Last Fantasy XVI is due out on June 22, 2023 on PlayStation 5, following what might maybe be greatest described as an id disaster for the long-running RPG collection. Promising a radically completely different tone for each storytelling and fight, FFXVI is able to shake issues up and, doubtlessly, make a reputation for itself as a contemporary high-water mark for the collection. Latest previews counsel there are many causes to be hopeful, at the same time as Last Fantasy XVI dangers being a bit too completely different for collection vets.
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Following the Last Fantasy collection hasn’t at all times been simple. Whereas the upcoming journey is quantity 16 in the primary collection, the franchise has seen numerous remakes, direct sequels, spin-offs, and two profitable MMORPGs. Mainline Last Fantasy titles have been on shaky floor with followers since not less than 2009’s Last Fantasy XIII. So will Last Fantasy XVI be a robust return to type? Whereas latest previews do spotlight a core Last Fantasy expertise is to be discovered right here, the newer, darker tone and a larger give attention to action-oriented fight with a single protagonist would possibly threaten to overshadow a few of what longtime followers have come to like concerning the collection.
Fight: Mash them buttons, battle these bosses
It appears plain that Last Fantasy XVI’s fight can be time, however in the event you weren’t onboard with Last Fantasy XV’s controversial action-focused, principally single-character fight system, properly, the brand new sport appears to go even additional down that highway.
Sure, there are standing results and equipable gadgets that increase stats and such, however in line with Polygon, the sport can shortly flip into “a brainless, wonderful, button-mashing lightshow.” GameSpot is in settlement, describing the fight as “principally [consisting of] mashing the sq. button to assault, sprinkling in some ranged magic photographs, and ready for [summon] talents to refresh from cooldown.” To prime it off, this can be a solo outing, with the participant solely controlling one character, not a celebration throwing out interlocking assaults, defenses, buffs, and debuffs. That is arguably an evolution of what Last Fantasy XV was aiming for, however one which’s seeking to embrace much more motion with much less emphasis on stats.
Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Kotaku
That Last Fantasy XVI borders on providing senseless, button-mashing fight isn’t spoken about in a dismissive tone up to now (Polygon did describe it as wonderful, in any case), however it’s a far cry from what we’ve usually anticipated from Last Fantasy fight. That is likely to be excellent news for newcomers, as gamers coming from extra action-oriented franchises would possibly really feel extra at residence right here. Comicbook.com says that the action-y boss battles “put to disgrace a few of the greatest fights seen in different motion video games.”
Polygon stated that the “boss battles come thick and quick in Last Fantasy XVI,” and IGN’s previewer noticed “no fewer than eight bosses” within the sport’s first 4 hours. GameSpot drew a pointy comparability to Satan Might Cry in its preview; that ought to come as no shock on condition that Satan Might Cry 5 and Dragon’s Dogma designer Ryota Suzuki is Last Fantasy XVI’s fight lead.
Last Fantasy XVI’s fight definitely feels like it should provide an exhilarating expertise, with particular reward heaped on the dimensions and measurement of boss encounters and Eikon (summons). However the reality stays that this ain’t your mom’s Last Fantasy fight…hell, it doesn’t even sound like it will likely be your Last Fantasy fight, in the event you’re a longtime collection fan.
Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Kotaku
Smaller gameplay environments, larger storytelling
Would you like excellent news or unhealthy information? Nicely right here’s the excellent news, it feels like Last Fantasy XVI’s gained’t be saddled with a bloated, hole, sprawling open world of the likes of Last Fantasy XV and even Sq. Enix’s latest Forspoken. Right here’s the unhealthy information (not less than for a few of you): Its construction reminded Polygon of Last Fantasy XIII.
Whereas latest previews have proven a world map to traverse (with, sadly, no cute chibi character to information round), IGN stated that it was “barely shocked by how contained a few of its ranges could be.” It described an early atmosphere as “corridors of connecting fights.” That positive feels like FFXIII to me.
