Creative Business Unit III is back with an all-new expansion to the spectacular FF16, with Final Fantasy 16: Echoes of the Fallen. This DLC came out the same day as its announcement at The Game Awards 2023, along with the announcement of The Rising Tide DLC.
But does Echoes of the Fallen live up to the Final Fantasy 16 name? And does it build upon the excellent foundation that the original game had built while simultaneously providing an amazing standalone experience in its own right? To put it simply, in some cases it does, but in others, it falls short of some of the core elements that made FF16 so appealing in the first place.
Final Fantasy 16: Echoes of the Fallen Gets a Lot Right, and A Lot Wrong
If we go off of presentation alone, Final Fantasy 16: Echoes of the Fallen absolutely nails it, which is by far the best thing it has going for it. Sure, Final Fantasy 16 was already a gorgeous game to begin with, but the beauty of the main tower that you climb, The Sagespire, is not to be understated.
The lighting may take the cake for the best in any game this year, and when pitted against these other games, it’s an incredible accomplishment. We also have the legendary Masayoshi Soken returning with his amazing music. Every new piece of music in Final Fantasy 16: Echoes of the Fallen is nothing short of spectacular, especially the final boss theme.
The gameplay is as exhilarating as always, and that’s a testament to the amazing Ryota Suzuki, who was responsible for DMC‘s combat. But although the gameplay is as exciting as ever, I was left quite disappointed with how Final Fantasy 16: Echoes of the Fallen does absolutely nothing to expand on that.
Maybe asking for a new ability was a longshot, but it would go a long way to justify this DLC’s existence. You do get the Buster Sword from Final Fantasy 7, which was incredibly cool, but ultimately, it has the same exact moveset as the other swords in the game, so there’s not much point to it other than aesthetic.
But one of the main things that gravitated me towards FF16 in the first place was the awesome story and world that had been incredibly well put together. Unfortunately, Final Fantasy 16: Echoes of the Fallen doesn’t really expand on the world in any cool new way.
The coolest aspects of the story and world of FF16 were the fantasy elements. But this new instalment chooses to focus rather on the less-interesting Fallen civilization and sci-fi elements, which were by far the weakest parts of the original game.
This becomes all the more agitating when you consider that instead of allotting time to the Fallen, the DLC could have just focused on characters like Barnabas and Dion, who fans agree could have used the extra screentime.
But what we get is an underdeveloped story that includes three new, incredibly annoying filler characters that, although they do expand on the world of FF16, do so in all the wrong ways.
Final Fantasy 16: Echoes of the Fallen Feels More like an Advertisement for the Next DLC
Ultimately, the DLC ends up not being a satisfactory experience, but what it does have going for it are the cool bossfights. They are decently challenging, and once again, like the rest of the DLC, they are supported by breathtaking visuals. All the bossfights that you get here are all fought using Clive, which means there’s no huge Kaiju battle.
Personally, this left me a little dissatisfied. The final boss feels like it could have perfectly gone from a Clive fight to a Kaiju fight, but it doesn’t do that. Instead, they’re leaving that for the next DLC, The Rising Tide, with Leviathan.
Even the story not focusing on the interesting fantasy elements feels like they’re leaving it all to the next DLC, which is disappointing because even with this, they could have gone above and beyond.
And before you even know it, it’s all over. Final Fantasy 16: Echoes of the Fallen clocks in at around the 2–3-hour mark. For a game that’s about thirty hours long, main story-wise, this is an incredibly short runtime. Just when you feel that you’re being immersed in the story and lore, the game pulls you out.
It does serve the purpose of being a final dungeon before the main story’s climax, but it doesn’t justify its own existence within the world of Final Fantasy 16.
All this to say that Final Fantasy 16: Echoes of the Fallen is a very fun time, but that’s due to the already fun gameplay loop of FF16. Ultimately, with this DLC, what you’re getting is a glorified dungeon and a shiny new Buster Sword, that only looks cool, but doesn’t do anything new, just like the DLC. That’s it!
Final Fantasy 16: Echoes of the Fallen was played and reviewed on PlayStation 5. The DLC is now available on the PSN Store.