Hands-on with Final Fantasy XVI The Rising Tide DLC

22 Apr 2024

Last week, Final Fantasy XVI received it’s second, and (as far as we know) final piece of DLC: The Rising Tide. In addition to the DLC, the game also received update 1.31 which brought in some wonderful additions such as the ability to return to a quest giver with the press of a button once that quest’s objectives have been fulfilled. You can view the full patch notes for Final Fantasy XVI version 1.31 here.

Just like with the previous DLC, Echoes of the Fallen, players wanting to dive into The Rising Tide will need to be right at the end of their journey in Final Fantasy XVI at the “Back to their Origin” quest. Additionally, the sidequest “Priceless” must be completed, which requires completion of “Cut from the Cloth,” “Phoenix, Heal Thyself” and “Where there’s a Will” sidequests.

It didn’t take long for the story of The Rising Tide to hook me. After all, with its focus on Leviathan, it felt like we were finally getting a “last piece of the puzzle” so to speak when it comes to FFXVI‘s Eikonic pantheon. Where Echoes of the Fallen felt like a somewhat contained piece of DLC, given that it largely takes place in a tower in an area we were already familiar with, Rising Tide raises the bar by including not only the new land of Mysidia, but also a new town that serves as a hub for new quests.

It should come as no surprise that this DLC, which focuses on a Leviathan, grants Clive new Eikon powers. The Eikonic feat, Serpent’s Cry, will replace Clive’s arm with a Leviathan-like head that can be used to shoot at enemies from afar while occasionally requiring a “reload” of sorts. Tidal Torrent calls forth several orbs of water that come crashing into enemies and Tidal Stream unleashes a powerful surge of water at enemies. Clive’s dodges also get augmented while using Leviathan, allowing him to move more fluidly while shooting at his enemies.

In case the addition of Leviathan wasn’t enough to satiate the appetites of long term fans of the series, The Rising Tide also includes the addition of Tonberries. There’s a bit of lore as well to uncover. They’re not quite as cute as we see them in other games, and I certainly haven’t heard them yell “Doink!” when trying to stab me, but it’s a welcome bit of Final Fantasy flavor.

As I progressed through the story and some of the new sidequests, I felt myself quickly thinking that this DLC was the better of the two and, in fact, probably one of my favorite overall parts of Final Fantasy XVI – and I still believe that’s true. However, that thought became challenged shortly thereafter by the final fight. There are many phases to the final boss in The Rising Tide, but one in particular made me do something I haven’t done in a long time. I turned the game off.

While some phases of this final fight simply require the bosses HP to get past a certain threshold, the phase in question here is a straight DPS check. You have to do a certain amount of damage before the time is up, or it’s game over (and you have to wait for events to play out before you can even restart, which makes the repeated failures even more excruciating.) The time allotted for this is extremely tight. Incredibly, amazingly, down to-the-second, tight. Capital ‘T’ Tight.

Of course, many will read this and say “Get good!” and that’s…fair. To my own admission, the DPS issue in the end was ultimately solved by re-learning how to do some combos and throwing in some magic bursts at the end. That said, we’re ten months out from the original release of FFXVI, and four months away from the last batch of DLC. Not everyone is going to remember the intricacies of the battle system after that period of time. I genuinely thought I was doing something wrong, like there was something so incredibly obvious I was missing. It wasn’t a great feeling.

Finally though, with some magic bursts thrown in at the end of my combos, I was able to finally beat this phase. Oh, wait. I broke it. I was so excited, thinking I finally got past this part, and then suddenly…the music stopped and the boss just sat there doing nothing. Luckily, I was able to progress without incident after restarting and finish the fight. I’m not sure how widespread the issue is that I encountered but it just felt so right that after struggling so much with it, I beat it, only for the fight itself to break.

While the story, sidequests, and new powers already offer plenty of “bang for your buck”, there’s also an additional mode available. After finishing the main story for The Rising Tide, players will unlock a new type of content called Kairos Gate. In this content, Clive fights through twenty different battle stages as they increase in difficulty. As each level is cleared, the player is given EP and BP that they can spend in order to give Clive bonuses for future fights including things like increased HP or increasing the score bonus when using Eikonic abilities. I can definitely see people that like challenging themselves finding enjoyment with this new mode.

I managed to complete the first boss of Kairos Gate and was given a Radiant Flametongue as a reward. The stats aren’t great on it, but they don’t have to be now that Final Fantasy XVI lets you change the appearance of your equipped weapon. It’s a shiny weapon, and who doesn’t love shiny things?

My own personal combat gripes aside, The Rising Tide ends up being not just the best piece of DLC, but one of the best parts of Final Fantasy XVI overall.

Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide is available now for $19.99 on the PlayStation Store. It’s also a part of the Final Fantasy XVI Expansion pass at $24.99, which also includes Echoes of the Fallen.

You can read our review of Final Fantasy XVI here.

Review copy provided by Square Enix. Screenshots taken by writer.