After waiting patiently for news of two promised DLC expansions for this year’s enormous and excellent new mainline series entry, Final Fantasy XVI, news did finally come during last week’s The Game Awards – including a surprise drop of the first one right then and there. Dubbed Echoes of the Fallen, this $15 add-on is available right now and offers a couple more hours of adventure within the game’s absorbing world of Valisthea.
Requiring a substantial degree of progress through the game’s main questline, along with some specific side content, Echoes of the Fallen takes place prior to the game’s final push and invites players to explore a new dungeon/tower behind a previously-inaccessible door in The Dim. It’s here that Clive, Jill, Joshua and Torgal discover an ancient Fallen facility called the Sagespire, with a dark past that goes some way to explaining the fate of the Fallen and the world that came before.
What this new adventure boils down to is a three-ish hour trek side quest that begins with a banal jaunt through some existing locations in pursuit of clues followed by a climb through the sizeable Sagespire, comprised primarily of an assortment of combat encounters both with regular groups of enemies and a handful of boss fights.
Without giving too much away, the Sagespire is easily one of the cooler locations we’ve seen in Final Fantasy XVI so far, perhaps not from a gameplay design perspective given its strict linearity but definitely in terms of its visual design as well as how it escalates the higher you climb.
The meat of this DLC really is a return to Final Fantasy XVI’s excellent combat, pitting players against some fairly tough fights (especially on the Final Fantasy difficulty that’s unlocked in New Game Plus). The final encounter in particular, against a recurring enemy that’s sure to please longtime Final Fantasy fans, is a lengthy and hugely thrilling showdown that ranks among the game’s best, even if it’s missing some of the flash of the tentpole Eikon fights.
Although it’s over a touch too quickly for my liking, the opportunity to learn a bit more about Final Fantasy XVI’s deeper lore and visit a gorgeous new location in the Sagespire feels like a decent enough excuse to jump back into the game. It’s a good way to get a taste for the combat again before starting a New Game Plus playthrough, if you haven’t yet, and there are some genuinely interesting new accessories to pick up along the way that add fun wrinkles to high-level combat strategy.
Somewhat appropriately, Echoes of the Fallen feels like a vague echo of CBU III's epic RPG, faintly calling back the game's excellent combat and intriguing Fallen lore in mostly expected ways. With The Rising Tide promising a substantial new chapter with plenty of content and the final piece of the Eikonic puzzle, fans will have to wait until Autumn 2024 for a deeper return to Valisthea, though for now this serves as a brief but welcome last check-in before the year's end.
A great excuse for more of the game's excellent combat
The Sagespire is a gorgeous new location to explore