Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide Review – High Tide

Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide Review - High Tide

After the minds of millions were blown with the release of Final Fantasy XVI in 2023, fans energies were flattened somewhat with the fairly vanilla release of the game’s first expansion Echoes Of The Fallen. The mini-campaign gifted players a fresh opportunity to re-engage with some of the most exhilarating gameplay of the year, but failed to deliver a plot that arrested the attention of that same player-base. Square-Enix had made some big promises about the second DLC, The Rising Tide, and with the dangling carrot of new Eikons and an immense new region to explore, this is an expansion that delivers in droves, exceeding what Echoes Of The Fallen provided in almost every, single way.

Like Echoes Of The Fallen, The Rising Tide is set during the final hours of the Final Fantasy XVI experience, before the point of no return for the main campaign. Clive’s journey takes him to Mysidia, the home of the mysterious, and unsighted, Eikon Leviathan, and the Water Motes, a group who, with the aid of some handy magic, had remained hidden from the rest of the world for generations. With new party member Shula along for the ride, the vibrantly detailed, and bursting with life and colour Mysdia region plays host to one of Final Fantasy XVI’s most enthralling plotlines. Where Echoes Of The Fallen lacked narrative resonance, The Rising Tide delivers, with a plot that while not integral to the main storyline, is self-contained and riveting to devour. 

Of course, fans were champing at the bit to play Echoes Of The Fallen not only for the plotline, but also the opportunity to re-engage with Final Fantasy XVI’s incredible moment-to-moment gameplay, and while the narrative underwhelmed them, they were hooked by the gameplay loop. In the case of The Rising Tide, you’re getting the best of both worlds, with an intriguing narrative arc and exhilarating gameplay. The Rising Tide delivers in spades for a DLC with a healthy range of new side-quests, many of which were more engaging to explore than those of the main-game which could often be quite by the numbers, and a healthy 4-5 hour mini-campaign that will vary in length dependent upon how much you choose to engage with beyond the critical path. The combat feels as fluid and enjoyable as always, though the addition of Leviathan’s skillset to Clive’s arsenal feels wasted as players will undoubtedly be settled into their standard load-out and with very minimal game left for them to experience, there’s little reason to explore what a new set of Eikon abilities can unlock for them. 

Of course, as was the case with the main game, and even Echoes Of The Fallen, The Rising Tide features an enormous boss encounter, this time with Leviathan which puts every skill you have to the test. Stretching players abilities is ideal for most stages of this encounter, however there is one section, a battle as Ifrit, where the development team has gotten a bit carried away, and anything short of absolute perfection will result in insta-death due to running out of time before Leviathan unleashes it’s ultimate attack. The Rising Tide provides more though for those looking to push their skills, with Kairos Gate, a combat trial arena where players can battle it out to the deepest level of the trials, testing their mettle against some of the game’s most formidable foes. There is a roguelike element to it as well, with failed runs providing the player with buffs and stat upgrades that will serve you in future attempts. Not for the brittle, this mode puts players through their paces and is another enjoyable distraction to engage with. 

If you enjoyed Final Fantasy XVI, then the development of the world of Valisthea through this expansion is an instant lure, while returning for the gameplay presents players with new exciting, albeit not essential, tweaks to the formula as well as new modes that are well worth experiencing. It looks and feels incredible to play, has numerous gameplay and plot hooks, and is well worth experiencing, even a year on from the original game’s launch.

Final Fantasy XVI The Rising Tide Review Box

Final Fantasy XVI The Rising Tide was reviewed on PS5 with a review code kindly provided by Bandai-Namco Australia on behalf of Square-Enix.

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