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June 2024

Final Fantasy XVI

Platform(s): PlayStation 5
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Square Enix
Release Date: June 22, 2023


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PS5 Review - 'Final Fantasy XVI' The Rising Tide DLC

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on May 2, 2024 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Final Fantasy XVI brings players into a world where Eikons are powerful and deadly creatures that reside within Dominants—a single man or woman who is blessed with the ability to call upon their dreaded power.

Similar to the first DLC, Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide DLC begins when Clive receives a mysterious letter. The letter states that the Dominant of Leviathan needs his help and little else. Leviathan, the "lost" Eikon, has not been seen in over a century and was thought to have vanished. With the current state of the world, a new Eikon appearing could threaten the stability of just about everything. Thus, Clive sets out to meet the letter's sender, a woman named Shula, who reveals the Dominant is located in a hidden village and is protected by an illusion in the land of Mysidia.

I'm a bit disappointed with the plot in The Rising Tide. The mystery of Leviathan and what it might mean for the overall story was one of the coolest concepts remaining in the Final Fantasy XVI world, and the DLC's answers are kind of bland. It's a decent mini-arc, but it hardly feels deeper than a standard side-quest, and in some ways, it feels a bit less epic than the previous DLC. Despite theoretically being integral to the plot, the DLC events are basically ignored by the rest of the game. It feels like you're participating in a bottle episode of a TV show rather than unearthing a long-lost world mystery. It also squanders the chance to have the cast interact with each other more, and it's especially noticeable since Final Fantasy VII Rebirth did that extremely well.

Like the previous DLC, The Rising Tide is only accessible at the tail end of the game, right before you fight the final boss. It takes you to a new section of the map, Mysidia, which is a welcome departure from the grim state of the world prior to endgame. The land is full of greenery, the sky is a vivid blue, and it almost feels like you've stepped into another realm. This area is notably smaller than the game's other wide-open zones, but it offers a bit of extra space to explore, including a new town with its own series of side-quests.

There is a new dungeon and several new boss fights. The dungeon is fun, if notably shorter than the absolute behemoth that was the first DLC, and the boss fights are largely a lot of fun. The longtime series monster Tonberry finally appears in a creepy new form, and there are some excellent surprise fights. None of them reach the heights of Omega, but considering that is arguably the coolest boss fight in the game, that's not necessarily bad.

There's also the addition of one more Eikon battle, Ifrit taking on Leviathan. It isn't a bad fight, and it is the most fun Eikon fight from a gameplay standpoint. For the point of the story where it appears, however, it feels like a downgrade in how epic it feels. It feels like it belongs between Garuda and Titan, rather than before the nonstop craziness that is the final boss. Taken on its own merits, it is still a very cool fight, but it would've worked a lot better earlier in the story.

The biggest addition to the DLC comes in the form of two new Eikon forms for Clive. The first, Leviathan, offers Clive a more dedicated ranged combat option. Its Eikonic ability transforms Clive's arm into a water cannon, which he can use to attack with either a long-range laser or a shotgun-like blast. The arm needs to reload, including a Gears of War-style Active Reload mechanic, but otherwise it's great for fighting at any distance. It gains a Megaflare-like charge mechanic attack, which further increases its damage output, so it's an all-around solid addition.

The second addition, Ultima, comes at the end of the DLC when you unlock the game's equivalent of the Bloody Palace, the Kairos Gate. No spoilers; the ability is given to you rather unceremoniously once you enter the gate for the first time. As you might guess from the name, Ultima is absurdly powerful. Like Leviathan, its Eikonic ability transforms Clive, this time giving him a giant set of angelic wings. While transformed, Clive can move around freely in the air, and his regular attacks transform into stronger, longer-range attacks. He's plain better, while his special moves are all incredibly strong, often having damage numbers that are comparable to the big, cinematic special moves.

The new Eikon forms are neat but run into the "DLC" problem of feeling stronger than the stuff in the main game. The DLC comes with a patch that buffs a lot of the weaker stuff, so everything is more viable, but it's very easy to see Leviathan or Ultima eclipsing the output and utility of the earlier abilities. There are new accessories that enhance the effectiveness of previous Eikonic abilities, such as making Megaflare charge faster or Permafrost have a longer window to activate, but they require you to spend an accessory slot, which thanks to this DLC and the previous DLC, are now at an absolute premium.

Overall, Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide DLC is both a satisfying experience and kind of a disappointment. Had this content been part of the base game, I wouldn't have had any complaints, but since this is set at the tail end of the game, it feels like there should've been more to the plot and presentation. Instead, it feels too divorced from the game world to have an impact. The new abilities and additional boss fights are very cool, but the fact they come only at the end of the game means they are basically for fooling around the Karios Gate or doing a New Game+ run. If you are a big fan of Final Fantasy XVI, you'll absolutely have fun, and it isn't a bad DLC. It just could've been better, and it missed the chance to improve on some of Final Fantasy XVI's weaker points.

Score: 7.5/10

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