Coming from Square Enix, Final Fantasy XVI is a game anticipated by not only the fans, as the mainline/flagship game of the company, gamers alike has been keeping an eye on the game since its first teaser release. It has been several months since the previous demo release. And a month prior to its release, Nmia was honoured to be invited to the Global Media Tour in Seoul, Korea.
After testing out the game for ourselves, we took the opportunity for an interview with the game’s Director Hiroshi Takai and Localization Director Michael-Christopher Koji Fox arranged by the event host!Link to the interview here.
The game demo session was around 4 hours long, with the first two chapters available to be experienced by our media friends. It starts off with childhood era Clive (which takes around 2 hours), and the first two hours of Adult Clive. If the media has already experienced the said demo, they can request to swap to the Combat Demo, to experiment with all the different combo and combat skills.
Before the game starts, players can choose between English and Japanese vocals, and for graphics, Graphics focused or Performance focused. While the choices for difficulty are between Story focused and Action focused. We’ve chosen Japanese voice, with Graphic focused settings to experience both the difficulties available.
With the traditional turn-based FF RPG fans in mind, the developer has included a Story focused mode with several support features to allow them to easily adapt to the action gameplay of FFXVI. The support features are similar to the chip system in Nier: Automata, which includes auto dodge, auto guard or auto attack. If the gameplay feels too easy, they can unequip the said support features, or to just change the difficulty altogether.
As the first 18+ adult rated Final Fantasy game, we’ve heard from the producers during the interview that they do not wish to portray an idealised world view, and would like to emphasise more on the dark side of the society, as well as the characters.
The plot expands around Valisthea, with humans being punished for declaring war against the gods 1,500 years ago, and the lands were devoured by darkness and turned barren. To survive, humans cling onto the protection of the Mother Crystal. Thus begins the war for the Mother Crystal among the 5 principality in Valisthea.
The prologue begins with the player being set into the war between the Iron Kingdom and Dhalmekian Republic, soldiers with magic spells and weaponry aside, the great clash between Shiva and Titan can also be seen. One thing that left the biggest impression throughout my gameplay was the political war in the storyline, with betrayal, deceit and mind games alike, and the implicating interactions between Dominant Benedikta Harman and Dominant Alex Lanipekun. The prologue seems to be taking place in the later parts of the game, with Clive being an adult, to guide the player through several simple tutorials.
The game then shifts to the teenage days of Clive, where a simple combat tutorial takes place. From the plot we get to know that Clive is the elder brother that is not valued by her mother, and his weak and sickly younger brother with the Eikon residing in his body, Phoenix, is given special care by their mother.
In the CG cinematics, we can clearly see that the character’s mouth movements are based on the English voice over, and it is said that the decision was made to fit into the mediaeval atmosphere of the game, and has chosen English as the main language of development. But as a player that is used to Japanese voiceovers, I do hope that the developers can include the Japanese accurate mouth movements into the game to make it feel more natural in both languages.
Young Clive will be sent to the wetlands to slay goblins, proving his abilities. The game is not exactly an open world game, and in order to move to different locations, players will have to choose waypoints on the map to be transported there. Entering battle, the directional buttons acts as the item and buffs shortcut, with the Square button being binded to the main attack, Triangle to magic, X button to jump and O button as abilities. Holding down R2 reveals many more blank spaces, which seems to be placeholder slots for further unlockable Eikon abilities for customisation.
The battle with mobs is simple, and even in Combat focused mode, it felt easier than I’d imagined. The second half of the battle is where the action packed visual feast prepared by Suzuki Ryota can be felt.
Across the 4 hours of test play, I’ve fought small mobs, mini and main boss battles, as well as the Eikon battles. The combat visual and impact sensation felt satisfying. Especially in the later battles in the Combat Demo, we get to try out different Eikon moves, and personally I loved the heavy slams and explosive moves from Titan. These solid punches sure is something to look forward to when we actually get our hands on the actual game!
Beside, the Phoenix teleportation move really reminds me of the Warp Strike of Noctis from FFXV, to achieve a more agile and mobile combat, this move just helps to amp up the game’s tempo in general.
As a Real Time Action RPG, the game is bound to be compared against many other titles in the Action genre. Personally I think that the game is not as speedy as it is in Nier: Automata, and the characters feel solid and weighted just nice during movement, and doesn’t feel like light and drifty silhouettes but solid models with decent weight. But with the magic elements boosting the speed, the general pacing and speed feels just nice. But compared to the magic spells, I personally preferred the physical moves more.
The monsters come with a Break system, that renders the enemies open to attacks when the super armour metre is depleted. The small monsters are open to finisher moves in this state, while bosses will have their channelling or charging move interrupted. Seizing these timings, you can deal heavy damage to the enemies. Break applies a taken damage amplification on Boss monsters too!
The Eikon battles are worth anticipating as well. As we’ve found out in our interview, players cannot go into Eikon form at will anytime, but there will be many Eikon VS Eikon battles. In the Demo, we got to try out the Phoenix VS Ifrit battle. Though Phoenix came with mainly ranged attacks and magics, I believe that the future Eikon battles will come with more variety of battlestyles and sceneries. The visuals were breathtaking, and did certainly left a deep impression for me.The fight had a few frame drops here and there during the bombastic visual and lighting effects, but these issues will certainly be fixed in the future update patches.
And at the second half of the demo, players get to try out the side quests. What’s worth mentioning is that there’s a mysterious slate in the base, allowing players to enter an imaginary space, to revisit previously cleared missions, as well as a training spot to try out new combos. This would certainly be the combo video montage video spot when the game goes live soon.
As the second half of Demo contained many plot spoilers, We’ll be avoiding those today, and we believe that a demo will be released before Final Fantasy XVI goes live.
In short, Yoshi-P has led the third development team that worked on Final Fantasy XVI, and I’m pumped to see what the game holds when it’s officially out, especially when I’m teased with all these plots and epic storytelling!
***The above preview was based on a special version made for the media to experience, and contents may differ from the final version.
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