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Best Final Fantasy Games Ranked

Best Final Fantasy Games Ranked
Images via Square Enix

Written by 

Liam Ho

Posted 

16th May 2022 17:10

Picking the best Final Fantasy games is a difficult task, but one we're more than happy to take on. Final Fantasy has been a staple of the JRPG genre since its inception in 1987. Since then, it has had numerous sequels and spin-offs that have been released to various success. With the amount of Final Fantasy content out and about, it’s hard to say which you should try first. We’ve ranked the best Final Fantasy games for your entertainment, amusement, and information if you're wondering which to jump into next.

Best Final Fantasy Games: Final Fantasy (#15)

a screenshot from the game Final Fantasy
Click to enlarge

The top spot on our list of best Final Fantasy games has to go to the OG itself, Final Fantasy (FF). It may not be considered as good of a game as its successors but it remains an integral part of the franchise. For its time Final Fantasy was quite a good game, laying out the foundations for all games to come.

In particular, its combat system would go on to be the base for almost all JRPGs to come. Aside from that, however, it lacks a lot of quality of life systems that were only implemented in later titles. Once again, Final Fantasy was a result of a new franchise barely starting out and finding itself.

Best Final Fantasy Games: Final Fantasy II (#14)

a screenshot from the game Final Fantasy II
Click to enlarge

Final Fantasy II (FFII) is a product of being an early game in the franchise. Unlike the other items on the list, FFII didn’t have the retrospect or experience to teach it what sort of game it should’ve been. It’s clear that at this point the franchise was still trying to figure out all of the kinks within the game.

Unlike the original, traditional levelling was subbed out to level up traits based on how much they were used and random generation. Story-wise, FFII was good for its time but was quickly outmatched by games that came after it, especially FFIV and FFVI.

Best Final Fantasy Games: Final Fantasy XIII (#13)

a screenshot from the game Final Fantasy XIII
Click to enlarge

Final Fantasy XIII (FFXIII) is considered to be a dark horse as it's a heavily controversial entry that had players on both sides of the love/hate spectrum. While some of its story and characters weren’t bad, most of the player base was unhappy at the linearity of the game. On top of this, the game was far too slow to get rolling, needing players to grind through the early story to get to the good parts.

That being said, there are players out there that love the individual character moments and certain story elements. While being an alright game, it definitely wasn’t one of the better Final Fantasy games which is why it is so high up on this list of the best Final Fantasy games.

Best Final Fantasy Games: Final Fantasy XV (#12)

an example of combat in Final Fantasy XV
Click to enlarge

Final Fantasy XV (FFXV) is a more recent entry into the franchise being released in 2016, one that came with a lot of hype and expectations. Unfortunately, FFXV wasn’t able to deliver on every front that it was expected to. Opting for a more action-oriented style of combat meant that FFXV’s RPG systems such as character progression were limited.

Story-wise, FFXV accesses a variety of multimedia to tell its story, and this is to its detriment. There’s far too much lore and supplementary material which makes the game hard to understand. That or it’s explained awkwardly through an exposition dump in the latter part of the game. Simply speaking, FFXV fails in trying to expand a world too far past its means.

Best Final Fantasy Games: Final Fantasy III (#11)

the title screen of Final Fantasy III
Click to enlarge

Final Fantasy III (FFIII) originally started out without being released worldwide and was only released in Japan. As one of the earlier games in the series, many felt that the game was reiterating the same formula as the previous games. On top of this, the narrative of the game felt overly cliche with the four Warriors of Light restoring order in a world thrown into chaos.

Unfortunately, FFIII just felt like a slightly more forgettable title in the franchise. However, FFIII was an important milestone that laid out and built upon further foundations that made the Final Fantasy series so iconic and popular today.

Best Final Fantasy Games: Final Fantasy V (#10)

an example of combat from Final Fantasy V
Click to enlarge

Final Fantasy V (FFV) isn’t a bad game by any means, it’s just not one of the best Final Fantasy games on this list. With its rather generic story for a Final Fantasy game, it lacked the interesting characters that FFIV offered. By far the most endearing part of the game was its revamp of the job system, which opened up a large amount of flexibility for players.

Not only this but it laid the groundwork for character customisation for later games such as FFXI and FF: Tactics. While not being an awful game, FFV left things to be desired in a lot of its other departments, and unfortunately felt like a let down from FFIV.

Best Final Fantasy Games: Final Fantasy IV (#9)

a screenshot from Final Fantasy IV
Click to enlarge

Final Fantasy IV (FFIV) was one of the more triumphant entries into the early part of the series. FFIV was the game in which Final Fantasy as a series defined itself, with its character-focused storytelling although that being said, it's definitely a game that is showing its age, with a more simplistic storyline that surprisingly still holds some depth.

Although, for being an old game, FFIV still remains a breakpoint for the series as a whole. With its introduction of new storytelling methods, FFIV paved the way for future Final Fantasy games to come. On top of the story improvements, it invented the Active Time Battle system, which was kept until FFX.

Best Final Fantasy Games: Final Fantasy VIII (#8)

a screenshot from Final Fantasy VIII remastered
Click to enlarge

Final Fantasy VIII (FFVIII) is considered to be another dark horse in the franchise. With its Draw and Junction systems, it was controversial among most of the player base. Instead of sticking with a more traditional levelling system, players would get the most usage of their party by "junctioning" them to another entity. This was alongside the Draw system in which players had to "draw" magic from enemies.

