Clive, Jill, and Torgal looking at the Phoenix Gate. Header for Tips for Final Fantasy XVI
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10 Beginner Tips for Final Fantasy XVI (FF16)

Early game tips for Final Fantasy XVI

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I’d say Final Fantasy XVI is finally out, but compared to previous series games, this one hardly felt like a wait. Still, I think I speak for everyone when I say that Creative Business Unit III’s take on the mainline series has drawn a lot of curiosity. Fortunately, the final product is as fantastic as I hoped it would be.

Final Fantasy XVI marks a bold new direction for the franchise. If you’re a fan of the previous turn-based entries, this game may feel downright alien at the start. Thankfully, Final Fantasy XVI takes many steps to help ease players into its mechanics. With time, you too can Precision Dodge into deadly counterattacks that trigger long, impressive combos. So whether you’re an action game enthusiast or a total newbie, here are ten tips for Final Fantasy XVI that will enhance your early game experience.

Checking the Blacksmith is one of the best tips for Final Fantasy XVI
Screenshot by Destructoid

1: Check the blacksmith often

A couple hours after the prologue for Final Fantasy XVI ends, you’ll find yourself in your first hub area. Naturally, this is where you’ll handle some basic upkeep between exploring fields and charging through dungeons. This is also where you’ll see the blacksmith, who you should check in with often.

Crafting isn’t necessarily deep here. Basically, you’ll shove materials you found into your equipment to make some numbers a little higher. Still, don’t leave those stats on the table, especially when weapon upgrades can help take enemies down faster. Check for a circle marker next to the Blacksmith or Shop icons to see if they have new goods for you!

Rising Flames skill in the Final Fantasy XVI skill tree.
Screenshot by Destructoid

2: Watch which moves deal HP or Stagger damage

In your skill tree, you’ll note that abilities have star ratings that indicate both their raw damage and their stagger damage potential. These aren’t hard to understand, but in the thick of combat, it’s easy to just spam abilities off cooldown and hope for the best. However, you could seriously boost your damage output by using your moves strategically.

This especially applies to the early game, where your pool of Eikonic abilities is still relatively sparse. Moves that primarily stagger enemies can actively waste your time if you use them when an enemy is already staggered. Conversely, if you use your strongest HP damage abilities when a foe is already staggered, you can stack 150% damage modifiers on them.

As your playstyle evolves, you may opt to ignore staggering enemies depending on your build. Either way, as you equip abilities, make sure you know what you’re putting in those ability slots.

Active Time Lore menu in Final Fantasy XVI
Screenshot by Destructoid

3: Activate Active Time Lore when you need it

The plot in Final Fantasy XVI can get pretty dense. You may infer key details from context, but just a few key background details can help immerse yourself in the story. That’s where Active Time Lore comes in.

Anytime during a cutscene, hold the touch pad button to open the Active Time Lore menu. This will show you a small handful of lore blurbs relevant to your point in the story. This is especially helpful near the beginning of the game when terms like Dominants and Bearers get introduced in rapid succession. You don’t need to use this throughout the entire game, but definitely check your Active Time Lore if something confuses you.

Clive using the Flames of Rebirth ability in Final Fantasy XVI
Screenshot by Destructoid

4: Respeccing is free

As you progress your skill tree in Final Fantasy XVI, you’ll see a mixture of cheap upgrades and expensive abilities to unlock. If you have your eyes on, say, the Flames of Rebirth move, you might think to save your ability points. Don’t do this!

Respeccing is fast and free in Final Fantasy XVI. If you aren’t in combat, you can get your ability points back from any skill, no questions asked. In other words, if you’re saving for an expensive ability, invest in other skills in the meantime and reallocate those points later. As a bonus, this system makes it very easy to experiment with different playstyles. Find what works best for you!

Clive using ranged attacks against a boss battle in Final Fantasy 16
Screenshot by Destructoid

5: Use ranged attacks to learn attack patterns

Bosses in Final Fantasy XVI are absolutely bonkers. We’re talking multiphase, bombastic enemies that stretch the limits of what your PS5 can even handle. These encounters can easily pummel anyone who recklessly charges, which is where ranged attacks come in.

