Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide Review – A Fitting End

    Blue skies at last.

    By far, the biggest mystery I was left with at the end of Final Fantasy XVI was the whereabouts and disappearance of Leviathan, the lost Eikon. Considering Eikons are the heart and soul of the title, it felt strange not having any concrete story content regarding the events surrounding Leviathan. Luckily, the team at Creative Business Unit III has rectified that with The Rising Tide, a new DLC set in the lands of Mysidia that explores the truth behind Leviathan the Lost.

    Following the first DLC, Echoes of the Fallen, I went into The Rising Tide expecting a significant increase in the amount of story content. With DLC Director Takeo Kujiraoka stating the goal for The Rising Tide was to create something similar to “an MMO expansion pack,” I couldn’t help but be intrigued. With the beautiful lands of Mysidia and an entirely new Eikon to fight, it felt as if this would be a significant amount of content. Having completed this DLC, I think the comparisons to an MMO expansion were a bit of a reach, but The Rising Tide is still worth your time if you’re eager to jump back into a fresh take on the world of Valisthea. 

    Blue Skies Aplenty

    As mentioned, The Rising Tide takes Clive, Jill, and Joshua to Mysidia, a land hidden to the North of the main continent. Joined by Shula, the leader of the Water Motes, Clive attempts to resolve the endless troubles of Leviathan, whose Dominant is frozen in time. Mysidia itself is also a victim of this phenomenon, with the lands themselves unaffected by the Blight that has raptured through all of Valisthea.

    Truthfully, Mysidia is nothing short of magical. Immediately upon piercing an invisible wall to enter the hidden realm, you overlook what is essentially a tsunami frozen in time. This massive wave sits along the side and is enchanting to view as you strut through the region. Mysidia is by far the most vibrant area in the entirety of Final Fantasy XVI and a much-needed change of scenery after staring at purple skies for hours on end.

    I do wish there was more exploration, however. With a setting as mystical as this one, the linear pathways are disappointing at times. The region is home to lush vegetation, forested temples, and unreal setpieces. Exploring the area and witnessing these marvels up close would have only added to the experience. Despite this, the linear levels we got in The Rising Tide are all great. Each is crafted with beautiful art design and has tons of beautiful vistas to see. This was a takeaway of mine with the base game as well, so I do hope the CBUIII team pushes toward more exploration with their next title.

    Immediately after arriving in the village of Haven, Clive and the others learn the truth behind Leviathan and the nature of Mysidia. It’s here that Clive, Jill, and Shula embark on a journey to The Surge while Joshua stays behind in the village to protect it. This felt like a missed opportunity to develop Joshua further as a character, as he ultimately does not show up for more than a few minutes. 

    Unfortunately, the same can be said for Jill, who only got a few minutes of storytelling. Both Jill and Joshua’s roles in this DLC had lofty expectations due to both interviews, as this was again a problem for many in the base game. So, it should not come as a surprise that this shortcoming extends itself to the DLC. On the other hand, Shula was a bright point and would be my pick for the best character in both DLCs. She offers a very interesting premise, and her story was one I was intrigued by right in the beginning.

    Overall, I am satisfied with the story and character content The Rising Tide delivered. While it’s on the shorter side at around five hours, it complements the main game well and does act as a solid sendoff. However, I do wish Mysidia had a bit more to offer in the lead-up to fight the real star of the show: Leviathan the Lost.

    An Eikon Worth the Wait

    The Eikon fight with Leviathan is everything I’d hoped for and more. The march to face Leviathan immediately sets the dire scene, with the beast summoning a massive vortex of water. The fight itself is broken up into four phases, with each radically changing Leviathan’s move set—keeping things fresh, exciting, and fascinating. The team did an incredible job with this fight, and it does not feel like an afterthought or ‘DLC’ at all. It is 100% representative of the incredible fights in the main game. 

    To be frank, the Leviathan Eikon fight reminds me of my favorite aspects of Final Fantasy XVI: action sequences you won’t find anywhere else, a sense of scale that immerses you to the max, and a bombastic score behind it all. Although unlike the base game, players will likely get frustrated with Leviathan as Phase 2 has a ridiculous amount of HP, and you essentially just need to get lucky. Besides that, Leviathan lives up to everything I wanted and more. 

