Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide


Review by · May 7, 2024

After finishing The Rising Tide‘s main story, I was ready to write that it’s basically as essential as Echoes of the Fallen: it’s not, but it’s a fun diversion for fans of Final Fantasy XVI

But then something important happened: more side quests opened up. More hunts, more story, and — most importantly — more character development. It reminded me of what I adore in Final Fantasy XVI. The fights are great, the music is, too, and of course it all looks amazing. But Final Fantasy XVI is about the people of Valisthea, and The Rising Tide continues that tradition, making it not necessarily essential for everyone but certainly worthy of a purchase for anyone who enjoys Final Fantasy XVI nearly as much as me. 

Before we get to the meat of the DLC, it’s worth noting a number of nice quality-of-life changes that dropped for free along with The Rising Tide. The biggest one for me is the ability to set five separate Eikonic loadouts. For people who like to use different abilities for mobs and bosses, this is huge and makes loadouts significantly easier to change. Also, you can warp back directly to the side quest giver after you’ve completed a side quest. Clive has also received a buff to tons of abilities across the board. One that didn’t matter for me (but I’m sure many will enjoy) is the ability to set up a custom button layout. Regardless of how large or small these changes are, it’s nice that the development team continues to adjust FFXVI to make it a more enjoyable experience.

When it comes to The Rising Tide itself, the story admittedly disappointed me at first blush, but only because it needed more fleshing out. For those familiar with Final Fantasy XVI, you know all the major Eikons are covered, with one notable exception: Leviathan the Lost. We don’t get much information in the base game about why he’s missing, but the opening moments of the DLC relay that we are needed in the distant land of Mysidia to free him. Upon arriving in Mysidia, we meet Shula and the Motes of Water, a small tribe long believed exterminated from Valisthea. It turns out that the dominant of Leviathan is a member of this tribe, and it’s our task to free him from his suffering.

A screenshot of Clive on a chocobo in front of a large wave
Final Fantasy XVI is still beautiful.

The main story you need to clear is fine, but it’s after you’ve defeated Leviathan and completed the main quest that the story turns into something worthy of the base game. As you explore Mysidia, more side quests open up, and while in many ways they are no different from those in the base game, that’s a good thing for me. We get more insight into the culture of the Motes of Water, the history of Mysidia, and learn what makes these people tick. That’s exactly what I wanted out of the DLC, and it delivers. Shula is a particular highlight, showing both toughness and tenderness, like many of the game’s best characters. While it’s not necessarily going to measure up to the main game’s quests, it absolutely feels like a side quest chain worthy of the best FFXVI has to offer, and it’s worth the price of admission.

For many, the most important addition in The Rising Tide is the chance to use a new Eikon’s abilities. Leviathan focuses on ranged abilities that aim to move enemies around the battlefield or hit them from afar with bursts of water. It’s a fun kit to play around with, but as a person who wants to be up in an enemy’s face and push out damage as quickly as possible, Leviathan didn’t jive with my playstyle. Nonetheless, his abilities are a nice addition, and I’m sure they’ll be a nice fit for some. You also get more abilities at the very end of your playthrough that are absurdly overpowered. They have limited usefulness because you’ve already cleared the game at that point, but it’s worth mentioning the reward is there.

While Leviathan’s abilities might not have delivered exactly what I want, the fight sure did. Let’s get one thing out of the way: it’s hard. I’ve played all the way through the game in Final Fantasy mode, and the challenge of this fight, even in Normal mode, is vastly higher than anything in the base game. I died many, many times.  But it plays fair and it’s a blast (pun intended). Other fights are littered throughout the DLC, and they’re all fun, but the Leviathan fight is the real highlight.

A screenshot of Ifrit in battle with Leviathan over the open ocean in Final Fantasy XVI.
Don’t expect this to be easy.

Once you’ve cleared both The Rising Tide and the base game, this DLC has one more thing to offer: Kairos Gate, a new roguelike mode where you push through multiple levels and waves of enemies, complete with a delightfully retro menu. As you push your way through each level, you gain points to spend on temporary and permanent buffs for that run. As you clear each level, you get a rank and additional rewards, like glowing versions of previous swords or new accessories.  If you’ve played Devil May Cry, this might sound familiar (Bloody Palace), but it fits right in here. I wasn’t able to get very far (that’s what I get for complaining about the game being too easy at times), but I look forward to finding my way to the bottom one of these days.

While I think The Rising Tide has a lot to offer, my statement for the previous DLC applies: if you didn’t like Final Fantasy XVI, this isn’t going to change your mind. But this time, I think anyone who enjoyed Final Fantasy XVI even a little should give The Rising Tide a shot. It offers an excellent fight, new Eikonic abilities, and side quests that lean into the strengths of the best ones in the base game. Granted, nothing is going to match up to the base game for me, but it comes closer than I dared hope, and, for me, that’s the best I could ask for. 


Great character-driven storytelling, still looks and sounds great, the new Eikon battle is a challenging treat, Kairos Gate provides a tough diversion, new abilities to use.


Story is maybe a bit short, new abilities won't jive with everyone's playstyle.

Bottom Line

Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide is an excellent continuation of everything that made the base game great: excellent battles, a plethora of options in battle, and most importantly, strong characters.

Overall Score 85
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Zach Wilkerson

Zach Wilkerson

After avidly following RPGFan for years, Zach joined as a Reviews Editor in 2018, and somehow finds himself helping manage the Features department now. When he's not educating the youth of America, he can often be heard loudly clamoring for Lunar 3 and Suikoden VI.