To learn attack patterns, it helps to keep a small distance while pelting magic with the triangle button. This makes it very easy to find out how long certain enemies will wind up moves, or what areas certain attacks will strike. Then, once you have the rhythm of the fight down pat, rush in to start comboing between Precision Dodges.

Honestly, it can be easy to forget you have magic at your disposal in any given moment. If a boss absolutely prevents you from closing in on them, chucking magic can help you squeeze in a few hits as you wait for them to return to the arena.

Normal health and grey health in Final Fantasy XVI
Screenshot by Destructoid

6: Pay attention to your grey health

When Clive takes damage, you should notice two things about your health bar. Firstly, you’ll lose health, because… well, that’s how video games work. But more importantly, you’ll also notice that part of your health bar becomes greyed out. This is no accident.

While grey health doesn’t contribute to your overall health pool, you can restore it using certain abilities. The biggest example of this is Torgal’s Cure command, which will slowly regenerate your grey health specifically. The Flames of Rebirth ability follows the same rules with its healing properties. To heal beyond this, you’ll want to either use an item or wait for a level up, which will fully restore your HP.

Clive charging a magic attack in Final Fantasy XVI
Screenshot by Destructoid

7: Remember that you can charge attacks

Once you start unlocking skills, you’ll discover charge attack options for both your melee and magic buttons. Don’t forget you have these once you unlock them!

The game will instruct you that charged attacks can break enemy shields, but that’s far from their only use. For example, when you’re still in recovery frames after finishing a combo, you can hold down an attack button to prepare a strong strike, even when you’d normally have to wait to start swinging again. Use all the tools at your disposal!

Looking at a Potion in the items menu of Final Fantasy XVI
Screenshot by Destructoid

8: Stock up on items if you’re having trouble

Unlike classic RPGs, you can’t grind until you can afford 99 potions to breeze through every dungeon in the game. Clive can only hold a handful of each item, but they can easily make the difference between victory and defeat.

If you’re stocked on items, any potions you find will turn into instant healing. Additionally, stat buff items like Stoneskin Potions can help you withstand attacks you don’t know how to dodge or amplify your damage during burst windows. They’re relatively cheap to stock up on, so you might as well grab them in case of an emergency.

Clive accepting a side quest in Final Fantasy XVI
Screenshot by Destructoid

9: Complete sidequests when you find them

So I don’t mean to sound any alarms with this tip, but Final Fantasy XVI does have points of no return. These generally won’t take you by surprise, as the game will nudge you to take care of unfinished business beforehand. However, they do exist. I recommend you clear side quests as you progress so nothing passes you by.

Granted, most side quests in Final Fantasy XVI involve small stories that flesh out the world. They do have some nice rewards, but missing them won’t ruin your save file or anything. Completing them does make Final Fantasy XVI feel more like an RPG than a character action game, though, which brings me to my final point.

Clive finding a treasure chest in the Phoenix Gate in Final Fantasy XVI
Screenshot by Destructoid

10: Explore and find treasure chests

Final Fantasy XVI is not an open world game, but I wouldn’t say this is a bad thing. Like the NES and SNES Final Fantasy titles, many areas hide treasure chests to uncover if you spend time exploring. I recommend checking any curious corners or hallways you find to get the most out of Final Fantasy XVI, especially if you’re approaching it more as an RPG.

While most accessories you’ll find won’t necessarily change your game experience, they still add a great sense of discovery to the game. And at the end of the day, you paid $70 to play something you enjoy. Take the game slowly, soak in the scenery, and get as invested in the world as you want.

We don’t know if we’ll ever get another mainline Final Fantasy game like this again. But if there’s only one tip you should take going into Final Fantasy XVI, it’s to enjoy it while it lasts.

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Timothy Monbleau
Guide Editor - Timothy started writing community blogs for Destructoid in 2012. He liked it so much he decided to write articles for the site professionally. His love for RPGs and the Ys series will endure forever.