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The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

‘Final Fantasy XVI’ DLC Review

Photo From Square Enix.
Photo From Square Enix.

For all of my Todd fans out there, you may have already read my initial review on the base game of Final Fantasy XVI and the praise that I had initially given it. As of the Game Awards on December 7, 2023, it was revealed that my personal game of the year was getting two new DLCs to further expand on the world of Valisthea that I’ve come to love. Now that they’re both out, and given that I’ve fully completed them both, it’s time to keep it a buck fifty and write a review on them.

Before discussing content, here’s a quick note from me: In order to actually play these DLCs, you need to be at the final mission of the main story, titled “Back to their Origin”, and you need a set degree of side quests completed to have the necessary characters available in your party. To save you time, these quests are: “Cut from the Cloth”, “Phoenix, Heal Thyself”, “Where there’s a Will”, and “Priceless”. Refer to this when going on your expanded adventure! 

On top of this, you can either buy the Season Pass for $25 for a slight discount, or get Echoes of the Fallen for $10 and The Rising Tide for $20. 

Starting with the first of the two DLCs, Echoes of the Fallen, by itself, is a quick, single-dungeon expansion that delves into the initially underdeveloped subplot involving the Fallen, a hyper-advanced ancient race of people who once inhabited Valisthea. Given how the initial story briefly glazes over their significance other than them being this technological powerhouse that was eradicated from the world after getting too powerful to challenge the big bad’s reign, there was still plenty to desire in regards to this late civilization.

Fortunately, Echoes of the Fallen delivers some more development on the Fallen through a very play, not tell, approach. Clive and company become aware of a new synthetic dark Mothercrystal after getting some black market intel and go to explore this structure firshand to assess the threat. Upon arriving at the Sagespire, the hub of this new Mothercrystal, your party battles against an onslaught of Magitek remnants from the Fallen whose only purpose is to neutralize the threat attempting to eradicate their society. Too bad this was already done … 

The minibosses throughout the dungeon brought some technological flair to the fantasy environment of FFXVI while also providing an adequate amount of challenge through diverse move sets. However, while it all feels like fun and games, as by this point in the game, you’ve got the combat system down, the final boss rolls on up, and, well, curb stomps you. Eikonoclastic Defense System Omega-1, or just Omega for short, is RIDICULOUSLY COOL!

Not only is Omega’s design 1:1 from Final Fantasy XIV’s interpretation of the recurring Final Fantasy enemy, but its boss theme is also a dubstep/techno reimagining of Masayoshi Soken’s composition for this four-legged fiend appearing in FFXIV’s Alphascape V.3 raid. And just as crazy as it was in FFXIV, fighting Omega in an action RPG is just as intense. Without spoiling how crazy the fight was, I was playing these DLCs on Final Fantasy mode (being New Game Plus), and most of his attacks one-shot me. Omega adds a new layer of difficulty that I always wanted from FFXVI and I am SO glad it delivered.

Despite how cool Omega itself was, this one bot is quite literally the reason why you play this DLC. Omega itself is proof of how advanced the Fallen were, creating a machine on par with the very gods themselves, however, because of this, they were wiped out due to their heresy. With this one sentence, I summarize the entire DLC. It is short and it took me about two hours to complete and get all of the Playstation achievements associated with it. For $10, it’s really not that much content, and while I know I had fun, I can see why this might deter people from playing this.

Echoes of the Fallen is quite the double edged sword. It’s awesome because it provides more context to an initially underdeveloped piece of the base game and shows just how powerful the Fallen became, however, you really don’t get that much time to explore it other than beating up some bots, and I guess an artificial god as well. On top of this, I really wouldn’t recommend skipping this DLC if you plan on playing the next one, as it references events and uses characters from Echoes of the Fallen. So to avoid losing context, you basically have to play this before The Rising Tide.

— — — 

The Rising Tide, unlike its smaller counterpart, operates on a much larger scale than Echoes of the Fallen. Not only does it provide more content in the form of an entirely new explorable area (not just a dungeon), various sidequests, new boss fights, and an entirely new Eikon with abilities and a unique playstyle to use. As per its higher price point, The Rising Tide is bigger, and undoubtedly better, than its predecessor.

This DLC is rooted in another underdeveloped plot point presented by the main game that confused gamers greatly as to why it wasn’t included in the first place. When discussing the Eikons who dominate Valisthea, one was mentioned and never made an appearance in the main game, being Leviathan, Eikon of Water, and ironically enough, being canonically dubbed, “Leviathan the Lost”. What happened to this sea serpent? Why wasn’t it included? Why don’t I get new powers to fiddle with? If you asked any of these questions, they’re answered in this DLC.

