Quick Links

If Final Fantasy 15‘s battle system was the proof of concept for an action-RPG with turn-based influences, then Final Fantasy 16 combat is the prototype. While the fingerprints of FF15 are still present in the bombastic, fluid movements of the game’s characters, FF16 feels like a more fully realized implementation of the theory behind its predecessor. In a hands-on event hosted in London, England, Screen Rant had an extended look at how Final Fantasy 16 performs, and it’s a slew of positives emerging from Square Enix’s latest entry in the storied franchise.


Much had been made about just how difficult it’s been for Final Fantasy and its turn-based roots to keep up with modern game systems, but keen observers may have realized that argument holds a lot less weight in 2023. Final Fantasy 15 was salvaged out of a chaotic development cycle into a serviceable action-RPG, while Final Fantasy 7 Remake followed through on the promise of blending these systems into something that was adored by many. For Final Fantasy 16‘s combat, it’s less about proving its doable and more about providing innovation into a space that’s still got plenty of room to grow.

Related: “These Guys Are F**king Crazy”: Final Fantasy 16’s Naoki Yoshida & Hiroshi Minagawa On Designing FFXVI

Common Enemy Combat Breakdown

Final Fantasy 16 Combat Ramuh

The bread and butter of Final Fantasy 16 will be the way Clive navigates through the world and engages in combat with enemy mobs, who, at least in the media preview, have distinct attack patterns and behaviors. Clive has the ability to hack-and-slash with the best of them, but the most intriguing part of FF16 combat is the use of Eikons. Clive is able to channel multiple different Eikons by equipping them, and he can swap between them mid-combat. This opens the door for a slew of intriguing combos – in our playthrough, using Garuda to juggle enemies and then Ifrit to swipe at all of them with an AoE attack was potent – and makes mob-to-mob combat feel like a place to experiment ahead of more difficult battles.

Equipment also plays a role, though in the preview, not as much as one might think. The stats provided were pretty basic for an RPG, and it was down to accessories, like the previously discussed Ring of Timely Strikes, to really influence loadout decisions. In our interview with Naoki Yoshida and Hiroshi Minagawa, the developers discussed how accessories could really get specific, referencing one that might improve a specific ability in the Titan Eikon kit for Clive. That, coupled with other accessories, provides a pseudo-skill tree that is able to be reset just by equipping different items, making playthroughs malleable. There won’t be any regrets for marrying Clive to a skillset too early – flexibility in Final Fantasy 16 is both impressive and appealing.

Eikons Are Everything

Final Fantasy 16 Garuda Clive

Across two different Final Fantasy 16 preview events now, we’ve come to understand just how vital Eikons are to the success of FF16‘s combat. They are the looming, otherworldly force that can instantly raise the stakes of any battle, and they’re used sublimely in each hands-on so far. Part of that can be attributed to how quickly Eikons can shift the scale of a given skirmish. What once felt like a human affair, one grounded, perhaps, in one character’s emotional struggles or narrative progression, can instantly feel like there’s now the weight of the world bearing down on them also – all it takes is the appearance of one Eikon.

Final Fantasy 16 combat appears to have two distinct approaches to Eikons. First is Clive vs. Eikon, where he will use his powers to stave off the powerful beings without transforming into one of them himself. These battles feel like they’re balanced on a knife’s edge, creating a tension between Clive’s humane journey to discover the meaning of the world he lives in and the sheer, almost unbelievable power that some people are allowed to wield within that same environment. Careful use of dodges, parries, and abilities will be vital in surviving these battles, which feel like one style of boss fight.

Related: Final Fantasy 16 Wants To Shed Perception of “Juvenile” Series

However, Final Fantasy 16 double dips on end boss combat. There’s also Eikon vs. Eikon battles, where players will inhabit the body of an Eikon (at least, so far in our experience, that’s what happens) and increase the scale of the battle one more time. Eikon vs. Eikon has been showcased a few times – in our previous preview, Ifrit vs. Garuda, which felt like a wrestling event, and in the most recent hands-on, Ifrit vs. Phoenix, which plays like an arcade top-down shooter. The incredible amount of variety that this approach to FF16 combat offers is going to be integral in establishing its formula for success: well-designed struggles on multiple scales, each with something different to offer players. So far, it works. There’s very little reason to believe that won’t be true of the full game’s offering, which should excite prospective users.

Is Combat Innovative Enough

Final Fantasy 16 Ifrit vs Ifrit

The burning question at the heart of all of Final Fantasy 16‘s flashy combat is whether its innovative enough to continue the series’ relevance as both a JRPG and cultural mainstay. The short answer is that two hands-on previews aren’t enough to know for sure, so things could easily change. That said, however, what’s been put on display is more than enough to have a strong impression of the direction of the series – and Final Fantasy has arguably never looked better.

Current-gen technology has really allowed for the series to evolve beyond iterations of turn-based strategy, though those elements remain present in accessory customization and Eikon skill-juggling. The scope of Final Fantasy 16 combat is just unlike anything else that’s been done in the series thus far. It’s reminiscent of NieR: Automata in a way – it just feels like the team decided to chase any interesting idea rather than dismiss it as something that wouldn’t fit a Final Fantasy game, and the series looks better for it. We’ll know for sure whether that’s the case in June, but for now, the future of Final Fantasy looks as bright as all the flames that feature in its Eikon battles, and Final Fantasy 16‘s innovative spin on tactical combat could pave the way for a second-coming of the series’ influences on its genre.

This is a special version made for media to experience, and contents may differ from the final version.

Final Fantasy 16 releases on June 22, 2023 for PlayStation 5 as a timed exclusive. Screen Rant was flown to London, England to participate in a hands-on experience of the game for the purpose of this preview.

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

Source link