Final Fantasy XVI is a well-crafted medieval fantasy game chock-full of epic and memorable story beats and character moments. Which moments in Final Fantasy XVI are your favorites? These top five moments are the game’s highlights, the sequences I look forward to replaying the most on New Game +.
Note: this Boss Rush Banter will go into spoilers for Final Fantasy XVI.
5. Clive Accepts the Truth
When Clive and Jill journey to Phoenix Gate to get answers, Clive realizes he has to accept the truth: not just what happened to Joshua and the role he played in his demise, but also acknowledging that he is the Dominant of Ifrit. Leading up to this point, Clive has shifted the blame to this “other” Dominant of Fire to try and spare himself the guilt.
This sequence is a lovely character moment for Clive, showcasing growth, accountability, and dedication to move forward, no matter how painful. Action-packed as Clive has to fight his Infernal Shadow numerous times, it illustrates how accepting truth doesn’t happen instantly and is well done.
4. Phoenix vs Ifrit (Prologue)
The brutal battle between Phoenix and Ifrit is the opening scene of Final Fantasy XVI and one that players experience twice. At the very beginning, there’s little to no context for what’s happening, and the story starts “in medias res,” or at an exciting, impactful moment. As you progress through the prologue, you gain the complete build-up and context for this fight before playing through its entirety again, and it’s great.
Eikon battles in Final Fantasy XVI are an absolute spectacle, and Phoenix versus Ifrit is the first of many. With unique backdrops (including a visual reference to The Lord of the Rings) and the incredibly epic score of “Away” by Masayoshi Soken, this fight is a stand-out for me. What comes after is hard to watch, but it sets the tone for everything else to come. Square Enix and Creative Business Unit III did an excellent job with this sequence.
3. Drake’s Head
A fun spin on the classic “Mothercrystals are a blessing to be saved” trope in previous Final Fantasy games, Drake’s Head marks the first mission to destroy the Mothercrystals. This sequence of the game is epic and visually stunning. From the otherworldly fight against Typhon to Ultima’s introduction to Cid’s sacrifice and Joshua’s unexpected appearance, this sequence at Drake’s Head is excellent and memorable.
I specifically want to call out Ultima’s introduction here; too often in Final Fantasy games, the stories don’t introduce the god-like threat until near the end, and it often feels out of left field. I greatly appreciate that Final Fantasy XVI introduced their main god-like villain in Ultima early enough that his presence would be threatening and impactful for the rest of the story.
2. “And thus did our journey end…”
The ending sequence of Final Fantasy XVI sees the stakes escalating to even further heights. With Ultima working to create a new world, Clive, Joshua, and Dion team up to raid Origin themselves and put a stop to him once and for all. The scene as Bahamut flies them to the crystal and destroys it to make their way inside is visually stunning. The battle that comes after with Ifrit, Phoenix, and Bahamut fighting together is exciting and wastes no time getting to the action.
But things quickly go sideways, and after Dion seemingly falls to his demise, Clive and Joshua are left to face Ultima alone. After more story revelations, Joshua dies in Clive’s arms, and it’s gut-wrenching to watch, showcasing some incredible voice acting from Ben Starr as he grieves. The multi-phase boss fight with Ultima is fun and visually striking. I especially loved the final phase and using our Eikonic abilities against Ultimalius while hearing the voices of Clive’s friends and family cheering him on.
Lastly, I appreciate the ambiguity of the ending. On one hand, it’s heartbreaking, but it’s appropriate and thematic to the story. Also, the post-credit scene is lovely and reaffirms the themes and goals of the characters throughout the game.
1. Phoenix and Ifrit vs Bahamut
A little over halfway through the game, Bahamut goes berserk in the Crystalline Dominion, unleashing devastating attacks on the city. Joshua transforms into the Phoenix to try and stop him, with Clive joining the fight as Ifrit not long after. This entire sequence is, far and away, my favorite part of Final Fantasy XVI.
This sequence is not only very epic but also reminds me the most of an anime. Like any good anime should, it continues to build and escalate in fantastic ways. The fight against Bahamut is already great on its own, but including Phoenix teaming up alongside Ifrit for combo attacks? And then later being able to fight Bahamut as the Phoenix, with “Away” returning as the battle music as you soar through the skies? And then, on top of all of that, seeing Ifrit and Phoenix fuse to fight Bahamut in space?! It’s incredible.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t address what happens after this multi-phase fight, too. After Ifrit Risen subdues Bahamut, Clive and Joshua are (finally!) reunited. It’s a beautiful and sweet scene, followed by Dion getting revenge for his father by killing Olivier and sending Anabella completely over the edge. It’s so good. Phoenix and Ifrit versus Bahamut is where Final Fantasy XVI peaked for me, and it is ultimately my favorite moment in the game.
What are your favorite moments in Final Fantasy XVI? Let us know in the comments, or join us on Boss Rush Discord!
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