Anyone who’s read our Final Fantasy 16 hands-on preview already knows that espers play a major role in Square Enix’s action role-playing game. But of course, for Final Fantasy fans, esper summons are not unknown. After all, since their introduction in Final Fantasy 3, they’ve always found their way into fantasy RPGs – albeit in different forms and sometimes under different names. In Final Fantasy 16, they are referred to as “Eikons” in the English version, but the German translation has chosen the usual “Esper” term.
Normally, in most cases, Espers are very powerful, godlike beings who can be summoned to help in a fight for a short time or for a single attack. In the upcoming role-playing epic, however, things will be a little different. First of all, in the world of Final Fantasy 16 (buy now €79.99 ) Only a very small group of humans have access to the powers of espers: the Domini. Each esper is assigned to a fixed dominus. Joshua Rosefield, the younger brother of our character Clive, is the dominus of the fire esper Phoenix. On the other hand, the former soldier Cidolfus Telamon, or Cid for short, carries the thunder esper Ramuh within himself and sometimes accompanies Clive on the adventure.
Update: now also with video!
And so the espers are distributed among central characters in the story, be they friends or antagonists. However, Clive has a special role as he can channel the abilities of various Espers throughout the game. As the game progresses, Clive’s selection of elementary skills, which we use to let off steam in action-packed battles, grows.
Always something new
But it should not remain with mere skills, of course the mystical beings are also used personally in battle. In contrast to previous Final Fantasys, however, the creatures are not summoned this time, but the Domini transform themselves into the respective espers. Which of course means we unleash the brute force of the giants with direct in-game control! If you’ve ever wanted to hurl fireballs with Ifrit or fight face-to-face with Bahamut, Final Fantasy 16 gives you the opportunity to do so. This happens in bombastic staged set-piece fights that are placed at important points in the game. We tried one of these Esper battles ourselves at the FF 16 preview date. Before we get into that, we need to point out that the demos we played at the preview event were specially adapted for the press and may differ from the final version. While we suspect this only affects the story demo that was playable separately from the Esper Battle, we don’t know for sure.
Now to the nitty-gritty: The esper demo starts relatively normally with a boss fight in which we fight against wind esper Garuda with Clive. This part is already implemented impressively. We fight on a small platform that Garuda – along with us – has torn out of the ground and keeps in the air with her magic, while a gigantic hurricane rages in the background. With limited space and the Esper’s wide-ranging attacks, evasive moves and well-timed parries are particularly valuable in this encounter. What else the action-packed combat system in FF 16 has up its sleeve, we describe in detail in our large hands-on preview.