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Final Fantasy XVI DLC: The Rising Tide and Echoes of the Fallen Review

While Final Fantasy XVI may have ended on a rather definitive note, its DLC rollout explores much more of its world of Valisthea. The main story hinted at a few things that weren’t addressed by the time the credits rolled, so the opportunity for additional content was quite clear. With the first of two DLC expansions, Echoes of the Fallen, released in December 2023, those who were eager to get back into the shoes of protagonist Clive for more of the stylish action-RPG combat had something to chew on. But it’s the upcoming The Rising Tide DLC that will round out the whole package, letting you wield Leviathan as an Eikon power and answering more of the questions left behind by the base game. After playing through Echoes of the Fallen, I had a chance to speak with FFXVI DLC director Takeo Kujiraoka about the development of post-game content and what it means for the future of this particular entry in the storied franchise.

Gameplay and Difficulty

The first thing that stood out was how player feedback was accounted for soon after the game’s launch. “We have intentionally changed the balancing of combat from that of the main game. Specifically, we’ve boosted the overall strength of the enemies in the DLC,” Kujiraoka stated. This was abundantly clear in the boss fight against Omega, which was a treat for Final Fantasy sickos (especially of the MMORPG variety) but also a surprising challenge that took me multiple tries to finish. It was more difficult than any boss you encounter in the main story and borrows a lot of complex mechanics that reminded me of Final Fantasy XIV’s raid bosses, and that helped the combat system shine once again.

Influences from Previous Games

Kujiraoka said that the team paid attention to the community playing FFXVI, saying, “In part, this is because we had set the enemy strength a little low in the main game to ensure that as many players as possible would be able to reach the ending. But, from player reactions and streams, it seemed to me that we could maybe push that enemy strength a little higher.” He also mentioned that since both DLCs open up just before the final act of the base game, players will be experienced–though, I must admit, it took a little while to shake off the rust from returning to the game after months.

Music and Development

That’s not the only similarity the action-RPG shares with the MMO–composer Masayoshi Soken was in his bag with the Echoes of the Fallen DLC in which he remixed the Omega boss theme “eScape” from FFXIV into a chaotic, trance-like drum ‘n’ bass track. Kujiraoka provided some insight on how music came together for the DLC, and told me, “When speaking to Soken, I would always explain the situation where the piece would be used, places where I’d want to switch the music, etc., all whilst showing him actual gameplay. At times, I did specify particular moods and genres. But from that point onwards, the composition team–first and foremost Soken himself–had absolute freedom to work on the music.” Music is integral to how those worlds are built which is evident from the soundtracks for all the FFXIV expansions. Without knowing where Echoes of the Fallen was going, I had this assured feeling it revolved around Omega judging from the music alone. The leitmotifs from the FFXIV version come through in the background theme as you ascend the dungeon where the DLC takes place. And my suspicions were confirmed, so it feels like Soken is very much a part of how these stories come across.

Future of the DLC and Conclusion

No matter which way you cut it, FFXVI tried to incorporate some heavy narrative themes such as enslavement, abolition, and uprising, and did so to varying degrees of success. So, as Echoes of the Fallen is more concerned with the abstract aspects of the setting’s history, I had to ask if The Rising Tide DLC would revisit the grim side of its politics and messages. Kujiraoka stated that he can’t say much since the second DLC has not yet been released but did touch on the subject. “In both DLCs, there’s an underlying theme behind the main stories: the question of how people will live in a world with fewer crystals or one where they can’t use crystals.”