Final Fantasy XVI Demo Impressions – Peek At The Beginning

Final Fantasy XVI is the next mainline entry of the ongoing series that fans have been eagerly waiting to play. Taking place in a new world with some familiar elements and a mature tone, Final Fantasy XVI is looking to be one of the better games of 2023. But while Final Fantasy fans will have to wait a tiny bit longer for the full release, Square Enix released a demo for everyone to play beforehand. Was the demo very much in line with what we’ve come to expect from the legendary role-playing series? Yes, it is, but the demo also points to many interesting things within the gameplay that fans of Final Fantasy may find intriguing.

The demo of Final Fantasy XVI was available for everyone to download on PlayStation 5. It consists of the first few chapters of the main game, which gives background on the story’s main character Clive and the world of Valisthea. Although things begin at the present day with a great war going on, the demo also goes back in time to Clive’s earlier days as a young prince. Without spoiling much, the demo introduces us to many of the faces we’ll follow in this new Final Fantasy story that will be of great importance in the final game. There’s a lot of lore and details that flesh out many aspects of this world and the politics between kingdoms.

One thing that the demo does very well is getting players accustomed to the controls and combat of Final Fantasy XVI. While the bulk of the demo is cutscenes and mild sections of exploration, things really pick up when Clive can take up a sword and get into some battles with goblins and other enemies. Fighting usually boils down to combinations of button presses, mixed in with the occasional magic attack.

Clive can attack with devastating slashes in combination with fire magic, which will not only do big damage to enemies but knock them back as well. Dodging is also key to avoiding getting hurt, while also setting up Clive for powerful counterattacks and taking advantage of openings against foes. Much of the combat feels similar to other action games like Bayonetta and Devil May Cry, with fights being fast-paced and flashy. But battles are far from easy because if you’re not careful enough you’ll get smacked hard by enemies that pack a fearsome punch.

But things get more interesting with deeper elements to the battles you get into. Staggering enemies is important when taking on tougher foes, like a giant goblin or one of the infamous Malboro enemies from the series. You’ll still do damage with attacks, but staggering foes will cause them to flinch and fall down, opening them up for damaging attacks and combos. This is important for boss battles and fights with tougher enemies that try to distract you with smaller foes. To capitalize on this, Clive has access to Eikon abilities, which are powerful attacks granted to him by the Eikon Phoenix in the game’s story. These attacks can’t be used frequently because of their cool down, but they are very powerful and perfect for dealing big damage when you stagger an enemy.

What’s also neat are the extra moves Clive can get when you level up. Finishing battles yields EXP and ability points that you can spend on new attacks. While there are definitely not enough battles to grind for levels in the demo, the final game may have plenty of opportunities for you to grind for EXP and AP to open up Clive’s arsenal. Getting new attacks definitely opens up more combo potential for you in battles, as well as lets you avoid enemy attacks easier. Dodging at the right time will give you a moment to counterattack for extra damage, which is great for unleashing some of the better moves Clive can unlock as he levels up.

More than anything else, the demo really shows just how beautiful the visuals of Final Fantasy XVI look. The game can be played in two modes, presentation or performance, which can capitalize on the type of presentation you want to see. Performance mode lets things run at a higher framerate, which is great for the action when you get into combat. Presentation mode puts an emphasis on the extra details at a lower framerate.

Regardless of what mode you decide to play in, Final Fantasy XVI looks gorgeous all around. Everything from the environments you move in, the backgrounds during cutscenes, and the characters and monsters you encounter have a high level of detail that puts many other games to shame. The lighting in every place you go to and see looks fantastic, illuminating places that have splashes of color in them while allowing the darker parts to still look foreboding and moody. Square Enix is no stranger to producing games that have a high level of polish to them, and Final Fantasy XVI is no different.

Something that Final Fantasy fans will appreciate is the Active Time Lore windows that can be accessed at almost any time. During cutscenes and gameplay, you can hold the touchpad down to bring up a menu of important information on key characters, locations, history, story lingo, and so much more. This is great for those who forget details or are confused about something during a cutscene and want to get a refresher or better insight into what is going on with the plot.

With so many characters and locations that come up in dialogue, it might be something you’ll bring up more than you realize if you want to stay up-to-date in following the game’s story. While you don’t need to use the ATL menus, they’re always around for when you need them and they aren’t intrusive when you’re watching cutscenes. The menus are easy to navigate and sort through, and you can always go back to the details they have later rather than needing to access them at a given moment.

Final Fantasy XVI is looking to be a major hit with everyone if the demo is any indication of what to expect when the game releases soon. There’s so much more to see that the demo doesn’t have, despite it being a very content-rich demo that gets everyone started in this new world for the series. The combat is very fun to play through and the story is rich with lore that will most likely keep fans busy for a long time. In addition, the progress made in the demo will carry over to the final game. You can definitely expect many people to talk about Final Fantasy XVI a lot when the full game is out on June 22nd for PlayStation 5.

Are you excited to play Final Fantasy XVI? Have you gotten a chance to play the demo yet? Let us know all of your thoughts down below in the comment section!

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Jakejames Lugo

Jakejames Lugo is a writer and content creator that has been covering video games, movies, and various sides of entertainment for over a decade. He has published reviews and articles on many different outlets and continues to make content for different platforms. Jakejames also makes video content regularly for places like YouTube and TikTok, and share daily posts about gaming on social media.

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