Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide Deep Look

Much like the Echoes of the Fallen, The Rising Tide is an appreciable reason to draw players back into Valisthea. It gives players the welcome opportunity to engage with a stellar combat system and the presentation is still excellent.

Final Fantasy XVI did a fine job offering RPGamers another fresh experience in a series that is always happy to change up its formula. Of course, it was never going to please everyone, but its fantastic action system, strong presentation, and distinct setting helped create another entry that stands tall on its own. Unsurprisingly, Square Enix announced that the game would be getting two pieces of major DLC content to build upon the world of Valisthea. The first, Echoes of the Fallen, provided a brief but fun reason to return to Valisthea with its release in December. The second DLC, The Rising Tide, is now available and accomplishes much the same result. Fans of the game will certainly enjoy the opportunity to interact more with its battle system and join up with Clive once more, but there aren’t any huge revelations or other aspects that make it a must play.

Like Echoes of the Fallen, The Rising Tide takes place prior to Clive Rosfield setting out to the final location in the game. It sees Clive receiving a message that leads him to meet Shula, the leader of the hidden village of Mysidia, and becoming involved with the supposed missing Eikon of Leviathan. Mysidia is populated by a long-thought lost tribe and is hidden by a giant magical clamour, one which works two ways, allowing for a much more vibrant locale than is otherwise possible during the final events of Final Fantasy XVI. Here, Clive is asked to put his special abilities to use in freeing Waljas, the Dominant of Leviathan, from his predicament.

Clive joins Shula to explore the hidden wonders of Mysidia.

The Rising Tide’s story offers some interesting elements as its part fills a deliberately open gap within Valisthea’s world building. The impact of time magic is neatly woven with a connection to another Eikon, and the DLC’s story is successfully wrapped up within its own little bow. However, despite making decent use of Valisthea’s history, it is a one-way street. The Rising Tide doesn’t really offer anything that feeds back into the main game, so those hoping the game will use it as a springboard to anything more will be disappointed.

Perhaps the most engaging part of The Rising Tide is its location design. Mysidia is unlike anywhere else in Valisthea: a vibrant, almost tropical region packed with vegetation and home to some spectacular views. It also showcases a fun take on the series’ Tonberry enemies, along with some additional foes. These versions of the robed knife-wielders look much more menacing and will keep players on their toes. The knives may look small, but players will very much want to avoid being on their pointy ends. The new enemies are enjoyable with the battle system remaining one of the game’s main draws, and Clive also gains some new abilities for players to have some fun with if they wish, though their previous loadouts will also be more than enough to get them through.

The series’ Tonberry enemies return in a more outwardly menacing form.

Aside from this, The Rising Tide’s gameplay and structure will be very familiar to returning players. Players will follow the main quest line, but also get the opportunity to partake in a number of side quests helping out the local residents, which invariably amounts to exploring the local areas and defeating some foes. The areas are at least pleasing to explore, and the DLC’s main dungeon is one of the game’s better ones. Ultimately, however, its structure and theme don’t quite make for the same sense of occasion that Echoes of the Fallen provided, while the DLC’s final battle also doesn’t quite reach the full heights that the game does elsewhere. Returning players will likely need a couple of attempts to refamiliarise themselves with the Eikonic controls as well, especially during the big finale, which contains one particular section that might frustrate quite a few players.

There is another draw for dedicated players seeking further challenges in the DLC’s new end-game mode. The Kairos Gate is unlocked after completing both The Rising Tide and the main game. Here players use the Hideaway’s Arete Stone to enter its virtual underworld and fight waves of foes. There are twenty stages of increasing difficulty, with points awarded for battle performance towards a leaderboard as well as weapons and materials available to upgrade Clive.

Much like Echoes of the Fallen, The Rising Tide is an appreciable reason to draw players back into Valisthea. It gives players the welcome opportunity to engage with a stellar combat system and Ben Starr gets more opportunity to impress as Clive, but the gameplay and narrative additions are all relatively minor and most players will be just as satisfied with the game’s overall experience without it. There’s not much to actively complain about with what it offers, and part of it may be misplaced expectations, but after Final Fantasy XVI put itself out there so much, The Rising Tide just feels a bit safe.


Alex Fuller

Alex joined RPGamer in 2011 as a Previewer before moving onto Reviews, News Director, and Managing Editor. Became Acting Editor-in-Chief in 2018.

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