Final Fantasy is undoubtedly one of the most iconic role-playing adventure games and really needs no introduction with the series having sold over 173 million units worldwide. Even if you have never played one, you'll almost certainly know of it and maybe even recognise certain characters from over the years.
That's a funny thing though because, despite being sequentially numbered, the main series entries share no continuity of story, world, or characters. In fact, aside from things like Chocobos, magic, someone called Cid, and powerful summons – or GF's as I best know them – everything else, including the battle system, is fair game when it comes to changes.
It's perhaps no surprise then that Final Fantasy hasn't found a consistent photo mode groove yet, with each of the recent games and their respective Square Enix divisions taking very different approaches to their virtual cameras.
- FINAL FANTASY XVI // CLIVE -
For example, the online MMO of Final Fantasy XIV sports a well featured Group Pose mode with lighting adjustments and colour grading; Final Fantasy XV uses a pretty basic camera carried by the character; and Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade has a more traditional photo mode but completely neglected to include camera focus and depth of field.
For Final Fantasy XVI then, it is anybody's guess what the photo will be like, except there is no need to guess any longer. As of June 12th, there is a public demo available and it just so happens to include the photo mode – obviously it is completely different again, but what else did you expect?
"Focus is heavily dependent on camera positioning to compensate for the coarse slider..."
You actually can't access the photo mode from the start and must play past a short intro sequence to reach a flashback before it becomes available. From then on, it is accessed by entering the pause menu and (after a short delay) pressing the touchpad while on the Attributes tab. I'm not sure why it is so specific, especially when a single press of touchpad itself is unused, but there you go.
What you will find is a photo mode that you might describe as minimalist if you are being kind, but the truth is that this is an extremely bare bones implementation with just two sections included in the tabbed UI. The Camera tab includes ±180° roll, a 10-80° field of view slider, and a toggle to show / hide the main character. The second tab meanwhile is Depth of Field with focus distance and blur intensity options, and that is pretty much all you get.
- FINAL FANTASY XVI // JOSHUA -
It could be argued that at least the essentials are there and while the field of view and roll options are workable enough, there are some big problems. The focus distance lacks any sort of precision and operates with massive steps of approximately 1 metre between focus points, meaning that accurate focus for character portraits is heavily dependent on camera positioning to compensate for the coarse slider.
That problem is compounded by the camera movement which, although using straightforward truck, dolly, pan, and tilt controls on the analogue sticks, is limited to a tiny bounding sphere that extends a little over 2.5 metres around the character. As you can imagine, that makes combat shots extremely challenging, let alone capturing shots of the huge Eikons.
- FINAL FANTASY XVI // PHOTO MODE -
So, that's all the FF XVI photo mode has to offer, apart from the obligatory © Square Enix watermark of course. There is nothing in the way of colour grading, filters, borders, or film grain, and not even a basic brightness or exposure compensation. Oddly though, a message that is displayed on first entering the photo mode suggests there maybe should be more.
"Unable to get just the right angle or lighting on your screenshots? Use Photo Mode to craft tailor-made images that will dazzle your friends and followers"
- FINAL FANTASY XVI // PHOTO MODE -
At least Square Enix have acknowledged the use case, but there isn't a huge amount of crafting to be done with the current options, and certainly no help with getting the lighting right. Is this an incomplete photo mode for the demo then and the game will launch with a more extensive feature set?
We will find out soon enough when Final Fantasy XVI launches for PS5 on June 22nd.
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