After years of build up, Square Enix has given us a grand Final Fantasy 16 gameplay reveal with the latest State of Play stream showcasing 20 minutes of the game running on PlayStation 5. Final Fantasy XVI is a PS5 exclusive coming out on 22nd June 2023.
Set in the fantasy world of Valisthea, the landscape is dominated by the gigantic Mothercrystals that feed the people with aether and the ability to use magicks. The Mothercrystals have given rise to different nations and factions, and while they have co-existed in the past, a Blight is now shattering the peace.
There are six realms in Valisthea and they are The Grand Duchy of Rosaria, The Holy Empire of Sanbreque, The Kingdom of Waloed, The Dhalmekian Republic, The Iron Kingdom, and The Crystalline Dominion. Each one drawns upon a particular Eikon, which take on the role of summons in FF16 and have some recognisable forms from previous games already shown in the trailers.
Clive Rosfield is our main protagonist, witnessing his kingdom destroyed and goes on a revenge quest in pursuit of those that wrought this destruction upon them. The game takes place across three distinct periods in Clive’s life – his teens, twenties and thirties – the tale jumping back in a flashback to reveal his earlier life.
The team behind FF16 – many of whom have come across from the excellent MMORPG Final Fantasy 14 – have opted for a real-time action-based approach and even describe it as the “first true action RPG” in the series filled with plenty of bombastic set piece battles. In all fairness, this has been the way that the series has been heading, but some will still decry the loss of a turn-based system and more thoughtful approach.
Clive will learn a wide array of abilities taken from the Eikons that he encounters, with the gameplay showcasing a large amount of dazzlingly fast sword combat and elemental magical abilities – we spotted fire, ice, lightning and more. It’s really fast and furious with broad screen-wide effects. When Clive travels with a party, players will solely focus on Clive in battle, with the other characters controlled by AI and trying to adapt to your actions. There’s also Torgel, the trusty companion hound that will follow Clive throughout the adventure.
Sid’s Hideaway will be a hub that features a shop to buy new items, a forge for upgrading items, and the Aretis Stone virtual training area.
Final Fantasy 16 can hold your hand a little bit, whether that’s letting the game automatically apply skill upgrades, as well as featuring accessibility features that include a 1-tap auto-attack, an auto-evade and a time-dilating feature to broaden the dodging windows. A ‘Story Focused’ gameplay option will also be available to let the narrative really take centre stage.
One of the biggest additions to the game is the ability to directly control the Eikons, giving you the chance to control the giant summons you’ve called upon. These moments will apparently play out in a variety of ways, depending on the Eikon you’re controlling, and the one you’re fighting against. These are described as swinging from a sumo bout to a 3D scrolling shoot ’em up, and there were certainly moments that looked like Sega’s Panzer Dragoon before it cut back to a brutal showdown that could have come out a high-quality Power Rangers episode. It should certainly help to mix up the gameplay, and this feels more than ever like Final Fantasy by way of Bayonetta. Whether you think that’s a good thing or not is up to you.