Final Fantasy XVI: Echoes of the Fallen – A New Direction in Action-Combat
After the release of Final Fantasy XVI, it’s evident that there wasn’t a unanimous consensus shared amongst fans of the series. Like its predecessors, Final Fantasy XVI embarked on a quest for its unique identity, garnering both detractors and newfound players. So, when the announcement of two DLCs came, I pondered whether it would cater to those put off by the base game or accentuate its strengths for the established fanbase. Well, it seems the development team wishes to lean into this new direction by doubling down the action-based combat.
In case you need a refresher, Final Fantasy XVI introduces a significant shift in the franchise, venturing into a fully-fledged action RPG. This new direction, under the guidance of the combat director from Devil May Cry V, has elicited a mixed response from the fanbase. Still, my extensive playthrough of over 120 hours showcased this as one of Square Enix’s most polished releases. The narrative centers on Clive Rosfield, who has been thrust into a world rife with magic and political intrigue. The adventure excels in its deep lore and worldbuilding, with an emphasis on the Active Time Lore menu and well-integrated side quests that enrich the main storyline and character development.
The combat system stands out with its Eikon abilities, offering a variety of customizable combat styles. Equipment and crafting are surprisingly straightforward, diverging from typical JRPG complexities. The combat is dynamic, focusing on staggering enemies and strategic use of Eikon powers. Despite its strengths, the game’s magic system and antagonists feel underdeveloped, lacking the depth seen in other game elements. Visually, the game is a spectacle, blending cinematic battles with immersive QuickTime events.
For me, Final Fantasy XVI was a compelling evolution in the series, offering a rich, action-oriented experience. Its intricate world, compelling character arcs, and addictive action systems solidify it as a standout title. Despite some narrative and gameplay weaknesses, it remains a memorable and significant addition to the Final Fantasy franchise.
Unraveling the Storyline of Echoes of the Fallen
Echoes of the Fallen is set near the conclusion of the base game. To access it, players must have reached the “Back to their Origin” objective in the main story and completed the “Priceless” sidequest. Afterward, a simple chat with Charon at the hub activates the titular DLC, which is treated as an in-game quest. Players are tasked with unraveling the origins of the newly discovered dusk crystals. Although they function like the standard crystals, they are far more fragile. Unscrupulous merchants have begun selling these faulty crystals to make a quick profit, prompting Clive, Jill, and Joshua to investigate.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]There may not be a lot to say about Final Fantasy XVI Echoes of the Fallen, but that doesn’t necessarily signify a lack of quality.[/perfectpullquote]
The storyline of Echoes of the Fallen does not shine as its strongest aspect, although it doesn’t really try. Aside from the opening scenes, where players encounter and chase down suspicious individuals in possession of dusk crystals, the majority of the gameplay unfolds in a new dungeon. To be candid, if you’re expecting an emotionally charged narrative in Echoes of the Fallen, you won’t find it here. The morsels of new lore you discover are intriguing but serve as supplementary rather than substantial material. Instead, this DLC prioritizes gameplay.
Diving into the Gameplay and Dungeon Dynamics
The new dungeon boasts a commendable array of endgame-level enemies and fresh equipment that taps into the essence of what makes Final Fantasy XVI’s combat so satisfying. Playing this content in Final Fantasy mode on a new game plus was an exhilarating experience. It’s worth noting that none of it proved particularly challenging, but the telegraphs and patterns of the various bosses are a joy to exploit to your advantage. In fact, I dare say the final boss of Echoes of the Fallen stands as one of the game’s absolute best.
I won’t spoil the details of the battle, but rest assured, it combines spectacle and substance. The arena, its identity, and the accompanying music converge to create an exceptional encounter. The lesser bosses leading up to the final showdown are equally well-designed, featuring clear tells for their attacks. If you relished the gameplay of Final Fantasy XVI, this DLC is genuinely worth your while. Additionally, you can discover a few accessories and obtain a new weapon. Arcade Mode enthusiasts will appreciate the former for their unique effects.
Echoes of the Fallen: Boss Battles and Gameplay Thrills
The DLC offers some additional perks, notably the inclusion of the Orchestrion Roll “Away (1987),” which adds a new tune to the hub area, and Cloud Strife’s iconic Buster Sword from Final Fantasy VII. Thanks to Final Fantasy XVI’s transmog feature, you can utilize the Buster Sword’s design regardless of your equipped weapon, enhancing the overall package’s value.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The storyline of Echoes of the Fallen does not shine as its strongest aspect, although it doesn’t really try.[/perfectpullquote]
On a side note, a noteworthy feature introduced via a free update alongside the DLC’s release is the Inner Voice functionality. Accessible through the Grand Cast menu, it allows players to explore certain characters’ inner thoughts about their allies and adversaries. This addition adds depth to the multifaceted cast and serves as a delightful diversion for those who have already thoroughly examined these menus.
Assessing the Value of Echoes of the Fallen for Final Fantasy Fans
There may not be a lot to say about Final Fantasy XVI Echoes of the Fallen, but that doesn’t necessarily signify a lack of quality. Its few hours of gameplay offer an enjoyable dungeon experience with memorable enemy encounters that rival and even surpass those in the base game. While the narrative may not be the main attraction, it does set the stage for The Rising Tide DLC, which has been confirmed to be a more substantial experience. Ultimately, Echoes of the Fallen is a worthwhile addition for fans, while those who are more hesitant should exercise caution.
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