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How Final Fantasy XVI’s Fresh Take On The Series Caters To Fans And First-Timers

It's going to be epic!

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Final Fantasy is back with an immersive, dark fantasy world and the series’ most action-packed combat yet. Pre-order Final Fantasy XVI now, coming exclusively to PlayStation 5 on the 22nd June. Start your adventure with the demo today and carry over your progress! Learn more here.


Final Fantasy XVI, the next massive, mainline entry in one of gaming’s most storied and respected franchises, is nearly upon us. Launching exclusively for PlayStation 5 on June 22nd, it promises to be a blockbuster event and one of the most exciting releases this year. It’s also a pretty big departure from what long-time Final Fantasy fans know from the series in a few key ways, but with a development team rocking some impressive pedigree at the helm and all of the envelope-pushing spectacle that comes with the Final Fantasy name, there’s still plenty of reason to expect another thrilling entry.

Whether you’re a veteran Final Fantasy player or a complete newcomer drawn in by the promise of a huge and gorgeous action RPG on the PS5, there’s absolutely going to be something here for you, so let’s look at some of the ways that Final Fantasy XVI is aiming to shake things up and offer an experience that nobody should miss – and don’t forget to download and play the demo for yourself right here.

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A Visually Spectacular Rollercoaster Ride Built For PS5

It’s no secret that Final Fantasy XVI is going to be an absolute visual tour de force for the PlayStation 5 when it launches this month, joining the ranks of games like God of War Ragnarök, Horizon Zero Dawn and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart as a showpiece for the console and a great way to see just what the new hardware is capable of.

At the core of Final Fantasy XVI’s impressive presentation is an immense sense of scale. Whether it’s the enormity of the backdrops you’ll encounter as you traverse the various and diverse regions of Valisthea or the colossal and fearsome Eikons towering over battlefields in ferocious clashes, right down to the intricate costuming and detailed, expressive faces of its characters, there’s that classic Final Fantasy quality showing through in every pixel. More than just raw detail though, the power of the PS5 is being used to enable an incredibly seamless experience that deftly weaves through exploration, combat and cutscenes without every skipping a beat or leaning on any pre-rendered sequences – from the moment you fire the game up to the moment you see the credits roll it’s a rocketing rollercoaster ride in real-time.

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A Darker, More Complex Fantasy World

It might be beautiful, but Final Fantasy XVI is also going to be grim. Of that, there is no doubt. It doesn’t take much to see the influences present in this departure from what fans know of most modern Final Fantasy games. Harking back to the classically-styled Final Fantasy games of the 16-bit era there’s still plenty of talk of crystals, Chocobos and Moogles to be found, but it’s also drawing heavily on more recent and popular fantasy media, in particular the likes of Game of Thrones and The Witcher, when it comes to its themes.

This is a darker and more mature Final Fantasy experience, dealing in themes of oppression, warfare and frequent, bloody betrayals. Caught up in a grand-scale conflict between nations vying over control of a precious, magical resource, Final Fantasy XVI’s protagonist, Clive, and his growing cohort aren’t the fresh-faced teenage world-savers you’ll find in most Japanese RPGs. These are people clawing and scraping their way out of a doomed existence, literal weapons of war that are barely considered human forced to tear each other apart at the behest of kings and queens, lending a complex emotional weight and sense of desperation to everything that fans of George R. R. Martin and Andrzej Sapkowski’s works will appreciate.

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Modern Action Combat That Hasn’t Lost The Final Fantasy Essence

It’s a big shift from what a lot of Final Fantasy fans know, but the series’ first fully action-based combat system is exciting for a number of reasons. For those accustomed to modern action blockbusters, it’s going to be a much more familiar prospect than the turn-based and hybrid systems of old, but even veterans have a lot to like here.

It’s no secret that having Ryota Suzuki (Devil May Cry, Dragon’s Dogma) on board as the game’s Combat Director has given the game a distinct feel in its action, but there’s no shortage of Final Fantasy-isms here whether it’s the damage numbers flying out of enemies or the Eikonic abilies that Clive will gain over the course of the game that keep things feeling like a proper RPG. There’s a ton of depth to the systems at play for those that want it, but players unaccustomed to action games will still have a fighting chance thanks to an optional easier difficulty setting and a series of equippable items designed to smooth over some of the edge in combat by simplifying or automating things like evasions, combos and Torgal commands – all without sacrificing the fun and pace of fights.

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Leaderboards? In My RPG?

Something that’s going to feel a little different to a lot of RPG fans but will definitely excite anyone that enjoys the Devil May Cry flavour of fast-paced action games is a host of features that add a ton of replayability and competition into the mix. From the Arete Stone in the game’s central hideaway, which acts as a hub for shopping and important NPCs among other things, players can not only replay sections of the game to relive their favourite moments or pick up missed items but there’s also a dedicated Arcade Mode for testing your combat skills and chasing high performance grades.

Arcade Mode will even have leaderboards available for those that jump back into a New Game+ playthrough with the game’s even more challenging Final Fantasy Mode difficulty, adding a huge amount of replay value and action-focused fun into the mix. Further to all of that, special “Chronolith Trials” based on each Eikon will put players in different situations with specific character abilities in challenging time trials, and again will have leaderboards available on the higher difficulty levels unlocked post-game.

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Lore In Order

One of the more exciting and relatively unsung new features in Final Fantasy XVI is a comprehensive lore offering that aims both to please loreheads with a veritable library of in-depth knowledge on the game’s world, characters, factions, kingdoms, history and more as well as keep those that struggle with information overload in the loop. In the hideaway hub area, players can visit a Loresman named Hypocrates to pore over a gradually-expanding trove of information on everything a resident of Valisthea could hope to know, as well as Vivian Ninetales – another scholar with a taste for politics who can keep players apprised of the state of the world as the narrative plays out.

For those that aren’t into heavy lore dumps or just don’t have a mind for details, an intuitive Active Time Lore feature allows players to pause the action at any point in the game to see a handful of lore entries at a glance, all based on where they are, who they’re with and what’s happening – even during cutscenes. For someone like me that constantly finds themselves asking “Wait, who is that again?” it’ll be a relief to know you can quickly pull up a handy explainer in the moment.

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Final Fantasy XVI is launching on June 22nd exclusively for PlayStation 5. A demo is available now with save transfer to the full game. Learn more and pre-order here.