Last Fantasy 16 preview: A brand new starting

Whereas you will have learn a good bit in regards to the return of a certain Japanese fantasy action-adventure game lately, one other genre-defining, equally long-running Japanese RPG (JRPG) franchise can be poised to make a long-awaited comeback.

On June 22, Sq. Enix’s Final Fantasy 16 (or Last Fantasy XVI when you’re feeling correct) will arrive, seven years after Last Fantasy 15. And within the context of the general Last Fantasy collection, it is a vastly essential sport.


That is partly as a result of it is a collection which, in recent times, has been at risk of upstaging itself. Last Fantasy 15, whereas completely serviceable, was by no means acclaimed as a traditional instalment, not like the remake of Last Fantasy 7 (the second episode of which is due in summer season 2024).

So Last Fantasy 16 comes with a sure sense of duty – not least a mission to set the venerable franchise up for a gilded future within the fashionable gaming age, to match its revered previous. With a view to assess whether or not it might try this, we spent over 4 hours taking part in it (on the PlayStation 5) – and the ensuing early indications are very promising certainly.

Last Fantasy 16

First impressions

Last Fantasy 16 marks one thing of a departure from the franchise’s earlier instalments, with a extra critical vibe and a markedly darker undertone. It nonetheless manages to really feel authentically Last Fantasy although, and is clearly designed to set the franchise up for the long run – we stay up for taking part in extra of it quickly.

Grittier and extra medieval

One side of Last Fantasy 16 instantly stands out: it has prevented an apparent entice afflicting such long-running franchises, by refusing to pander to previous instalments. It is nonetheless recognisably a Last Fantasy sport – the hair-modelling, for instance, is commonly outrageous, magical crystals are as soon as once more key and there are many chocobos. However even these chocobos have misplaced their faint air of ridiculousness – many are closely armoured – and the final vibe is markedly completely different: grittier, and exhibiting nods in direction of the likes of Recreation of Thrones and Elden Ring.

Final Fantasy 16

Sq. Enix

It opens with an surprising on-rails motion sequence, through which you management a large phoenix battling with one other fire-breathing titan – a sequence that will be revisited at larger size in the end. That set the final fantasy-forward tone, however felt barely odd till we realised {that a} honest quantity of scene-setting cut-scenes would inevitably observe within the sport’s early levels. Last Fantasy 16 is about in a brand new world for the franchise – Valisthea – so has a definite lore that have to be established.

The preliminary scenes additionally leap between two time intervals, and the character you play, Clive Rosfield, options in each. When Last Fantasy 16 correctly will get going, you play as a 28-year-old, battle-hardened Clive (at one level going by the title Wyvern to cover his identification), however the important thing story-establishing scenes happen 13 years earlier, when a 15-year-old Clive, having established a fame as a promising swordsman, should earn his spurs.

Final Fantasy 16 1

Sq. Enix

Clive is – not unusually for a Last Fantasy sport – one thing of a blue-blood: his dad is the Archduke of the Grand Duchy of Rosaria, in Valisthea’s Storm continent. Rosaria is a fairly idyllic place – you can think about the fortress Clive was introduced up in being run by the Nationwide Belief – however storm clouds are gathering. Valisthea is “Blessed within the mild of Mothercrystals”, which preserve away a creeping blight, however Rosaria has no such crystal of its personal. Consequently, it’s getting ready for a skirmish in opposition to the neighbouring Iron Kingdom, which has a Mothercrystal in territory Rosaria views as its personal.

Safeguarding his Dominant brother

Preliminary bucolic scenes in Rosaria introduce numerous characters. Clive’s youthful brother Joshua, though a sickly youngster, is the anointed inheritor to the Grand Duchy. It’s because he’s a so-called Dominant: a wielder of elemental fireplace energy and in a position to remodel into a large Phoenix Eikon. Clive’s mom surprisingly appears to disdain him – for causes that can turn out to be clear later within the sport – and Clive, who has been imbued with a few of Joshua’s Phoenix fire-magic, swears to guard his little brother.

Final Fantasy 16 6

Sq. Enix

Nevertheless, treachery is in play, and after Rosaria’s combating forces are terminally ambushed, Joshua should face one other, surprising fireplace Eikon (there’s solely speculated to be considered one of every aspect). Unprepared, and unable to wield his energy correctly (despite the fact that you do get to play as him each pre- and post-transformation), he’s killed.

Clive, left for useless, is conscripted into an elite unit of the military of neighbouring province Sanbreque, and vows to pursue revenge on the mysterious Eikon who killed Joshua.

Easing into fight

As an interlude earlier than that frenzy of exposition, Last Fantasy 16 introduces you to its fight system by sending Clive and two fellow troopers on a tutorial-style mission, to rid a marshy space of Rosaria of monsters (that are primarily goblin-like, though there are some pretty untaxing bosses, too).

Beforehand, although, he should defeat his fight teacher, in a sequence which teaches you the bare-bones fundamentals, and confirms that Last Fantasy 16 has lastly expunged any franchise legacy of turn-based battling. Its fight system is totally real-time, and primarily melee primarily based, though Clive can cost up numerous magic-enhanced particular assaults too.

He may parry and evade, and as he ranges up, he acquires an array of recent, more and more spectacular talents resembling aerial and follow-up strikes, and the flexibility to launch himself off opponents.

