Top 10 Final Fantasy Games [Best Recommendations]

Created by Square Enix, Final Fantasy began in 1987, since then it has become one of the, if not the most well known RPG’s franchises to date. It is a widely successful series and has been widely influential in the video game industry. Final Fantasy is one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time.

It is a game loved all over the world by many different types of gamers, and it has pioneered and innovated many aspects of the RPG genre, making it what it is today and still continuing to be influential to other RPG’s created today. We’ll be going through the Top 10 Final Fantasy games in this list and we’ll talk about what makes these games so great, just to warn you, spoilers ahead.

10. Final Fantasy XIII

  • System/Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC/Steam, iOS, Android
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Release Date: Dec. 17th, 2009

Let’s begin this list with Final Fantasy XIII, set in the world of Gran Pulse and the floating artificial world above, known as Cocoon. In both worlds exist beings known as Fal’Cie, which have godlike powers to perform a specific task. They are able to make humans become their servants by marking them, turning them into L’Cie, which are able to use magical powers. However, in order to survive they must complete their own tasks known as a ‘Focus’. The L’cie are feared by the humans and are stigmatized by society and removed by the government known as Sanctum.

The story follows Lightning, a former soldier who at the beginning infiltrates a Sanctum-controlled train in order to save her sister, Serah Farron, from being purged from Cocoon. Sazh Katzroy, a former civilian pilot who wants to save his son, Dajh, who was also taken away, follows her. Together with the human resistance, NORA, lead by Snow Villiers, they meet the Fal’Cie that marked Serah and become entwined with the same fate, exiled in Pulse. Oerba Dia Vanille, Oerba Yun Fang, both Pulse L’Cie, and Hope Estheim, another exile, join them to complete the Focus.

Final Fantasy XIII received mostly positive reviews upon its release, it was praised for its incredible art design and beautifully crafted cut scenes, however it was criticised for its linear gameplay. Despite that, many people enjoyed the battle system that was based on the battle scenes found in Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. Its stunningly unique and innovative game design is what makes it deserve a place on this list.


9. Final Fantasy Tactics

  • System/Platform: PS1, PlayStation Network, iOS, Android
  • Publisher: Square Co., Ltd.
  • Developer: Squaresoft
  • Release Date: Jun. 20th, 1997

Coming next on the list is Final Fantasy Tactics. It takes place in the kingdom of Ivalice after the Fifty Year War that took place against the two neighbouring nations known as the Kingdom of Ordalia and Romanda. Recovering from the effects of war and the recent death of the king, the kingdom needs a ruler, as the only heirs are two infants; Princess Ovelia, an adopted daughter, and Prince Orinus, the blood-related son. In finding an appropriate noble regent, the kingdom is divided in what became known as the ‘Lion War’, due to the conflict between Prince Goltana, represented by the Black Lion, who supports Princess Ovelia, and Prince Larg, represented by the White Lion, who supports Prince Orinus.

The story follows Ramza Beoulve, a noble, and Delita Heiral, a commoner, who despite their different social classes are childhood friends. They grew up together believing in justice and honour, but through many life struggles, they both diverted into different viewpoints of their dreams. Delita believes in changing the world by climbing the social ladder to manipulate the upper class, whilst Ramza believes in justice and honour without regards to the social system. They both join forces on the side of the Black Lion and become entwined with the truth behind the war, discovering the manipulation of the kingdom by the Morund Glabados Church and seeking to stop them.

Final Fantasy Tactics was a different take in style from the main series, as it was more of a tactical based RPG. The depth of the plot was critically acclaimed, though some found it confusing, and the gameplay difficulty was not very consistent. However, it has been named a classic and paved the way for many sequels. This was chosen because of its unique standpoint in contrast to the other games before it. Although it is not part of the main series, we think that it easily contends to be one of the Top 10.


8. Final Fantasy VIII

  • System/Platform: PS1, PC, PlayStation Network, iOS, Android
  • Publisher: Square Co., Ltd.
  • Developer: Square Co., Ltd.
  • Release Date: Feb. 11th, 1999

Released as the 8th major instalment to the series, Final Fantasy VIII revolves around the story of Squall Leonhart, a cadet in an organisation known as SeeD. Squall is part of a branch known as the Balamb Garden military academy that specialises in training mercenaries. One day, SeeD receives a request to assist the Dollet Dukedom from an attack by the Republic of Galbadia. Seeing the mission as a final exam for its cadets, Squall passes the prerequisite test and is grouped with Zell Dincht, a martial artist, and Seifer Almasy, Squall’s rival. However, when Seifer disobeys orders and abandons the team, he is replaced with Selphie Tilmitt, an energetic but clumsy girl.

