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Final Fantasy 16 The Rising Tide DLC review – raiders of the lost Eikon-Steve Boxer-Entertainment – Metro

The final slice of DLC for Final Fantasy 16 is finally out and it’s considerably better than the first one, with some very welcome additions.

Final Fantasy 16 The Rising Tide DLC review – raiders of the lost Eikon-Steve Boxer-Entertainment – Metro

Final Fantasy 16 The Rising Tide – a worthwhile piece of DLC (Picture: Square Enix)

The final slice of DLC for Final Fantasy 16 is finally out and it’s considerably better than the first one, with some very welcome additions.

Last year’s Final Fantasy 16 was generally acknowledged as a solid, if flawed, iteration of the venerable Japanese role-playing franchise. It never approached the classic nature of many of its predecessors but in its favour was a superb all-action (that is, with no hint of any turn-based legacy) battle system, with a fun roster of elemental summons, and some great boss battles. But ditching fantasy and whimsy in favour of Game Of Thrones-inspired grittiness was far less successful and too many tedious side quests felt like filler.

Could The Rising Tide go some way towards redressing the balance? The second and final slab of downloadable content for Final Fantasy 16, after December’s Echoes Of The Fallen, is certainly an impressive expansion but, then again, no single piece of DLC is going to significantly change the perception of a whole game.

Whereas Echoes Of The Fallen was essentially a single dungeon (albeit a pretty meaty one) dressed up with a few preliminary bells and whistles, The Rising Tide is altogether more substantial. It feels like a whole lost chapter of the storyline and opens up an entirely new area of the map.

Mysidia is a province to the north which, via a clever storyline, has remained hidden from outsiders for nigh on a century. There, Clive – accompanied by Jill and Joshua – picks up the trail of Leviathan, the lost Eikon tantalisingly alluded to in the main story.

In terms of value for money, The Rising Tide delivers: it contains five to six hours of extra gameplay, including 10 new side quests and new endgame content, and nets you a very useful new Eikon with unusual water-based abilities. In the process of taking down Leviathan, you must prevail over plenty of bosses and mini-bosses before tackling one of the Eikon-versus-Eikon fights that were universally held to be one of the parent game’s best features.

The conditions for triggering The Rising Tide are the same as those for Echoes Of The Fallen: you must nearly finish the main storyline, so that you have access to the final showdown on Origin, and then complete a number of side quests that centre on Jill and Joshua. It actually makes sense to complete both chunks of DLC before heading off to Origin: the enemies you find in The Rising Tide are generally at level 50 or above (slightly higher than in Echoes Of The Fallen) – although you can complete it without hitting level 50 yourself.

If you have completed the game, The Rising Tide will give you another chance to return to what feels like the main storyline, which may or may not appeal. Or you could dig out a save from before the Back to Origin story quest.

Perhaps the biggest justification for splashing out on The Rising Tide is the chance to add Leviathan’s Eikon abilities to Clive’s arsenal, since they’re highly impressive both visually and in terms of the damage they wreak. Leviathan’s circle-button attack, in particular, is intriguing, combining both longish-range water spray attacks and the ability to surf quickly around the battle area, much like Clive is able to when he transforms into Ifrit.

Acquiring Leviathan’s move-set also brings another benefit for completists: if you have collected all the other Eikon abilities, completing the full set will unlock another, secret, Eikon when you finish the main storyline.

As far as countering overall criticism of Final Fantasy 16, The Rising Tide does what it can, which isn’t much. Since Square Enix has toiled hard to make sure it fits into the main storyline, it preserves the main game’s somewhat humourless approach, eschewing the stranger and more whimsical aspects of previous Final Fantasies.

Its story arc, however, is more memorable than those of many phases of the base game, and while some of the side quests you’re given on first entering Haven – Mysidia’s main hub village – are the usual lame fetch-and-carry efforts, the four side quests that you unlock after freeing Leviathan are among the better ones to be found in the game as a whole, being both meaty and challenging.

Final Fantasy 16 The Rising Tide – still a very pretty game (Picture: Square Enix)

Mysidia is also a decent area to explore, with one welcome visual difference from the rest of the map which is explained by its backstory, a distinctive set of enemies, and some new and useful resources to hunt down.

Overall, as a piece of DLC, it’s pretty exemplary, containing plenty of appeal for those who purchased the base game and either finished it or got near to doing so. Leviathan’s abilities – and those of the secret Eikon – will come in handy in the endgame, so anyone who found themselves fully captivated by Final Fantasy 16 should find it a satisfying purchase.

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And if you did buy Final Fantasy 16 but didn’t get that far into it, you might do well to revisit it. Its second half is much better than its first and Square Enix has updated a wealth of details, rendering it a better game than when it first released. As a result, The Rising Tide ends up feeling like a missing but essential piece of the jigsaw.

Hopefully, the next main Final Fantasy iteration will build on 16’s exemplary combat system and bring back the franchise’s more whimsical side, in place of 16’s relentlessly grim approach. And in the meantime, we can anticipate the final episode of the company’s glorious quest to remake Final Fantasy 7, with the recent Rebirth easily holding the crown of the best Final Fantasy of the modern era.

Final Fantasy 16 The Rising Tide DLC review summary

In Short: An excellent slice of DLC that genuinely feels like a missing part of the main story and features some of the best moments from the whole adventure.

Pros: Great new Eikon abilities and plenty of side quests. Good bosses and another Eikon-versus-Eikon fight. More endgame content and the new map area is one of the best in the game.

Cons: Early side quests can still be trivial and tedious. Still relentlessly grimdark, eschewing the humour and whimsy of other entries in the series.

Score: 7/10

Formats: PlayStation 5
Price: £15.99
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix Creative Business Unit III
Release Date: 18th April 2024
Age Rating: 18

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