Final Fantasy Games In Order

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If you love role-playing games of Japanese culture nicknamed JRPG, Final Fantasy (FF) is one series that you will find irresistible. It is also one of the longest-running series (32 years) with incredible stories, spin-offs, and worlds. Final Fantasy is the game that introduced most children to the RPG genre where the players take turns to engage in combat. Today, Final Fantasy-style combat features in most games in that genre. 

Unlike some other series, you don’t necessarily have to play Final Fantasy games in order of their release. However, doing so will help you to understand the evolution of this game since the release of the first episode in 1987. Final Fantasy is a product of Square Enix (formerly Square). Perhaps, the first thing you should know is that no two titles are the same. Little wonder it is always common to see people arguing on which title is the best. 

Who’s the strongest Final Fantasy character?

The stories of the Final Fantasy series may not string together but some of the characters have grown with the franchise. The developers are also good at introducing powerful figures and creatures with daring abilities. However, fans agree that The Creator is the strongest character in the history of the Final Fantasy franchise.

As the name suggests, The Creator is the one that gave life to the universe. However, for certain reasons, The Creator decides to destroy humanity. The heroes will not take this and decides to dish out their own justice on The Creator. You will find this action in Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. 

In What order should I play the Final Fantasy games?

There is really no chronological order to play the Final Fantasy games except in cases where the episode is a sequel to another. For example, FF7 is a sequel to Crisis Core. Therefore, it will be nice to play Crisis Core before FF7 in order not to feel lost. Apart from such instances, each episode usually takes place in a different universe with a new storyline and characters. 

Which Final Fantasy is the easiest?

Final Fantasy has multiple entry levels, systems, and play styles that it is often hard to draw comparisons. However, the games in the series with the most approachable mechanics tend to attract more fans. They also tend to have better sales figures. For many fans, that would be Final Fantasy VI—but your opinion may differ when you play the entire series. 

Final Fantasy 6 was the last game for the 16-bit mainline entry. With more than a dozen characters, the game gave fans more than enough to chew. Also, it was in this episode that the steampunk-style world was introduced. Subsequently, this gameplay style will grow with the game into PlayStation in the late 1990s. The game is now available on iOS, Android, and PC through Steam.

Which is the hardest Final Fantasy game?

While some of the releases are fairly easy, you will break a sweat to beat others. However, the earlier versions tend to be more difficult. The reason is that they belong to an era when the genre was still evolving. Therefore, combat technics were still tough to grasp. Fans agree that FF3 is the most brutal and non-friendly. The version for Nintendo DS is specifically for RPG enthusiasts. Eventually, most players got irritated and quit playing altogether. 

Final Fantasy games in order of release

Like earlier mentioned, one of the main reasons why anyone should aim to play Final Fantasy in order of release is to appreciate the evolution of its gameplay. No matter what your reasons may be, below are all the Final Fantasy titles in order of their release. 

Final Fantasy

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Platform: NES

Release Date: December 18, 1987

First released on NES, this game will later become available to other platforms including Game Boy Advance, Android, and iOS. At the time of its release, it was a revolutionary title. It introduced the turn-based RPG combat system which many players admired. This gameplay continues to exist in different forms across different games to date. Another feature that stands out is the open world. 

The storytelling is simple and revolves around four heroes. The heroes each carry a powerful elemental orb that was corrupted by dark forces. The heroes are on a mission to restore the light in the orbs and have to engage in random battles. To date, it is still worthy of your playtime if you ever decide to give this franchise a try. 

Final Fantasy II

Photo credit: Final Fantasy Wiki

Platform: NES/Family Computer

Release Date: December 17, 1988

Coming exactly a year after the first title, Final Fantasy II builds on the success of the first title. The majority of the elements in the first were retained in addition to the introduction of new concepts. One of the remarkable new introductions was Chocobo. This enormous flightless bird serves as a means of transportation. It will feature in nearly all Final Fantasy games in the future. 

This time a group of heroes rally to take down a villainous empire. The game maintains the original turn-based combat system from the first game. However, the success was not as huge as the first. Some people attribute this to the switch in experience (XP) system. Traditionally, players get XP after each battle. However, Final Fantasy II introduces a progressive XP system which feels a bit odd. Perhaps, the biggest roadblock on the path of this game was its initial non-release in North America. 

Final Fantasy III

Photo credit: Square Enix

Platform: NES/Family Computer (Japan)

Release Date: April 27, 1990

Just like the second installment, the third did not get a US release. However, the game had become popular that gamers were still able to get their hands on it. The most interesting addition to this release was the job system. This allows the player to change the class or job of their character at specific times in the game. Following the failure of the progressive XP system in FF II, Square Enix returned to the traditional XP system. 

The story still revolves around the powers of four crystals of light. However, this time it is an advanced civilization that is making attempt to harness the powers of the orbs. The heroes are able to defeat the civilization. However, fortune-tellers predict that there will be a repeat in the future. This sets the game up for future spinoffs. It got a remake in 2006 with 3D graphics. 

