Final Fantasy XVI is the latest entry in the long-running mainline JRPG series from Square Enix. Led by Creative Business Unit III and the watchful eyes of some of the brilliant minds behind some of the best Final Fantasy games in recent years, this is a monumental occasion for gamers everywhere. Before you get started, though, you should check out this Final Fantasy XVI getting started guide.
I’ve already beaten all of Final Fantasy XVI and seen what the world of Valisthea and its Mothercrystals have to offer.
As such, I am taking the ideas and what I’ve learned over the last 50 hours of playing this game to help you out before you even pick up your Dualsense controller and boot up your PS5 to play the game. From tips and tricks I wish I knew ahead of time to mistakes to avoid, here is everything you need to know in this Final Fantasy XVI getting started guide.
Bottom Line Up Front
Final Fantasy XVI is the 16th mainline game in the series, excluding the spin-offs. It comes from Creative Business Unit III, which you may know as the developers behind both the Final Fantasy MMOs as well as the Dragon Quest Builders spin-off series.
In addition, Final Fantasy XVI was overseen by Naoki Yoshida, the man behind the revival and immense success of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. The game takes place in the world of Valisthea, where numerous countries are drawn to the five massive Mothercrystals.
These crystals give magic and powers to the lands, including the Dominants. These Dominants can transform into various Eikons, which are gods based around the several elements in the world. You play as Clive, the older brother of Joshua, the Dominant of the Eikon Phoenix, and the son of the ruler of Rosaria.
Before You Even Begin Your Journey Into Valisthea
Before you even purchase Final Fantasy XVI, there are some steps you should take to truly get yourself prepared for this game. There are some intriguing inspirations for this title, as well as ways to check the game out for free without spending any money on it just yet.
So, once you have your PS5, since this is exclusive to that console right now, these are the steps you should take before you get the game.
Download the Demo
First off, there is a free demo for Final Fantasy XVI. You don’t have to buy the game to check it out just yet. If you were burned by past games in the series that were a bit risky, you might want to download the demo and see how the game works for you.
The demo gives roughly two to three hours of gameplay, depending on how fast or slow you go, and it gives you the entire tutorial prologue segment about Clive, his younger brother Joshua, and more. You get an excellent taste and feel of the action combat and the immensely dark story.
The best part? Your saved file from the demo carries over to the full release. So there really is no reason not to check out the game this way. It helps to ensure that you want to pick up this title, after all.
Brush Up on the Trailers and Lore
I suggest checking out all of the trailers for the game before you pick up this title. Final Fantasy XVI is rich in lore, characters, the world, its countries, and the history of the lands. There is a lot to unpack in this title, and it is jam-packed and full of lore to experience.
At the very least, the trailers do a fantastic job of setting the stage for the Dominants and characters you need to know about. It also hints well at the events that will happen in this game and the motivations that Clive Rosfield has for the main story.
Play Final Fantasy XIV
This might seem like an odd one, but you should check out Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn if you haven’t already. This game is from some of the same developers and minds behind that amazing MMO, and I would argue that it is up there for the best entry in the entire series.
Plus, you can play the entirety of the base game and the Heavensward expansion for absolutely free. In addition, most of the story content can be played solo these days, so there is no reason to meet up with others and worry about online multiplayer or anything like that.
The first expansion, Heavensward, will primarily be vital to this game. Its setting feels very Game of Thrones-like (more on this in a bit), and the style is similar to what Final Fantasy XVI has going for it. But if you can check out the other expansions, it will help, as there are some callbacks and characters that are reminiscent of later villains like Fandaniel.
Watch Game of Thrones
This might also seem like an odd one, but you should honestly watch or read Game of Thrones if you haven’t already. It heavily inspired this game and its setting, and it even copies some of the twists from it. In fact, Yoshida made all of his lead staff members watch the series, so this is a nice primer for the game for players, too.
Your First Day in the World of Valisthea
To help you out even further, here is a brief walkthrough of what you’ll experience on your first day in the world of Valisthea. This is what I imagine most players will experience in the first time sitting down and playing Final Fantasy XVI. Don’t worry, I tried to avoid some story spoilers, but there are some gameplay spoilers below.
Tutorial and Training
When you aren’t watching all of the prologue cutscenes and the like, you’ll be thrust into the tutorial segments of the prologue, including some more cinematic sections. Here, you are taught by Lord Commander Murdoch how to swing your sword, dodge, use magic, and your abilities in fights.