After completing the mission, they graduate and gain the full SeeD status, later Squall finds out that the recent attack was caused by a sorceress known as Edea. His team is ordered to stop Edea, with his instructor, Quistis Trepe, and a marksman by the name of Irvine Kinneas. They are also joined by Rinoa Heartilly, who is a member of the Forest Owls, a resistance whose goal is to free Timber from Galbadian control. Together, they travel through various countries to defeat Edea and try to prevent another sorceress from the future by the name of Ultimecia from compressing time.

Final Fantasy VIII held the record for the fastest selling game of the series until the release of Final Fantasy XIII. It was the first to use realistically proportioned 3D characters and was highly appraised for its cinematic aspect. Though the battle system received many mixed reviews regarding the complexity and tediousness of it. However, its character development and originality is what made this game so highly acclaimed. It’s a game that took aspects from its predecessors and made them better and innovative, which is why we thought it rightfully deserves a place on this list.


7. Final Fantasy IV

  • System/Platform: SNES, PS1, WonderSwan Color, GBA, NDS, PSP, iOS, Windows Phone, PC/Steam
  • Publisher: Square Co., Ltd.
  • Developer: Square Co., Ltd.
  • Release Date: Jul. 19th, 1991

Final Fantasy IV follows the story of Cecil Harvey, a dark knight who is the captain of an elite air force known as the Red Wings that are tasked to protect the kingdom of Baron. One day, he is ordered to attack the city of Mysidia to take a Water Crystal. When Cecil returns to question the king about his motives, he becomes infuriated by his actions and strips Cecil of his rank and he is sent to deliver a ring with his friend Kain, the Captain of the Dragoons.

During the mission, monsters appear from the ring and the two get separated because of an earthquake. When Cecil wakes up, he finds out that the King has ordered the Red Wings to attack Damcyan Castle. Led by a new commander, sorcerer Golbez, he takes the Fire Crystal. After finding out that the king is an imposter, Cecil becomes determined to protect the remaining crystals. On his way, he discovers that Kain had become one of Golbez’s servants. Cecil goes on a quest to prevent Golbez from obtaining the rest of the powerful crystals to save the world.

Final Fantasy IV was a pinnacle game for the series as its innovations paved forward new ideas that changed the concept of an RPG. It pioneered many of the RPG elements seen in games today and it was the first RPG to have a complex and involving plot. It was the first game in the series to introduce the ‘Active Time Battle’ system that was used in subsequent games and introduced characters with unchangeable job classes. This is a highly influential game that deserves a good spot on this list.


6. Final Fantasy XV

  • System/Platform: PS4, XBO
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Developers: Square Enix, XPEC Entertainment, Plusmile, HexaDrive, Streamline Studios
  • Release Date: Nov. 29th, 2016

Released only a few months ago, Final Fantasy XV revolves around Noctis Lucis Caelum, a prince and heir to the throne of the Lucis kingdom. Niflheim, a technologically advanced empire seeking to take control over the other two nations of the world, infiltrates Insomnia, Lucis’ capital, during the eve of peace negotiations between the two nations, and seizes the crystal that protects the city with a magical force field. The king loses his life in the battle but not before ensuring that his son was protected far away from the kingdom.

Noctis is due to wed Lady Lunafreya, the oracle, who rules over the nation of Tenebrae and is able to communicate with the world’s deities and halt the Starscouge, a darkness plaguing the world. Accompanied by Gladiolus Amicitia, the prince’s bodyguard, Ignis Scientia, a military tactical advisor and Prompto Argentum, Noctis’ friend. The four travel across the nation to meet Lady Lunafreya to join forces in taking back Lucis and the crystal from Niflheim. On the way, he has to retrieve the weapons of Lucii, the ancient kings of Lucis to gain the power to reclaim the throne.

Final Fantasy XV was praised with generally favourable reviews and was Hironobu Sakaguchi’s favourite game of 2016, the original creator of the series. It was seen as a monumental achievement, with beautifully constructed graphics and gameplay elements that made the game truly unique. For a game that went into development for 10 years, with many reiterations to the story and design, it improved on many of the popular elements of the previous games and added many exciting new features, which makes this game one of the best in the series.


