Final Fantasy has been around ever since 1987, and in five years, it will be the 40th anniversary of the whole franchise. Square Enix established their repertoire as one of the best developers within the RPG genre of video games. With fifteen mainline franchise games for Final Fantasy, it’s hard to have an ideal “Best Final Fantasy Game Ranking” besides being subjective about it.
For this article, we will be ranking the fifteen Final Fantasy mainline games based on users and critics together to have a cohesive and fair ranking.
Our Methodology For Ranking These Games
We listed at least six sources (three critics and three Reddit users) with their subjective take of the fifteen games for this ranking. Their top game received fifteen points, and the second-best received fourteen points; so on and so forth. We added all of these together, and the game with the highest total points gets to be the Best Final Fantasy Game of all time.
We know that this is not perfect, and other people might find a better way of ranking these. To be fair to Final Fantasy Fans out there, we used this method to rank them reasonably. With the methodology out of the way, let’s start with the ranking!
Final Fantasy II
Square Enix released Final Fantasy II as a follow-up to its first significant success. Final Fantasy II was originally on the Famicom (Family Computer), and then eventually, an enhanced version made its way to the Playstation, Game Boy Advance, Playstation Portable, and the PC.
The game’s story revolves around four young protagonists; Firion, Maria, Guy, and Leon. The Palamecian Black Knight Soldiers killed their parents, leaving Firion, Maria, and Guy dead until Princess Hilda rescued them. From there, the story continues to expand until they beat Emperor Mateus.
Similar to Final Fantasy I, the game has a traditional turn-based battle system in which players get to command specific actions to each character. Players have to strategically revolve around their party’s strengths and weaknesses to survive this battle style.
Final Fantasy (Original)
Square Enix released the first installment of Final Fantasy in 1987; it’s a classic and a unique RPG for the NES. I mainly consider this the foundation of the best RPG franchise in gaming history.
As a player, you control four Light Warriors, each carrying an elemental crystal, darkened by the four Elemental Fiends. They embark on a journey that leads them to discover multiple characters, solve problems, and eventually conquer Chaos’s darkness surrounding the land.
While it somewhat lacks the mechanical complexities of later installments in the series, we can not deny that this is one of the most influential RPGs today, as this marks the beginning of a franchise that would span for decades.
Final Fantasy III
Final Fantasy III is the 3rd installment in the franchise, which properly introduces the fabled Job System. In total, Final Fantasy III has 27 jobs in general. Now that is a lot of jobs to go through.
The story is pretty “meh,” at least for me when I read the story. However, there’s still a lot of love for this game as it is grind-y as heck; you’d need to level up 2673 times to level up every job in the system fully.
If you’ll be playing this game, most fans would highly recommend trying out the 3D remake instead so you’ll be able to enjoy a fleshed-out story of Final Fantasy III.
Final Fantasy V
Fans highly praise Final Fantasy V for having generally customizable gameplay. It offers freedom in customizing your characters due to its greatly expanded and in-depth job system. Each character starts as a freelancer, and eventually, you’ll be able to freely choose among the 22 jobs available (26 for the Gameboy Advanced Version.)
Final Fantasy XI
Final Fantasy XI is the pioneer version of Final Fantasy XIV. Imagine XI being the foundation of FFXIV. I recently did an overview for this game, and just the sheer vision of the developers, especially for the time being, is astonishing. Square Enix announced this game back in 1999 for the PS2 alongside Final Fantasy IX and X.
Up until this day, Square Enix still keeps the servers alive, so you can go ahead and try this game if you want to.
Final Fantasy XIII
Fans of the series have a love/hate relationship with Final Fantasy XIII. Either you love the game and its flaws, or you entirely hate it even though it has decent combat mechanics. Final Fantasy XIII suffers from the lack of variety of gameplay, letting you venture throughout the entire first half of the game in a “hallway simulator” manner.
Most fans tried to love this game; unfortunately, the linearity and the constant pressing of the attack button throughout its quick and fast-paced active time battle system is seriously dull. These flaws overshadow the otherwise great story of the game, and I feel that this game had better potential than the final product that Square Enix provided us.
Final Fantasy XV
Another Final Fantasy game that long-time fans of the series hate, Final Fantasy XV, abandons the standard formula of the active-time battle system and swaps it out for action-centric combat, similar to that of the Devil May Cry series.
