Final Fantasy 16: The Rising Tide review

Final Fantasy XVI's final DLC, The Rising Tide, is more of the main game, for better and worse.
Square Enix

I enjoyed Final Fantasy 16, but it felt flat for most of its 60-hour runtime. There were moments of greatness, peaks that you usually only see in a GOTY masterpiece, but they were dragged down by dull side quests and lengthy conversations between two gruff British voices, weaving fantasy terms with a Northern twang. But there was a lot to love, and 16’s final DLC, The Rising Tide, hopes that you liked the game enough to play more of it.

It’s not a criticism, really, but The Rising Tide is more Final Fantasy 16. FF15’s DLC packs each had a new playable character and central mechanic, while FF7 Remake’s Intergrade DLC introduced Yuffie, which brought something entirely new to the combat system. You gain the abilities of the Eikon Leviathan pretty early on in The Rising Tide, and while it’s certainly unique, it’s not exactly exciting to use and doesn't set this DLC apart from the rest of the game.

Leviathan’s battle style uses blasts of water to keep enemies at bay. Enemies will struggle to touch you when you’re behind the world’s most effective super-soaker, and you can recharge your water with an active-reload style QTE. It’ll certainly keep you pressing buttons during combat, but it’s never as exciting as the melee styles that the main game introduces. You will also get access to a new Ultima style late in the DLC, which is cool, though you won’t have many opportunities to try it outside of combat challenges.

The new region is the most strikingly pretty in the game.
The new region is the most strikingly pretty in the game. / Square Enix

The Rising Tide will shine for fans of FF16 because of how it subtly adds to the lore of the world. The active-time lore system showed that the world of FF16 was always intricately detailed, even if it wasn’t always obvious on the surface, and the village of Mysidian people will be a nice callback for hardcore FF fans. Their existence, how they managed to avoid being present in the main game, and why they need Clive’s help now all slots together nicely – nothing feels like an afterthought.

At least, nothing more than usual. For a few fleeting moments Jill gets to step forward and make some observations about Shiva’s power being used, and I really thought that, somehow, Jill would get some more screentime to develop, after being forgotten about in the main game. It wasn’t to be though; she literally just stepped forward to make an observation, before stepping back into the shadows. A bittersweet reminder that FF16 does have good characters – it just doesn’t use them (they're based on One Piece, by the way).

It's nice to revisit 16's cast after time away.
It's nice to revisit 16's cast after time away. / Square Enix

It’s just a shame that FF16 is so slow. It really is just more of the main game, for better and for worse. The expansion of the combat system, a handful of quality-of-life updates, and the new Kairos Gate challenges are a nice addition – there’s even a secret boss in the Kairos Gate for anyone playing in Final Fantasy mode – but they’re not game-changing. If you finished Final Fantasy 16 and you didn’t love it, nothing here is going to win you over. 

The Rising Tide is considerably more content-packed than the initial Echoes of the Fallen DLC, but it doesn’t change 16’s fate. If you want more of Clive Rosfield’s adventures to defy the gods, then The Rising Tide is for you, but if you only have a passing curiosity, then you probably won’t regret skipping over Leviathan in Final Fantasy 16.

Score: 7/10

Version tested: PS5

Dave Aubrey


GLHF Deputy Editor. Nintendo fan. Rapper. Pretty good at video games.