Final Fantasy IV

Photo credit: Square Enix

Platform:  July 19, 1991

Release Date: Super Nintendo (SNES)

Although this is the fourth in the series, it was the second to get a release in North America. Also, Final Fantasy IV had a number of firsts to its name. It is the first game to play on the improved Super Nintendo console. It also ushered in the Active Time Battle (ATB). These features helped to make this game a dream for many. 

Final Fantasy IV had remarkable improvements to elements and gameplay while retaining a familiar setting. Elemental crystals, evil sorcerers, and dark knights also feature in this episode. Some of these elements have grown with the franchise. Even if you don’t want to play Final Fantasy game in order or release, make sure this one is among your first three. 

Final Fantasy V

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Platform: Super Nintendo (SNES)

Release Date: December 6, 1992

One thing that developers always want to do is to follow up a successful title with another release. Barely a year and a half since the release of FF IV, FF V was available to fans. The gameplay and mechanics continued to improve with updates to jobs and the setting remained medieval. However, one thing that fans found hard to digest was the complex story. 

Another memorable feature of this release was the ability of players to master a set of twenty-two different jobs of every character. Also, Square Enix was able to merge the traditional XP system with the point progression system. The popularity of the game grew in the United States after a version for Game Boy Advance and Sony PlayStation was introduced. This title sold more than 2 million copies even without a global release. 

Final Fantasy VI

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Platform: Super Nintendo (SNES)

Release Date: April 2, 1994

Final Fantasy VI is the emotional farewell to the 16-bit version of the game. Likewise, Hironobu Sakaguchi did not direct the game. Also, it was the third in the series to get a North American release. One remarkable feature of this episode is the fading of high-fantasy and the birth of science and technological advances. The music was phenomenal that it bagged several awards. 

Unlike some of its predecessors, FF VI had a better storyline. Its streamlined game-play mechanisms helped it to gain more lovers. In FF VI you start off linear before proceeding into a broader path. Square Enix also enhanced customization. This time, players can equip relics that enhanced their strategy experience. With the foreseeable transition to PlayStation, fans were eager to assimilate this last experience as much as possible. This episode should be at the top of your playlist. 

Final Fantasy VII

Photo credit: Square Enix

Platform: Sony PlayStation

Release Date: January 31, 1997

Many Final Fantasy fans today started from FF VII—and this is not unrelated to the popularity of PlayStation. With the transition to PlayStation, Square Enix was able to make glaring changes to the game. Switching from cartridge to CD-ROM allowed the developers to include more content in the game than previous versions. FF VII is the first to feature 3D rendering in a 2D background. This was revolutionary at that time. 

From the story to the music, graphics, and advanced combat system, fans had so much to talk about. Both the protagonist and antagonist of this episode are arguably the most popular to date in the franchise. It is not surprising that rumors about FF VII is one of the hottest searches on the Internet. Obviously, the graphics will be better but who knows what else Square Enix will throw-in. 

Final Fantasy VIII

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Platform: Sony PlayStation

Release Date: February 11, 1999

Following up a great game with another is usually a challenging feat for developers. However, Square Enix was able to deliver. The most memorable feature of this game was the opening cut scene. It ranks among the top ten video game openings. Like FF VII, this episode has a solid story while emphasizing everything fans love. 

In terms of gameplay, there were also great modifications. One of them is the removal of magic points as a source of spell energy. There was a huge leap in the graphics too in comparison to FF VII. Nevertheless, many fans hated the fact that the developers had to remove the character Cloud Strife. This title comes closer in graphics to what you will find in modern games. 

Final Fantasy IX

Photo credit: Square Enix

Platform: Sony PlayStation

Release Date: July 7, 2000

Final Fantasy IX is not as popular as some of its predecessors, but many fans agree that it is one of the best in the series. The perfect crafting of the characters and story is the reason why fans hold it dear. Each of the characters is unique with likable abilities. The developers also reintroduce the class-based system which allows players an incredible amount of customization. 

Final Fantasy IX also has a large number of activities and side quests which appealed to fans. One of the most memorable was the Tetra Master Card game. This title was able to reinvent the medieval setting fans are familiar with. It is not surprising that it is still one of the fan’s favorite. 

Final Fantasy X

Photo credit: Square Enix

Platform: Sony PlayStation 2

Release Date: July 19, 2001

Yet another transition to a new gaming console and yet another big expectation from fans. Final Fantasy X (FFX) is the first of the series to transition to PlayStation 2. Like FF VII, the popularity of the game hinges on the success of PlayStation 2. This is also the first game in the series with 3D characters in a 3D environment rather than a combination of 3D and 2D. 

The unpredictability of the series is perhaps one thing you have to deal with if you want to play Final Fantasy games in order. Again, Square Enix eliminates the ATB system for the conventional time-based approach. So, players have ample time to take their turn. Another interesting inclusion is the cut scenes featuring voice-acting moments from the entire series. The greatest draw in this story is perhaps the relationship of the main characters Yuna and Tidus.

