What are the 15 best Final Fantasy games?
Final Fantasy is a huge series with numerous installments, but some have been more memorable than others.
While the mechanics of each game are similar, the plot typically centers around a new group of heroes.
Although there are many games to choose from, we’ve chosen to highlight the ones that have had the biggest impact on fans and the franchise.
The 15 Best Final Fantasy Games of All Time
To create this list, we looked at the popularity of each game, as well as the legacy they have left in video game history.
We then ranked them based on these qualifiers to find out which ones stood out the most.
Get your Buster Swords ready because here’s our list of the best Final Fantasy games, ranked:
15. Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy XIV is an MMORPG that Square Enix released in 2010 as the fourteenth entry in the main series.
Set in the realm of Eorzea, players could control a custom avatar that gets caught up in an invasion by the Garlean Empire.
There were five playable races to choose from, each with its unique benefits, as well as tribes and patron deities that affected stats and attributes.
Players could also unlock new abilities by progressing through the story or by completing specific side quests.
Unfortunately, the game initially received negative reviews upon release, with some critics calling the game unfinished.
However, this didn’t stop many fans from enjoying it, at least until the servers were closed in 2012.
That said, the reason we included it on this list is that its rebooted version, A Realm Reborn, which was released in 2013, was much more warmly received.
Reaching 22 million players by 2021, Final Fantasy XIV 2.0 is an overall enjoyable game that certainly makes up for its lackluster predecessor.
14. Final Fantasy II
Final Fantasy II, as it was released in North America, is technically Final Fantasy IV, though the previous games were only made available to Japanese audiences.
So, to not confuse western players, this game was simply called Final Fantasy II, and it quickly became one of the best SNES games ever created, selling 200k units on its first day.
The story follows Cecil, a dark knight trying to prevent the sorcerer Golbez from destroying the world with powerful crystals.
This game introduced numerous elements that would go on to become series staples, such as the active time battle system that would be used for the next five games.
Final Fantasy II received many positive reviews from critics upon release, with some proclaiming it set a new bar for RPG games.
There have also been many re-releases of this game, including one for the Game Boy Advance that was released in North America in 2005.
13. Final Fantasy XV
One of the best RPG PS4 games, Final Fantasy XV, was released in 2016 as the fifteenth installment of the series.
Set on Eos, a world dominated by the Niflheim Empire, players follow the story of Noctis, the heir to the Lucian throne.
As Noctis, players have to try and rescue a magical crystal previously protected by the royal family and take down the invading forces.
Throughout the game, players can also level up their companion’s skills to make them more effective in combat.
There is also a multiplayer mode released as an expansion that allows players to take on missions with their friends.
Upon release, Final Fantasy XV received favorable reviews, with the characters being praised in particular for their chemistry.
12. Final Fantasy XIII
Released internationally in 2010, Final Fantasy XIII is the thirteenth title in the mainline final fantasy game series.
Taking place in the floating world of Cocoon during a government-ordered purge of civilians, this game is filled with fast-paced action.
Players take control of Lighting, a former soldier fighting against the government to save her sister, who has been targeted for the purge.
While Final Fantasy XIII was critically acclaimed in Japan, it received mainly positive reviews from Western audiences.
Its battle system, story, and graphics were particularly praised, though the linear nature of the story was criticized.
11. Final Fantasy III
Final Fantasy III, released in 2006, was the first game widely released outside of Japan.
This is a remake of the original Final Fantasy III, which was released in 1990 to a Japanese audience for the NES.
The original storyline remains in this remake, but the characters are more fleshed out, with backstories, unique designs, and personalities.
In-game, players follow Luneth, an orphan from the village of Ur, who is trying to stop Xande from throwing the world into chaos.
Critics praised the role-playing elements in this installment, calling it the best portable RPG to date.
As the first Final Fantasy game released widely in North America, the success of the ongoing franchise is due in large part to Final Fantasy III.
10. Final Fantasy
The game that started it all, the first Final Fantasy game, was published by Square back in 1987 as one of the best NES-era games.
Following four young warriors carrying corrupted elemental crystals, players must venture across the world to return the light to the crystals they carry.
