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FF16 does a disservice to its combat system by locking ‘hard’ mode

Square Enix locks Final Fantasy 16's 'hard' Final Fantasy mode behind a full playthrough of FF16 and fans aren't happy because the PS5 RPG is just too easy.

Final Fantasy 16 hard mode locked fans frustrated: an image of Cid from the PS5 RPG

Final Fantasy 16 might be considered one of the best PS5 RPG games of all time with fantastic characters and a map worth exploring, but that doesn’t mean everyone is happy with FF16 and what Square Enix has presented players with. In fact, a faction of Final Fantasy fans are frustrated with the Final Fantasy 16 difficulty levels and how the harder Final Fantasy Mode is locked until you finish the game on either Story Focus or Action Focus difficulties. While there are reasons behind this decision, we think this archaic system should be phased out of games – and FF16 is a prime example of why.

Labelling Square Enix’s decision to lock Final Fantasy 16’s equivalent ‘hard mode’ behind a first playthrough as “stupid”, Redditor ‘SmackTrick‘ has said what quite a few fans of this game are thinking: Final Fantasy 16 is “simply too easy”, despite praising the game’s combat system.

Now, we’re not here talking about some of the Final Fantasy 16 bosses you come across; on Action Focus, they can be a little tricky. However, the standard enemies you face throughout the game are far from a challenge on this middling difficulty level. In fact, you hardly get to see some of this game’s best abilities in action when you’re fighting from boss battle to boss battle. There are some fantastic combos you can unleash using your Eikonic powers, but standard enemies often die so quickly you can’t actually take advantage of them.

This epic AP farm is a prime example of that – and, in part, what makes it so successful. If you’re planning a New Game Plus playthrough on Final Fantasy mode, then this is a good thing. But, universally, it feels archaic and out-dated. However, this is something that’s quite commonplace in all the best PS5 games – and the best Xbox games, too.

If you want to see this game in action and judge for yourself if you haven’t played, you can find gameplay footage below from content creator ‘TheRadBrad‘ – and it certainly doesn’t look too difficult:

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While a lot of games traditionally have an ‘easy’, ‘medium’, and ‘hard’ difficulty level to begin with, there’s almost always an ‘ultra hard’ or ‘veteran’ difficulty locked behind a full completion of the game. Understandably, this can be used to get players to replay a game – and, that’s great for any developer. However, there are ways to make a NG+ playthrough more interesting – and God of War Ragnarok does that extremely well, as an example. However, it looks like Final Fantasy 16’s Final Fantasy mode just increases Clive’s level cap and both the damage and health of enemies you come across.

For those of you out there who want a challenge, this is the mode you need to play. But, the fact that you have to play the entire game through first to get there, feels unnecessary – and quite a few people agree.

“Combat feels deep and rewarding with the [Eikon] combos, but you don’t have the chance to execute them with how quick things die”, one Final Fantasy fan said. “[Final Fantasy] mode still has what I call ‘the safety net’… When you die on a boss, you respawn with the boss’ HP where it was when you died and a fully-stocked potion kit”.

“[Final Fantasy mode] requires an entire second playthrough to enjoy, which I don’t see myself doing”, said another.

“The game doesn’t lend itself to repeat playthroughs,” another FF16 player agreed. “The main draw of the game is the spectacle of the Eikon fights and the story… once you’ve been through those once, you’re not getting anything from doing it again”.

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From what we’ve seen, these arguments are indicative of a wider consensus among Final Fantasy 16 players online, although – of course – we can’t speak for everyone. So, even if you personally disagree, there is certainly a faction of Final Fantasy 16 fans finding themselves frustrated that Square Enix’s game doesn’t provide them with enough of a challenge. Why give Clive so many epic abilities and ways to combine them if you can just breeze through most of the game’s enemies?

We can’t answer that one for you. But, this is something we can’t see Square Enix changing anytime soon – at least for Final Fantasy 16. If you want something of a challenge, you need to play through all the main quests and find out that this game’s most iconic weapon suffers from the RPG’s crafting system – which is another disappointment fans are starting to stumble across. Still, it isn’t all bad – The Loadout’s Callum Self has stated that this is the best PS5 exclusive they’ve played so far in their review, and they’re not alone in that claim. Just, don’t expect this to be a particularly challenging experience, until you finish it for a first time.