Final Fantasy XVI's Opening Takes its Time Setting The Table - The Final Preview - Prima Games

Final Fantasy XVI’s Opening Takes its Time Setting The Table – The Final Preview

The final preview for FFXIV.

by Jesse Vitelli

Creative Business Unit III, the team behind Final Fantasy XVI, is gearing up for the game’s full launch next month. In preparation for that, I was invited to play the game’s opening hours at a preview event last week. The first four hours of the game are filled with conflict, some Game of Thrones-level romance scenes, and a slow but steady escalation.

We previewed the game back in February, and while it mainly focused on the newly designed action combat system, we got a glimpse into the world of Valisthea and its inhabitants. The preview this time around was focused on setting up the larger story of FFXVI and giving us a sense of some of the more intricate plot details and players on the board.

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

Final Fantasy XVI’s Opening Takes its Time Setting The Table – The Final Preview

Up front, Final Fantasy XVI throws you into the fire; the world is already embroiled in conflict, and you’re somehow in the trenches. A war has broken out between two factions led by Shiva and Titan as they ground and pound each other into the dust.

It feels like you are watching episode 4 of a long-running tv show. Characters are in place, relationships are formed, and many proper nouns are being easily tossed around. It feels like you’re playing catchup, but the game will begin to explain a lot of this over its opening hours. It’s not the best way to introduce the world; it felt like I walked in on a group of friends and didn’t know any of their inside jokes.

With that being said, the scale of the opening is impressive as you try and navigate through the canyons above the battlefield, seeing Shiva and Titan fighting above, below, and on top of you as you make your way through, trying to survive.

After being tossed back into a flashback, things slow down, and we learn more about our protagonist Clive’s lifestyle as a young boy, his relationship with his brother Joshua, and the family strife between his parents.

Related: Final Fantasy XVI Devs Talk about Building the Bridge Between Old and New Fans

FFXVI’s first few hours are slow, and like many RPGs, it takes its time getting to the meat. The conversations you have with Joshua, and the love that Clive feels for his brother, who is the dominant of Phoenix, can be felt in every piece of dialogue.

Clive has a strong relationship with his father and brother, but his mother not so much.

Combat certainly takes a backseat in this section. However, once shit hits the fan, you’ll be on an emotional roller coaster, even if the combat is a little repetitive upfront.

You’re not going to be zipping around doing flashy combos and switching between the different Eikons, as you’ve seen in previous footage. Final Fantasy XVI’s gameplay will get there, but be prepared for slower, more story-focused opening hours.

A key point you learn early on is that the magic wielders of this world are enslaved, used to carry out tasks like drawing water from a well, trimming hedges, and anything they can be used for not to draw energy from the Mothercrystal.

As the story progresses, this becomes a focal point of Cid’s mission to free the enslaved magic users and give them a place to call home in the Hideaway. It still remains to be seen if this plot point will end up having more than a surface-level conclusion or deeper commentary.

Cid’s Hideaway allows players to enjoy some side-quests about feeding the newly freed magic users and meeting the cook named Kenneth. Here you’ll also be able to visit the Areta Stone, a place to replay levels, engage in a training mode that gives you the ability to change the modifiers, and try out new combos.

Combat in the opening hours is a slow burn. Having only access to Phoenix, most of your time will be spent hitting the square button and using the dash ability. I did find an infinite combo pretty early on by using the Lunge ability on the skill tree and chaining together Phoenix Wing and the dash.

It showcased that even with a very limited toolset, you can still do some interesting things with the combat. While Final Fantasy XVI certainly takes its time to get the combat flowing, having played later sections of the game with more Eikon abilities, I know that it eventually gets to the point.

This preview was a reminder that Final Fantasy is an RPG with strong characters, a massive world and story, and plenty left to still see. If you were on the fence after learning about the combat system, nothing here is going to change your mind, but I was reminded that XVI did not forget about its Final Fantasy roots.

The game is full of references to previous games in the franchise. From NPC names to overworld environments and weapon names. It was reassuring to see that the team did not forget the series’ roots.

With Final Fantasy XVI only a month away, I don’t want to say much more about the story, plot points, or anything else since we’re so close to launch. I still have a lot of unanswered questions from my time with the game, and I feel that Final Fantasy XVI has a slow yet bombastic start that needs to set the table before bringing out the feast.

About The Author

Jesse Vitelli

Jesse loves most games, but he really loves games that he can play together with friends and family. This usually means late nights in Destiny 2 or FFXIV. You can also find him thinking about his ever-expanding backlog of games he won't play and being constantly dehydrated. Do not contact him.

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