The Final Fantasy series has had a rollercoaster of a decade. They began it with the launch of Final Fantasy XIII, one of the most controversial entries in the series. Many fans at the time couldn’t get past the linearity before the game opened up after around 50 hours of gameplay.
The MMO and successor to Final Fantasy XI, Final Fantasy XIV had a disastrous launch in 2010, the same year as Final Fantasy XIII leaving a bad taste in the mouths of long-time fans. Then Final Fantasy XV was released in a somewhat unfinished state with missing story elements that had to be patched in at a later date.
Much of the decade for Square-Enix seemed to be spent rebuilding their relationship with fans and regaining their faith in the AAA JRPG series. It wasn’t all bad news, however, if anything it proved that Square-Enix listens to its fans and works hard in trying to make their games better going forward. From new titles to remasters and relaunches, let’s take a look at the 10 best Final Fantasy games of the decade.
10 Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2014. It is a sequel to 2012’s Theatrhthm on the same platform and in terms of overall content, the rhythm-based was an improvement in every aspect compared to its predecessor.
The game features 221 songs from the Final Fantasy series including the new at the time Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, Final Fantasy Type-0, and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Theatrhythm is pure fanservice and the perfect way to revisit some of the best music ever composed in gaming.
9 Final Fantasy XIII
Final Fantasy XIII was released for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2010 with a PC release following suit in 2014. The long-awaited game was one of the most polarizing entries in the series’ history. Fans and critics agreed unanimously that the graphics and the combat system is among the best in the franchise.
However, Final Fantasy XIII, for the most part, is one of the most linear games in the series. As a result, the gameplay is mostly comprised of just running in a straight line and initiating fights. The game does open up, however, when the player reaches Gran Pulse, an area full of secrets, monster hunts, and side quests.
8 World Of Final Fantasy Maxima
World Of Final Fantasy Maxima was released on the PlayStation 4 and Vita, in 2017, with a PC, and Nintendo Switch version releasing the following year in 2018. The game is a non-canon JRPG that implements the classic style of the first games in the series with its stylized visuals and a return to the Active Time Battle combat system.
At its heart, World of Final Fantasy Maxima is another fan service title from Square. Players can explore a world populated by characters from the Final Fantasy universe like Cloud, Tifa, Squall, Vivi, Lightning and more. Although the game was overly long, it more than made up for this with its quality writing and charming characters.
7 Final Fantasy Type-0 HD
Released in 2015, Final Fantasy Type-0 is an Xbox One and PlayStation 4 remaster of the PSP original that never saw release outside of Japan. It is part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series which also includes the Final Fantasy XIII series.
While the HD upgrade from the PSP to current-gen machines wasn’t a flawless one, Final Fantasy Type-0’s darker story and a large cast of characters are reminiscent of The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel series with its military school setting.
6 Final Fantasy XIII-2
A direct sequel to Final Fantasy XIII, XIII-2 was released on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2012 and on PC formats in 2014. This time it is a Serah that is the lead protagonist as she’s traversing time trying to find her lost sister Lightning.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 offered players a more open and much less linear experience than its predecessor. The already great battle system was noticeably improved and a joy to play, giving players more speed and control over the characters.
5 Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition
First released in 2016 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, Final Fantasy XV was finally released after a decade in development. It was originally intended to be a Final Fantasy XIII spin-off title for the PlayStation 3 in the Fabula Nova Crystallis series.
Upon its original release, Final Fantasy XV was accused of being unfinished and it seemed that Square-Enix was going to leave a lot of the game’s story to the fan’s imagination. Thankfully, most of these issues were resolved in the game’s episodic DLC and free patches that added more cutscenes. The best option for gamers is Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition, which includes all of the DLC except for Episode Ardyn.
4 Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster was released on the PlayStation 3 and Vita in 2013, the PlayStation 4 in 2015, and the PC in 2016. It was eventually released for the Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch in 2019.
Despite Final Fantasy X and its sequel originally releasing on the PlayStation 2, the upscaled graphics and timeless art style still look so good on modern consoles. It also included extra content like more boss fights, new mini-games, and a Pokèmon-style Creature Creator mode.
3 Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is subscription-based MMORPG. It was first released in 2010 on the PlayStation 3 and the PC. Unfortunately, it wasn’t received well by fans or critics and Final Fantasy XIV seemed to be doomed from the start.
Instead, Square-Enix went back to the drawing board and relaunched the game with a new title, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. It was reworked with a new game engine and improved gameplay mechanics and was far better received by fans. Since then the game’s critical acclaim has continued with the release of the expansion packs Heavensward and Stormblood.
2 Final Fantasy VIII Remaster
Originally released in 1998 for the PlayStation, Final Fantasy VIII had to follow the most impactful JRPG of all time a year before in Final Fantasy VII. At the time it divided fans with a very different battle system to its predecessor and a complex storyline.
However, after its 2019 remastered release on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and the PC, fans have come to appreciate just how good FF8 really is. The battle system and leveling up are far more flexible and accessible than it first appears. Furthermore, the fantastic character designs have been reworked and upscaled beautifully, never looking out of place when compared to the recent entries in series.
1 Final Fantasy XII: Zodiac Age HD
Released in 2017 on the PlayStation 4 and in 2019 on the Nintendo Switch and PC, Final Fantasy XII is hands down the most unique entry in the mainline series. An enhanced remaster of the PlayStation 2 original from 2007, it’s easy to see why this title pushed the aging hardware to its absolute limits. Visually, it holds up as one of the best looking games in the series.
Final Fantasy XII was and still is a bold departure for the series in terms of writing, characters, the battle system, and its world design. The musical score from Hitoshi Sakimoto can be both epic and emotional and the voice acting is unmatched.
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