Much of the starting parts of the game are focused on this part, so the goal here is to simply follow the prompts the game is giving you. If you don’t complete the objective, such as dodging so many times, you won’t be able to continue to the next part of the tutorial.
Your First Mission
After quite a lot of cutscenes, Clive will finally get his first mission as the Shield of Rosaria. You’ll be able to take Sir Wade and Sir Tyler through the swamps to take on some goblins. For better or worse, this game is highly linear in many aspects, so you only have to focus on going from point A to point B.
That said, along the way, you’ll have quite a few fights against the goblins. The key is to focus on a single foe at a time. I love the Circle button that lets you zip to a foe instantly or away from them if you need to dodge quickly.
At the end of the mission, you’ll have to take on a Morbol boss. This boss has a ton of deadly attacks, but they are telegraphed mainly by the boss itself or via the large red bar at the top of the screen. Be sure to attack whenever the boss finishes its moves, and then be careful of any quick time events.
Playing as Joshua
Towards the end of the prologue, you’ll have the chance to play Joshua, Clive’s younger brother. During this portion, Joshua has access to incredibly powerful magic, which you can use with the Triangle button. He also has the ability to cure any ailments with Curaga.
I didn’t let Joshua fight much here for lore reasons, but if you want to fight the foes, the fire magic he has with the Triangle button will instantly decimate most enemies.
Phoenix vs. Ifrit
You also get the chance to play as Joshua during the first Eikon fight of the game. As Phoenix, you have to take down the mysterious Ifrit. This part is mainly like an on-rails shooter game. You have the ability to maneuver Phoenix around the screen to dodge attacks, which you should do.
In between Ifrit’s moves, you should constantly mash the Triangle button to launch ranged fireballs at the foe to damage his health over time. This is a fairly straightforward fight where you dodge and mash this singular button repeatedly until Ifrit’s health bar goes all the way down to nothing, and you win.
Meeting Cid and the Hideaway
After the time skips, you return to the present day, where Clive is 28. You come upon Shiva and have to fight her and a bunch of foes during this portion. The useless soldiers aren’t much of a challenge and don’t pose any more of a threat than the goblins did.
However, you have to watch out for Shiva, who is a more menacing foe. Her ice attacks will cover most of the battlefield, so you’ll have to carefully spend time dodging attacks and then countering with your own Phoenix skills.
After winning, you’ll meet Cid and visit his Hideaway for the first time, concluding the earliest parts of Final Fantasy XVI and its first several hours.
Final Fantasy XVI Core Mechanics Guide
There is much to dig into when it comes to Final Fantasy XVI’s gameplay. While you will be sitting there enjoying gorgeous cutscenes a large portion of the time, there is also some intriguing combat that you can dig into with the game. Here’s what you need to know about the gameplay to master its combat as early as possible to succeed.
First and foremost, this is an action-based game, unlike some of the older Final Fantasy titles that you may be used to. I would even argue that it is much more in-depth in this manner than even its predecessors, Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy 7 Remake, were.
The bulk of this reason comes from the character action style that it has going on that is more akin to something like the Devil May Cry series. It is not necessarily hack-and-slash, as it focuses on mixing together abilities and fast movement to decimate the foes you come across. It is quite unique in this regard as an RPG, even being wilder than something like Nier: Automata.
The most basic attack you have is the swing attack, where Clive swings wildly at enemies with fast movement. This is done with the Square button. On the other hand, you can use the Triangle button in battle to throw some quick magic spells at enemies, which generally don’t deal that much damage but have some ranged assistance.
Other than that, it is all about your dodge. This is where you can get out of the way of enemy attacks and survive what might otherwise be a devastating blow. This game is a fast-paced mix of mashing buttons to win when you aren’t dodging enemy attacks.
Some of the larger foes and more menacing enemies will have a yellow bar underneath their health. This is the stagger bar, which might be slightly familiar to veteran fans of this series. As you deal damage, the stagger bar will go down.
Once it reaches a certain point, the enemy will be staggered or essentially broken and unable to do anything for a few seconds. During this time, you deal more damage than before and don’t have to worry about dodging. A damage multiplier goes up while they are staggered the more hits you land on the foe.
Outside of the base mechanics of Final Fantasy XVI, there are deeper parts like the Eikon powers that Clive has. His unique ability to steal the powers of the Eikons allows him to wield various skills. At the start of the game, you’ll only have access to what the Phoenix has granted Clive.
