Final Fantasy XVI doesn’t hit PlayStation 5 until June 22, but players have already gotten a chance to check out the Game of Thrones-influenced action-RPG early thanks to a two-hour demo on the PlayStation Store. It’s excellent, and also reveals some cool features I hadn’t been aware of before. My favorite is a simple but slick menu screen that swivels around the battlefield even when the action is paused.
Final Fantasy XVI isn’t turn-based, with combat unfolding in real-time. But you can still pause the game mid-fight to scroll through your inventory, skills, and other menu screens. Instead of taking you to a static interface, however, the menus are overlaid on top of the battlefield, switching to a different view of protagonist Clive Rosfield every time you toggle to a new one. As Gearbox Entertainment writer Jordan Mychal Lemos pointed out on Twitter, it’s an awesome little tweak.
Earlier turn-based Final Fantasy games where battles took place in separate areas from the main overworld were great about trying to add cinematic flourishes to help the numbers-based action feel more dynamic and engaging. By making the mid-fight menus active in their own way, Final Fantasy XVI continues that ethos and makes the transition between real-time action and text-based character fiddling less jarring.
The demo is chock full of other fun details as well, like 16-bit avatars pumping their fists on the save screen. The save data itself carries over to the purchased game for anyone interested in downloading it for free and giving the game a shot. Finishing the prologue even unlocks a second mini-demo just focused on higher level combat. I’ll withhold final judgment until finishing the full game, but I’m already enjoying what I’m seeing.