While this game was initially only released in Japan, it was translated into English in 1990 but was only met with modest success.
However, this original game has been remade on its own several times and is often included with Final Fantasy II in many collections.
Most recently, it was re-released in 2016 as the NES Classic Edition, which emulates the original version of the game.
Fans of the series hailed this remake as one of the best PSP games of all time, and it received a lot of praise upon its release.
Considered to be one of the most influential games in video game history, Final Fantasy certainly remains one of the best games in the franchise.
9. Final Fantasy IX
One of the best PS1 games ever created, Final Fantasy IX, was released in 2000 as the ninth game in the main series.
This game focuses on a war between the nations of Gaia, and players follow a thief, Zidane, who kidnaps a princess in order to try and stop the fighting.
Unlike previous games, IX introduced a couple of new features, including active time event cutscenes and in-depth skills systems.
It draws heavily from the original Final Fantasy and features many creative callbacks to previous titles.
Final Fantasy IX received critical acclaim when it was released, and it sold over 5.5 million copies by 2016.
This was helped by PlayStation re-releasing the game in 2010 as a classic and then making it backward compatible with the PS3, PSP, and PS Vita.
Furthermore, the characters and graphics were also strongly applauded, particularly the animations and pre-rendered backgrounds.
8. Final Fantasy IV
Final Fantasy IV is an enhanced remake of the 1991 SNES game, also known as Final Fantasy II in America.
This version was released in 2008 for the Nintendo DS as part of the series’ 20th-anniversary celebration.
While we’ve already covered the basics of this game above, this version does have a few notable differences.
Although it largely remains faithful to the original, it expands on many story elements to flesh things out more thoroughly.
There is also a new ability system that allows for abilities to be transferred to other characters that didn’t previously have them.
Up to three new abilities can be given to temporary party members, which they will then lose once they leave the players’ party.
Thanks to all of these enhancements, Final Fantasy IV was very well-loved by critics and fans, selling over 1.1 million copies across the world.
7. Final Fantasy VIII
The eighth of the mainline Final Fantasy games, this title was first released in 1999 for the original PlayStation console.
Following the story of a mercenary group led by Squall Leonhart, the player is drawn into a conflict with the powerful military state.
In 2021, this game also received a remaster that made it one of the best PS4 games to play right now, and it was later even ported to iOS and Android.
The remake has not only improved graphics but all of the character models have been updated and recreated as well.
Both the original and the remaster of Final Fantasy VIII have received critical acclaim, especially in regard to the story and ending.
By the end of 1999, 6.8 million units were sold around the world, and following the remake, this number jumped to 9.6 million in 2019.
6. Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII was initially released in 1997 for the original PlayStation console as the seventh game in the mainline series.
It follows Cloud Strife, a mercenary who joins the eco-terrorist organization Avalanche to stop Shinra from using the planet’s life source for energy.
Events eventually send Cloud and his allies in pursuit of Sephiroth, a former member of Shinra who wants to destroy the world.
This game was universally acclaimed when it was released, with some critics hailing it as the greatest game ever made.
In 2020, Square Enix released the Remake of Final Fantasy VII, which greatly expanded the story and added brand-new elements.
This remake was praised for its faithfulness to the original game and its impressive visuals, which make the whole game feel incredibly cinematic.
The Final Fantasy VII Remake sold 3.5 million copies in its first three days, making it one of the biggest launches for a PS4 exclusive game.
5. Final Fantasy V
Released by Square in 1992, Final Fantasy V was initially only released in Japan for the SNES.
The main story revolves around trying to stop Exdeath, a corrupted amalgamation of spirits created from the void.
In 1999, this game was included in the Final Fantasy Anthology, a compilation for the PlayStation that was released in North America.
Although the director of the Final Fantasy VII Remake has expressed interest in remaking this game as well, so far, no concrete plans have been set.
As for the Anthology version of Final Fantasy V, critics praised its job system in particular but leveled some criticism at the lack of character development.
The GBA version received similar reviews, though many still regarded it as better than its PlayStation counterpart.