But over time, you’ll gain access to Garuda’s wind and AOE powers, Bahamut’s devastating lasers and AOE attacks, Ramuh’s versatile lightning attacks, Titan’s earth skills, and much more.
Players can switch between three sets of abilities with two skills each for a total of six skills at any one time. You can activate these by holding down the right trigger and pressing the corresponding Square or Triangle button.
In addition, there is an Eikon circle for each of the central powers you unlock. You gain ability points as you complete missions and defeat foes, which you can spend to upgrade and unlock other skills.
Your points are limited in this game, so using them sparingly is best. That said, the game lets you reset skills and earn back your points for free, so feel free to experiment some.
Abilities and Signature Moves
Each of Clive’s abilities in the game will significantly change the battlefield. I recommend using this as soon as they come off of their cooldown, which ranges from a few seconds to nearly a minute. It is worth experimenting with each Eikon to see which powers work best for you.
In addition to the two primary abilities that each Eikon set has, there is also a signature move. Each Eikon has a different signature move, such as the phase technique that Phoenix gives, which is similar to what Noctis did in Final Fantasy XV.
There are others like Garuda who are able to pull an enemy towards you for you to attack, and Ramuh has a target-based system that locks onto foes and damages them with lightning. You execute all of these by pressing the Circle button while in a fight.
Since you can only have up to three Eikon sets at once equipped, and there are more than double these options available to you, you’ll have to play around with the signature moves and see which ones work the best for you.
As for me, I prefer the Garuda pull-in technique, Bahamut’s charging AOE, and, of course, the must-have phase skill from Phoenix.
There comes a point (slight spoilers) later in the game where you can keep the signature move of a particular Eikon but mix and match skills from various sets. This means you could have the signature move of Garuda but a skill from her and another from Titan, all in the same set for the ultimate mix of the skills you care about.
This is a Final Fantasy game, so there are going to be some elements that are heavily featured in past titles. As you might expect, the classic limit break returns in this game, but it has a unique function here that is quite different from the more recent games.
Instead of being a singular, massive attack or anything like that, the limit break is pretty much Clive’s version of going Super Saiyan. Partway through the story, you’ll unlock this ability, and it will appear under his health bar as a bar comprised of initially two segments.
I recommend upgrading it to the full four segments as soon as you can in the ability tree. How it works is that as soon as one of the segments grows golden, you are able to activate this transformation by pressing down on the left and right thumb sticks at the same time.
Clive will then transform and be much more powerful in this state while also automatically healing himself. It consumes the bars that you have filled up as the transformation goes on, only lasting for a period of time. It is best to take advantage of when an enemy is staggered to deal the most damage to them this way.
Final Fantasy XVI is a bit light when it comes to the gear that Clive wears in fights. That said, you shouldn’t ignore this vital part of how you can increase your stats and do better in the game. On the offensive side, all you have to worry about is the sword that Clive wields in battle.
It has two stats related to it: attack and stagger. The former determines how much damage you deal to a foe, and the other determines how fast you break apart the stagger gauge for larger enemies. Both are essential and usually, you don’t have to worry about picking one over the other.
On the armor side, you only have your belt, vambrace, and three accessory slots. The belt and vambrace are pretty easy to navigate, as you only deal with increasing Clive’s health and defense stats. These are mostly straightforward, without too much worry about which one to use.
Accessories, on the other hand, can radically change gameplay. They might reduce the cooldown of a certain skill or increase the damage of another. If you’re playing Story Mode, they can even act as accessibility options to help Clive automatically dodge most attacks or easily string together combos. You only get three slots, so you have to use them wisely when there are so many good accessories to find.
Best Tips We Wish We Knew on Day 1
Having already beaten this entire game from start to finish, here are some of the tips I’ve learned from playing this game that you should keep in mind when you are starting out:
- Play Story Mode if you struggle with the combat. I will admit I started out in Story Mode with the accessories that simplify combos and help you automatically dodge. As time went on, I eventually turned off some of those accessories. It is excellent for learning the ropes.
- Check the shops to buy new armor and swords often. You only have to worry about pure stats so no reason not to upgrade as soon as you can.
- Always use your Eikon powers when they are off cooldown. They usually deal the bulk of your damage.
