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Final Fantasy XVI’s Expansions Offer Windows Into What Could’ve Been


Spoilers for Ultimate Fantasy XVI and its expansions observe.

Hardly ever has a sport confused me as a lot as Ultimate Fantasy XVI. Although I beloved most of my time with it, because of its pulse-pounding motion, heartfelt performances, luscious visuals, and impeccable rating, it undoubtedly faltered. Ultimate Fantasy 16 deserted its most controversial and consequential storyline—centering a poorly dealt with slave riot—and sidelines a few of its most intriguing ones, making for a muddled and disappointing story. A lot as I like Clive, Joshua, Jill, Cid, and loads of different members of its forged, lots of them additionally really feel shafted after performing their perform within the story, being decreased to little greater than means to an finish. Ultimate Fantasy 16 can also be dour, which isn’t tremendously completely different from the remainder of the collection on its face, but it surely turns this distress into the whole thing of its id, leaving little room for every other emotional expression within the sport.

Ultimate Fantasy 16s expansions felt like a chance, then, to proper a few of these wrongs. On the very least, they may function explorations into underdeveloped plot factors and characters that the bottom sport marginalized. They have been by no means going to thoroughly break from the trimmings of FF16, in fact, however the Echoes of the Fallen and Rising Tide DLCs might atone for the sins of the bigger sport.

Whereas I can’t sit right here and let you know they’re completely residence runs, the all-too-brief expansions are a window into what might’ve been, and I can respect them on that degree.

Echoes of the Fallen didn’t completely impress me at first, but it surely represented a good step ahead. It delves extra deeply into the Fallen, a sophisticated civilization that predates the occasions of FF16 and is referred to time and time once more, however hardly ever ever spoken about at size. You spend a good quantity of that sport restoring Fallen know-how and preventing Fallen mechs within the ruins of Fallen buildings, and but FF16 treats them with indifference. They’re largely fodder so that you can reduce by way of, and whereas that is still true on this DLC, the large dungeon on the coronary heart of it not less than begins to elaborate on a couple of of the Fallen’s machinations, plans that in the end led to them incomes the identify by which their identified in Clive’s period.

Echoes of the Fallen additionally culminates in essentially the most ridiculous battle towards Omega, a little bit of a recurring enemy within the collection that bookends the tremendous dungeon in gloriously brazen style. The steadily escalating boss gauntlet of the DLC is its biggest asset, reminding me of the notorious eleventh-hour challenges of old-school RPGs. In a sport filled with some extremely fashionable encounters, each massive and small, Omega is a superb little bit of managed chaos that serves to spotlight how enjoyable digging into FF16’s fight could be, in addition to how gratifying it may be when it lets up somewhat. Echoes of the Fallen’s precarious positioning as DLC that solely unlocks proper earlier than the sport’s remaining battle deflates any narrative stress it might’ve had, however that solely makes it extra of a joyous detour than it’s one in every of consequence.

If there’s a severe knock to be leveled on the DLC, it’s that it’s so visually dry. The Fallen’s aesthetic is a bland one, and devoting yet one more handful of hours to a dungeon in the identical palette as ones we’ve seen earlier than isn’t precisely a promoting level. For that cause, I’m grateful for The Rising Tide’s utterly new setting and shift in tone.

The not too long ago launched Rising Tide enlargement closes the e book on FF16 with one final journey and a remaining(?) eikon for Clive and firm to face off towards. The DLC takes gamers to Mysidia, a hidden nation to the north of Valisthea—the place the first motion of FF16 takes place—which is threatened by Leviathan, a serpent-like deity that I’m certain Ultimate Fantasy followers are greater than acquainted with. Importantly, this modification of locale ditches the grim purple sky of FF16’s endgame for a extra verdant and even magical land that remembers the fantastic thing about the sport’s starting areas and hones in on the fairytale high quality that Ultimate Fantasy video games are inclined to have.

On the coronary heart of The Rising Tide is a toddler trapped in time by a curse, and your heroic journey to free them. Clive’s main thrust all through FF16 is the destruction of “mothercrystals” that threaten to destroy Valisthea, which sees him repeatedly clashing with Dominants, individuals who have the flexibility to summon basic FF summons as weapons of mass destruction known as eikons. It’s a heavy and political story that borrows various components from Sport of Thrones, which implies it’s additionally fairly bleak and harrowing. A variety of the forged doesn’t make it to the tip of FF16, which makes The Rising Tide’s departure from this in any other case grim story so refreshing.

For example of FF16’s bleakness, numerous of its aspect quests tasked you with discovering individuals who regularly wound up lifeless. Probably the most harrowing of those quests charged gamers with finding a lacking “pet” named Chloe. After making the rounds on the lookout for her, I lastly discovered the corpse of a kid behind a constructing, revealing that Chloe was truly the search giver’s youngster slave who died. Upon completion of the search, I stood up and took a much-needed breather from FF16’s oft-stifling darkness. It’s not that it was by no means in service of a bigger level the sport was attempting to speak, however I simply couldn’t all the time deal with the unbelievably horrible locations FF16 went with a purpose to make them.

By comparability, in The Rising Tide I launched into a quest to kill some Tonberries which had positioned a curse on a person on the town. In one other quest, I collected flowers and delivered them to a person as a result of his spouse didn’t know the right way to introduce us every other means. One other nonetheless had me deliver my Chocobo over from the mainland and introduce it to a younger woman completely fascinated by Chocobos. These duties and targets aren’t exceptional or novel, and a few are certainly emblematic of FF16’s dire side-quest design sins, however they’re not less than framed by issues aside from bloodshed and the lack of harmless life. On the finish of The Rising Tide, you face off towards Leviathan and save Mysidia, in addition to Leviathan’s dominant Waljas, a child who was changed into a weapon after which robbed of his life when it backfired. The Rising Tide looks like a dream of one thing higher inside the sport’s in any other case tragic setting.

And that, I feel, is the important thing to what makes each DLCs work for me. They is perhaps disjointed items of the narrative, however they’re ones that I welcome anyway as a result of they merely stand out in comparison with what’s already within the sport. FF16 might’ve taken extra cues from these brighter, tougher and chaotic episodes—which ought to’ve been labored into the sport reasonably than delivered piecemeal afterwards—earlier in its life. They is perhaps riddled with FF16’s pre-existing choices, however in addition they present what the sport might’ve been had it picked its influences a bit extra fastidiously, executed on concepts with some extra readability, and even simply paced itself higher. They really feel like components of a extra classical draft of FF16 buried beneath its new facade.

That’s most likely indicative of FF16’s biggest subject. It needs to be one thing else so badly that it sort of forgets itself and the strengths of the collection it belongs to. Too usually, FF16 stumbles over itself in pursuit of some fame or standing aside from its celebrated lineage. When it does bear in mind and leans into these tenets, FF16 is at its greatest, and a few of these moments can solely be present in Echoes of the Fallen and The Rising Tide, which really feel like celebratory-if-brief encapsulations of what has made the collection endure. I suppose my hope now could be that they’re portraits of the joyous potential of Ultimate Fantasy’s future reasonably than relics of the previous, consigned to be forgotten.

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