Final Fantasy XVI: Echoes of the Fallen

by Gamingstry
Final Fantasy XVI Echoes of the Fallen

Time has passed since we were assured that no DLC was planned for Final Fantasy XVI. Given that the Echoes of the Fallen expansion was released a few months after the game, it’s hard to believe that all this wasn’t already lurking in Naoki Yoshida’s mind for a while, especially when you take a look at the content of this DLC, which opens a mysterious door already present in the original game and which seemed to have been placed there on purpose.

Released as a surprise during the night of the Game Awards, Echoes of the Fallen is the first episode of a two-part additional content, that will be completed with the release of The Rising Tide in 2024. Having completed this first additional adventure, it’s time to evaluate it.

Please note that this DLC spoils certain twists in the game, so it’s recommended to stop reading here if you haven’t finished Final Fantasy XVI.

Fifteen years ago, Echoes of the Fallen’s content would simply have been an endgame, a secret bonus dungeon to unlock and face the game’s greatest challenges. Today, it’s sold as paid DLC, and while no one is willing to put this practice on trial, some fans of Clive’s adventures might have expected something more.

This first DLC mainly serves as an introduction to the second, which promises to be much heavier. The Rising Tide promises to unravel the mystery of Leviathan the lost Eikon, but Echoes of the Fallen is a side-quest designed to help us understand why the ancient civilization that ruled Valisthea was wiped out, following in the footsteps of The Myth of Icarus. In other words, you won’t learn much about the story behind Ultima and the Eikons, although it’s always nice to have a little extra lore. In a way, it’s almost a pleasure to discover that this DLC is completely dispensable in terms of storytelling, even though it fits in well with the epic.

The opening of this side-quest reveals the worst of Final Fantasy XVI, with static dialogues and a slow sequence of events, until we get to the heart of the matter. Clive and his crew set out to investigate the black market for dark crystals, which destroy themselves on first use and don’t seem to be linked to any Mother Crystal. A trail that leads them into a dungeon similar to the ones they visited in the main game, but which is actually done better.

The ruins we visited in Final Fantasy XVI could be criticized for looking too monolithic, and Echoes of the Fallen looks to correct this. The scenery remains pretty much the same, but it’s enhanced by more details and contrasts, using the lighting effects of sunset or the crystals littering the ground. However, don’t expect any fancy level design in the dungeon which serves as the main stage for the DLC. It’s just a series of dark corridors and rooms, as you’d expect.

We soon realize that Echoes of the Fallen is not about telling a great story or surprising us, but rather about presenting the game’s toughest challenge. This DLC is all about combat, with a series of sub-bosses, some of them quite angry, requiring good reflexes and gameplay mastery. Not an easy task if you haven’t played the title since its release. In any case, this is where this new adventure really shines, with even the standard confrontations becoming tense and requiring a certain engagement that goes beyond simple button-mashing.

It all ends with one of the best boss fights in all of Final Fantasy XVI. And the standard was high, given that it’s one of the main qualities of this episode. Actually, it’s the most technical, while the Eikon battles are all about showmanship and QTEs, the final boss of Echoes of the Fallen is a classic old-school boss drawing on the experience of the teams who worked on Final Fantasy XIV. Built in several phases, this confrontation requires precision and a little self-sacrifice, but the challenge is not overwhelming either. In any case, this boss is one of the most patterned enemies in the game, delivering a memorable battle.

This battle is made even more exciting thanks to one of this DLC’s new compositions, which stands out from the crowd with its more electronic sounds, perfectly suited to the theme of this new quest (which highlights the scientific and technological aspects of the ancients). The other soundtracks are also a success, even if we wouldn’t mind a few more new themes.

And… that’s about it. Echoes of the Fallen ends quickly, and doesn’t really offer anything else, which would have been surprising. You can have fun with the new accessories available during the adventure, or change Clive’s sword appearance to look like the one from Final Fantasy VII, but once you’ve completed the dungeon, you’ll just have to wait for the next DLC.

Overall, Echoes of the Fallen offers an adventure that is both pleasant and simple. Designed mainly for those who want an extra challenge and love the basic game’s combat system, even if there are no new features (apart from bonus accessories). We suggest you wait until the release of the second expansion to find out whether all this new content is worth buying through the Season Pass or not.

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