I played Final Fantasy XVI during a recent preview event in February, but it focused entirely on combat. I enjoyed the battle a lot — you can read my thoughts here — but my latest game-related encounter happened during my cover story trip to Square Enix’s Tokyo, Japan offices. I’ve played a few hours of the game, and that’s what everyone who’s part of this latest wave of previews has played, and that’s what I’m talking about here.
But I also saw never-before-seen gameplay, got an exclusive tour of some areas in FFXVI, learned about its endgame, and more for this month’s Game Informer cover story. That story goes live today, so check back for exclusive details on the game. Check back for even more exclusive articles and video interviews in the coming days and weeks as part of our FFXVI exclusive coverage hub. In the meantime, check out our cover reveal from last week.
My hand-in-hand with FFXVI for this preview begins at game launch. The game quickly threw me into a dramatic and scene-chewing duel between the two icons that adorn the title treatment for developer Creative Business Unit III’s latest title treatment, Phoenix and Ifrit. During the various times I spoke with producer Naoki Yoshida about the game’s icon battles, he explained that each fight would be different. In the previous preview, I played as Ifrit and fought Garuda in an all-out brawl-style battle. This time, however, I’m controlling the Phoenix, and the battle plays like a third-person shooter on rails.
With the Phoenix, I aim a reticle to shoot fireballs at the Ifrit as these two Egons crash through a large underground cavern. Sure enough, Ifrid fights back and I fend off their attacks in flashy, cinematic fashion. The action here is frenetic and vibrant flames appear on the screen. But soon, I switch to the protagonist, Clive Rosefield, a soldier who finds and assassinates a dominator, someone who could become an icon. In this case, it is Shiva.
Without spoiling too much, Clive is eventually called a traitor by those he works with. While on the run, he meets Cydolphus Delamon, or Cid for short (because this is a Final Fantasy game). Together, Clive, Cid, and Clive’s companion dog, Dorgal, travel to Cid’s hideout, one of the main centers of the game. The hideout has a lot of features – a pub, a blacksmith, an item shop, and more – and it looks like a great place to relax, check in with the characters, and prepare for what’s next for Clive on his journey.
CBUIII previously talked about how FFXVI takes place over Clive’s three decades – his teens, his 20s and his 30s. As of now, Clive is 28 years old, but most of what I experienced in the game for this preview took place 13 years ago, when Clive was 15 years old. I see Joshua becoming the Phoenix, both in Clive’s life and a key moment in FFXVI’s story. It’s painful to watch, and it’s clear that he’s still not as comfortable as other dominants who do this regularly. It is in this flashback scene that the fight between Phoenix and Ifrid takes place.
My time with young Clive ends with him seeing Joshua brutally murdered by a mysterious assailant. It’s brutal, heartbreaking, surprisingly gory and brilliantly sold by the voice actor of a character you’ll recognize as Logan Hannan, the voice of Hugo de Roon from the Plague Tale series.
Unable to fight back, Clive develops a deep desire for revenge, and this revenge seems to be a driving force in the story throughout FFXVI, or at least at a starting point.
Later in the game’s narrative, I ran for about 20 minutes in one of the open fields near where the Rosarian Duchy once lived. It’s a beautiful, picturesque landscape with ruins, a scenic waterfall, a swamp, and plenty of monsters. There are quests here, but I don’t have permission to interact with them. However, I enjoy fighting the various enemies in the area and finding some hidden chests. What I’m experiencing seems to be about an eighth of this full open area, and the scale is impressive. There are several of these in the game, and I’m excited to explore each one and see how they differ.
I won’t spoil what I experienced – you can read a lot more about what I played, including exclusive details you won’t find anywhere else in my cover story through Game Informer’s FFXVI coverage now and in the coming weeks. Hub – but it’s clear that FFXVI aims to be one of the darkest, most mature and most action-forward games in the series’ entry.