Final Fantasy 16 PS5 Review – Can this world famous RPG live up to the past in style?


Final Fantasy 16 PS5 Review – After what seems like an age after the release of Final Fantasy 15, the development team at Square Enix Business Unit 3 have finally released the next title in the series. Obviously between releases we have had the brilliant remaster of Final Fantasy 7 so now the fans can finally rejoice.

Final Fantasy 16 – Ascension Trailer

Final Fantasy 16 PS5 Review

For those of you that have never come across or played a Final Fantasy game before, have you been living under a rock? No, seriously, Final Fantasy 16 is a narrative driven action heavy RPG which has set a new standard for the series.

Following the life of young nobleman Clive Rosfield, the game tells a gritty, dark fantasy story, bursting with mystery and political intrigue. The title also sees some significant departures for the series. Instead of the futuristic fantasy lands which we have grown accustomed to, we are now presented with a more grounded pseudo-medieval setting.

Final Fantasy 16 PS5 Review
Final Fantasy 16 PS5 Review

We have also moved away from the party orientated gameplay and now focus on a single character as well as the move from turn based battles to a more free flowing real time battle mechanic. These changes that Square Enix have implemented has meant that something truly special has been brought to life. Something that is not only one of the best PS5 games to have released over the last few years, but also one of the best RPG titles as well.

Final Fantasy 16 PS5 Review – Let Combat Begin

After 15 mainline Final Fantasy releases (20 if you include X-2, 13-2, Lightning Returns, and Final Fantasy 7 Remake and this title), Square Enix should know a thing about a good RPG. Final Fantasy 16 merges quick fire button presses with character building RPG mechanics. The fight scenes, although fantastic, do start to grow a little stale after a while.

You get the sense of button mashing more than ever and no real tactical edge to the fights. Its a new way forward for the series, but it does seem to need some work. Yes, it allows fights to be fast and furious and visually stunning with cut scenes thrown into battle where you have to press buttons at the right time, but I have grown used to all the previous releases and for some reason it just doesn’t feel quite right.

Final Fantasy 16 PS5 Review

That aside, the main character of Clive works really well. He is a fantastic, well rounded protagonist. The eldest prince of the kingdom of Rosaria brought to life with the exceptional voice talent of Ben Starr. Over the course of the decades long story, he undergoes a lot of change and development but always remains a relatable and likable character, not to mention a bad ass when the need arises.

Whilst we’re talking characters, lets mention Cid. Voiced by Ralph Ineson who also features in Diablo IV, there is a sort of young Liam Neeson feel. That being said, for me, the voice just doesn’t sit right for this character. I cant quite put my finger on why though.

Final Fantasy 16 PS5 Review – Implemented

One of the most interesting ideas to be brought into the game is the lore of the land. Set across 5 kingdoms, each has their own form of government, rulers, religion and ideals. Want to keep up with the story in much greater detail? The game has you covered with Active Time Lore. Rather than drown you through the game with the various lore’s throughout the land there is a great little tool thats been added.

Think of it as an encyclopaedia for the game; at any point during a cutscene you can hold down the PS5 controllers centre pad to bring up a series of contextual compendium entries that are relevant to what’s going on in that scene. So anytime a character mentions a term, character, or location that you don’t know or needed a reminder about, you can bring up the Active Time Lore and an entry would be right there to get you up to speed. These entries change with the events of the story too, updating with new information about the state of the world and Clive’s knowledge about it as it happens.

Its a fantastic addition and I hope going forward a lot more games implement this rather than bogging you down and overwhelming you with information that a lot of people don’t really care about.

Final Fantasy 16 PS5 Review

Added to the game are Elkons. These will be familiar to Final Fantasy players as supremely powerful beings that were once called upon by the summons power. I do miss that you can no longer summon them in battle when needed with some glorious cut scene attacks on your enemy.

Also added are Dominents. These are special humans who are able to tap into their power, even to the point of fully transforming into them.

