I played Final Fantasy XVI during a recent preview event in February, but it was focused almost entirely on combat. I enjoyed the combat a lot — you can read my thoughts here — but my most recent hands-on with the game took place during a cover story trip to the Square Enix offices in Tokyo, Japan. I played a few hours of the game, which everyone who is part of this latest wave of previews has played, and that’s what I’m going to talk about here.
But I also saw never-before-seen gameplay, received an exclusive tour of some regions in FFXVI, learned about the game’s ending, and more from this month’s Game Informer cover story. This story was published today, so check it out for exclusive details on the game. Be sure to check back in for more exclusive articles and video interviews in the coming days and weeks as part of FFXVI’s exclusive coverage hub. In the meantime, check out the cover reveal from last week.
My work with FFXVI for this preview begins in Game Hours. The game quickly thrusts me into a dramatic, chewed-up battle between two Eikons that grace the title treatment of developer Creative Business Unit III’s latest: Phoenix and Ifrit. The various times I spoke with Producer Naoki Yoshida about the Eikon fighting game, he made it clear that every fight would be different. In a previous preview, you played as Ifrit and fought Garuda in all-out fighting style combat. But this time, I take control of Phoenix and play the battle like an on-rails shooter and from a third-person perspective.
With the Phoenix, I aim my reticle to shoot fireballs at Ifrit as these two Eikons crash through a massive underground cavern. Ifrit fights back, of course, and I dodge their attacks in a flashy, cinematic way. The action here is frantic, and vibrant flames appear on screen. But soon after, it transitions to protagonist Clive Rosefield, a soldier tasked with finding and assassinating the Dominant, someone who can transform into an Akon. In this case, it’s Shiva.
Without spoiling too much, Clive is eventually called a traitor by those he works for. While on the run, he meets Cidolfus Telamon, or Cid for short (because it’s Final Fantasy, after all). Together, Clive, Cid, and Clive’s companion dog, Torgal, make their way to Cid’s lair, one of the main hubs in the game. This hideout features a lot – a tavern, blacksmith, item shop, and more – and seems like a great place to rest, check out characters, and prepare Clive for what’s next on his journey.
CBUIII has talked before about how FFXVI played out over the three decades of Clive’s life – his teens, twenties, and thirties. So far, Clive is 28, but a lot of what I experienced in the game for this preview happened 13 years ago, when Clive was 15, in what appears to be a defining moment for both Clive’s life and the core of FFXVI’s story, I see Joshua transform into Phoenix. It’s painful to watch, and he’s clearly not yet comfortable doing it like other dominants who do it regularly. This flashback sequence is where the battle between Phoenix and Ifrit takes place.
My time working with young Clive culminated in watching Joshua brutally murdered by a mysterious assailant. It’s bloody, heartbreaking, surprisingly gory, and fantastically sold by the character’s voice actor, who you might know as Logan Hannan, the voice behind Hugo de Rune of the Plague Tale.
Unable to fight back, Clive harbors a deep desire for revenge and that revenge seems to be the driving force of the narratives throughout FFXVI, or at least a starting point.
Later in the game’s narrative, I run around one of the open areas near where Rosarian’s duchy once resided for about 20 minutes. It is a beautiful and picturesque landscape with ruins, a scenic waterfall, swampland and a lot of monsters for you to defeat. There are questions here, but I’m not allowed to interact with them. However, I enjoy fighting the various enemies in the area and discovering some hidden chests as well. What I’m testing seems to be about one-eighth of the entire open field area, and the scale is impressive. There are many such things in the game, and I am excited to explore each of them and see how different they are.
I won’t spoil more of what I tried – you can read more about what I played with, including exclusive details you won’t find anywhere else in my cover story that airs now and in the coming weeks via Game Informer’s coverage of FFXVI hub – but it’s clear that FFXVI aims to be one of the darker, more mature and more advanced entry in the series.
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