Final Fantasy 16/ Final Fantasy XVI

Review: Final Fantasy 16

Nearly 40 years on, the Final Fantasy series has never felt or played quite like its latest entry, Final Fantasy 16. This entry into the long-running series is a paradigm shift, serving as the future of the series as it ditches turn-based active time battles for indulgent, frenetic and energizing combos.

Under the direction of Naoki Yoshida, also known as Yoshi-P, FF16 is primarily built around the narrative. The famous producer and director behind various successful games, such as the MMO, A Realm Reborn, is renowned for having thrown vanilla FF14 to the wayside and remaking a new MMO in its entirety, taking inspiration from games such as EverQuest and World of Warcraft.

The legacy of the crystals has shaped history for long enough

Final Fantasy 16 is an action RPG in which you control Clive Rosfield, The First Shield of Rosaria and the eldest son of the Duke. He also protects his younger brother Joshua, the current Dominant of Phoenix. From the get-go, Clive is a brilliant character, equally matched and performed by Ben Starr, a real beacon of excellence throughout the game. Clive’s story spans nearly three decades as we meet him as a teenager before catching up to him in his late 20s and early 30s. This time-spanning journey gives Clive’s story the space to breathe.


That isn’t to say the rest of the cast isn’t good either, as an entire company of actors delivers excellent performances. Some standouts include Jill, a childhood friend of Clive’s and Cid, easily one of the best performances of the entire game and now of the best versions of the titular named character, in my opinion. A lasting impression will carry you well into a second or third playthrough, thanks to Ralph Ineson’s deep voice and Cid’s charismatic personality.

Find Your Way

Far from being an open-world game, Final Fantasy. Instead, you engage a map of Valisthea, with Cid’s camp as your starting point and a hub for managing your items, equipment, etc. Elsewhere, you’ll find reference points that you can select that will take you to various zones, be they dungeons, villages or slightly larger outdoor areas where you can travel on foot or the back of a Chocobo, the iconic traversal staple of the series.


Battles occur in the same areas players walk through, springing into action once the enemy spots the group. As mentioned above, Clive is the only controllable character in Final Fantasy 16. As the other characters are AI-controlled and have their attack and magical abilities, you’ll only have Torgal, your dog companion, responding to commands such as Sic, Ravage, or Heal.

During battles, you’ll be able to perform melee attacks, magic attacks, parry, dodge and use abilities linked to your Eikons. Final Fantasy 16 offers three types of combat management: total management by the systems in place, in which Clive fights without your intervention, normal combat, in which you battle as Clive and, thanks to support accessories, help in combat. These accessories include a ring that executes the various combos on your behalf, allowing you to perform special strikes and switch Eikons without managing it yourself. You’ll also be able to slow down the time it takes to press the dodge button thanks to another ring or even automate the use of potions in combat rather than always having to keep an eye on your vitality gauge.


Using a similar battle system seen in recent entries, Final Fantasy 7 Remake or Stranger of Paradise Final Fantasy Origin, Clive fights in real-time, fast-paced battles. You can sometimes quickly throw your enemies off balance by staggering them, allowing you to inflict heavy damage.

Of course, levelling is essential, but you’ll barely pay attention to them as you’re constantly evenly matched by opponents. It is finely tuned and unexpectedly a massive boon to players that is one less statistic to worry about. Of course, you can bolster stats through three accessory slots and your sword. However, it’s disappointing that the Timely accessories must use the accessory slots, as they leave a subpar accessibility level to players who otherwise need it. Square Enix should have added the assists to the settings rather than the accessory slots.


The general flow is impressive, too, as you move through a hub area filled with enemies who serve as fodder for Clive to strike down. Interspersed are essentially minibosses who will test your skills and expertise in combat, often whittling away your potion supply if you’re not careful. Eventually, you’ll uncover bosses who shake things up, and a level of patience from the player is needed to succeed.

However, nothing prepares you for the Eikon battles you’ll partake in throughout the campaign. Dominants are some of the most formidable foes you’ll encounter, and those segue into the most astounding summon matches the series has ever seen. The Eikons are essentially nuclear weapons, so players are accountable for their almost untameable power. There is nothing more memorable or as enjoyable than these moments throughout the story.


