Final Fantasy 16 Echoes of the Fallen review — seriously, 10 bucks?

In our Final Fantasy XVI Echoes of the Fallen review, we revisit the world of Valisthea on PS5 to ask the all-important question: "Is this DLC worth $9.99?"

Final Fantasy 16 Echoes of the Fallen review — seriously, 10 bucks?
Lee Brady

Lee Brady

Published

Final Fantasy XVI's first paid DLC expansion, Echoes of the Fallen, arrives with a fresh batch of Final Fantasy XVI trophies to earn and a brand-new quest to embark upon. For fans, this DLC offers the perfect excuse to dive back into one of the best PS5 games around and spend a little more time with Clive Rosfield and friends. There's just one thing we really need to discuss in this Final Fantasy XVI Echoes of the Fallen review: Is it worth the asking price?

Lee

FFXVI DLC review: $9.99 for one pretty good boss fight

Revealed in a trailer that also (finally) confirmed Final Fantasy XVI Leviathan DLC was on the way, Echoes of the Fallen is the smaller first half of FFXVI's two-part Expansion Pass. The DLC brings with it a brand new mission for Clive to embark on in his free time just before the game's explosive finale — a mission that deals with the mysterious race of proto-humans, The Fallen.
Unlike the laborious side missions I complained about in my Final Fantasy XVI review, Echoes of the Fallen gives us more of the stuff I loved most about the game. The DLC most closely resembles one of the game's main story missions — a multi-part action stage littered with novel enemy fights, lore-riddled cutscenes, and at least one exceptionally dazzling major boss fight.

Coming in at around two hours in length, suffice it to say that the DLC is about as long as one of the game's main story missions as well. The story here is typical DLC fair — something light and fluffy with little bearing on the main plot, but with a few neat details that are sure to entertain both fans and first-time players. It's the gaming equivalent of an anime filler episode, but it's not without its charms.

That said, I imagine if you were to pay full price for Echoes of the Fallen, you might find that light and fluffy charm quickly evaporating from the play experience here. As much as I'd like to give this DLC a quick thumbs up and say "Yeah, it's more Final Fantasy XVI, check it out," there is something that genuinely bothers me about how much they're charging for this thing. I mean, sure, it's alright as far as DLC content goes, but is it $9.99's worth of alright? I really don't think so.

FF16 DLCClive remains charming to the end.

Is Final Fantasy XVI Echoes of the Fallen worth the price?

In fairness to Square Enix, the timing could not have been less on their side with regard to my view on Echoes of the Fallen's pricing. On the same day that this Final Fantasy XVI DLC expansion was announced, Sony dropped the trailer announcing God of War Ragnarok Valhalla — a light, fluffy DLC expansion to a slightly older PS5 exclusive that fans could enjoy for free.

On the one hand, I do think it would have been completely reasonable for Sony to have charged money for Valhalla, so Square Enix is hardly at fault for wanting money for the work of its developers. On the other hand, I've played Kingdom Hearts III Re:Mind, the DLC expansion to Kingdom Hearts III, and the idea that someone today might pay $30 for that collection of boss fights and fluffy cutscenes absolutely churns my stomach.

I'm not saying that Final Fantasy XVI Echoes of the Fallen isn't worth 10 bucks because it's only two hours long, because length isn't the issue here. The issue is one of additional content and the quality of that content relative to the full-priced game it expands.

Final Fantasy XVI costs $69.99 at full price and comes with 17 action stages associated with the main story. For a seventh of that price, Echoes of the Fallen comes with one action stage roughly on par with one of the original game's later main story missions. At its most naked and straightforward, that's how the maths shakes out, though there are more to it than just pure number crunching.

For example, while the DLC has a fair few cutscenes, there's nothing here on par with the production value of the game's main campaign. Fans who have played the whole game through will recognize that there's roughly three tiers of cutscene quality. There's a high tier for big story beats and anything with Eikons involved, a mid-tier for the end of long side story arcs, and a low tier for back and forth conversations with NPCs.

FF16 DLCResting DLC face.

Echoes of the Fallen's cinematics are all mid-tier; higher on average than most side missions, but nothing touching the very best work of the main story. The action stage gets some beautiful changes in scenery throughout the DLC and the art direction here is as on-point as it has ever been. Yet, even for a seventh of the cost of the full game, the DLC refuses to offer anything on par with the main game's production value.

While expansions for other games might offer new combat tools or mechanics for your character to mess around with or an array of new beasts to hunt, Echoes of the Fallen has little to nothing like that. You're really only getting a linear action stage to explore, some remixed enemies with one new magic spell they can throw into combat, and a handful of accessories that alter gameplay in very minor ways, and that's your lot.

Anyone holding out for new Eikonic moves for Clive to mess around with or new weapons that actually affect gameplay in any way beyond the specific damage numbers he can inflict will be left short-changed. What we have here is the bare essentials of premium DLC, and while I have no problem with Square Enix charging money for it, I do think it falls quite a bit short of $10 worth of content.

FF16 DLCCutting deep.

Echoes of the Fallen isn't bad — at half-price

All that said, let's say a few months from now Final Fantasy XVI Echoes of the Fallen's price gets discounted by roughly half or so — would I recommend the DLC then? Well, it's not the kind of expansion that's going to change anyone's mind about the main game, but if you're a fan of Final Fantasy XVI, then I would say you should still definitely play Echoes of the Fallen at some point.

While it's hardly spectacular in terms of variety or spectacle, there's still a lot to like here. The expanded story might be a little daft and I was a little disappointed that Final Fantasy XVI's creatives forgot to let us kill the three annoying characters they introduced in the story, but otherwise, it's a good time. The stage is beautiful, the new music is fantastic, and the final boss fight easily ranks up there with some of the best from the main game.

While the production falls short of the main story by quite a bit, it still has its moments to shine, particularly as we learn a little more about The Fallen and the extent of their civilization. In fact, I found myself enjoying this approach to additional content so much that I found myself once again frustrated at Final Fantasy XVI's creative staff for not taking this approach with more of the game's side content.
I would have easily traded 40 hours of FFXVI's tedious A-to-B side missions for just two or three more action stages on this scale. The idea that I could have spent two short, exciting hours blasting through the ruins of The Fallen instead of eight excruciating hours helping out boring Martha and her boring town and her boring frying pan — I'm maddened by the waste.

At the very least, Echoes of the Fallen raises my hope for what might come from the next DLC expansion — Final Fantasy XVI The Rising Tide. If this is what the game's developers can do with just two hours of dedicated DLC, then I have far higher hopes for what they might achieve with the touted 10 hours of gameplay coming in The Rising Tide. Especially if the price is right.

FF16 DLCAction in FFXVI is still good.

Summary

Final Fantasy XVI Echoes of the Fallen hardly qualifies as a bad experience, but as it stands, the DLC expansion simply asks for too much in exchange for precious little. A fun boss fight and a cool action stage can't disguise the absence of the main game's higher production quality — something you would expect to be here given the $9.99 asking price.
6 / 10
* Lee played Final Fantasy XVI Echoes of the Fallen for roughly two hours and unlocked five of the game's six DLC trophies. The code for Final Fantasy XVI's Expansion Pass was kindly provided to TrueTrophies by Square Enix.
Written by Lee Brady
Staff Writer Lee keeps one eye on the future (Shadow x Sonic Generations), one eye on the past (PS Plus Premium games), and his secret third eye on junk he really likes (Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts games). Then he uses his big mouth to blurt out long-winded opinions about video games.
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