Final Fantasy XVI Review | DestroyRepeat

Final Fantasy XVI

Final Fantasy XVI Review

Final Fantasy is a long-standing franchise going back to 1987. The timeline of Final Fantasy more or less is connected, it depends on the game. That said, however, each Final Fantasy title is separate from each other, and is its own story. Final Fantasy’s best selling video game is Final Fantasy VII (roman number 7), with 14.4 million copies worldwide. Followed by Final Fantasy VIII (roman number 8) with 9.6 million copies worldwide. Followed by Final Fantasy X (roman number 10) with 8 million copies worldwide. Since then, Square Enix experimented with different styles of gameplays – starting with Final Fantasy XI. Up until Final Fantasy XI, Final Fantasy has been turned-based Role Playing Games (RPG’s for short). What is turned based gameplay, you ask? It’s the old style Role Playing Games, where you take turns in operating at least 3 characters to defeat opponents on the field. A better way to understand it is a game of chess.

The MMORPG, Final Fantasy XI, reached over 200,000 active daily players in March 2006 and had reached over half a million subscribers by July 2007. Final Fantasy XII sold more than 1.7 million copies in its first week in Japan. By November 6, 2006—one week after its release—XII had shipped approximately 1.5 million copies in North America. Final Fantasy XIII became the fastest-selling game in the franchise, and sold one million units on its first day of sale in Japan. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, in comparison to its predecessor, was a runaway success, originally suffering from servers being overcrowded, and eventually gaining over one million unique subscribers within two months of its launch.

– Wikipedia Entry for Final Fantasy

Since then, these experiments were on an up and down turns. Mostly because – and still to this day, there has been a very large divide in the Final Fantasy community over what style of gameplay they want from Final Fantasy. Many people in the game industry credit Final Fantasy for its unique gameplay – which at the time was revolutionary. Final Fantasy inspired a lot of new franchises that we see today. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not the first turn-based game, but a game that brought turn-based RPG’s to the masses. Meaning, Final Fantasy mainstreamed both “turn-based” and “RPG’s.” For example…

In 1992, Nintendo’s Shigeru Miyamoto noted the impact of Final Fantasy on Japanese role-playing games, stating Final Fantasy’s “interactive cinematic approach” with an emphasis on “presentation and graphics” was gradually becoming “the most common style” of Japanese RPG at the time.

– Wikipedia entry for Final Fantasy

I can understand why turn-based games are “loved” and wanted by players. However, RPG’s are not hampered by technology anymore. The style of gameplay was a result of imagination, meeting technological advances. Final Fantasy VII for example was not hampered by technology, but rather what their vision for a game is supposed to be. By the time PlayStation 2 rolled around, this idea still remained, but can actually get out of the RPG mindset. It is only at Final Fantasy XI, that they begun to move away from the idea of turn-based RPG’s. It became more of an action-RPG at this point, breaking the designers free from the old style of gameplay. Technology is no longer the issue, so they decided to move on. The more they experimented, the more the sales soared.

Final Fantasy XV sold pretty well, but was marred with frame-rate issues. I would know, because I did purchase Final Fantasy XV. It’s a good game, it is. The problem is, you will have a little bit of framerate drops here and there. There’s even multiplayer in the game. Fantastic concept. Currently, I am stuck at a boss, and tried to do missions – it didn’t matter what I did… the game lagged, and lagged. So, I dropped it.

Now, that I’ve covered where we’re at with Final Fantasy, let’s get into Final Fantasy XVI. It is the 16th major installment in the Final Fantasy series/franchise. There are more Final Fantasy games in the series, but this is the 16th main, major installment in the series. So, before we get started, this review covers PlayStation 5. Currently, Final Fantasy XVI is exclusive to PlayStation. It is not available on PlayStation 4 because, and I quote Naoki Yoshida, the producer on Final Fantasy XVI, had this to say: “Originally, we were expecting to have a multi-platform release on PlayStation 4 as well. And to some extent, the assets were pushing the PlayStation 4 to its absolute limits.”

He further elaborated: “But in the end, the Final Fantasy series has a certain level of graphical fidelity expected of it, and when we tried to eliminate basically all loading on the PS4 version, there were certain parts where we were having to reduce the quality to a point lower than [Final Fantasy] XV.” during an interview.

Square is planning to release a PC version, and possibly an Xbox Series version once the contractual exclusivity ends. Therefore, this review covers just about everything. I will base this review on Final Fantasy XVI’s full game. I understand there is a DLC release called “Echoes of the Fallen.” I’ll deal with that, later.

