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9 things to know before starting Final Fantasy 16

Strategize before heading into war

Young Jill and puppy Torgal waving in Final Fantasy 16 Image: Square Enix Creative/Square Enix via Polygon
Johnny Yu (he/him) is a guides writer at Polygon. He has written about games such as The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Diablo 4, and Fire Emblem Engage.

In Final Fantasy 16, you play as Clive Rosfield, the First Shield of Rosaria, who is given the responsibility of protecting Joshua, your younger brother and the Dominant of the Phoenix. You’ll quickly find out that you clearly weren’t trained enough to complete this task, so let us help! These tips will help you explore the world of Valisthea and defeat your enemies with ease.

Complete the side quests

As you progress in the main story, you’ll unlock side quests that are marked by a green exclamation point. These side quests will provide you with more lore on what is happening around Valisthea, and they will make your Final Fantasy 16 that much more immersive. Also, the rewards from these side quests often provide crafting materials for weapons and equipment that you may be missing.

Photo illustration: Johnny Yu/Polygon | Source images: Square Enix Creative/Square Enix via Polygon

Keep an eye out for side quests marked with a plus sign as these quests reward you with upgrades like increased inventory capacity, accessory slots, and chocobo riding.

Stock up on potions

You may think to yourself that you won’t need to heal because you simply won’t take damage. I thought the same way, and made it through many of the battles without needing any, but you start to realize that more and more bosses are getting thrown at you with no break in between. You’ll start using your potions thinking that the fight is over, but you thought wrong! Reinforcements are on their way and another boss battle is looming in the distance.

Use your ability points as you get them

In Final Fantasy 16, you can refund your abilities at no cost. If you upgrade an ability, but don’t end up liking it, you can regain all of your spent ability points and use them to upgrade a different ability. Test out all of the abilities to see which abilities fit your playstyle and make your ultimate build.

Save as much as you want

Puppy Torgal being carried by Jill in Final Fantasy 16 Image: Square Enix Creative/Square Enix via Polygon

Final Fantasy 16 does a good job at auto-saving the game for you, but you’ll have up to 50 save slots to use! There aren’t many game-altering decisions, but you should save often to revisit any point in your playthrough for at least one reason: This is the only way to see Torgal as a puppy again.

Use Active Time Lore to refresh your memory

Active Time Lore screen in Final Fantasy 16 Image: Square Enix Creative/Square Enix via Polygon

When I play story-rich games like Final Fantasy 16, I’ll often forget who some characters are and their relations with the main protagonist. If you’re anything like me, Creative Business Unit III and Square Enix seem to have figured out a solution for our collective short-term memory.

Hold down the touch pad on your PlayStation 5 controller to use the Active Time Lore feature, which contains more than 2,800 different entries of information on characters, locations, and events that are taking place around you. This is even usable during cutscenes when you see an unfamiliar face!

Don’t immediately reinforce early on

When you first arrive at the Hideaway, you’ll meet the blacksmith, Blackthorne. At the blacksmith, you can craft new weapons and equipment or reinforce the gear you already own. It may be tempting to reinforce your gear to the next big thing, but hold off on that for a little bit.

Early on, you aren’t provided with many side quests, so all of the content you can complete is focused around the main story. Once you complete a main story quest, you’ll return to the Hideaway to find out that there is a new big shiny toy you can craft at the blacksmith. This happens often in the beginning of Final Fantasy 16, so hold onto your reinforcement materials for now.

Sell your valuables

As you’re looking through the shop menus, you may be thinking to yourself, “Why is every orchestrion roll so expensive?” and “It’ll take me forever to get this much gil!”

Selling all of your valuables at a shop in Final Fantasy 16 Image: Square Enix Creative/Square Enix via Polygon

Boy, do I have the solution for you. During your playthrough, you’ll collect numerous gil bugs, black blood, amber, and empty shards. These are not crafting materials used to create your next weapon or equipment, but instead are valuables that can be traded for gil. Head over to your nearest shop and sell all of your valuables by pressing the touch pad to make a lot of gil at once.

Don’t just spam the melee combo

The melee combo may be the first thing that the tutorial teaches you, but don’t get into the habit of spamming square over and over! Final Fantasy 16 has a lot to offer in combat, and if you’re stuck with just mashing square, you may get bored very quickly. Weave in a magic burst in between your melee attacks, or bring the battle into the air with your abilities. The combat can be very entertaining as long as you get creative with it and avoid the impulse to spam melee attacks.

Play your way

If you’re here for the rich story, choose the story-focused mode. If you want to hack and slash your way through the enemies, go ahead and spam that melee button — I mean, uhh, choose the action-focused mode. You can always change the focus in the settings at any point in your playthrough.

For those worried about combat, you can equip timely accessories that make the combat a little less daunting. The timely accessories are available in both modes, but will be equipped from the start of the story focused mode. These accessories will lower the difficulty level by making combos easier, providing more time to evade attacks, evading attacks automatically, using a potion when your HP drops below a certain point, and inputting assist commands automatically.

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