or a collection that has been round for the reason that late 80s, Ultimate Fantasy has by no means been one for a similar outdated, standard, with every new principal instalment bringing in new worlds and heroes to reinvent no matter got here earlier than. But even by these requirements, Ultimate Fantasy XVI is a radical departure. It hasn’t simply switched characters or fight programs; it’s successfully switched its style.
Certain, it has the fixtures and fittings of a role-playing recreation. Nonetheless, all of the party-based fight and sophisticated development programs of earlier Ultimate Fantasies have been ditched for one thing that performs extra like a hack-and-slash motion recreation, full with combos, particular assaults, and last-minute dodge strikes and counter-attacks. In some ways, it’s no extra an RPG than God of Warfare or the previous few Murderer’s Creed video games. In reality, you could possibly argue that it’s lower than that.
And for the primary few hours, this seems like a giant mistake. The preventing is simply too easy to be satisfying, with lengthy sections that run virtually on rails. Massive battles flip into barely interactive cinematics, the place you perch on the sting of your seat, ready for the following immediate to let you already know which button to press.
The sport’s world is undeniably spectacular, with among the most unimaginable and imaginative landscapes we’ve ever seen. Nonetheless, there’s valuable little scope to discover it. All you are able to do is click on the following vacation spot on the zoomed-out world map and head in for an additional string of scraps with possibly the odd detour to loot a chest or seize some potions. Lengthy-term followers would possibly begin making comparisons with the little-loved Ultimate Fantasy XIII.
Keep it up. This can be a totally different sort of Ultimate Fantasy, but it surely will get to the suitable place ultimately. The fight by no means reaches God of Warfare ranges of ferocity, and people trying to head off-piste and discover will probably be dissatisfied. Nonetheless, the brand new Ultimate Fantasy excels in terms of crafting a world and a narrative that’ll preserve you bingeing like the newest Netflix blockbuster.
This time, it’s the story of Clive Rosfield, son of the present Grand Duke of Rosaria and brother of the following, to not point out the possessor of some severely spectacular boy-band hair. The six realms of Valisthea have been constructed on Aether, a magical vitality emitted by huge crystals the dimensions of mountains. This magic will be wielded by the Dominants, nobles that include inside them omnipotent spirits referred to as Eikons, and ready to make use of their godlike talents and even remodel into them to steer the troops in battle.
The sport first follows Clive and his epic hairstyle as he battles to guard his Dominant brother by way of tumultuous occasions in Rosaria. It then picks up his story some 13 years later, as he wrestles with the results. The size of the story, spanning a long time, make’s Clive’s journey from lone-wolf warrior to freedom fighter all of the extra compelling.
The staff behind the sport have been very open concerning the affect of Recreation of Thrones. You may see this within the gritty medieval fantasy setting, the tendency to keep away from clean-cut heroes and villains, and the brutal violence, merciless twists and shifts of point-of-view. The rebels have regional accents, Clive will get his personal super-sized wolf buddy, and there’s even the odd bash on the collection’ ‘sexposition’.
Not all the pieces lands the best way the sport’s makers in all probability hoped, they usually typically battle to observe the large motion set items with something significant. But the story is intriguing, Clive and his compadres are participating, and there are some genuinely surprising and touching moments alongside the best way. It’s additionally laborious to overstate the impression of the unimaginable artwork and sky-high manufacturing values, with scenes so magnificent or fairly that you need to cease typically simply to soak up the view.
What’s extra, the motion itself retains getting higher. The place early sequences can really feel like corridors, the later chapters open out extra, with extra areas price testing and extra side-missions to finish alongside the best way. The fight perks up as nicely, as Clive wins and unlocks new powers, opening up new methods to defeat your ever extra fearsome foes.
It seems that Clive has unrealised potential, and by drawing on the powers of the totally different Eikons, he can wreak havoc on brigades of evil troopers or tackle colossal monsters with solely minimal disruption to his wonderful and more and more shaggy mane. And for the large climactic battles, you’ll end up slugging issues out Eikon in opposition to Eikon. There’s nonetheless a spot of button mashing and tapping keys when prompted, however the spectacle stage is so stratospheric that you simply simply don’t care. Suppose Godzilla-sized entities going toe-to-toe as castles crumble throughout them, with the amount turned up well beyond 11.
The frenetic fashion of fight dangers alienating FF veterans, however Ultimate Fantasy XVI has them coated. From the beginning, you possibly can select to put on a number of rings that work just like the assists in driving video games, boosting your defences or making dodges computerized. Whereas it’s tempting to maintain these on all through, there’s a gentle stream of different enchanted jewelry to ween you off them, every boosting your Eikon-infused powers. Your folks may also take in among the enemy consideration, whereas your devoted wolf, Torgal, will be known as upon to heal you or harass the dangerous guys on command. The fights get powerful, however you’re not often alone.
The tip result’s a Ultimate Fantasy that doesn’t play like a Ultimate Fantasy, but looks like one all the identical. It’s nonetheless going to be divisive, and it doesn’t have the depth of an Elden Ring or the limitless prospects of an Elder Scrolls. Whereas the improve system provides you some scope to specialise, there’s solely a lot you are able to do to craft your personal hero. For a recreation that retains banging on about freedom, it doesn’t appear to consider in giving the participant that a lot alternative.
However as Clive continues on his titanic battle, it’s laborious to not get caught up within the onward rush of the story, or the lavish spectacle of every new chapter. I’m unsure this daring journey will go down as a traditional like Ultimate Fantasy VII or XII, but it surely has the center to take an actual gamble and the wit to make it repay. Sword and sorcery journey doesn’t get any extra epic than this.