- Only heal yourself when you are in grave danger (like the HP bar is red). You can probably survive most battles without healing, and any potions you get past your max carrying capacity will automatically heal you.
- Save your limit break for bosses. It refills decently fast, but worth considering.
- Also, upgrade your limit break as soon as you can. This also goes for basic upgrades like evasion and the like.
- Speak to Harpocrates and the other NPCs at the Hideaway often. Also, look for the little golden icon that appears on shops and other icons. This indicates a new item or conversation that you can check out.
- This may seem controversial but use the frame rate mode. Though its resolution is wonky and all over the place, I find that it is much smoother to enjoy combat with. It’s not perfect, but it does a solid job.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
On the other hand, there are some mistakes you might make in this game. Here are the ones you should avoid to have the most enjoyable experience:
- Don’t worry about unlocking every Eikon power. Experiment with some of them and stick to the ones you like the most.
- Don’t ignore the side content in this game, especially when Clive is 28 years old. Most of the content here will be missable if you get to the next time skip.
- At the same time, though, don’t feel rushed to beat the game. Take your time and enjoy the scenery if you want.
- Don’t feel bad about turning on Story Mode or using its accessories. They are there to help, and the game is still decently challenging with them.
- If you feel sick or don’t enjoy the motion blur aspects of this game like me, don’t forget about the option to turn off motion blur. Just make sure that you are updated to the most recent patch to have this option.
Long-Term Goals to Consider
Lastly, these are the long-term goals that you should consider as you go through Final Fantasy XVI. These are the objectives and elements that won’t necessarily affect you earlier in the game, but they can make a difference as time goes on.
- Consider completing most, if not all, of the side quests and hunts available in the game. They offer such valuable rewards, renown currency, and even sometimes brilliant missable storylines.
- Figure out the right Eikon powers that work for you. This will take time as you unlock more Eikons as the story progresses, but take the time to check them out at the Arete Stone at the Hideaway and see what you like the most.
- Keep any materials, weapons, or items that you don’t know what they are used for. Even if something may seem useless now, keep it. You get plenty of Gil for buying stuff through hunts and the like, so don’t feel desperate. Even some seemingly useless materials and swords can eventually turn into something much better.
- Clive will (spoiler alert) eventually get his own room at the Hideaway. Be sure to do all sorts of optional content to get decorations to trick it out to your liking. In addition, always check the letters here as they offer lovely pieces of lore and occasionally even some hidden side quests.
- Equip the XP accessories, such as the On Fortune and Heavens accessory, as soon as you can. You’ll be grateful for the extra XP throughout the game.
Question: How long will it take to beat FF16?
Answer: It will depend on how fast you go and for how long it will take you to beat FF16. That said, it can usually take no less than 30-35 hours for someone to beat the main story alone without doing much of anything else.
I did most side quests and hunts, and it took me nearly 50 hours, but it could be longer if you completed all of the Chronolith Trials and everything else.
Question: How Many Missions are There in FF16?
Answer: Slight spoilers ahead, but there is a grand total of a whopping 68 main scenario missions that you have to tackle in FF16.
Some of these are quick ones that only take a few minutes to do, while others will take you across the world and span a couple of hours. This doesn’t include any of the optional side quests, either.
Question: Can I play Final Fantasy 16 without playing the others?
Answer: Yes, you can absolutely play Final Fantasy 16 without playing any of the other games. As with most of the mainline titles in this series, you can start wherever you like, and there won’t be any characters or anything you’re honestly missing out on.
If you want to brush up and prepare, I suggest playing Final Fantasy XIV, as it has some similar vibes and comes from the same developers.
Final Fantasy XVI Getting Started Guide: Final Thoughts
Final Fantasy XVI is the next iteration of one of the most beloved video game franchises of all time. There is so much to unpack in this series that only comes out with mainline games once a generation or so at this point. For this reason, you should take your time with this title and experience everything it offers.
I recommend soaking in the world of Valisthea and all of the rich lore and characters that it has going for it. In addition, I suggest you get to know the gameplay and how the various Eikon powers work. Some might work for you better than others might. And I also recommend trying out all of the side content, including the hunts, side quests, and more.
Hopefully, this Final Fantasy XVI getting started guide was able to help you get on the right track to learning about how to enjoy this game. But I was only able to focus on the top-down level mechanics. If you wish to know more about the overall features and options in Final Fantasy XVI, we also have you covered on that.