5. Final Fantasy XII

  • System/Platform: PS2, PS4
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Developer: Square Enix
  • Release Date: Mar. 16th, 2006

Final Fantasy XII is set in the world of Ivalice, in an age where magic and airships are commonplace. The Archadia and Rozarria empires are at war and Dalmasca; a small kingdom is caught between the crossfire. When Archadia seizes Dalmasca, Princess Ashe of Dalmasca loses her father and husband; she starts a resistance to take revenge and to reclaim her kingdom.

The game is seen from the point of view of Vaan, an orphan who dreams to be a sky pirate and to command his own airship. Two years after the Dalmasca invasion, he finds himself involved with the Dalmasca resistance to end the tyranny of the Archadian Empire, joined by his best friend Penelo. Fighting together with Basch, a king-slaying knight charged with treason; Balthier, a gentleman sky pirate; and Fran, an exile with vast knowledge of legends and myths.

The game introduced many new aspects to the series, such as an open world split into zones, a seamless battle system and customisable AI controlling characters. As well as a controllable camera and a ‘License’ system that decides which ability and equipment, is used by the characters. There were criticisms of Vaan not taking an active role in the plot of the game, but rather just being an observer involved with the world’s events around him. However, the game was praised for its graphics, scenarios and game system. The seamless transition of full motion video and in-game engine made the game truly immersive and beautiful, which is why it’s on this list.


4. Final Fantasy IX

  • System/Platform: PS1, Playstation Network, PC/Steam, iOS, Android
  • Publisher: Square Co., Ltd.
  • Developer: Square Co., Ltd., Infogrames
  • Release Date: Jul. 7th, 2000

Final Fantasy IX was released as the last Final Fantasy game on the PlayStation 1. It is set in the world of Gaia, during a war between the nations. The story revolves around Zidane Tribal, a bandit who belongs to a thief troupe named Tantalus, which is hired to kidnap the princess of Alexandria, Garnet Til Alexandros XVII, who has a strange connection to Eidolons. As it turns out, she was willing to be kidnapped to escape from Queen Brahne, her adoptive mother.

Garnet noticed that her mother changed ever since a strange man named Kuja appeared, who manipulated the queen to forge a black mage army to wage a war. The two escape with the help of Vivi Ornities, a lost black mage, and Adelbert Steiner, captain of the knights of Pluto and loyal servant to Alexandria. In their efforts to stop the war, they meet Freya Crescent, a dragon knight; Quina Quen, a travelling Qu; Eiko Carol, one of the last summoners; and Amarant Coral, a bounty hunter.

The game returned to its roots, adopting a more medieval/fantasy style with nostalgic elements. It was highly appraised for its gameplay, character development and visuals. Though the battle system had mixed reviews, the immersive story and compelling cutscene animations are what makea the game such a masterpiece. It built upon the elements of the previous games and introduced new elements like the ‘Active Time Event’ and a different kind of equipment and skill system.


3. Final Fantasy VI

  • System/Platform: SNES, PS1, GBA, iOS, Android
  • Publisher: Square Co., Ltd.
  • Developer: Square Co., Ltd.
  • Release Date: Apr. 2nd, 1994

Final Fantasy VI is considered one of the greatest video games of all time, as it was a huge landmark for the series. Set in a Steampunk style environment, it features 14 main playable characters, each with a significant grudge against Kefka Palazzo, a court mage, and the Gestahlian Empire, who aims to conquer the world. Opposed by the ‘Returners’, a rebel faction that seeks magic to fight equally against the empire’s espers and magical demi-gods.

There is no official main character of the game, as each character was designed with equal status and development. However, Terra Branford, an amnesiac former imperial soldier that has special powers, can be seen as the one, as she is the most pivotal character and appears in several instances within the game. She spent most of her young life trained to be a weapon for the Empire and is the key to understanding magic and espers.

Final Fantasy VI received outstanding reviews for its plotlines and multiple-choice scenarios. It was praised for its graphics and 16-bit sound that make it like no other cartridge-based game. It was also claimed to be overwhelmingly emotional, with powerfully touching and memorable character moments that really changed the RPG genre. It had a large number of real world issues that provided the strong emotional attachment people felt when playing the game, and the customisation aspect of the game was so simple that any player could understand it. It is truly a one of a kind classic that changed the landscape of the series and the genre, which is why it’s ranked high on this list.


