If you’re a fan of video games, Final Fantasy is one of the most important and influential ones. It’s also one of the most interesting. Since the first Final Fantasy game on the NES, the series has tried new things and changed things up, often setting new standards for a whole type of game. No two numbered Final Fantasy games are the same. Whether it’s new settings and characters, or completely new battle systems, no two games are the same. But which game in the series is the best?
It’s been a while since the last mainline, numbered Final Fantasy game came out, and we thought it would be a good idea to look back at the previous games and see which ones we thought were the best. Because there are no direct sequels like Stranger of Paradise, Final Fantasy X-2, or Final Fantasy Tactics that are on this list, there aren’t any on here.
We left Final Fantasy XI and XIV off this list because they are long-running MMOs that are hard to compare to their single-player counterparts. Almost all of the mainline games are on this list, though. But don’t worry, many of us play and enjoy both and would put them high on our own lists of Final Fantasy games.
It doesn’t matter how many Final Fantasy games you ranked. We’ll give you suggestions for how to play them on modern devices.
Final Fantasy II
This is how it works: Every Final Fantasy game tries something new. Some of them are better than others, but Final Fantasy II has a bad reputation because it doesn’t work at all. Compared to the original Final Fantasy, the story in FFII is longer and the characters are more interesting. There is, however, a levelling system that makes the more complex story less interesting. When you do certain things, your party members’ stats grow a little bit. It was a risky move to change the standard character progression mechanics that most console RPGs used at the time. Many modern RPGs use similar ideas, but Final Fantasy II’s system is clunky and confusing. Many ports and remakes of the game over the years have made it easier to fight, which makes the game more accessible.
If you can find the Pixel remaster version on Steam, iOS, and Android, you can play it. The Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls collection on the GameBoy Advance and PSP is often thought to be the best port of Final Fantasy II if you can find it. For Android and iOS, there are also versions that work with modern phones and tablets. You can also get a version that works with PSOne Classics if you buy it from the PS3 or Vita stores while they’re still open.
Final Fantasy XV
There are good things about how Final Fantasy Versus XIII was turned into the competent game Final Fantasy XV. Director Hajime Tabata and his team did a great job. Noctis and his friends Prompto, Gladio, and Ignis have a great relationship in the game. The idea of four adventurers on an epic quest turned into a road trip between best friends is also a new one for the series. Final Fantasy XV is also one of Yoko Shimomura’s best works.
Nonetheless, we can’t forget that FFXV has a bad story pacing and a bad combat system. In some ways, DLC after the game came out worked to fix some of these problems, but Final Fantasy XV is still held together by threads, even with a lot of extra polish.
It’s best if you want to play Final Fantasy XV if you get the Royal Edition for PS4, Xbox, and PC, because it has most of the DLC. iOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch also have a mobile version that tells the same story, but with a chibi art style and more simple gameplay that’s faster to play.
Final Fantasy XIII
This is one of the best-looking games from the PS3 and Xbox 360 generation. Its combat system was an interesting way to combine the series’ turn-based roots with action RPGs. But whether it worked or not depends on who you ask. Players are also split on the game’s cast, which is led by the stoic Lightning, as well as the game’s complicated setting and mythology, which make it hard for them to agree.
But what people disagree about the most is how Final Fantasy XIII is set up. After a while, you’re finally able to explore the world on your own. Final Fantasy XIII is very linear for most of the game. FFXIII also doesn’t have a lot of things that are important to not just Final Fantasy, but to RPGs in general.
Still, a lot of people liked Final Fantasy XIII, and Square Enix thought it was good enough to make two direct sequels: Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns. On PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, you can play all three games. You can play older games through PS Now and Xbox Game Pass.
Final Fantasy III
Final Fantasy III is thought to be one of the most important games in the series. It was the first game in the series to use some of the things that people know and love about it today, like the job system that would become a part of the series and the furry floating Moogles that are arguably the Final Fantasy mascot. It’s also one of the few games in the series that you can skip without any risk. Because Final Fantasy III isn’t Final Fantasy V, its biggest flaw is that it doesn’t build on and improve the ideas that III first came up with.
There are a lot of ports of Final Fantasy III available today, including the Pixel remaster for PC and mobile and the 3D remake for PC, DS, and PSP/Vita. Final Fantasy III is known for not having a NES port (if you can manage to find it).