My main issue with the game as a whole though is that it is very linear. Final Fantasy 15 offered a much more open world game and this is badly missing from the latest title. I guess I’m a purist and miss the things that made earlier entries into the series great. Change is never a bad thing and it certainly doesnt spoil the game as such, it will just take some getting used to for me. That being said, the story still packs in 50+ hours of gaming.

Final Fantasy 16 PS5 Review – Combat

As mentioned above, the combat has changed from turn based to a much more free for all button mash. I will try and break it down a little for you.

Clive can execute a four hit melee combo by “mashing” Square, he can shoot magic with Triangle to hit enemies at a distance, he can use an ability unique to whatever Eikon power he currently has equipped, and he also has access to up to three abilities from that Eikon as well. 

In time honoured Final Fantasy fashion, for bigger enemies and bosses there’s a stagger meter that you can fill by landing attacks, and once it’s full, they will be put in a staggered state, giving you an opportunity to build up a multiplier and lay down huge amounts of damage for a limited amount of time.

Much of the skill involved with combat, if you can class it as skill, comes from your ability to quickly stagger enemies, and then maximize the amount of damage you’re able to do while they’re staggered by optimally using your skills and switching between your Eikons. The issue I had was that it does get very repetitive and there’s not really much of a challenge to the combat.

Final Fantasy 16 PS5 Review

You do get new Eikons as the game progresses and it is a long game, but they don’t really add anything to the combat of any note, it all feels the same throughout. Same with the repetitive enemies that you encounter in fields and on the road. They are heavily recycled. At least the boss fights are always fresh and exciting. A lot with cut scenes added to the combat where you will need to hit timed attacks or dodges.

Regulars will also notice the lovely names of boss attacks pop up on screen as they have for years. Another thing I did notice in the game was the lack of status ailments. There’s no real system of elemental strengths or weaknesses, very little in the way of buffs and debuffs, and most crucially, loot seems like an afterthought. There is plenty dotted around and some chests to open, but they don’t really offer much other than to be used in upgrading items.

Final Fantasy 16 PS5 Review – Stand Out Moments

One thing that impressed me with Final Fantasy 16, not only is it a PS5 exclusive (sorry Xbox for now at least) but the sidequests do make for a great addition (eventually).

OK, they start off being very menial tasks; deliver 3 plates of food, fetch some wood etc etc, but gradually as the game draws on these sidequests act as smart ways to tie up all of the loose threads outside of the main campaign. Side characters are given proper send-offs, pieces that were toppled over in the central story are built back up, and characters that you wouldn’t really expect to have very deep backstories open up to you in often very moving ways.

Final Fantasy 16 PS5 Review

Upon completion of the game you can access a new game+ option which ups the level cap as well as difficulty etc so you will want to do as much as possible in the first play through as you can to prepare.

I also can’t write this review without mentioning the amazing soundtrack, something that Final Fantasy games are famed for. It manages to accompany every big scene in the game perfectly, whether it be big moment fights or tender scenes between characters.

What about the graphics I hear you ask? Well, the game looks stunning in every moment although it does struggle to hold on to 60fps at times even with the priority given to fps performance, but its not enough to distract from what is an amazing game with a few minor issues that I have stated above.

Final Fantasy 16 PS5 review – So What Do We Think?

I am hoping that in years to come, Final Fantasy# 16 will be looked upon as a genre changing game. The additions it has been given may not sit quite right with me at the moment, but when you look upon them seriously, they are addition’s which work well and should become the norm for RPG’s of the future. The Active Time Lore feature needs to be looked upon with intrigue and adapted for other games

Final Fantasy 16 PS5 Review

Match all that with a great storyline, a soundtrack which is probably the best one of the year so far, top notch graphics even though there are some slight performance issues and Final Fantasy 16 is possibly one of the better RPGs to have been released for a while. OK, it may not be top of the pile, but its a very close second.

AIR Entertainment



Story - 10
Gameplay - 7
Graphics - 9
Sound - 10
Gamer since the age of 2 when I was introduced to the Dragon 64. Age is just a number, in my head I will be forever young

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