My Official Final Fantasy Ranking

This is just out of the ones I have actually played enough of to rank. I am not going to attempt to rank the ones that I have barely touched or not played at all.

Note this is only covering main numbered entries, so no Tactics, etc.

I also am only using 1 version per game. In particular, the version I like best. Original XIV was really bad, and I don't care for original XII, but I like XIV: A Realm Reborn quite a lot and think International XII is a vast improvement, so I am using them for this list.

List items

  • As far as I am concerned this is the high water mark for the series and genre as a whole. Everything from the world, the music, characters, story, and progression systems are top notch and hold up wonderfully.

  • The International Zodiac version of this game makes the original seem like a beta, a first pass. It really adds layers of depth via how the job system works. I even wrote a whole blog about how the job system elevates this game a few years back. The PS4 remake refines that system ever farther and made this a closer fight for the top spot than I thought it would be. FFXII also features what I think is the strongest cast of any game in the series, as well as maybe the best JRPG localization ever, up there with the likes of Persona 4. In addition, no game before or since has topped the Gambit system when it comes to party member AI.

  • After the horrific mess that was 1.0, SE managed to pull off a miracle and make what is, for my money, the best MMO on the market today. The base ARR story is fine enough, but the narrative has really taken off in the two expansions that have followed and it will likely keep me coming back as long as they are releasing content. The fun combat, fashion-oriented endgame, and at times spectacular encounter design do not hurt, either.

  • A good story hampered by a clumsy script and some one-note characters. While the proper turn based combat system is maybe my favorite in the series, the linear nature of the game up until almost the very end means you do not have not much of an opportunity during most of your adventure to really expand upon it unless you just want to grind spheres and points.

  • Deserving of the reputation it has as a classic both of the series and genre as a whole. A likable cast of characters, compelling narrative, timeless music, and an iconic villain pair up with fast, fun combat and the flexible Materia system to make for a great overall package.

  • I love the super goofy tone of this game. I do not mind that the story and characters are a bit thin because the whole thing has this fun Saturday morning cartoon feel to it. As for the gameplay, the classic implementation of the job system works really well here. The mixing and matching of jobs, abilities, and gear has near endless combo potential and really never gets old. For the record, I played the GBA version.

  • Maybe the game on this list that I had to think the longest and hardest about. Yes, the ending is a mess. Yes, the combat is pretty simplistic and the magic was essentially useless at launch (it has since been buffed and is much better now). Yes, there were performance issues in pretty much every version. But man, FFXV has...something. Charm? Heart? Something about the adventures of my wonderful anime boys has just stuck with me, and oddly kept me coming back for every new patch or DLC.

  • One of the better casts of characters in the series. Also featured are a bad final act, slow and boring combat, and some sub-par progression systems. However, these problems do not detract from some of the better character arcs in the series (Vivi comes to mind) or the fact that most of the story is pretty good.

  • While I realize FF4 was ambitious for the time, I do not think it holds up all that well. I honestly really enjoyed most of this game, but it falls apart in the back 1/3 or so. The story takes some twists that seems like they are only there so the story has some twists. They don't really make a lot of sense or have much impact. The encounter design becomes somewhat gimmicky, with even random encounters not so much ramping up in difficulty but more having their own "trick" to solve. It is not FF4's fault that 6 came along after and did just about everything that 4 falters at better, but that is enough to knock it down my list.

  • The OK-est Final Fantasy. Nothing is really *wrong* here, but nothing stands out either. The amazing turn based combat of X is scrapped in favor of a more traditional ATB system. The sphere grid is adapted into a goofy yet fun Job system. The J-pop aesthetic comes off as kind of kitschy and the game is actually pretty damn short, so it is not exactly my favorite.

  • The story is incoherent. Most of the cast is mildly annoying at best, unbearable anime stereotype at worst. The combat system has promise at first, but just devolves into just switching between ravage -> burst -> heal/buff ad nauseam. The crystarium is just a worse, more limiting sphere grid from X. The first 2/3 or so is incredibly linear. Things do improve once the game opens up a bit in the last few chapters, but at that point I had already lost interest. At least the music is good!

  • Junctioning and the GFs are bad. The story is bad. The characters are bad. This game is bad and I do not understand how anyone likes it.