Square Enix’s insecurity is saying that 3 Million copies sold is “poor sales.” No, Square, it’s enough. 3 Million? That’s about as big as Final Fantasy VII. Maybe their target was a bit off by projecting 10 Million copies. I have a few ideas of why that number was not reached, to balance out their development costs.


Final Fantasy XVI is an Action-RPG in the same vein of a Devil May Cry game. Hell, the combat director is the same guy that designed Devil May Cry’s combat. So, if you liked Devil May Cry’s combat style, you‘ll be right at home with Final Fantasy XVI. Ryota Suzuki designed Final Fantasy XVI’s combat akin to the way Dante was able to turn into a spirited “monster” called “Devil Trigger.”

Let’s simplify things: Your basic combat works similar to Devil May Cry, your sword attacks, swings, and you’re able to dash, too. You can trigger a swirl of fire in a fury attack towards your opponent. Wrap your head around this, because early on, this is your “Devil Trigger.” Later on, you will have to wrap your head around a different style of gameplay. To me, this is the real “Devil Trigger,” where you will summon monster powers. These summoned powers are called Eikons in the game. You will collect new summoning powers, or monsters to aid your quest. They will seem weaker early on, but you can actually upgrade them.


Both Hiroshi Takai and Naoki Yoshida both wanted Final Fantasy XVI to be accessible to all ranges of players. I feel like they accomplished it. Because, at the start of the game, the game eases you into the game to understand, and wrap your head around ideas available in the game itself. It is neither hard, or easy. The easy parts are up until you reach level 25 at least. The hard parts are above level 30-35 even without relying on the Eikons. After level 36, you start to gain new abilities, new Eikons, new boosts, such as a new bar for your “fury” attacks. When you reach a certain spot in the game, you are required to use Eikons, or else. (ahem; die)


The story is where Final Fantasy XVI actually shines. It – It really has a really, really slow burn of building a story. The game’s inspiration is actually from Game of Thrones, believe it or not. Like I said before, the team wanted this game to be as accessible to everyone. I’ll try to condense the story, and be vague at the same time. Basically, the game is a imperialistic storyline, early in the storyline, but later on, it’s going to be about life and death. Seriously. Because starting from about 30% of the game, you will meet Ultima. Remember that name while you play the game, because, he‘s the major villian in the game.

I beat the entire game – including all of the side quests/missions. Most of the side quests/missions are “useless” but you are encouraged on completing it by getting more experience points, ability points (which upgrades your Eikons), and other “tokens” to upgrade.


If you liked Devil May Cry in any capacity, once again; You will feel right at home with Final Fantasy XVI. If you enjoyed the combat, you will instantly understand what to do, how to do it. Because part of the allure of Devil May Cry, is that it allows you to use the combat in a variety of ways, and not tied to a single way of battling opponents. You don’t have to press the same button all the time. You can attack, and use Eikon’ed powers at the same time. You actually have more freedom at your disposal to defeat opponents and/or enemies. Square Enix’s weakness was always making action and/or action-RPG’s. Kingdom Hearts games were “ok,” but not as in-depth as Devil May Cry with regards to the combat.

My only criticism is the Bahamut Eikon. In this Eikon, when you press the circle button, it just becomes Bahamut, and nothing else, unless you press circle again…(?) which rains a bunch of projectile beams onto enemies. That made me scratch my head. And the Ramuh Eikon is also weird, an ability called “Lightning Rod” sends projectile electricity, but in order to trigger it, you are greeted with a targeting screen. You’re to hold it until it generate a maximum of 5, I think? To throw the projectile.


Graphics is another spot that Final Fantasy XVI actually shines. As soon as you start the game, you will come to a bunch of Quick Time Events (QTE’s), and it shows the power of PlayStation 5. However, the game shines during the Eikon battles. Ifrit vs Pheonix shows this off, but trust me, by the halfway point of the game, you will understand why there isn’t a PlayStation 4 version present. This is magnified by the time you reach 60% of the game. I’ve embedded some videos to aid my point, but this is a FRACTION of what to expect.

User Interface

The user interface is both simple, and complex. And for good reason – for the most part, you will interact with some options more than others. But, there are some menus that allows you to read up on the lore of Final Fantasy XVI’s world building. There’s even a mini-game that most people won’t even know it’s there, and it’s ingenious. This mini-game acts like an RPG for “knowledge” which you get from taking one of Harpocrates’ missions, and/or side quests. Once you do, you get this cute little interface that looks like an RPG.