Clive and company venture to Mysidia, a hidden village that protects the people of the Motes of Water, a displaced civilization of people villainized by the Greagorian church that dominates the majority of Valisthea, as per a letter asking them to save Leviathan’s Dominant who’s been dormant for the past eighty years. Upon arrival, more than just rescuing the once-forgotten Leviathan occurs, as unique developments on Valisthea’s previous denizens and prior reincarnations of dominants are expanded upon to flesh out Clive’s understanding of the tumultuous world he’s trying to change.

In regards to the gameplay experience, The Rising Tide allows for the player to explore Mysidia as they’re able to do with the other major locations throughout FFXVI, enabling the DLC to feel more complete than its single-dungeon predecessor. Upon arrival to Mysida, Clive is almost instantly granted the ability to use Leviathan, and it plays vastly different from the rest of the game’s roster of abilities.

Leviathan’s abilities are infinitely more active than its other Eikons, as its primary ability alters Clive’s usual sword combos with watery shotgun blasts, jetstreams, and a double-dodge to switch to a more flighty ranged playstyle. When combined with Leviathan’s cooldown abilities, you feel like you’re playing a different game entirely as you’re essentially becoming a super-soaker machine gunner who also happens to have the power to harness literal tsunamis out of his arm.

After acquiring Leviathan, The Rising Tide, in the event you straight shot it through the story, has you fighting two extremely unique and major bosses. One has you still playing as Clive and utilizes brand new mechanics to contextualize via showing, not telling, the magic behind how Leviathan went missing, and the other introduces a brand new Eikon fight against Leviathan itself where Clive transforms into Ifrit again for another larger than life battle against the God of Water itself.

Following my praises from my initial FFXVI review, the Eikon battle against Leviathan is a spectacle unlike none other. Three phases of duking it out against a raging sea serpent who wants nothing more than to seek revenge on the people who harmed it is just SO RAW!!! Bombastic attacks, larger-than-life progression from phase to phase, and most importantly, the stellar soundtrack that Soken always delivers solidify the Leviathan fight as another chapter in the book of peak fiction. 

Remember how I said Omega was tough on Final Fantasy difficulty? Great googly moogly Leviathan was even tougher! Not only is the fight very long, it features tons of high damaging attacks, very finite healing resources (you have far less as an Eikon than Clive himself), and an extremely tight DPS check segueing from phase two to three that I personally flubbed FIVE WHOLE TIMES before getting it right. 

Despite wiping five times, I did not care in the slightest, as Soken was going DUMMY STINKY on the beat, having the DPS check feature another reimagining of his Leviathan jam from FFXIV, but more importantly, featuring the song Cascade to blare out from the heavens themselves during the fight’s final phase. This song plays perfectly into the theme of Leviathan the Lost, as Cascade was the first song ever teased to the public in the reveal trailer for FFXVI, and ironically enough, never made it into the main game until the release of The Rising Tide

As cool as the fights were, The Rising Tide was not without its faults, as the side quests, although it helps the player feel more in-tune with Mysida and its people, come off as tedious and unlock features in Mysida that you’ve already had the entire game beforehand, such as accessing your Chocobo, weapon smithing, and accessing a shop. The only side quests I’d say was worth noting was the last one that interweaves Clive into the culture of the Motes of Water, furthering the immersion and cultural depth of these displaced people, and one that has you doing a boss fight against a Tonberry King, which was a considerable challenge.

The Rising Tide also introduces a new piece of challenge content called the Kairos Gate, where Clive has to fight through TWENTY FLOORS OF UNENDING HELL, all with three waves of enemies each, and if you die once, you need to restart from the beginning. To help you along the way, you get unique buffs and power-ups to improve damage, reduce cooldowns, and for those who love to flex their score on the leaderboards, combo multiplier buffs that improve your overall score of your run. Kairos Gate took me three tries to fully complete, so I can vouch for its difficulty.

The Kairos Gate also gives Clive new Eikonic abilities to experiment with that also carry over into the main game, however, I’ll leave this to be discovered by you all, as I nearly did a personal foul in my shorts when I got it. It’s that metal. 😉


So, despite the extensive preview/review of FFXVI’s DLCs, would I recommend this? For the $25 price point, I would argue that for lovers of this game, loreheads who want to know more about the greater Valisthea, and suckers for a good spectacle, it’s totally worth it. While I will say, that although it answers plenty of questions and tackles the plot holes of the original plot, it still leaves some questions to be answered, but it’s the ambiguity of Clive’s role in these DLCs that make his destiny all the more interesting. If you’re even remotely interested in experiencing these DLCs, I’d encourage you to dive straight into it for that full FFXVI experience that I know I’ve come to love.

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