Final Fantasy 16 5

Sq. Enix

Last Fantasy 16’s fight system feels spot-on: it is quick, flowing and responsive, and offers you the form of instruments that may deal the bursts of spectacular injury that you’d count on from a Last Fantasy sport. In some way, despite the fact that it has deserted its turn-based aspect, it nonetheless manages to really feel distinctively Last Fantasy, so ought to please most followers, bar the entire turn-based adherents.

Tools, as ever, is significant, and a very vital new a part of Clive’s fight array is the idea of rings – dubbed Well timed Equipment by the sport – which will be geared up to at the very least partially automate these fight duties which you discover least interesting.

Throughout our play-through of Last Fantasy XVI’s first two chapters of their entirety, we acquired a Ring of Well timed Strikes, which automated combo-chaining, a Ring of Well timed Evasion, which introduced a measure of auto-evasion, and a Ring of Well timed Focus, which added a context-sensitive time-slowing aspect which, for instance, purchased further time, together with on-screen prompts, for evasion when main strikes got here in from enemies.

The web impact of these equipment was to make you are feeling like essentially the most agile power on the battlefield, and there was energy and magic so as to add, notably when Clive began to stage up – which he did regularly. We ended chapter two at stage 13.

Staggering enemies in order that you can deal a flurry of harm proved to be a key mechanic, too. Clive has a magic strike – an Eikon Means – which powers up throughout battles and will be unleashed utilizing the R2 button as a modifier.

There are additionally two different Eikon abilities, which result in various kinds of assaults, and whereas he begins (as defined within the story) with entry to the fireplace Eikon Phoenix’s abilities, he later turns into in a position to faucet into different Eikons’ containers of tips.

Solo combating however in a gaggle

Whereas Clive fights with others, he would not immediately management them – however there’s loads of helpful assist on provide. In chapter two, the sport flashes ahead to the older Clive, combating with a Sanbreque military unit which is mainly gatecrashing another person’s struggle, and has been tasked with capturing an ice Dominant named Shiva.

Final Fantasy 16 7

Sq. Enix

Shiva – apologies for the spoiler, nevertheless it occurs very early within the sport – seems to be Clive’s childhood buddy Jill, so Clive feels unable to hold out his order to execute her.

At this level, a Last Fantasy hardy perennial, the character Cid, rescues the pair of them, and whereas Jill recovers in Cid’s hideout (a hub which is the supply of varied side-missions and residential to an Arete Stone, which helps you to hone your fight abilities in a jeopardy-free surroundings and replay earlier sequences), Clive embarks on his true mission – to avenge his brother Joshua by monitoring down the second fireplace Dominant.

A devoted canine companion

Cid’s look reintroduces Clive to his canine, Torgal, who cutely seems as a pet in Clive’s early teenage sequences. Besides now, he has turn out to be a combating assist machine – he can auto-heal Clive when his well being will get low, and has different canine abilities, resembling a capability to scout out hidden pathways.

Final Fantasy 16

Sq. Enix/Pocket-lint

His presence reinforces the sensation that, though in Last Fantasy 16 you solely management Clive, you continue to have a gaggle round you offering helpful backup. That is an essential think about the best way the sport manages to make vital gameplay adjustments, but retains its franchise identification.

Open-world sequences

After ending Last Fantasy XVI’s second chapter – which includes navigating by a monster-infested forest in Cid’s firm – we got a short glimpse of one of many sport’s open-world areas. This time, Clive and Torgal have Jill for firm, who primarily supplies therapeutic assist in addition to long-range ice-magic assaults.

Once more, its gameplay felt like that of a Last Fantasy sport, as we meandered by a lakeside map with a marshy shoreline, taking up monsters and selecting up side-missions – together with one from a service provider whose overturned cart was being menaced by wild chocobos.

Final Fantasy 16

Sq. Enix/Pocket-lint

Sky-high manufacturing values

Last Fantasy 16 will probably be a PlayStation 5 console unique, which seems like a clever resolution whenever you keep in mind its impeccably excessive manufacturing values. It seems unbelievable, comprises some music that’s destined to turn out to be iconic and serves up unimaginable consideration to element in its ambient sounds.

Manufacturing-wise, there isn’t any doubting that it’s a very stylish sport certainly, and what we skilled of its story arc additionally impressed – though even 4 hours of preview play can by no means present a stable impression of how properly a sport will cling collectively as an entire.

Final Fantasy 16 8

Sq. Enix

It is going to be fascinating to see what Last Fantasy followers make of it, since it’s a departure, clearly designed to set the franchise up for the long run. Its fight is actually completely different, but by some means nonetheless feels recognisably Last Fantasy, which is a few achievement. And its vibe is certainly extra critical than that of many earlier instalments, with a markedly darker undertone and scant proof of some extra frivolous characters who featured in earlier iterations.

Last Fantasy 16’s distinction from its predecessors could alienate a part of the franchise’s fan-base, particularly these wedded to turn-based gameplay, nevertheless it must also entice it to new gamers, particularly those that take pleasure in Soulslike video games.

Its developer, Sq. Enix’s splendidly named Inventive Enterprise Unit III, needs to be counseled for greedy the nettle and making a decisive break with the franchise’s creaking legacy, whereas nonetheless managing to protect its identification.

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