Final Fantasy 16 Feels Like a Totally Different Game After “The Rising Tide” DLC

A second shot.

Final Fantasy XVI
Square Enix
Final Fantasy

The Rising Tide gives Final Fantasy XVI fans one last adventure with Clive and company, and while it doesn’t change anything substantially in terms of lore and story, the same can’t be said for the game’s battle system. The DLC, as well as the game’s latest update, brings some massive changes to how battles play out, along with some much-needed quality-of-life improvements. The changes are drastic to the point where playing through FFXVI feels like a different, and better, experience than what was there at launch.

Before diving into The Rising Tide, let’s cover FFXVI’s latest update, which is available to all players. The crux of the update is that it improves nearly all of Clive’s Eikon abilities, and raises his general attack. While reading through the patch notes can make your eyes glaze over, this update actually has a profound effect on the game at large.

Before the update dropped I was in the middle of a replay on Final Fantasy Mode (Hard Mode). After updating, I quickly found that battles were lasting nearly half the time they did before. These buffs to Clive make battles feel faster, snappier, and more furious.

Final Fantasy XVI’s latest update drastically cuts down the amount of time you spend in combat, making battles feel like short, intense affairs.

Square Enix

The damage increase alone is game-changing, but that’s not even to mention the litany of alterations to how Eikon abilities work, which again can alter combat. For example, Ramuh’s Eikon skill lets you attach balls of lightning to enemies that explode and cause damage, and before you’d have to attack the enemy to make them explode. Now, however, you can make them explode by simply hitting the skill button again, providing new strategic options for how you use it. Almost every single Eikon ability has been altered in some way, on top of accessories becoming more useful. All these changes lean into the action focus of FFXVI, making it feel more like a character action game than a slower RPG, and that’s for the better.

There are more quality-of-life things that make playing FFXVI much more streamlined, like being able to teleport to a quest giver to complete it instantly, or multiple pre-made skillsets for Clive. All of these little changes add up to make playing FFXVI a much more satisfying experience, one that doesn’t get as bogged down by long battles, repetition, and running between quest points.

Then you have The Rising Tide, a fun side-story that reinforces the core narrative themes of the game while adding wild new gameplay features. There’s nothing earth-shattering in the DLC’s story, but it serves as a reminder of Clive’s convictions and why he needs to change the world. In that way it helps provide even more of an emotional crux. it doesn’t change the story, but enhances it.

That’s clearly Square Enix's philosophy with this DLC, as it also applies to the gameplay additions. Leviathan’s Eikon abilities are undoubtedly some of the best in the game, giving Clive a wealth of ranged combat options, including a water spell that’s basically a shotgun.

Leviathan’s abilities are a blast to use, giving Clive a wealth of ranged options that devastate enemies.

Square Enix

Before now I didn’t realize how limited Clive’s ranged options were in combat, but getting those options suddenly made it clear. It provides a new element to combat that makes it feel even richer, and that’s not to mention the additional secret unlockable Eikon set that makes Clive feel like an unstoppable god. I’m honestly blown away by how much more satisfying FFXVI feels to play now, but in a way, that’s kind of indicative of how we experience video games in general right now.

FFXVI was a complete game when it launched by all standards: the story was robust and had finality, it was virtually bug-free, and the combat system had depth. In no regard could you claim it was released too early or needed more time in development. But even with that, we still have these changes a year after release that drastically alter the experience. It proves that now launch day, more often than not, doesn’t mean the end for a game, even a single-player one.

It’s hard to say if that’s ultimately a good or bad thing, but at least in this case, it means FFXVI is worth another playthrough.

Final Fantasy XVI is available for PS5. A PC version is currently in development.

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