Final Fantasy XVI preview: our first impressions!

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Let’s find out together, in this dedicated preview, what are our first impressions of Final Fantasy XVI after trying and completing the demo released yesterday on the PlayStation Store: the beginning of a new era or a bitter disappointment?

Maturation. Growth. Evolution. The history of man is pervaded, in the millennia that have shaped it, by these three concepts. Concepts that inevitably apply to human work, whatever it may be. On these pages we talk about technology and, specifically, about video games. So why shouldn’t the medium evolve? Because if something doesn’t work anymore, you can’t let it go to move towards something new? Beyond the whims of a (thankfully) small circle of enthusiasts, Square Enix is ​​actually going for it with its flagship franchise. Well yes, let’s talk about Final Fantasy XVI in this preview from the demo released yesterday on PlayStation Store.

One demo, two sections | Preview Final Fantasy XVI

As already announced by Square Enix itself, the demo has been available on the PlayStation Store since yesterday morning allows gamers to experience two distinct phases of the game. The first, whose save data can be imported into the final version of the game, if purchased, concerns the first two chapters of Final Fantasy XVI. The second, on the other hand, is much more advanced on a narrative level and puts a decidedly more experienced and equipped Clive in your hands. He therefore serves to test the combat system once certain levels of experience, equipment and Eikon have been reached. But let’s start with the basics.

Final Fantasy XVI preview: our first impressions!

Year of Reign 873 | Preview Final Fantasy XVI

Reign year 873. The war between the Republic of Dhalmekia and the Iron Kingdom is reaching its climax between political intrigues and betrayals of various kinds, to the point that now the simple and banal bloodshed involving the troops is no longer enough: the Eikons must be used, commanded by the Dominants, those who hold power. And if in the very first bars of the game we can see the clash between Phoenix and Ifrit, deriving from the memories of Clive, our protagonist, participants in the battle of the historical present will instead be Titan and Shiva.

With a long series of jaw-breaking videos (literally) he is introduced to us, Clive, the dark protagonist of whom we still know too little. As the battle rages, the young man begins to remember parts of his past and carries with him and the memory of him fifteen years ago, when he was still the eldest son of the Duke of Rosaria, Elwin Rosfield. Clive’s brother Joshua is heir to the throne designated by the Phoenix, which he holds power as Dominant of the Eikon. Clive has instead committed himself body and soul to become Rosaria’s First Shield, the one who will have to protect the Dominant from any danger for the rest of his days.

Final Fantasy XVI preview: our first impressions!

Genesis | Preview Final Fantasy XVI

It is precisely in Clive’s memories that we also learn about his fragile family situation. A loving father, but always absent and subservient to his being, above all, a Duke rather than a parent. A despicable mother who despises her firstborn, as not chosen, and who has eyes exclusively for little Joshua, born in poor health. In short: not exactly an idyllic situation.

By now you will have read many other previews of the game and you will know these initial bars by heart, but we still want to stop here with the narrative for a simple reason: the prologue of Final Fantasy XVI made us emotional like it didn’t happen from the tenth chapter. A real seesaw of emotions, which goes from joy and cheerfulness to the deepest despair in a few quick strokes. We obviously cannot yet express a real opinion on this front, because what we have seen really promises to be just a taste of the whole system put in place by Square Enix for this chapter. If, however, it can even manage to maintain itself at this level and at this pace throughout the entire main story, we would seriously be facing a new Genesis for the franchise.

Final Fantasy XVI preview: our first impressions!

Beat beat! | Preview Final Fantasy XVI

The second part of the demo put us in front of a much more advanced build of Clive compared to the prologue, in which we were able to start mastering the combat system through quick and simple tutorials. Self basically Final Fantasy XVI shows itself as a very simple and intuitive actioneven basic in some respects, with the advancement of the mechanics and the possibility of Clive to master numerous Eikon, and therefore as many skills, we have been able to notice a pleasant increase in the complexity, fluidity and speed of the game.

Switching between the various creatures that can be equipped (three in total in the demo) is fast and rapid, as is the alternation of attack and dodge. To play it at its best, you’ll need a mix of concentration and muscle memory, which will gradually increase over time. However, we did not find ourselves in difficulty despite the great leap forward in terms of complexity of the mechanics, which compared to the prologue were much more and much more in-depth, which makes us think that perhaps we will have to play the full version at a higher level of difficulty if selectable. Each Eikon provides Clive with two active skills to equip and selectable by pressing the R2 key. The active abilities are all very powerful and, let us say, really nice to look at.

Final Fantasy XVI preview: our first impressions!

Performance vs Quality | Anteprima Final Fantasy XVI

A bit like everything in Final Fantasy XVI, actually. We decided to select the Performance mode to test the game for this preview, and we admit that we haven’t regretted it at all. With resolution upscaled to 1440p, the game held 60fps pretty solidly, although there was some decline in the most excited moments (and with Garuda’s abilities) and especially in the second part of the demo. In Quality mode, however, the game aims for an upscaled resolution of 2160p, with a frame rate of 30fps.

Aesthetically speaking, the game world of Final Fantasy XVI, besides being damn good to look at, it’s convincing. The gloom of the narrative is reflected in a game world with very dark colors, many areas of black and gray and a color palette that focuses heavily on these two colors. There is no shortage of bright glimpses, especially from the Castle of Rosaria, it is true, but in general the atmosphere is heavy and gloomy.

Final Fantasy XVI preview: our first impressions!

Animations and voice acting | Preview Final Fantasy XVI

To convince us little are the animations of the polygonal models of characters and NPCs, perhaps a little too woody and which clash with the general quality of the models themselves and the settings. The plays of light are exceptional thanks also to Ray Tracing, as well as reflections and shadows. In short: qualitatively speaking, we are finally faced with something that makes us say “perhaps it wouldn’t be able to run on PS4”. And definitely not in these conditions. A applause to the soundtrack that we have been able to hear so far and the sensational and unexpected rearrangement of the victory fanfare.

Finally, just two words on the Italian dubbing. We wanted to try the demo by listening to our speech because it is very probable that, once we have the full game in our hands, the first run will be carried out in English. We admit that it was exciting to hear a Final Fantasy dubbed entirely in Italian for the first time, especially for those who, like the writer, have been fans of the franchise since the first hour. The voices heard up to now, both in terms of cadence and timbre, all seemed to us to be quite spot on and pleasant.

Final Fantasy XVI preview: our first impressions!

We wait (not so much) patiently

We stop here, with this preview of Final Fantasy XVI, because there are so many things to say, but we only really want to express ourselves once we have the complete game in hand. What we can say with certainty today, after this single test, is that if this new chapter of the Square Enix franchise maintains even only half of the quality shown so far, we will finally be able to say that we are facing a new era for Final Fantasy and for the gaming world everything. And we will finally be able to forget the burning disappointments of recent years. Right, Final Fantasy XV?

Final Fantasy XVI will be available on PS5 starting June 22nd. Let us know if you have tried the demo below in the comments, we will continue to keep you updated with all the videogame and tech news, guides and reviews! And if you are interested in game keys at advantageous prices, we suggest you take a look at the Kinguin catalogue!