State of Play Leaked Announcements Final Fantasy XVI

Final Fantasy XVI Review

As a new mainline entry in the Final Fantasy series, the latest Final Fantasy XVI doesn’t really fit into the mould as much as I hoped it would. Sure, it has all the makings to be a memorable title. It includes the classic Final Fantasy quips and staple characters and enemies but you could have called this Final Fantasy War of the Eikons and you would be none the wiser. That’s because Final Fantasy XVI is a far stretch from the RPG core which fans have grown to love. Many of the game’s new mechanics work well while others result in a rather shallow and dull experience.

Final Fantasy XVI follows the story of Clive Rosfield as he sets out to take down the various powers in control of the land of Valisthea. The kingdom is divided into a handful of different locations each unique, each ruled by someone and each is somehow in the middle of a war. The kingdoms all have one thing in common – they are under attack by an unknown energy sucking the life out of the lands called the Blight.

Final Fantasy XVI Side Quests All Bark Playthings Shocking

Clive is in a strange position, he is the son of a former king and mad queen who has somehow weaselled her way into a powerful and manipulative position in the empire. He is also a descendant of the Phoenix and has the ability to wield powerful magic by absorbing Eikon’s abilities into his body.

Eikons are also quite a major focus in Final Fantasy XVI. These being will be familiar to you if you’ve played any previous games. They might be named differently in other titles such as Eidolons and Aeons in some Final Fantasy titles. They are powerful magical beasts representing different elements. Shiva is the Eikon of ice, Ramuh is the Eikon of lightning and Titan is the Eikon of earth, for example.

Final Fantasy XVI 11 Hours of Cinematic Cutscenes

In Final Fantasy XVI, these Eikons actually live inside people known as Dominants and can be called upon during combat and utilized in the ongoing war. Of course, I don’t want to spoil the story here because it is one of the very few good things Final Fantasy XVI has going for it. I will mention that Eikons are a focal point in the game and makeup quite a large portion of the action.

As a rebel of the empire, Clive oversees the growth and movement of his group of outlaws. While they have various objectives, I won’t spoil what they get up to in the game. Just know that Final Fantasy XVI tells a deep and dark tale. There’s a clear inspiration here from dark medieval media such as Game of Thrones mixed with some over-the-top action scenes inspired by Devil May Cry and Bayonetta.

Final Fantasy 16 Final Fantasy XVI

For the most part, Final Fantasy XVI takes on the action genre more than the RPG one. Instead of turn-based battles, Clive can whip together a series of combos using his sword, magic and various abilities he obtains from the Eikons. There’s no ATB, no waiting to attack, no strategy at all. You just go in, spam buttons and dodge incoming attacks.

Anyone who has played the likes of Bayonetta or Devil May Cry will feel at home with this combat. It is all about hitting as much as possible, dodging when the timing is right and blocking if you’re using the Titan Eikon.

The only waiting you’ll do is when an ability has been used and it needs to cool down. Apart from that, Clive is a hack-and-slash master and stringing together combos is enjoyable.

Final Fantasy 16 Final Fantasy XVI

Blocking and dodging are fairly easy. Too easy if you ask me. The dodge window is way longer than it needs to be meaning I could dodge before an attack even got close to hitting me and trigger the counterattack. The same can be said for blocking. I have expressed my dislike for the combat in Final Fantasy XVI already in the past here and I stand by it. Dodging is too easy, and combat outside of boss fights is repetitive and the general skill system is shallow.

Final Fantasy XVI’s shallow combat plays into many of the game’s lacklustre mechanics. For example, there’s no elemental system in Final Fantasy XVI at all. In every single previous Final Fantasy game, enemies would have certain weaknesses and strengths in certain elements. If I were to use Fira on a Fire Flan, it would either take no damage or heal it. In Final Fantasy XVI, every single attack does the same damage regardless of the enemy. There are no elemental types at all. I could use fire on a lava monster and it would do the same damage as it would on an ice monster. It makes no sense.

In fact, when you level up Clive in Final Fantasy XVI, he gains new stats. Most of these stats are meaningless too because you can’t build him into any sort of playstyle. You just equip the best sword, accessory and belt. It is the most cliche and narrow-minded gear system that only deteriorates the already-shallow combat. There’s no freedom to play the game the way you want. No gear system to invest time into, no stats that craft a character build you want, nothing at all.

