Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide Review: Into the Whorl


Final Fantasy XVI

By: Jason Siu


5 min read

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Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide Review, FullCleared

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Quick Verdict

Revisiting Final Fantasy XVI for The Rising Tide DLC reminded me of just how epic and cinematic the game’s Eikon vs. Eikon battles are. These fights are truly in a class of their own, especially within the context of Final Fantasy games. Unfortunately, The Rising Tide suffers from the same issues as the base game and the previous Echoes of the Fallen DLC. While the story parts are more detailed in this DLC than Echoes of the Fallen, they still feel mostly insignificant and lack the emotional impact you’d expect from Creative Business Unit III.

The Calm Before the Storm

Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide Review Gallery, FullCleared

After spending over 217 hours in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, readjusting to the world of Valisthea in Final Fantasy XVI was challenging. For starters, Final Fantasy XVI is an absolutely stunning game—it remains one of the best-looking games I’ve ever played. Despite not being a terribly large zone, the new area introduced in The Rising Tide had me stopping to take screenshots every 10 minutes. I had almost forgotten how visually pleasing the world of Final Fantasy XVI is, but let’s be honest, nobody buys DLC just to stare at scenery. We’re buying it so we can listen to the new soundtracks from Masayoshi Soken. Oh wait, there are new characters, skills, towns, side quests, storylines, and even an Eikon to fight? Yo Clive, I’m really happy for you. Imma let you finish. But Soken had one of the best soundtracks of all time!

Like with Echoes of the Fallen, I felt like I paid for a soundtrack and just happened to get some gameplay with my purchase of The Rising Tide. When I first set foot in Mysidia and heard familiar notes from one of my favorite tracks in Final Fantasy XIV, A Land Long Dead, I knew Soken and his team weren’t going to disappoint with the music. Fortunately, that music was there for me to enjoy, because I found the lead-up to the new area a bit boring. In my opinion, the backstory for Leviathan the Lost is surprisingly bland, but maybe that’s because I hold the writing team at Creative Business Unit III in such high regard due to Final Fantasy XIV (yes, I know, it’s not all the same people).

The Sea Rises

Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide Review Gallery, FullCleared

With the introduction of the new town Haven in Mysidia, The Rising Tide includes a collection of side quests that match the quality of the vast majority of Final Fantasy XVI’s other side quests. That is, they range from tedious to passable. Mostly basic fetch quests, they introduce you to some of the townspeople but ultimately prove forgettable. The stark contrast between Final Fantasy XVI’s main content and its side content remains a problem in this DLC, though I didn’t expect the formula to change. I’d agree if someone said the side quests mostly pad playtime, pushing the total DLC to around four hours, depending on whether you struggle in the final fight as I did.

Things truly open up and get fun once you unlock Leviathan’s powers, giving you a new set of moves to play with. Already struggling to reacclimate myself with Final Fantasy XVI’s combat system, I decided to stick to my previous build for The Rising Tide DLC, leaving the new Eikon abilities for Kairos Gate. With the new patch, I was also excited to see how those changes affected the loadout I spent dozens of hours playing with.

Why We Adventure

Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide Review Gallery, FullCleared

The majority of The Rising Tide is what you would expect from a Final Fantasy XVI DLC. Once you get to the real dungeon, you’ll fight a few bosses, experience some cutscenes, and eventually it’s time for Clive to play the hero. Unfortunately, those expecting a real spotlight on Jill’s story won’t find it here. There are some moments, but they are all very minor. The new character, Shula, has enough personality to be somewhat memorable, but to me, the overall story was just “‘good enough.” It wasn’t great, and it’s not something I’ll remember in a few months, but it is engaging enough to hold your interest throughout the DLC.

What makes it all worth the journey is the final Eikon vs. Eikon battle where Ifrit is pitted against Leviathan. During a presentation at PAX East, Producer Naoki Yoshida recommended players to polish up their Ifrit skills, because the battle was difficult. He wasn’t kidding, especially since I completely forgot how to play as Ifrit. Once again, the Final Fantasy XIV influence is seen in the fight, with a very tight DPS check and plenty of mechanics to learn. Like with Omega in Echoes of the Fallen, Final Fantasy XIV fans will have a huge smile on their face during one of the phases when a reworked, yet familiar, Leviathan theme kicks in. The epic music combined with everything happening on the screen in that fight is what’s going to be memorable about the DLC. Similar to other Eikon vs. Eikon fights in Final Fantasy XVI, the battle against Leviathan reaches a high that few games ever achieve.

Determining whether The Rising Tide DLC is worth the money is surprisingly straightforward. If you enjoyed Final Fantasy XVI and simply want more of it, then yes, you’ll definitely enjoy The Rising Tide. If you’re seeking answers to your questions or further character development for the core cast, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re like me and want to witness two iconic Final Fantasy summons battle each other against an epic backdrop of stunning scenery and some of the best music Final Fantasy has to offer, then it’s a no-brainer.

Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide DLC was released on April 18, 2024 on PlayStation 5. This review is based on a purchased retail copy of the DLC on PlayStation 5. While FullCleared does have affiliate partnerships, they do not influence our editorial content. We may, however, earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links.

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With over 20 years of online publishing experience, Jason Siu is currently the Content Director at VerticalScope and used to spend most of his time writing about cars. His work can be seen on websites such as AutoGuide, EV Pulse, FlatSixes, Tire Authority, and more. As the former co-founder of and West Coast Editor of Modified Magazine, he has also authored two books for CarTech Books. In his spare time, he founded FullCleared to indulge in his passion for writing about games. Although Jason is a variety gamer, he generally prefers RPGs.

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