Some people think the original Final Fantasy is a simple game from the early days of console RPGs. We think it’s elegant and fun, and it still works well today. Only a few hours, but the ability to change your party’s jobs from the start makes it easy to try new builds each time you play, and the game’s story is based on a time loop, so replayability is built into the story. If you like RPGs like Dragon Quest, you’ll like Final Fantasy. You can play it in a day or two.
Play the Pixel remaster version on Steam, iOS, or Android to find out what happens next in the story. As for the Dawn of Souls collection for PSP or GameBoy Advance, we think it’s the best version because of its rebalanced difficulty level, better quality of life features and great sprite work.
Final Fantasy IX
If you ask someone about Final Fantasy IX, they say that it was either a return to form, or a backwards trip. After the success of Final Fantasy VI, VII, and VIII, it was controversial to go back to a mediaeval fantasy setting with cartoony characters. It didn’t help that the original PS1 version took a long time to load and had shaky performance during battle scenes, either. It’s still a good story, though. Final Fantasy IX’s is still one of the best. Vivia, Zidane, and Freya are all very cute. But they also think about important philosophical and ethical issues that go beyond the typical plot of a story.
Some of them do. Final Fantasy IX is notorious for not using some of its most important party members. It also has one of the least exciting final boss switcheroos in the whole series. It also hinted at how the series would become more linear. It doesn’t have as much exploration and side content as some of the other Final Fantasies that came before it did.
But we still think that Final Fantasy IX is a good game to play because of the strength of its core cast and positive message. There is an HD remaster that can be played on the PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Android and iOS, as well as many other devices, like the Nvidia Shield, that can play the game You can turn off random encounters or make your party invincible in all versions, but you can also play the game without these extra features if you don’t want to.
Final Fantasy IV
A lot of people think that Final Fantasy IV is their favourite game, and it’s easy to see why. First, it was the first to use the ATB (active time battle) system, which would be the main battle system for the next decade. Final Fantasy IV also has one of the most memorable casts of playable characters and a story that is better than the games that came before it. It’s a story full of brave sacrifices, triumphant victories, and surprising twists that you won’t see coming (even though some are undermined by last-minute mulligans). FFIV even uses some of the job system from Final Fantasy III in its story. It shows how the characters grow by changing their class.
All in all, though, Final Fantasy IV has the same fate as Final Fantasy III: it was overshadowed by games that improved on its ideas (in this case, Final Fantasy VI). However, Final Fantasy still has a unique story that makes it worth seeing and hearing. If you want to play it on a computer or a smartphone, you should look for the Pixel Remaster version. There is also a 3D version with voice acting that can be played on PC and the Nintendo DS. For people who already like Final Fantasy IV, there is a sequel called Final Fantasy IV: The After Years on Steam. It wasn’t well-received, though.
Final Fantasy XI
Square Enix made a big bet in 2002 when they took Final Fantasy to the MMO space. For early adopters, it worked out mostly well, but not all of the time. In Final Fantasy XI, players could make their own character and choose from a wide range of classes. They could also team up with friends and others through the internet to take on quests, dungeons, and other dangers of the world together for the first time.
In just a few years, other MMOs like World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV would come along with great improvements in how easy they were to play and a lot of changes that XI couldn’t make over the years. They can, though, if they want to. XI is still very much in use and available 20 years after it was first launched.
Final Fantasy V
Final Fantasy V is in between two of the best games in the series, IV and VI. Many people think these games are some of the best in the whole series, though. It’s a shame that Final Fantasy V is often forgotten. Isn’t its job system one of their best? It’s on this list, but it’s closer to the bottom than to the top, which means it’s not as high up as it should be. V’s jobs expand the game’s RPG systems in ways that haven’t been seen before in the series, and we’re not just saying that because of the crazy combos you can make with them. We’re not just saying that because of the crazy combos you can make with it. The job system is very flexible, which makes it easy to make each party member feel like a character you’ve made and shaped yourself.
A lot of people like Final Fantasy V because of its job system, but this game’s soundtrack is also very good. Plus, its soft story is a change from the world-ending calamities that are common in JRPGs and even other Final Fantasy games. If you’re a fan of video games, you should play Final Fantasy V at least once in your life (perhaps via the new Pixel Remaster of it). It won’t blow your socks off like some of the other games on this list, but you’ll be happy that you played through this 1992 classic.