The result of this was that the game was far grindier than most, and was particularly egregious if you wanted to max out your party. However, FFVIII innovated on the FF formula and reinvented the idea of the RPG as a whole which deserves a good mid-tier spot on the list of the best Final Fantasy games.

 

Best Final Fantasy Games: Final Fantasy VII (#7)

Cloud meeting Barret in Final Fantasy VII Remastered
Click to enlarge

Final Fantasy VII (FFVII) is easily the most well known of the entire series. Cloud is iconic to the Final Fantasy franchise and is arguably even the poster child of it all. Not only is Cloud a pop culture icon, but his nemesis Sephiroth is equally as memorable holding key moments throughout the plot.

FFVII was the first in the series to be released on the PlayStation 2 and was one of the first games that were brought to the mainstream in the West. It would’ve been the first game a lot of players started on, therefore people hold a special spot in their hearts. On top of this, FFVII still remains a good story game with a well-crafted combat system.

Best Final Fantasy Games: Final Fantasy XII (#6)

an example of combat from Final Fantasy XII
Click to enlarge

Final Fantasy XII comes in as our sixth entry on the top 15 mainline games. XII never really received as much credit as some of the other mainline titles. With its great casting, innovative combat and robust story, XII deserves recognition as one of the better games within the franchise.

In particular, the highly praised gambit system allowed players to pre-set their companions. This made combat much more free-flowing while in real-time. This was pretty new for the series as a whole. Story-wise FFXII delivers on the most well written political story that Final Fantasy has ever seen. The story is further reinforced more and more by the tasteful and appropriate dialogue.

Best Final Fantasy Games: Final Fantasy X (#5)

Tidus from Final Fantasy X
Click to enlarge

Final Fantasy X (FFX) was considered by some to be the last great Final Fantasy game. Following the original turn-based formula but ramping up the speed resulted in a fast-paced, flexible and enjoyable combat experience. That paired with the sphere grid customisation system allowed for FFX’s RPG and combat systems to prosper.

FFX’s main downfall had to be within its strangely happy tone. This is only made weird when it's compared to how bleak FFX’s story is. Story aside however, FFX remains one of the greatest entries into the franchise and is still considered a favourite by many.

Best Final Fantasy Games: Final Fantasy VII Remake (#4)

Cloud in Final Fantasy VII Remake with his sword raised
Click to enlarge

Final Fantasy VII Remake (FFVIIR) has to be one of the most iconic remakes of 2020. Not only was its original game arguably the most iconic of the entire franchise, but it looked to be an absolutely fantastic game in its own right. FFVIIR delivers on all fronts of a remake, beautifying and transforming the original into a more modern game while maintaining the charm.

Focusing on a specific section of the story from the original, FFVIIR expands the world and the characters within it. Taking Midgar and pushing it far further beyond its original version allows for a much more focused experience, which reduced the confusion of the original story. FFVIIR proudly captures the magic of the original and replicates it for a more modern audience. 

Best Final Fantasy Games: Final Fantasy XIV (#3)

Click to enlarge

Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV) is an interesting beast. Being an MMO, it’s hard to judge it alongside its single-player companions. However, Final Fantasy XIV remains one of the most well-known redemption arcs of today. As a mainline Final Fantasy game, FFXIV started off as what only can be described as a train wreck. In fact, FFXIV would have to be reborn in its first expansion A Realm Reborn. But from there, FFXIV sprouted a new tale and became a whole new game.

Now at the ending of its current plotline, FFXIV stands as one of the better games within the franchise. With absolutely touching story moments and a memorable friend group to bring you through it, FFXIV presents itself as a shining masterpiece. On top of that, FFXIV also serves as a masterclass to its competitors in the MMO genre standing strong with a high userbase and content being steadily released.

Best Final Fantasy Games: Final Fantasy IX (#2)

key art from the game Final Fantasy IX
Click to enlarge

Final Fantasy IX (FFIX) comes in a close second in the top 15 mainline games after VI. Not only is it the favourite by series creator Sakaguchi, but it also contends to be one of the fan favourites with its references to the franchise as a whole.

In Final Fantasy IX, references are scattered throughout the game in the form of reused names and characters. The design of the Black Mage is a direct reference to the first Final Fantasy. Regardless of references, FFIX still stands as a great entry into the series with a solid story and excellent characters like Steiner and the innocent but lovable Vivi.

Best Final Fantasy Games: Final Fantasy VI (#1)

a screenshot from Final Fantasy VI
Click to enlarge

Final Fantasy VI (FFVI) takes the first spot on our list of the top 15 mainline games ranked for its fantastic combination of gameplay, characters, and story. Not only is it one of the best games within the series, but it also serves as an example of a great roleplaying game period. Being the first game in the series not made by series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, Yoshinori Kitase and Hiroyuki Ito took the reins to produce this masterpiece.

With plenty of well fleshed out side-characters and an excellent villain in the form of Kefka, Final Fantasy VI glistens throughout its story while serving darker more serious themes. Combat-wise FFVI offers flexibility and complexity that let players go absolutely ham if they so choose to invest in the game. With its amalgamation of all its brilliant features, it's easy to see why FFVI is one of the best in the franchise.

 

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