Yes, you read that right. I truly believe that Final Fantasy 16 is the best PS5 exclusive. And yes, I do mean over Horizon Forbidden West, Ratchet and Clank Rift Apart, and even God of War Ragnarok (which I put forward as my Game of the Year in 2022). Final Fantasy 16 really is that great of an experience, and one of the best PS5 games in general I’ve played since the console launched.
My Final Fantasy 16 review goes over my opinions on the game in much more detail, but I wanted to spend more time covering why, on a personal level, I really love FF16. Note, there are a couple of light spoilers ahead, so if you’re still trying to avoid those, the spoiler-free review is definitely worth a read instead.
Interestingly, it wasn’t actually love at first sight with Final Fantasy 16. I found that its opening hours were exposition-heavy, with sluggish combat that took a little while to fully adapt to and push to its limits. However, it didn’t take long for FF16’s gameplay, and its story, to start wooing me.
Before my time reviewing the game, I avoided as many trailers and spoilers as I possibly could in order to get the full experience, meaning I had no clue about Joshua meeting his fate in the opening hours of the game. The mystery behind the second Eikon of Fire was enough of a driving force to keep me going, despite my early thoughts thinking the experience would be mediocre.
The character behind the death of Joshua Rosfield and the Eikon Ifrit is discovered quite early on in the story, but the overall narrative is so good that it doesn’t need to rely on this one big mystery. At this point, Clive’s best abilities start to emerge, making combat much more intriguing and fun. It was at this moment my obsession with FF16 truly began, and, my passion for the latest entry grew stronger with each passing hour.
It helps that Final Fantasy 16 paces the minor and major boss encounters superbly well. While fighting random and normal opponents is fun on its own, the major enemies of the game are some of the most exciting elements of combat, testing every bit of skill and talent that you’ve learned throughout the course of the game so far. Sure, you can brute force encounters and, most likely, you’ll complete them with a few deaths notched up. But utilizing every element in Clive’s toolkit makes things both easier and more gripping at the same time, creating adrenaline-fueled battles of attrition that look and feel amazing.
Many of the Final Fantasy 16 bosses keep the focus on Clive, but when things get wild, they get really wild. In between the deeply-detailed and lore-driven world of Valisthea and its political landscape, comes gigantic Eikon battles that not only make sense within the world these fights take place in, but it keeps my simple and stupid gamer brain happy. You can diagnose and take apart the battle between Ifrit and Titan, dissecting the very reasons behind this fight, but in reality, it just feels and looks fucking incredible. There are few games that have pulled off encounters that are this epic and of this scale.
Add to all of that a beautifully well-done score and some incredible story moments, and there’s one thing that makes Final Fantasy 16 feel much more special than any existing PlayStation 5 games, and that’s because it grew on me, instead of me going in with the expectation that it would be a masterpiece. I went into God of War Ragnarok knowing it would be sensational. I played Horizon Forbidden West knowing I’d love it. But Final Fantasy 16 was a pure surprise, and it’s for that reason that it is my favorite game on PS5 to date.
My love for Final Fantasy 16 could make me write about it for another 3,000 words, but for the sake of your time, I’ll leave it there. But if you’re stepping into the world of Valisthea, we recommend checking out our Final Fantasy 16 walkthrough which offers plenty of great guides to get you started. Alternatively, if you want to find more games for your backlog that we deem great, you can check out our best games of all time list.