Final Fantasy XVI prelaunch hands-on preview

Final Fantasy XVI Clive

With non-E3/Summer Game Fest officially in the record books, we can finally share with you everything that we got to play and preview. If you want to check out all of the Summer Game Fest previews, click on this, SGF Previews. Throughout the week, we spent time with some of Ubisoft, Activision, Square Enix, Amazon Games, Remedy, and Disney’s upcoming games.

We wrapped up the week of Summer Game Fest by meeting with Ubisoft and going to the Square Enix Final Fantasy XVI Pre-launch party. We will share with you more information about the Ubisoft meeting in a different article, but here is what took place at the Square Enix Final Fantasy XVI Pre-launch party.

Upon arriving at the Square Enix Final Fantasy XVI Pre-launch party, guests had to ways to enter the event. Within the grounds, Square Enix welcomed local food trucks and Rockstar Energy to celebrate the game’s upcoming launch.

While in the venue, guests could take photos at two photo booths, and sign special Final Fantasy 16 banners; these banners requested you share a special Final Fantasy moment. Inside the hangar, guests with a ticket could play the Final Fantasy 16 demo.

Those without a ticket could watch them play, take photos with the Ifrit statue and Garuda hand, or check out the upcoming Final Fantasy XVI merchandise before its release.

The event officially opened with a keynote ceremony featuring Naoki Yoshida (Producer), During the keynote, everyone was excited regarding new information about the upcoming game and also that Platinum Games and the Kingdom Hearts team had helped with Final Fantasy XVI.

After the keynote was done, a demonstration of Clive’s Eikon Powers was showcased. Guests at the event could go outside to participate in autograph signings from the FF16 team. If you want to check out all the video presentations. Once it was 6:30 PM PST, we were welcomed over to the right side of the venue to stream a demo of Final Fantasy XVI.

Final Fantasy XVI Preview

Going into the Final Fantasy XVI demo, it’s worth mentioning I have not played a Final Fantasy since the release of the Final Fantasy VII Remake.

Even then, my experience with the franchise has been limited with me only playing parts of Final Fantasy X and XV, and completing the Lightning trilogy of Final Fantasy XIII, XIII-2, and Lighting Returns. In fact, it was not until after playing Kingdom Hearts that I even considered playing Final Fantasy.

Going into the demo, our key focus was how does Final Fantasy XVI play/feel and how does the game look? Additionally, we were curious about the rumors that Final Fantasy XVI would be a timed exclusive for the PlayStation 5. While we did not get a definitive answer a date of 12/31/23 was shared with us, so we will take that with a grain of salt.


Jumping into Final Fantasy XVI, we found that the game’s controls were fairly easy to pick up but rotating through the attacks took some time to get used to. During the fight switching between the elemental attacks seemed more like a challenge than a helpful aspect.

Since we were jumping into the game at a random point, we did not realize to access the skills and equipment menus to upgrade skills or change out gear. While playing through the demo a second time, we were able to upgrade our skills and change our equipment making for an easier time. Additionally, we took off the ring that gave us a prompt to dodge incoming attacks and found it easier to dodge abilities.

Exploring the castle felt a little bit too linear compared to other Final Fantasy games I have played in the past but visually the castle was appealing. In fact, I was more interested in exploring every nook and cranny to see what the developers created than hacking and slashing the enemies.

Excluding the rotation of abilities, combat in the game felt smooth especially when locking on to enemies and rotating the camera between them. Having the ability to hit enemies in the same area while hitting the targeted enemy was a nice addition.

The game’s AI felt almost too easy to fight. In a way, it felt like the enemies were rolling low on a D20 vs us getting high rolls; this could be potentially due to the demo’s difficulty.

The game’s overall combat at least in the demo felt smooth and very refined with there not being much difficulty to switch between enemies, use different abilities and slay those that were in our way.

The Kaiju fight that we experienced between Ifrit and Garuda felt like it was directly from Platinum Games Bayonetta series. This fight felt less tactical and as if you could buttons to kill your enemy with minimal difficulty. The pacing of the fight also felt significantly slower than Final Fantasy XVI‘s base combat.


Although the Kaiju’s looked good, that fight still felt like a downgrade visually compared to the game’s base combat. All the cutscenes within the game were beautifully rendered with so much detail put on each aspect of the characters.

Each feather and aspect of Garuda’s body was highly detailed showcasing the power of the current generation. With all of the human characters, you could see and feel their emotions based on the voice acting and the visual depiction of the character’s faces.

Each enemy within the game felt unique and different from one another with even foot soldiers having their own feel. Yes, some seemed copy pasted but you could tell the difference between a soldier, a mage, and an archer. The indicator to show an enemy was coming was also helpful however, the dodge indicator felt more intrusive than a helpful aid.

Honestly, we can’t wait until Final Fantasy XVI launches on June 22nd, 2023. If the demo is anything to go by, we can expect that many Final Fantasy fans will love Final Fantasy XVI; if not there is always Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth and Ever Crisis to look forward to.

We want to give a special thanks to Square Enix for inviting us to the Final Fantasy XVI Pre-launch party. If the demo is anything to go by, we can expect that the game will be well received based on the combat and visuals, however, we would have loved to learn more about the story.



Hardcore gaming enthusiast, cosplayer, streamer, Tall Anime lover (6ft 9), and a die-hard competitor. I have been a Pop-Culture Journalist since 2011 specializing in shooters, Pokemon, and RPGs.

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