Final Fantasy 16 Final Fantasy XVI

It also doesn’t help that combat relies on the same rinse-and-repeat approach. As in, you just spam attacks over and over again. The game tries to mix things up with some unique enemies that block and cast magic but every problem has the same solution – spam attacks and use an ability to break guards and kill enemies as fast as possible.

So after a few dozen hours of playing Final Fantasy XVI, enemies start to blend into one another and combat became a chore. I honestly started avoiding fights just to save myself from boredom. It also doesn’t help that most enemies are fragile and squishy so they don’t even put up a fight. Some barely got a chance to attack before I completely annihilated them.

Final Fantasy XVI

Where Final Fantasy XVI does mix things up is in the boss fights. Here, I would do the same rinse-and-repeat combos and abilities but every now and then a quick time event would pop up allowing me five seconds to press a single button. Yes, just like the dodge timing is way longer than it should be, these quick-time events are also drawn out and too easy.

Boss fights do provide some variety thanks to the Eikon abilities of Iftit. Clive can transform into the fire beast which is then controllable and can pull off some cool over-the-top moves. Sadly, even with all the flair and action, the game fails to make things challenging. I remember one particular fight where I spent 40 minutes trickling down a boss’ health bar without barely taking a hit myself. It was just incredibly boring as I repeated the same attacks over and over again without any real threat from the boss.

Final Fantasy XVI’s combat should have been fun. I am not saying the lack of an RPG and gear system is its downfall. It is sad because the game fails to produce an action system while sacrificing the RPG-esque we love from the series. So there’s no win here at all. The sacrifice hasn’t resulted in anything worthwhile.

Final Fantasy XVI

Of course, the game holds up thanks to its visuals and explosive set pieces. These are incredible to look at. Some of the best I have seen in gaming to date. There were so many moments where I was in awe at how beautiful and extreme the visuals got. Sadly, the gameplay is where it all falls flat. A pretty fight is nothing if it takes four hours of mindless button-bashing to get there. It also doesn’t help that these “pretty fights” were also too easy and more quick time button pressing than actually requiring skill.

Outside of the combat, Final Fantasy XVI is just as shallow as its gear system. Locations, while pushing the visual fidelity to the next level, are empty wastelands with nothing exciting to do. No mini-games to play, treasures are almost non-existent, enemies are fodder and there’s no sense of exploration at all.

Final Fantasy XVI

The same can be said for the game’s padding. Side quests are painfully dull. These often revolve around going from one place to the next, getting an item, killing an enemy and moving on. Character animations are off-putting, dialogue is slow and boring and the quest design feels very “MMO”.

Sadly, the padding in Final Fantasy XVI takes up the majority of the experience. I would spend 4-5 hours skipping dialogue and dodging repetitive fights in order to get to an explosive boss fight. I would then watch a cool cinematic, learn more about the story and do the same thing over again. It is a chore. A pretty chore at the least.

Final Fantasy XVI

Final Fantasy XVI’s darker story tone is likely the most refreshing aspect of the game and it actually works. I just wish Square Enix didn’t make everything else feel so one-note.

In the end, I hoped for more from Final Fantasy XVI. I hoped the game would reinvent itself while still offering enough for fans to enjoy. Instead, this game is horribly dull and shallow. If you look past the story and world-building, there’s nothing here. Square Enix put the story in front of everything and it sadly resulted in a button-mashing sim with no layers of depth to enjoy. It is likely my least favourite Final Fantasy of all time.

This Final Fantasy XVI review is based on a code sent to us by Square Enix. The game is available now on PS5 starting at R1399

Final Fantasy XVI


Final Fantasy XVI sacrifices its RPG system to deliver an action game with a dark adult story but its new mechanics feel like the sacrifice was in vain. The game’s lack of a decent gear system and button-mashing combat don’t elevate the gameplay rather reduce it into a hand-holding cinematic experience with forgettable padding content.

Marco is the owner and founder of GLITCHED. South Africa’s largest gaming and pop culture website. GLITCHED quickly established itself with tech and gaming enthusiasts with on-point opinions, quick coverage of breaking events and unbiased reviews across its website, social platforms, and YouTube channel.

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