Final Fantasy XI

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Platform: Sony PlayStation 2, Windows

Release Date: May 16, 2002

Using the online services of PlayStation 2, the developers made a bold attempt to create a Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG) experience. For the first time in the history of this series, gamers could play bot on consoles and on PC. The phenomenal online gaming experience also makes it hard to compare this game with any other one in the series. 

Perhaps, the unpopular nature of online gaming at that time was the reason why this game did not get a lot of buzz at that time. Eventually, in 2016, the server supporting the online game was shut down. However, those that are eager to play Final Fantasy games in order of release can still play this game through PC. The bold attempt by FF XI will serve as a launchpad for future MMO games. 

Final Fantasy XII

Photo credit: Square Enix

Platform: Sony PlayStation 2

Release Date: March 16, 2006

This was the first time that fans had to wait for close to four years to get a new Final Fantasy experience. The game was a huge success, selling 1.5 million copies on release. There were significant changes—although some of them were too minor to sway core fans. This time, the developers opted for real-time combat while ditching the turn-based system. 

Perhaps, this game would have commanded more followers if its opening hour was more engaging. Also, random encounters were removed from this episode. However, this generated mixed reactions since it is one of the elements that had stuck with the franchise for many years. Other remarkable inclusions to this title include equipment system, new skills, camera control, and an open world map. 

Final Fantasy XIII

Photo credit: Square Enix

Platform: Sony PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

Release Date: December 17, 2009

Final Fantasy XIII seized the opportunity presented by the next-generation consoles to deliver a visually stunning game. The transition to PlayStation 2 of FFX set a high standard. Thus fans were expecting even more now that the game was moving to PlayStation 3. However, there were divided reviews when it finally dropped. 

One area that generated much controversy was the linear story and gameplay—but this is also the reason why some new fans stuck with it. In terms of gameplay, players had the option of setting it to automatic battles. This was a serious letdown for some players. Some characters were missing which is another source of frustration for fans. However, the game was immersive in Japanese culture in setting and style. 

Final Fantasy XIV: Online

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Platform: Windows

Release Date: September 30, 2010

In 2010, Square Enix decided to give its Final Fantasy MMORPG another shot at life. With only a slim success in the past, this was a bold move. Yet again, the game failed to impress online gamers. Bogus gameplay and a plethora of bugs were to blame for this. Perhaps, this explains why this release is often omitted in many reviews of Final Fantasy games in order of release. 

This version was so bad that it only remained online for about two years. Due to the burgeoning negative reviews, the developers decided to pull the plug on the membership fee. Furthermore, they canceled Xbox 360 and PS3 ports. However, Square Enix was determined to make it work. 

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn 

Platforms: Sony PlayStation 3, Windows

Release Date: August 27, 2013

Square Enix was not going to give up their MMO game without a fight. However, the developers still struggle to get the approval of their fans—albeit remarkable improvements. Its Hydaelyn world setting was as interesting as it was diverse to explore. To make this work, the game director inaugurated a new development team and adopted a new game engine. 

All the efforts paid off. A Realm Reborn was a remarkable success with a more compelling story. It is probably the first MMO that is worth all the time that you invest in it. FF XIV retains an impressive musical score from previous titles. However, it throws in a new gaming infrastructure and interface. Sadly, the membership fee returned. 

Final Fantasy XV

Photo credit: Square Enix

Platforms: Sony PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows

Release Date: November 29, 2016

This is was another huge transition for the Final Fantasy title. Borrowing from the experiences of the past, the developers decided to return to open-world exploration. Also, there was a return of sci-fi elements from earlier titles. Arguably the most massive change was the combat system. Players need to react in real-time in abilities, attack and defensive maneuvers. 

Final Fantasy XV veers remarkably off the traditional FF appeal by introducing more western RPG-style gaming. Square Enix also introduces new skills and missions that make the gameplay intriguing. Unlike previous titles, this one makes you want to invest more game time on other characters besides the lead. In terms of graphics and sound, FF XV remains the MMO to beat. 

What will be the next Final Fantasy game?

Photo credit: Square Enix

Yes, Final Fantasy XVI is in the making. Besides the fact that the game will be released on Sony PlayStation 5 console, we have no further information on the release date and progress of development. The official announcement for the game was made at the PS 5 showcase in 2020. The announcement was followed by a trailer that showcases beautiful scenes with gameplay glimpses. 

Although there is no release date for this game yet, developers have scheduled it for 2021. The producer of FF XVI will be Naoki Yoshida. The producer confirms his role through a write-up on PlayStation’s official website. Part of Yoshida’s text reads, 

“The exclusive footage, comprised of both battles and cut scenes running in real-time, represents but a fraction of what our team has accomplished since the start of development on this, an all-new Final Fantasy game. The team’s size has grown from a handful of core members to a full-fledged unit that continues to polish and build upon what they have created so far, all to provide players an experience unmatched in terms of story and gameplay.”


One thing that Square Enix desperately needs to fix is the open-world setting and tighten the story. The major reason why many fans criticize FF’s open-world setting is that there are often not enough interesting things to do. However, fans will be looking out to see how the developers will make use of the incredible haptic feedback offered by PS5. We have a hunch it will be a huge hit like every other title that transitioned into a new console.