Best Final Fantasy Games, Ranked

Best Final Fantasy Games, Ranked

Final Fantasy is one of the most important and influential video game series of all time. It is also one of the most diverse. Since the original Final Fantasy on the NES, the series has been experimenting and evolving, often redefining standards across the genre. Whether it’s new settings and characters, or a completely different combat system, no two numbered Final Fantasy games are alike. But which entry is the best Final Fantasy game?

With Final Fantasy XVI on the horizon, and seemingly poised to change the series again, we decided to look back at the previous mainline, numbering Final Fantasy games and ranking our favorites. That means no spinoffs or directed sequels like Stranger in Paradise: Final Fantasy Origins, Final Fantasy X-2, or Final Fantasy Tactics are on this list.

Well, pretty much all mainline games – we’ve left Final Fantasy XI and XIV out of this list because they are long running MMOs (yes, Final Fantasy XI is still active) and it’s hard to compare to single player games . But rest assured, many of us are playing and enjoying both games and would rank them high in our personal Final Fantasy rankings.

For Final Fantasy games, we did However, we’ll give advice on the best way to play them on modern platforms.

If you want to see how we rank other iconic video game franchises, check out our lists for the best The Legend of Zelda games, the best Monster Hunter games, and the best Mario games.

14. Final Fantasy II

final fantasy ii

Every Final Fantasy game tries something new, and while some games are more successful than others, Final Fantasy II is unfortunately known as a game that doesn’t work. Compared to the original Final Fantasy, FFII has a larger storyline and more interesting custom characters. However, the more complex story is marred by a confusing leveling system, where your party members’ stats gradually grow through the use of certain moves. It was a bold take on the standard character progression mechanics followed by most console RPGs at the time, and while many contemporary RPGs have adopted similar ideas, Final Fantasy II’s system was inelegant and confusing. Luckily, the various ports and remakes over the years have featured lighter combat, making the game more approachable.

The Pixel remaster versions on Steam, iOS, and Android are the easiest to find and play, but if you can, Final Fantasy I and II: Dawn of Souls Collection on GameBoy Advance and PSP is often considered the best port of Final Fantasy II to find it. There are also ports of Dawn of Souls versions for Android and iOS, but with limited support for modern devices, and a PSOne Classics version that you can grab while the PS3 or Vita PlayStation Store is still active.

13. Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy XV

To be fair, it’s credit that director Hajime Tabata and company were able to salvage the misguided mess of Final Fantasy Versus XIII and repurpose it for the final qualifying video game Final Fantasy XV. Transforming the classic Final Fantasy theme of four adventurers on an epic quest into a touching road trip between best friends is also a novel premise for the series, featuring protagonist Noctis and his budding Proptos, Guerra. The chemistry between Dior and Ignis is excellent. Final Fantasy XV also ranks among the best works by composer Yoko Shimomura.

Still, we can’t ignore FFXV’s flawed story pacing and tedious combat system. Post-launch DLC addresses some of these issues, but no amount of polish and bonus content can hide that Final Fantasy XV is held together by threads.

If you want to play Final Fantasy XV, we recommend the Royal Edition on PS4, Xbox and PC as it includes most of the DLC. There’s also a mobile version on iOS, Android, and Switch that tells the exact same story, with the same voice acting and cutscenes, but with a chibi art style and smoother gameplay that’s faster to play.

12. Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy XIII is one of the most beautiful games of the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation, and its combat system is an interesting attempt to fuse the series’ turn-based roots with a contemporary action RPG. But whether this is a successful attempt depends on who you ask. Likewise, players are divided over the game’s cast — led by the stoic Lightning — and its complex background and mythology.

But what people find most controversial is the structure of Final Fantasy XIII. Final Fantasy XIII is painfully linear for most of the gameplay, until you finally get free access to the game’s third act in the open world. Not only does FFXIII lack many of the main elements of Final Fantasy, it also lacks RPGs in general.

Still, a lot of players love Final Fantasy XIII, and Square Enix thinks Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Blitzkrieg are successful enough to warrant two direct sequels. All three games are available on PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, and can be played on newer consoles through PS Now and Xbox Game Pass.

11. Final Fantasy III

final fantasy iii

Final Fantasy III is arguably one of the most important entries in the series. It was the first to incorporate iconic elements of the series that are still widely known to this day, including the job system that would be a semi-regular part of the series, and the furry floating Moogles that were arguably Final Fantasy mascots. However, it’s also one of the few games in the series that you can safely skip. Final Fantasy III’s biggest sin is that it’s not Final Fantasy V, which builds on and refines the ideas that III originally introduced.

The famous Final Fantasy III skipped the NES, but you can find several easy-to-get ports today, including a Pixel remaster on PC and mobile and a 3D remaster on PC, DS, and PSP/Vita (if you can. found).

10. Final Fantasy

final fantasy

While some see the original Final Fantasy as a simple relic of the early console RPGs, we found it to be an elegant and enjoyable adventure that still stands today. It only takes a few hours to complete, but the ability to customize your teamwork from the start makes it easy to try new builds every time you play, and the game’s story uses a time loop as its core philosophy, so it Replayability is right into the narrative. Like the original Dragon Quest, Final Fantasy is fun, and if it’s a quaint RPG, you can knock it down in an afternoon.

If you’ve recently finished work on Stranger Things: Final Fantasy Origins and want to see what happens next in the story, launch the recent Pixel remaster version on Steam, iOS or Android. That said, if you have access to the Dawn of Souls collection for the PSP or GameBoy Advance, we highly recommend it, as it rebalances difficulty, quality of life features, and great sprite work.

9. Final Fantasy IX

Final Fantasy IX

Depending on who you ask, Final Fantasy IX is either a return to form or a backward detour. While a return to a medieval fantasy setting full of cartoon characters was a controversial choice following the success of Final Fantasy VI, VII and VIII, it didn’t help that the original PS1 version was bogged down by long load times and spotty performance in combat Scenes. Still, Final Fantasy IX’s story remains one of the most compelling in the series. Endearing characters like Vivi, Zidane, and Freya grapple with deep philosophical and ethical issues that go beyond genre tropes.

Well, at least some of them do. Final Fantasy IX is notoriously underutilized by some of its core party members, and has one of the most anti-climax final boss switchers in the entire series. It also foreshadowed the series’ linear turn, and lacked the plethora of exploration and side content that defined many of the previous Final Fantasys.

However, we still recommend playing Final Fantasy IX based on the strength of its core cast and life-affirming information. The HD remaster is available on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Android and iOS, and many other devices like the Nvidia Shield. All editions include useful optional features like turning off random encounters or making your team invincible – although you can of course play without these as well.

8. Final Fantasy IV

final fantasy iv

Many fans consider Final Fantasy IV their favorite, and it’s easy to see why. First, it pioneered the introduction of the ATB (Active Time Battle) system, which will be the series’ core combat system for the next decade. Final Fantasy IV also features one of the most memorable playable characters, and a narrative that surpasses previous games. It’s a story of heroic sacrifice, triumphant triumphs, and shocking twists (though some are marred by last-minute scheduling). FFIV even incorporates aspects of Final Fantasy III’s job system into its story, marking character growth with literal class changes.

Having said that, Final Fantasy IV shares a similar fate with Final Fantasy III: it’s overshadowed by future games that refine their ideas (in this case, Final Fantasy VI). That said, Final Fantasy’s unique story is still worth experiencing. The most readily available modern version is the Pixel Remaster version on Steam and Mobile. Dubbed 3D remakes are also available on PC and Nintendo DS. For existing fans, there’s also a sequel Final Fantasy IV: The After Years on Steam, although it wasn’t well received.

7. Final Fantasy VIII

Final Fantasy VIII

Final Fantasy VIII is an odd game, even compared to later entries that deviate more radically from the Final Fantasy formula.

VIII is the first fully sci-fi game in the series, with character designs inspired by modern fashion rather than fantasy. The game system is equally subversive, ditching traditional mechanics in favor of experimental ideas like linking systems, where character stats are mostly influenced by summons, spells, and special skills you equip, rather than upgrades or gear. The game also encourages playing the mini-game Triple Triad (yes, that’s Triple Triad) to collect better cards that can be turned into stat-boosting spells.

As weird as these elements are, they make sense in the game and are one of the most unique (if polarizing) games in the series. But if the mechanics help you, it’s an excellent adventure filled with tons of side content and deep gameplay based on one of the series’ best love stories. Today, the best way to play Final Fantasy VIII is the HD remaster on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and mobile.

6. Final Fantasy VII

final fantasy VII

If we gave each game its own special prize, Final Fantasy VII would win the People’s Choice Award. It’s a cliché to mention the huge impact Final Fantasy VII had on gaming, especially in the West, but that success is also what makes the game so nostalgic. It transformed the Japanese RPG from a niche corner into one of the PS1’s flagship genres, and cemented SquareSoft’s position as the system’s most important third-party developer.

Let’s be fair, though: Because Final Fantasy VII is important to the success of the series and the overall popularity of JRPGs, its gameplay is superficial compared to most other games in the series – both before and after . On the other hand, the characters and story are one of the best (despite the uneven localization), and the soundtrack contains some of the most memorable work Nobuo Uematsu has ever written.

There have been so many spinoffs of Final Fantasy VII over the years that you could pretty much define it as its own standalone franchise. You can now play the HD remaster on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox, Nintendo Switch and mobile devices.

5. Final Fantasy V

final fantasy V

Final Fantasy V doesn’t have the most memorable story, but we think its gameplay is the best of the early games. FFV builds on Final…

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Wilbert Wood
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