Final Fantasy XVI Review: My First of Many More Final Fantasy Games
August 12, 2023 Andrew Cheng

Okay, technically, Final Fantasy XVI (FFXVI) isn’t the first Final Fantasy game I played. In my younger days, I remember playing a bit of Final Fantasy X, Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, and more recently, Final Fantasy VII Remake. Unfortunately, I completed…none of these games.

In that sense, FFXVI is the first Final Fantasy game I finished. Well, the main storyline anyway. For someone who has never completed a game in this franchise before, I definitely enjoyed playing through the 16th main instalment of the game.

Even if it was overheating my PS5 – more on this further down the review.

What It Is

FFXVI is touted as the first true action RPG in the series, combining a real-time combat system – which is done quite well – with RPG elements. The main protagonist is Clive Rosfield, who carries the title “First Shield of Rosaria,” and he is sworn to protect his younger brother, Joshua.

Joshua is the Dominant of Phoenix, one of several Eikons that Clive will encounter throughout the game as he travels around Valisthea, the world of FFXVI. Eikons are basically physical embodiments of specific elemental powers in FFXVI, so needless to say, these entities (and their respective Dominants) are powerful figures.

Without going into spoiler territory – the storyline of the FFXVI is one of its most endearing qualities, after all – I’ll just take this official excerpt from the game’s synopsis: Clive will be caught up in a great tragedy and swear revenge on the Dark Eikon known as Ifrit, a mysterious entity that brings calamity in its wake.

While that’s a very simplified plot of the game, it’s actually an apt description of the starting point.

Here in Malaysia, FFXVI is priced at RM299 for the Standard Edition of the game, and it is available exclusively on the PS5 until the end of 2023. While that’s quite a steep price tag, this is a AAA game with plenty of content.

The Good Stuff

The storyline of Final Fantasy XVI is easily my favourite part of the game. Not only does it have an engrossing plot with a great amount of depth, each and every character are fleshed out incredibly well. I’m impressed with the character development of not just Clive, but many other characters we encounter throughout the main scenario.

Further enhancing the narrative of FFXVI is the great voice acting. I finished the story completely in English audio, and I’m very happy I did. Almost every single dialogue is delivered with the right amount of emotion and gusto, and this applies to even minor characters.

Once I was done with the main storyline of FFXVI – which took me about 30 hours of purely advancing the plot – there are still many, many side quests to be completed, which add further depth to the world of Valisthea. Basically, FFXVI offers a ton of content that are sure to satiate even the most demanding gamers who are hungry for content.

Graphically, there’s no denying that FFXVI is a beautiful game. The environment looks lush and vibrant, character models are very detailed, and their facial expressions are rendered accurately. You can just feel the emotions that the characters are portraying from their expressions.

The gameplay of FFXVI is also very fun and sophisticated. While the combat system does feel a bit barebones in the beginning, it does get more complex once I’ve progressed through the game further. I’m not well-versed enough with the combat system to pull off amazing combos, but looking at footage caught by other players, there are certainly many combo variations in this game.

I’m also quite happy with the overall difficulty of FFXVI. For me personally, it strikes a good balance where it feels neither too easy or too hard. Performing perfect dodges are also satisfying, though trying to parry enemy attacks feel a bit…off.

Anyway, let’s move on to not so great aspects of the game, including the aforementioned overheating issue.

The Bad Stuff

Throughout my playthrough of Final Fantasy XVI, I received numerous overheating warnings on my PS5, and in some instances, my console even shut down abruptly. This still occurs even after I took apart my PS5 to clean…a thin layer of dust within the console. Granted, I do have a launch unit of the PS5, though many other players have reported similar issues.

And then there’s the overall performance of FFXVI. I initially played the game on Frame Rate mode for, well, higher frame rates, but the game can’t quite run the game consistently at 60fps. I ultimately run the game on the Graphics mode instead for higher-fidelity visuals, even though the frame rate is limited to 30fps.

My last qualm with FFXVI are the repetitive quests, which are present even during the main storyline. The fetch quests are particularly annoying, which detracts from the overall narrative and tone of the story, in my opinion.

Is It Worth It?

After all is said and done, I still highly, highly recommend Final Fantasy XVI. While the overheating warnings were quite concerning, the don’t pop-up as often anymore the further I progressed through the game. I am also (relatively) sure that the lifespan of my PS5 won’t be affected by this.

Completing FFXVI intrigued my interest with other Final Fantasy games. From the franchise’s excellent character development to incredible world building, I may just make time to finally complete Final Fantasy VII Remake. At least, before Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is released in early 2024 next year.

Final Fantasy XVI is out now exclusively on PS5.