2. Final Fantasy X

  • System/Platform: PS2, PS3, PS4, PlayStation Vita, PC
  • Publisher: Square Co., Ltd.
  • Developer: Square Co., Ltd.
  • Release Date: Jul. 19th, 2001

The first Final Fantasy released for the PlayStation 2. Set in the world of Spira, the story follows Tidus, a Blitzball player who gets caught up in a rampaging monster known as Sin, and gets sent 1000 years into the future in a world where his home city, Zanarkand was destroyed by Sin. Unbeknownst to the new world, Tidus comes to the conclusion that the only way for him to return is to find Sin.

Tidus finds that Blitzball still exists and he becomes a player for the Besaid Aurochs led by Wakka, whose brother was killed by Sin. Tidus becomes acquainted to Yuna, a summoner on a journey to defeat Sin who he later joins in order to find a way home. Tidus becomes Yuna’s guardian, along with Wakka and Kimihri Ronso, a warrior who watches over her, and Lulu who is a black mage. Together they find Auron, a warrior monk who also came from the past along with Tidus and Rikku, an Al Bhed girl who is part of a technologically advanced race.

Final Fantasy X received almost perfect scores by critics for its storyline, graphics and cutscenes. However there were some criticisms involving the linearity, the loss of previous game features and apparently tedious segments. Because it was the first Final Fantasy game to portray realistic emotions with detailed facial expressions and to include voice acting, it made the game a major landmark in the series. Several new innovations, such as the replacement of the old battle system with a new ‘Conditional Turn-Based Battle’ system, the use of a new levelling system known as the ‘Sphere Grid’ and 3-D RPG maps, made it a pioneering and unique masterpiece.


1. Final Fantasy VII

  • System/Platform: PS1, PC, PlayStation Network, iOS, Android
  • Publisher: Square Co., Ltd.
  • Developer: Square Co., Ltd.
  • Release Date: Jan. 31st, 1997

The top game on this list goes to the one and only Final Fantasy VII. It follows the story of Cloud Strife, ex-SOLDIER of the Shinra fighting force turned mercenary, as he joins an eco-terrorist group known as AVALANCHE, led by Barret Wallace to stop Shinra, a mega corporation led by Rufus Shinra, from draining all the planet’s life essence for its energy source known as Mako. Upon discovering that Sephiroth, once the most powerful member of SOLDIER, discovered the truth behind his existence and JENOVA, they have no choice but to stop him from destroying the world.

Cloud embarks on a journey with Barret, along with Tifa, Cloud’s childhood friend, to stop Shinra and Sephiroth. Along the way, they meet Aerith Gainsborough, one of the last surviving Cetra; Red XIII, an intelligent feline that can speak; Cait Sith, a robotic cat; Cid Highwind, a pilot with a dream to go to space; Yuffie Kisaragi, a ninja thief; and Vincent Valentine, a former turk and victim of Shinra’s experiments.

Final Fantasy VII is seen as one of the greatest games of all time because of its innovative graphics for its time, masterful audio and intricate story, it was something never seen before on the PlayStation. Though it too was also seen as linear and repetitive at times, the character’s storyline and emotional aspects mixed with powerful cinematic scenes made some of the moments in the game truly unforgettable. It was the first game in the series to use full motion video and 3D computer graphics. Final Fantasy VII was the pinnacle turning point from 2D to 3D that changed the RPG genre and gaming forever and paved the road to a new style that influenced many new games today, which is why it is regarded as the most popular, and one of the best Final Fantasy games ever.


Final Thoughts

That concludes this list of the Top 10 Final Fantasy games. Which one is your favourite? We’d love to know, which game did you begin with? Have you played them all? Which one would you like to play next or even replay after reading about it? As always, please leave a comment down below!

Karu

Writer

Author: Karu

My name is Karu and I am from England. Currently living in Japan, I came here to the land of Anime and Manga in hope to one day achieve my dream. Anime has always been a big part of my life and is something that I hold dear to my heart. Every since a young age, I have been watching various different styles of anime.

Previous Articles

Top 5 Anime by Karu


Recommended Post

[Editorial Tuesday] Pros and Cons: Final Fantasy VII Advent Children


Recommended Post

Final Fantasy XV - PlayStation 4 Review


Recommended Post

Top 10 Final Fantasy Villains

Recommended Post

6 Games Like Final Fantasy [Recommendations]

Recommended Post

[Honey's Crush Wednesday] 5 Cloud Strife Highlights - Final Fantasy VII