2023 is a fantastic gaming year. Hogwarts Legacy, Diablo 4 and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom are three real standouts. However, the PlayStation 5 now has the game for which you should really let the rest fall out of your hands. WANT editor Jeroen Kraak tells you all about it.
I myself spent hours in Hogwarts Legacy and The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. Now I don’t touch them at all and there’s a reason for that. The PlayStation 5 has a game that gobbles up all my free time. Until I finish this one, I really don’t want anything else.
Putting aside Hogwarts Legacy and Zelda
Although my interest in gaming has waned a bit lately, it’s right back. I just didn’t feel like finishing Hogwarts Legacy and The Legend of Zelda anymore. Although I really enjoyed those games, at some point it became a bit too much of the same.
I got a little tired of open-world games. Walking miles from one quest to another. Every time the same mission: bring object A to person B, walk to the next temple, in the meantime knock down some pigs and find a new weapon because your sword fell apart again.
An open world and the freedom that comes with it is of course nice, but it stops a bit when every little house looks the same and hardly adds anything. Sometimes it is just better when the world is a bit more structured, the places really have their own face and the story becomes leading again. This new PlayStation 5 game does that wonderfully.
Many games fall into repetition and do the same trick every time. This year’s games are no exception. Hogwarts Legacy has taken almost everything from other games, including the thousand icons on the map (hello, Ubisoft). The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom does almost everything the same as Breath of the Wild, only now you can build a little more and the world is a little more complex.
Visual spectacle (Image: Square Enix)
Final Fantasy XVI on PlayStation 5 is unlike any of its predecessors
Square Enix could have chosen to take a safe route and do everything the same as previous volumes, but they don’t. No, volume sixteen is truly different from its predecessors and that will take some getting used to for fans of the series, but in the end they are going to love this very much.
Personally, starting from Final Fantasy X (one of my favorite games), I played all parts except the online version. Still, I slowly lost interest. XVI is exactly what the series needs: real innovation.
When you start Final Fantasy XVI on your PlayStation 5, it’s as if you’ve entered Game of Thrones. A great power struggle is raging in the world full of wars, betrayal and magical powers. So this game has chosen a medieval setting, taking it back to its roots, just as crystals play an important role.
With that setting, however, Square Enix has chosen a different atmosphere for Final Fantasy XVI. The series used to be mostly cute with a chocobo here and there that you could cuddle. In the latest installment, a much darker tone is taken. Swearing, sex, slavery and war all feature. No good game like Hogwarts Legacy or Zelda, then.
Familiar and new
The story is really great with all kinds of plot twists. You are constantly on the edge of your seat and you just want to know how it all ends. The characters in the game are all well developed. The side-quests give background to the story, although not all of them are very successful.
By the way, you don’t have to miss chocobos entirely, as they are still in the game. In fact, Final Fantasy XVI has brought some familiar elements with it on the PlayStation 5. Think typical Final Fantasy music, various monsters and the Eikons, which in previous versions were still summoned by summoners as aeons. This gives just that familiar feel that maintains the connection to the game series as a whole.
Final Fantasy is, of course, all about the battles, and they are truly spectacular in this volume. It’s a little less traditional and more turned into a true action-RPG. You fight mainly with the main character through combinations of the various key combinations. Nevertheless, you also regularly get help from teammates, although they do so mainly on the basis of AI.
Zelda and Hogwarts Legacy can learn this from PlayStation 5 game
These battles now look really flashy on your PlayStation 5 and are full of spectacular visuals. This can sometimes cause you to lose your way a bit in a battle, but it does make it all much more dynamic. Plus, big battles sometimes follow each other at breakneck speed, putting you on an action-packed roller coaster ride with no moment of rest.
Banging action. (Image: Square Enix)
Final Fantasy XVI has retained elements that keep it feeling familiar on the PlayStation 5, but at the same time it brings an awful lot of innovation by daring to go in a different direction. Something other games can take an example from. Zelda obviously did that with Breath of the Wild, but Tears of the Kingdom is basically the same thing. Hogwarts Legacy had a fantastic setting, but didn’t take any chances in terms of gameplay.
Again, these games are great, but it would do them good if they were a little more daring. That goes not only for those titles, but also for regular PlayStation 5 IPs like Horizon and God of War. All top-notch titles, but they walk the safe path instead of really innovating.
Of course taking risks can turn out wrong, but Final Fantasy XVI shows that it really is worth trying. Hopefully this will be an encouragement to other game developers and we will also see, for example, a GTA 6 and Starfield packed with new elements.