Final Fantasy 16 Is Eikonic

You can access new game modes once you’ve completed the main storyline. One of them is New Game Plus, a classic mode that lets you replay the entire game with the equipment and level you had when you finished the story, as well as Final Fantasy mode, which considerably increases the difficulty level and changes the placement of certain monsters on the map and in combat. It’s pretty phenomenal to play the game in normal mode and see enemies attacking you one after the other, only to launch into Final Fantasy mode and have no limitations in battle, letting all the enemies attack you simultaneously whenever they feel like it.


An Arcade mode is also available for those who want to redo specific maps and scenarios by accumulating points and seeing their position on an online panel. Don’t think that’s enough? Then imagine replayability in a mode called Ultimaniac. It’s a mode for those who enjoy Soulslikes to take note of a considerably fast-paced Final Fantasy 16.

Finally, you’ll also have access to challenges that will increase the difficulty. These famous challenges consist, in fact, of three waves of creatures followed by a central boss, but in which you have no possibility of healing yourself and, at times, handicaps such as using only one Eikon in battle.


The story of the Bearers is equally as crucial as it intertwines with the rest of the plot. The Bearers are essentially slaves to the powerful, and society treats them as less than human. Their entire lives are spent in servitude, only for them to crystallize once they’ve expired. Subjugated to the whims of the rich, Valisthea is not fond of different people, so Cid looks to break their bonds and free them early on.

Final Fantasy has always offered some of the best worlds to explore, but one thing has been sorely lacking in recent years: a storyline worthy of the legacy. Final Fantasy X was the last game in the franchise — if you leave out Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn, that stuck with me.


Depending on who you ask, Final Fantasy 16 is a highlight for storytelling. While its predecessor had some great ideas, albeit ones executed suboptimally, it had the makings of excellence. Mostly, I believe there is a masterpiece in Clive’s story and the world of Valisthea.

Less RPG, More Action

During the official Future of PlayStation Showcase in 2020, the initial trailer for Final Fantasy 16 looked immaculate, but CGI announcements often look better than the final product. As it turns out, this is no longer true here, as everything has been improved and exceeded my expectations. Combine these sublime graphics with a soundtrack that gets to you, whether at the most emotional or intense moments.


Visually, Final Fantasy 16 is genuinely exciting to look at, and frankly, it’s about time the developers stopped developing cross-generation games going on three years into the current console generation. However, graphics mode may cause issues for some, as motion blur is a nuisance and can cause nausea — something I can say I noticed and experienced. Then when attempting to switch to Frame Rate mode, the experience was disappointing as the frame rate fluctuated far too much to be consistent or enjoyable until you jump into battle, oddly locks to a solid 60 FPS before falling apart once you begin to explore again.


There is a lot that FF16 gets right, and the action-first battle system is an exciting shakeup for the series; however, it also leaves a yearning for traditional RPG mechanics. It’s like baking bread and getting the perfect golden-brown hue outside, but the second you cut into the loaf, you find it’s not ready to eat. Not once did I need to consider enemy weaknesses or if status ailments would affect my enemy (they’re not even included), and there’s very little reason to go out and discover new accessories or armour. I’m also a bit disappointed there is a lack of buffs/debuffs, and customization feels like an afterthought.

Sidequests are also primarily lacklustre, and while a dozen or so of them are worth doing, the others aren’t. If you’ve played FF14, sidequests have two categories — the ones with a plus sign are essential as they offer more than just Gil, while the rest will grant you money and ability points. The writing becomes tedious and a chore within the sidequests you’ll complete.



Final Fantasy 16 is a paradigm shift for the iconic series, moving the needle in a new direction, and is well worth experiencing. For every game I’ve played in the series, there are also emotional memories attached to them; whether it’s graduating from school, taking an unforgettable trip, or more recently undertaking my biggest challenge yet, I can look back on those times and fondly remember what I was playing and the feelings tied to those years. And the series’s latest entry is pushing me into unknown territory, just like Clive’s story.


[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: PlayStation 5

Final Fantasy 16 is a paradigm shift for the iconic series, moving the needle in a new direction and is well worth experiencing.
An excellent, deep combat system that delviers incredible boss battles
Excellent dialogue and performances across the board
One of the best soundtracks the series has seen
Didn't Like
Sidequests are tedious and feel like a chore
A lack of diversity in characters