4. Final Fantasy XI
Also known as Final Fantasy XI Online, this game in the franchise is an MMORPG that came to the PS2 in 2002.
Set in the world of Vana’diel, players can cooperatively complete objectives and complete quests to progress through the game’s story.
Final Fantasy XI was the first MMORPG to offer cross-platform play between PC and PlayStation, though it was also later released for the Xbox 360.
While support for the console game ended in 2016, the PC version remains playable, with an episodic story called The Voracious Resurgence being released for it in 2020.
However, unlike the best free MMORPG games, Final Fantasy XI requires a monthly subscription to play, costing $11.95, which hasn’t changed since its release.
Despite not being free-to-play, this game remains incredibly successful and has received many positive reviews from critics.
Although its graphics are notably becoming outdated, there is hopeful talk of a remake, though Square Enix has released no official news.
3. Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy X is easily one of the best PS2 games ever created, and it received critical acclaim when it was released in 2001.
Set in the world of Spira, this game follows a group of adventurers as they try to take down a devastating monster called Sin.
This game in the Final Fantasy series marks the first time 3D areas and pre-rendered backdrops were used entirely.
It is also the first game in the franchise to feature voice acting, and it replaced the active time battle system with a conditional turn-based battle system.
While the original game is considered one of the greatest games of all time, there is also an HD remaster that was released in 2015.
This version of the game boasts 1080p graphics and the ability to transfer saves between the PS Vita and the PS3.
The success of Final Fantasy X also prompted Square Enix to release Final Fantasy X-2 in 2003 as a direct sequel to the game.
2. Final Fantasy XII
Published by Square Enix in 2006, Final Fantasy XII is responsible for introducing many new innovations that have since become a staple of the franchise.
These innovations include an open world map, a controllable camera, a seamless combat system, and the ability for players to control how the AI behaves in battle.
The story takes place in Ivalice, where the empires of Rozarria and Archadia are stuck in an endless war.
Players act as part of a resistance movement to help overthrow the tyranny of the Archadian Empire with the help of a few allies.
Final Fantasy XII was a critical and commercial success, selling over 6 million copies by 2009 and spawning a sequel, Revenant Wings, in 2007 for the Nintendo DS.
Critics and fans praised not only the story but the excellent battle system and voice acting that help bring the game to life.
Despite some feeling that the player controls were a bit too complicated, Final Fantasy XII managed to exceed all expectations and become one of the best in the series.
1. Final Fantasy VI
Taking our number one spot is Final Fantasy VI, which was released as Final Fantasy III in North America.
Aside from the name change, there were no major changes in gameplay between the Japanese and North American versions, though some minor nudity was covered up.
The game itself is set in a fantasy world with many steampunk elements, and it follows a cast of fourteen permanent playable characters.
Players must rebel against a military dictatorship, and themes of warfare, immorality, redemption and hope are very prevalent.
Often considered a watershed moment for the RPG genre, Final Fantasy VI was, and still is, regarded as one of the greatest video games of all time.
Final Fantasy VI has since been re-released in 2011 as a PlayStation Classic, and a Pixel Remaster is slated to be released for the Nintendo Switch in 2023.
Due to its overwhelming success, popularity, and impact on the genre, this incredible game stands out as the best in the Final Fantasy franchise.
Final Fantasy has been going strong for decades due to its ability to produce exceptional content for fans.
While there are 95 games in total, including the 78 spin-offs, these 15 mainline final fantasy games are the most popular.
Although all of these installments are enjoyable, it is Final Fantasy VI that has risen above the rest as the greatest in the series.
Here’s a quick recap of the 15 best Final Fantasy games:
- Final Fantasy VI
- Final Fantasy XII
- Final Fantasy X
- Final Fantasy XI
- Final Fantasy V
- Final Fantasy VII
- Final Fantasy VIII
- Final Fantasy IV
- Final Fantasy IX
- Final Fantasy
- Final Fantasy III
- Final Fantasy XIII
- Final Fantasy XV
- Final Fantasy II
- Final Fantasy XIV
What’s your favorite Final Fantasy game? Leave a comment below.
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