of high creatives on the sport, together with producer Naoki Yoshida (you might know him as Yoshi-P), most important director Hiroshi Takai, and fight director Ryota Suzuki, I can at the least see their intent: To get folks on the motion sport bandwagon.

In contrast to a lot of the different folks engaged on FFXVI, Suzuki isn’t a Sq. Enix veteran. He solely simply joined the corporate after 20 years at Capcom, engaged on video games like Dragon’s Dogma and (you guessed it) Satan Could Cry 5. Suzuki instructed me he needed to take a unique method to designing fight for a giant RPG like Closing Fantasy.

“In [DMC5], you need to have battles which might be fashionable. That’s a very powerful factor,” Suzuki stated. “A very powerful factor for Closing Fantasy XVI is that it’s essential make a system that’s accessible to a lot of various kinds of taking part in types…that need to be extra technical, fashionable, and for gamers that, once more, aren’t too into motion.”

The flexibility to unlock and equip an enormous quantity of various talents is, in that sense, for the followers who care deeply about character growth and customization. The builders on the occasion in contrast equipping completely different Eikons to altering a personality’s class in an older FF title. 

“We can’t alienate [longtime fans]. You want one thing that’s going to maintain them engaged as nicely,” Takai stated. 

FFXVI Ring of Timely Strikes

And the “Ring of Well timed Strikes” is for individuals who have hassle with combos.
Credit score: Sq. Enix

Alongside comparable traces, these equipment that make the sport simpler are supposed to be like coaching wheels for motion sport newcomers. Equip the dodge timing one and you continue to should press the button; you simply have extra time to do it. In different phrases, even essentially the most action-averse gamers should really play the sport. There are just a few nifty in-roads to make that simpler for them.

Yoshida, who acted as producer on this sport whereas additionally carrying the burden of being accountable for Closing Fantasy XIV, expressed curiosity in attracting new followers who’ve by no means performed a Closing Fantasy earlier than, too. Like each Closing Fantasy, this one stands alone narratively, so that you don’t must play the others to get into it. 

Nonetheless, Yoshida understands that it’ll take nice phrase of mouth to promote this sport to skeptics, and it’ll take loads of basic Closing Fantasy vibes to promote this sport to the day-one crowd.

“We don’t essentially want all people to play the sport on day one. We wish these folks [who do] to get so excited that buzz goes out and it will get folks excited for this sport,” Yoshida stated. “We’ve got to have sufficient Closing Fantasy really feel within the sport to verify these gamers [who play at launch] aren’t solely excited as a result of it’s an incredible sport, however excited as a result of it nonetheless looks like Closing Fantasy.”

And for motion sport veterans, the sorts of people that have a eager eye for infinite combo alternatives, I’ll simply go away you with one thing Suzuki (who I’ll remind you labored on among the finest motion video games in current reminiscence) stated.

“I believe what I’ve created in Closing Fantasy XVI is the best motion sport that I’ve ever made,” Suzuki stated.

Huge phrases, certainly.

Closing Fantasy XVI launches on PlayStation 5 on June 23.

It is a particular model made for media to expertise, and contents might differ from the ultimate model.

FINAL FANTASY XVI © 2023 SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.

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