You get to upgrade your Eikons here, you get to upgrade your player character with new items, weapons, and boosts. It actually tells you where your next objective is, both in mission statements, and via the map. Really convenient, especially if you want to progress in the game.

Music & Sound

Another spot that Final Fantasy XVI shines in. You actually want to put your volume up during Eikon battles. Once you get deeper, and deeper into Final Fantasy XVI, music goes from 1 to 10 as the game progresses. I’m not spoiling anything here. All I gotta say for this spot: Protip is crank that volume up to almost maximum, if you’re able. If you have surround sound? All the better. Fantastic music, and sounds.


Replay Value

To actually complete Final Fantasy XVI, it will take at least 10 hours. Final Fantasy XVI is not technically an “Open World” game, but rather an “Open Quadrant” game. It’s a linear game in some respects, but for the most part, it’s more of a “Open Quadrant” game. There’s open spaces, but secluded only to those particular maps. That said, if you complete the linear game itself, in addition to the side quests, which as I said before – is useless – but provides opportunities for learning about the world around Final Fantasy XVI, and upgrading Clive – your player character.

Sooo… What’s the problem? Why didn’t the game sell well?

Well, multiple reasons. Final Fantasy VII sold 14 Million copies worldwide, has a few re-releases, and a Remake trilogy. That’s a lot of money right there. Square Enix, the publisher and developer behind Final Fantasy XVI projected that Final Fantasy XVI would break a sales milestone of I guess beyond 5 Million. This is because Sony secured the marketing and exclusivity rights to Final Fantasy XVI. This is not a wrong take, but I’ll bring more reasons.

And to be fair, the install base of PS4 is at 114 Million units sold worldwide, when Final Fantasy XVI was released, the install base for PS5 was around 20-30 Million units sold worldwide. To make matters worse, COVID19 stopped the world, so you got a few problems here, too. Shipping, linguistic issues, marketing problems, I can’t even begin to tell you all the problems.

Final Fantasy XVI takes place in a period in which a Roman Empire would have fallen. The whole storyline of imperialism is almost realistic, the story itself is as political as you can get. That can turn people on or off depending on who you ask. That shouldn’t bother players, the problem from what I’ve observed in my own playthrough is the attention span. I’ll start with the theme of the game: The game is inspired by Game of Thrones, but the issue is the game leans too much onto the Roman Empire storyline. Final Fantasy XV brings the game into modern times, with a touch of magical powers. If anything, if I was the guy behind producer’s chair for Final Fantasy XVI, I would have merged ideas from Final Fantasy XV, and Final Fantasy XVI. The problem with Final Fantasy XV isn’t the open world. No, far from it. In fact, I would pull ideas from Final Fantasy XVI into XV, if we’re hindsight 20/20. The problem isn’t the open world, in fact… I would argue people were interested in Final Fantasy XV. That‘s why it sold well.

The way the quests/missions worked in Final Fantasy XV without the “warps” or “point of interest” spots didn’t inspire exploration. Some players like the linear gameplay, some people like the side quests. I like them both, but the way it works in Final Fantasy XVI was more polished than it was in Final Fantasy XV. Expand on this idea, and don’t squeal away from the open world design. The only issue with Final Fantasy XV was the framerate, it hampered our ability to progress in the game. What Square Enix had with Final Fantasy XV was almost perfect. All it needed was polish in the framerate department. PlayStation 4 could handle it, and I can see the ambition from the developers that worked on Final Fantasy XV.

Carlos’ Verdict

Final Fantasy XVI is an underrated gem. People who haven’t touched Final Fantasy XVI don’t know how good the game is. Everything from controls, music, epic storyline, to amazing graphics. That’s not to say there aren’t issues, which I’ve already covered in small doses. I believe that if Square Enix could learn from Final Fantasy XV and XVI, they could make a masterpiece. The drawback of Final Fantasy XVI’s story is the time period. Final Fantasy XV brought the storyline to modern times, while Final Fantasy XVI brought the story to the past. There must be a middle ground at some point. Final Fantasy VII is the sweet spot for how to advance storyline, and being a bit modern.

Rating: 85/100

About Carlos Morales

I've been writing about Video Games since 2001. I have become a well-known, recognizable name in the industry. I started in 2006, and has accumulated over 1 Million Users, and 4.5 Million Pageviews worldwide. I'll always be most passionate about this wonderful community.

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