2023 saw the return of the latest mainstream entry in the Final Fantasy series in 2023 with the action-RPG styled Final Fantasy XVI.
Telling a complete, compelling story it told the tale of Clive, Jill and Joshua as they strive to rid the world of magic, and by doing so set the downtrodden Bearers free.
But now Final Fantasy XVI is receiving story DLC in the form of Echoes of the Fallen, a new roughly 3 hour chapter set right at the end of the game. Unlike what felt like emergency downloadable content for the last full entry, Final Fantasy XV, this is not a patch up job nor an attempt to make the main narrative somewhat comprehensible. Instead, it is its own thing, fully separated from the main goings on in Valisthea.
As such, it is really only for those who have already invested the 40 odd hours necessary to complete XVI’s main story. To access the DLC at all, you’ll need to be right before the final mission, with a high level character and multiple upgraded Eikon abilities at your disposal. Unfortunately, unlike many recent DLCs, there’s no ability to start this mini-story separately with a pre-configured character. This will limit the number of people who will be able to start the DLC, at least initially, but, if you’ve run out of steam in the main campaign this extra content is not so different to bring you back to it anyway.
The DLC starts off with the revelation that so-called ‘dusk crystals’ are being traded at extravagant prices amongst the desperate populace. Upon investigation, Clive realises these are coming from a previously unknown mothercrystal, one that was created by the previous, technologically-advanced society, the Fallen. With the help of some fairly poorly voice acted new characters, he conveniently finds this mothercrystal base quite quickly, and sets off to dismantle the entire operation.
So in reality, this DLC is one more ‘dungeon’, just like the other main missions that you have gone through a number of times in the story campaign. It is a shame that the structure adheres so closely to what has come before. Given that the DLC is only accessible at the end of the campaign, it starts to feel a bit rote by the end of it. Fight enemies, move forward, fight a mini-boss, move forward, fight another wave of goons, move forward, and pass muster at a big end battle.
While there is some good lore revealed during your travels, there is little urgency or personality that made me invested in getting to the end of the dungeon. Instead of a rival Dominant to face off against, all I had was a faceless voice speaking technical gibberish and a final boss that had little introduction and an even shorter send-off. Worse, there’s not even any real reward for your troubles, and like the rest of the game the experience, ability points and gil are doled out in disappointingly frugal amounts.
In the end, its more Final Fantasy XVI. If you liked the original game, then this will be a nice little reminder of what was enjoyable about the main experience. It does reveal more about the world and history of Valisthea, even if its impacts are not obvious nor enduring after the DLC’s self-contained story is over. I would have liked to see it impact the world more, and to have more of an impact on the rest of the game, especially in Clive’s abilities.
Released: December 2023
Platforms reviewed: PlayStation 5
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix