9 Best Final Fantasy games to try after FFXVI

Sam Smith
Best Final Fantasy games

With Final Fantasy VII Rebirth soon upon us, we’ve decided to rank the nine best entries in the series that came before it. Here are the best 9 Final Fantasy games to try if you’re looking for something to play after FFXVI.

Final Fantasy is Square Enix’s flagship RPG. Over thirty years old, Final Fantasy games have appeared on nearly every major platform with the sixteenth entry being the latest. Even the original game saw a remake of sorts in the form of Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin. If you’ve completed FFXVI and are looking for more Final Fantasy goodness, then we’ve got some more for you to check out.

While some Final Fantasy games have been huge hits with fans and critics, others haven’t faired so well. With that in mind, we delve back into the past of the series, ranking the best Final Fantasy games – and the best platform to experience them on.

Spoilers for each are lurking below!

Final Fantasy IV (DS Remake)

Final Fantasy 4 gameplay
Final Fantasy IV on DS felt a lot like the PS1 Final Fantasy games.

This fully 3D remake of FFIV on the Nintendo DS blew us away at the time and it’s still the best version of the entry to date. It would also go on to inspire the Bravely Default series. In truth, Square-Enix remade Final Fantasy III on the DS first, but they really nailed the formula with IV.

This is likely because of the game’s intricate job system, superb storytelling, and memorable cast of characters, including the menacing, yet sympathetic antagonist Golbez, whose relationship with protagonist Cecil made the story so unforgettable.

Like the previous three games, Final Fantasy IV tells the story of four Warriors of Light thrown together and then sent on a quest to save the world. Although, this time around Square-Enix raised the stakes for each character, giving each one a deeply personal story and challenge to overcome on top of their mission to save the world.

It was also the first Final Fantasy game to make us emotional with some deeply sad character deaths. The DS remake rendered all this in 3D for the first time, making this classic adventure even more epic.

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age

Final Fantasy 12 gameplay
The Zodiac Age was a HD remaster of the original FFXII.

Final Fantasy XII gets a bad rep sometimes; mainly because the story was darker than before and protagonist Vaan was an awful dullard, with many arguing that the secondary hero, the more charismatic Balthier should have lived up to his claim of being ‘The Leading Man.’ The story featured Vaan, his friends, and a deposed princess all joining Balthier’s crew of Sky Pirates before taking on a powerful empire to reclaim her rightful throne.

Final Fantasy XII got a lot right. The game made the bold decision to abandon turn-based combat, instead opting for a more free-flowing style that would eventually become series standard. While FFXIII would go back to turn-based battles, later games like XIV, XV, XVI, and even the remake of VII would emulate the style of XII. The game’s gambit system would also go on to influence the Xenoblade series.

FFXII also introduced the Hunting quests that were inspired by Monster Hunter. These have returned in subsequent entries and were thrilling to complete. The Zodiac Age update helps streamline Final Fantasy XII, cutting out a lot of the grinding from the original by allowing players to fast-forward the game, while also updating the graphics.

Final Fantasy V (iOS remake)

Final Fantasy 5 gameplay
FFV iOS looks especially stunning on iPads.

Time hasn’t been kind to the original Final Fantasy V, but the game’s iOS remake has seen it transformed and updated with a new art style that really helps bring the story to life. The remake sees the blocky retro game completely replaced with every animation, character, and location lovingly redesigned. This remaster took inspiration from the iOS title Final Fantasy: Dimensions and represents the apex of classic era Final Fantasy but with a new coat of paint.

Once again, FFV features a group of mismatched adventurers on a quest to save the world with young hero Bartz leading the quest for the crystals. While the story isn’t quite as hard-hitting as four or six, it has its moments and every character gets their chance to shine.

Those looking for a more modernized version of classic Final Fantasy to play on their iPhones will love this version of FFV. While the 2021 pixel remasters are a more faithful recreation of the original, we still love the iOS remake a little bit more. However, this isn’t the case for all the iOS remakes.

Final Fantasy VIII

Squall in Final Fantasy 8
Final Fantasy VIII struggled after the success of its predecessor.

Final Fantasy VIII is often compared unfavorably to FFVII, but this is unfair, while the game isn’t as good as its older sibling, it’s still an amazing adventure and worth playing for every Final Fantasy fan. The story involves a group of students at a military academy being pulled into a conflict between warring nations while an evil sorceress tries to conquer all of reality.

There are no Heroes of Light here, just a group of moody teenagers who are all trying to find their place in a world full of gods and monsters. While FFVII was a story about greed and identity, VIII was a coming-of-age story. Its protagonist, Squall, and the various villains just never quite made the same impact as Cloud and Sephiroth – but is there any weapon in all of gaming cooler than the gunblade?

FFVIII has been remastered on current-gen and looks absolutely stunning. The blocky polygons of the PS1 have been smoothed over and replaced by a slock anime art style that gives the underrated game another opportunity to impress.

Final Fantasy VI (Pixel Remaster)

Final Fantasy 6 gameplay
FFVI was the first sci-fi Final Fantasy game.

Final Fantasy VI felt like a forgotten chapter in the Final Fantasy multiverse before the Pixel Remaster. The game never received a Nintendo DS remake, however, it did get ported to the Game Boy Advance.

FFVI is special because it was the first game in the series to abandon the vibrant world of traditional fantasy, instead opting for a gritty steampunk-themed sci-fi adventure. This style would go on to set the tone for most games in the series since, with many more recent titles either being steampunk or sci-fi adventures. It was also the first game to feature a female protagonist in Terra, whose battle against the manic clown villain Kefka is still among Final Fantasy’s best.

The game touched upon some rather dark themes such as attempted suicide, genocide, and slavery but the story was ultimately about hope, and once again, good triumphing over evil. Final Fantasy VI was also the game that saw the series pivot away from the Warriors of Light on a quest for crystals plot device and towards something more mature. However, those elements would return in subsequent entries.

Final Fantasy X HD

Final Fantasy X gameplay
Final Fantasy X was a real step up for the series as it arrived on PS2.

Final Fantasy made the jump to PS2 with FFX and had never looked so good. While the game had some, shall we say; laughable moments, it was still a solid and memorable Final Fantasy adventure – it was also the first to feature proper voice acting (although, this wasn’t always a good thing.)

The game contained some stunning vistas, giving the player the freedom to explore a series of tropical islands at their leisure. However, this picturesque beauty was often undercut by the constant threat of death, should ‘Sin,’ a colossal monster, swim too close to the island.

FFX was also a love story, one that saw the time-traveling Tidus fight to save heroine Yuna from sacrificing herself to rid the world of Sin. The player also had to unravel the mystery of Sin’s nature and origin, as well as what had caused Tidus to be plucked from his own time.

The game’s twist ending provides one of the biggest gut punches in the entire series. So much so, that FFX spawned a sequel just to deal with the fallout caused by it. Both games have since been remastered and ported to PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch where they look even better than they did on PS2.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Final Fantasy 14 gameplay
FFXIV is immensely popular in 2023.

While original players of FFXIV will remember it got off to a shaky start, the game in its current form is an absolute triumph. FFXIV proved that MMOs could be successful on consoles, and today, FFXIV is one of the most celebrated online RPGs available.

It’s also going from strength to strength, as its community grows, and more expansions arrive. FFXIV takes the best elements of the series and throws them into a digital playground for players to share. Various characters from across the Final Fantasy multiverse have been reimagined for FFXIV, giving a whole new generation of players the chance to fall in love with them – or destroy them.

While the game can be enjoyed as a single-player experience in many ways, it’s best enjoyed with friends or like-minded Warriors of Light who you encounter on your journey. While FFXIV has a very long-winded story, it’s about more about the stories you make while exploring the world and finding your place within the community. Questing is entirely at your pace and the battles feel like an expanded version of FFXI and XII’s.

If you love Final Fantasy and want to know what playing it with friends is like, this is it. We honestly can’t wait to see where it goes next.

Final Fantasy IX Remastered

Final Fantasy 9 gameplay
FFIX remastered modernizes a classic.

FFIX was the culmination of everything that made the PS1 era of Final Fantasy so iconic. It drew from the best parts of FFVII and FFVIII, telling a more light-hearted story with an adorable cast of characters and art style. Gone were the freedom fighters and conscripted teenagers, and in their place was a game that felt a lot like the first five Final Fantasy games, but in full 3D. Crystals and Warriors of Light returned in what was the most charming Final Fantasy game yet.

The tried and tested good overcoming evil in a magical fantasy world story felt like a return to Final Fantasy’s pre-PlayStation roots – and the time was right. FFVIII’s coming-of-age story hadn’t appealed to everyone, so FFIX gave us Moogles, Chocobos, and crystals aplenty. A group of unlikely heroes set out on a quest to save a princess, it’s classic Final Fantasy as well as being the most refined game in the series on PS1.

The game has HD remaster on modern platforms and should be experienced by every Final Fantasy fan from any era.

Final Fantasy VII Remastered

Final Fantasy 7 gameplay
While a full remake exists, the original FFVII has been given new life on PS4.

To be clear, we’re talking about the 2018/2019 HD remaster of the original Final Fantasy VII, not the remake on PS4 from 2020. We love the remake, but seeing the original ported to modern platforms not only tickled our nostalgia, but it also breathed new life into this legendary game.

Cloud Strife’s battle against Shinra, while trying to piece together his own past, is one of the greatest stories ever told in interactive form. FFVII proved definitively that gaming could be an effective medium to tell a compelling story, and since then, other developers have also taken this baton and ran with it.

To many, Final Fantasy 7 is still the best Final Fantasy game of all time. The iconic score, the characters, and the story of freedom fighters overcoming an evil mega-corporation made for a near-perfect RPG. While the series has evolved over the years, every entry will always be compared to the seventh.

Even the game’s remake tried not to tread on its toes, telling a story set in a parallel world where the echoes from the original’s events are bleeding through time and space, influencing the characters in the newer version in a clever plot device. This means, that even if you’ve played the Final Fantasy VII remake series, you should still play the original – as we feel these events are going to have a dramatic effect on the story of the remake by the time the third and final chapter is released.

Until then, here are our controversial thoughts on what should happen to a certain fan-favorite character in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth!

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About The Author

Sam is a Senior Games Writer for Dexerto specializing in Survival Horror, Diablo, Final Fantasy, and Soulslikes. An NCTJ accredited journalist, Sam also holds a degree in journalism from the University of Central Lancashire and has many years of experience as a professional writer. Being able to marry his love of writing with his addiction to video games was always one of his life goals. He also loves all things PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo in equal measure. Contact at sam.smith@dexerto.com