Relying in your inclinations, that is doubtlessly a little bit of an eyebrow-raiser. However I believe it’s necessary to keep in mind that even probably the most celebrated entries within the collection, like Last Fantasy VII, IX, and X, have been additionally fairly restricted of their environments—they too had direct paths that had the phantasm of opening up into one thing extra primarily based on when their world map would reappear (or in FFX’s case, I’d argue that the characters and storytelling have been so direct and tightly paced that its extra linear paths weren’t as a lot of a sore spot). That is what Last Fantasy XIII and its legendary 25-hour lengthy hall struggled with, and maybe with some completely different trapping, it wouldn’t’ve been so jarring for gamers.
However it looks like pacing, not less than early on, is likely to be a little bit of a sore spot for Last Fantasy XVI. Prepare for some heavy fake-politics memorization, people, as a result of it feels like Last Fantasy XVI has it in spades. The load of this political lore on the sport’s general narrative is so heavy, in reality, that a complete new system has been launched: “Lively Time Lore” actually permits you to lookup varied historic and character info proper in the course of cutscenes.
IGN likened this function to Amazon Prime Video’s X-Ray function, which helps you to pause to see the title of that actor you swear you recognize from someplace, someplace. That feels like a useful function for anybody who’s performed Last Fantasy XIII for a dozen hours and nonetheless felt like they didn’t know what the fuck a fal’Cie or l’Cie was, however that this function exists in any respect speaks to the extent of consideration that is likely to be required. Frankly, even studying previews that summarize the overall premise of “kingdoms” and “warfare” and “crystals” sounds extra complicated than it must be, however we’ll see how that shakes out within the ultimate model.
A number of previews have harassed that the sport’s opening moments are additionally, maybe painfully so, tremendous heavy on hitting you over the top with story. IGN stated that “cutscenes make up a number of Last Fantasy XVI’s early runtime.” Time will inform if it’s simply the opening that has this drawback, however it sounds such as you would possibly need to have some popcorn prepared on the facet (simply wash your rattling palms earlier than touching your controller).
Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Kotaku
To be honest, Last Fantasy has at all times been story-heavy (these of us who have been launched to it in its earlier days will keep in mind that the video games delivered hours and hours of textual content panels of dialogue to learn). However this time the tone of the story goes for one thing fairly international to the collection—and it sounds prefer it would possibly border on medieval fantasy distress porn.
Unhappy boys and dismal horizons
In case you’ve been following together with Last Fantasy XVI’s improvement, then you recognize the sport is aiming for a darker tone. Video games like God of Warfare and reveals like Recreation of Thrones have been cited as inspiration for this new Last Fantasy…and, you recognize, we’re simply gonna should see how that seems. Previews up to now have harassed that there’s a human story beneath the distress fest, however all of them spotlight that protagonist Clive is a tragic unhappy boy who can’t do the magic factor his household can do and thus feels disregarded, and apparently some defining tragic moments are advised by flashback sequences that pause the current narrative to set the stage for why Clive is such a moody saddo.
Screenshot: Sq. Enix / Kotaku
Last Fantasy has by no means shied away from robust stuff, however it’s at all times carried a jovial, hopeful tone that perseveres by evidently tragic tales of loss and hardship, id, neighborhood, love, and vengeance. It begs the query: Do we want FF to be so rattling darkish and depressing to convey what it’s efficiently carried out up to now? I’m skeptical, particularly when Polygon describes characters as “getting spattered in gore […] screaming ‘I’ll fucking kill you!’ on the prime of their lungs.” Digitaltrends straight up described it as a “high-fantasy Final of Us,” which is uh…hmm, not my favourite descriptor ever.
It stays to be seen how eloquently Last Fantasy XVI can deal with its darker tones, however it’s clear from varied previews that it ain’t holding again on darkish and mature themes. As GameSpot so aptly put it, the problem can be for FFXVI “to not conflate a darker tone and maturity.” I really feel skeptical about its means to string this needle, however I’ll be glad if my doubts about FFXVI’s darker tone show unwarranted.
Even collection followers like myself can acknowledge that (single-player) Last Fantasy has been in a tricky spot for some years, with it often feeling like its glory days are lengthy, gone. Whether or not or not Last Fantasy XVI’s modifications will show to be what’s wanted stays to be seen, however not less than we’re seeing Sq. Enix make a critical try and reinvigorate this beloved franchise.
Last Fantasy XVI arrives on June 22, 2023 solely on PlayStation 5.