    Of course, the soundtrack for The Rising Tide delivers tracks I can’t wait to purchase. Masayoshi Soken has once again outdone himself. After years of fans asking for the ‘Final Fantasy XVI – Awakening’ trailer music, Soken has created a finished version and utilized it throughout The Rising Tide. The music that plays throughout the Leviathan fight is all-time stuff, with some enchanting arrangement accompanying one of the best fights in the entire game. I had the biggest smile on my phase when ‘Cascade’ kicked in at the end of this fight and was extremely happy to see it available for purchase afterward at the Hideaway.

    Naturally, Leviathan is not the only boss in The Rising Tide. I also want to highlight The Timekeeper, who is another excellent enemy featured in this DLC. This boss is one of the most technically challenging fights in the entire game, and I loved every second of it. The unique attacks and challenges posed by The Timekeeper served as a serious challenge that I had to clear before facing Leviathan. Although the DLC kept to the group of enemies-> group of enemies -> miniboss formula of the main game, the enemy variety was quite good. The Tonberries also made an appearance for the first time in Final Fantasy XVI, with a creepy new appearance somewhat fitting of Valisthea. 

    Beyond the story content, there is a little more to do in order to fully experience The Rising Tide. A handful of sidequests are available in Mysidia, though these essentially equate to short fetch quests for the most part. The new survival mode, Kairos Gate, is quite fun, but it is not the substantial content I was hoping for with this release. Once I cleared the levels, that was… it. A fun boss awaits at the end, but it’s not the yearning for a return to Valisthea I was hoping for. There’s surely fun to be had, but it’s certainly a challenging task for players searching for more ways to push the combat of FFXVI to its limits.

    A Fitting End to This Chapter

    With only a few hours of story content, it’s certainly a hard recommendation at $19.99. The Leviathan Eikon fight and the story content itself were excellent, yet it certainly felt lacking at times. Besides these areas, there are also the Kairos Gate and side quests (though they lack any depth). I do think a combined expansion pass priced at $14.99 to $19.99 for both DLCs would be much more approachable, considering the content. Regardless, The Rising Tide is a solid DLC I think many will find enjoyment in, especially with Leviathan. It’s worth a playthrough for that fight alone.

    This is the perfect departure point for Clive, Valisthea, and Final Fantasy XVI. With the biggest mystery of the main game unveiled and a spectacle of a boss fight to boot, it feels like this chapter can be closed. There is so much this game did right, and there are plenty of lessons for Final Fantasy XVII and beyond. I’m looking forward to seeing how the Creative Business Unit III team utilizes their experience on FFXVI toward the continued development of Final Fantasy XIV and other future titles.

    I’ll forever remember Final Fantasy XVI for its larger-than-life Eikon battles, gorgeous medieval scenery, and bold new take on the world of Final Fantasy. While I certainly have my issues with its lack of RPG elements, exploration, and party systems, this is a title I believe many will look fondly back upon. Overall, Final Fantasy XVI is yet another title of this almost four-decade-old series. Every entry is something special—and FFXVI is no different. While it certainly has its shortcomings, The Rising Tide is a fitting end to this chapter of the long-running series. It’s more of the same—for better and for worse.

    Square Enix provided Final Weapon with a PlayStation 5 copy of Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide for review purposes.


    Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide ties up the base game quite nicely, resolving one of the key mysteries of the base game. The face-off with Leviathan is one of the most memorable Eikon battles yet, with a beautiful score and challenging fight. However, The Rising Tide still suffers from the same problems the base game had. It also only provides a few hours of story content, which makes it somewhat of a hard recommendation at its current price point.
    Noah Hunter
    Noah Hunter
    Noah is Final Weapon’s Editor-in-Chief. He co-founded the website in June 2019 and has been writing for it ever since. In total, he has over five years of writing experience across many publications, including IGN Entertainment. His favorite series include Xeno and Final Fantasy.

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    Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide ties up the base game quite nicely, resolving one of the key mysteries of the base game. The face-off with Leviathan is one of the most memorable Eikon battles yet, with a beautiful score and challenging fight. However, The Rising Tide still suffers from the same problems the base game had. It also only provides a few hours of story content, which makes it somewhat of a hard recommendation at its current price point.Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide Review - A Fitting End