Unfortunately, the open-world setting and gorgeous visuals did not help elevate the bland story and writing that Final Fantasy XV offers. Although a minority of the fanbase did like Final Fantasy XV, most of them will argue that this is one of the weakest recent entries in the franchise, along with Final Fantasy XIII.
Final Fantasy IV
Final Fantasy IV is the start of the storytelling innovation for the Final Fantasy series. The game started with the introduction of complex and much more personal characters rather than four onion knights or four warriors of light.
This game also first introduced the fabled ATB system (Active Time Battle System) for the Final Fantasy series, which spanned throughout the following entries in the franchise.
Final Fantasy VIII
Ah yes, Squall, one of the poster boys for the Final Fantasy franchise. While Squall is one of the most bad-ass characters in the series, Final Fantasy VIII is known for its GF and Junction system, allowing players to utilize cards collected throughout the world to increase their statistics.
Also, the minigame Triple Triads came from this game, and now, Square Enix incorporated the minigame into Final Fantasy XIV. Triple Triads is a one-of-a-kind minigame, much similar to how GWENT became popular in the Witcher series.
Final Fantasy XII
Final Fantasy XII is personally my top game. I loved this game so much as a child, and I still play it up until today. The introduction of the gambit system undoubtedly revolutionized the way of playing Final Fantasy games. You can set up an infinite chain of commands and have an autonomous party capable of defeating high-level enemies on its own.
The story is incredible, and it adapts the Final Fantasy VI vibes of not having a single main protagonist. Overall, we highly recommend this to new players wanting to venture into the world of Final Fantasy.
Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy XIV is one of the most popular and highly regarded MMORPG as of the moment. With the classic tab-targeting style and the complexities of boss raids, plus the setting of a Final Fantasy world, this game indeed has fans wrapped around its fingers as they patronize this subscription-based MMORPG.
Try out the free trial of the game here!
Also, if you’re looking for a comprehensive Final Fantasy XIV guide, check this article here!
Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy IX is one of the most beloved games in the series, with memorable and unique characters. The game includes fun side activities, uplifting yet heartbreaking stories at times, and a fun and flexible ability system.
It’s also the last entry in the series that involves a thoroughly medieval setting which is likely to change once Final Fantasy XVI comes out.
Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy X is the third game I finished from the Final Fantasy series. It is similar in terms of linearity with Final Fantasy XIII; however, what sets this game apart is its available side content like minigames and also, of course, blitzball. Who doesn’t love blitz ball?
Honestly, in terms of storytelling, this is one of the best games, and also it has one of the most memorable scenes in the video game series. You know what we’re talking about; it’s the iconic Tidus laughing scene.
Final Fantasy VI
When we are in talks of the best Final Fantasy games ever, Final Fantasy VI is one of the most famous games in the series, lagging only five points behind the top game of the franchise. The game mainly revolves around the story of multiple protagonists and is the first game in the series to do such a bold storytelling strategy. The game contains fourteen playable characters, each with their own unique backstory.
This game is where Square Enix first introduced a dynamic party system wherein the game will forcefully split you into teams, and you can choose which group to control. Fans love this game a lot due to the complexity of its character progression, intricacy of its story, and the lovable characters it has.
Final Fantasy VII
Finally, we get to the top of the list, one of the most beloved games of the modern era, Final Fantasy VII. Final Fantasy VII set the bars in long-term storytelling for RPGs. With complimentary games such as Before Crisis, Crisis Core, Dirge of Cerberus, and even the tie-in movie Advent Children, Square Enix indeed made sure to create a vast world full of lore and stories.
We get that the Final Fantasy VII series as a whole is a great game, and it deserves the top spot on this list. With the second part of the remake right around the corner, it seems that Square Enix will further expand on the world of Final Fantasy VII by introducing the idea of destiny-altering spirits.
For more news and information about Final Fantasy VII Remake Part 2, check out this article!
Final Fantasy is a legendary series filled with memorable characters and fantastic stories. Though not all of them have the best stories ever, you could rarely go wrong with playing a Final Fantasy game in general.
So, that’s it for our Final Fantasy Mainline Games Ranked list. Do you agree with the rankings here? If not, please tell us how you would rank the Best Final Fantasy Games (Mainline), and we might include it in an updated version of this article as part of our methodology.
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