With the Final Fantasy 7 remake on the way in the next few months, there’s never been a better time to jump on board this classic series. Whether you’re into action or turn-based, there’ll be something you love in the Final Fantasy universe. Let’s figure out where to start with Final Fantasy.
So there are 15 mainline titles to pick from, and various sequels to some of the games so it can be hard to figure out which Final Fantasy to play. If you’re a retro fan, you’ll find yourself more comfortable with the first 6 games, but the currently available versions can make things difficult.
One of the best things about the series is that they don’t tie in to one another, so you could play Final Fantasy 8 without playing any games before it, and you wouldn’t be lost. So it really just comes down to which game interests you the most.
Where To Start With Final Fantasy – Retro Focus
If you’re looking to play something in the realm of 2D, there are a couple of places I would recommend you start. As somewhat of a completionist, I would always recommend you at least try the very first game in the series, just so you know where things started. It won’t do you any good from a story perspective, but it’ll give you a good base to move onward from and see the progression (or regression) in each following Final Fantasy game.
How to play Final Fantasy
There are multiple places you can play the original Final Fantasy, perhaps the best way would be the NES Classic if you managed to get your hands on one. Failing that, you could also pick up Final Fantasy Origins on PS1 or the PS1 Classic, which includes Final Fantasy II also. More readily available are the GBA, PSP and mobile versions of the game, but only try these if you can’t pick it up on NES or PS1.
Final Fantasy VI
I may be biased here but I genuinely believe Final Fantasy VI (or Final Fantasy III initially in the West) is the best jumping on point outright, never mind if you’re just looking for a retro experience. Final Fantasy VI encompasses everything great about the series, and the genre as a whole. Initially released on the SNES, this is a great story taking place in a steampunk fantasy world.
The story is full of mystery, and ridiculously well developed characters for a title released over 20 years ago. It’s truly a statement in JRPG design and any fan of the genre owes it to themselves to play this one.
The magic system in the game allows you to choose how you want to spec each character in a way that suits the party, and when you pair that with each party member’s unique abilities – you end up with an endearing cast that each have their uses on the battlefield. The roster is huge too, with 14 playable characters.
Some characters get treated better than others, but you can certainly enjoy learning about the bunch, and emotions certainly peak at various points of the story. This game also features Kefka, who remains the greatest villain in Final Fantasy history. If you want to experience true villainy in the Final Fantasy series, VI is the place to start.
How To Play Final Fantasy VI
If you want to play the best Final Fantasy game, you can do so on SNES, SNES Classic or the Virtual Console if you want the most retro experience. The game is also available on GBA, mobile and PC. Bear in mind that the mobile and PC versions have updated sprites that are outright worse, but you can easily download a mod to put this right on PC.
Where To Start With Final Fantasy – PlayStation Era
Final Fantasy VII
Of course this game is on the list, with the remake coming soon (which somehow only covers the first part of the original game) there’s never been a better time to get to know Cloud and co. The story of Final Fantasy VII is second only to VI in my opinion, and this title marked the series’ jump from fully 2D to some 3D character models and effects.
The background art in FFVII is also stunning, and you soon forget you’re controlling a terrible character model through these beautiful environments, and everything just begins to fit, thanks to the stunning soundtrack from Nobuo Uematsu – you can easily get immersed in this title.
The combat also ups the ante, and feels a lot faster paced than its predecessors, depending on your chosen ATB (Active Time Battle) settings. If you want to jump into the most popular game in the franchise, this would be the one for you. It’s popular for a reason.
How To Play Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VII is probably available on more platforms than Skyrim. Take your pick. These days, your best bet would be to pick up the versions on PS4/Switch/Xbox or PC, and plays well on all the systems. The modern version of the game allows you to speed up gameplay, which is useful for grinding – which you may have to do.
Where To Start With Final Fantasy – Modern Final Fantasy
Final Fantasy XIV
I’ve never been an MMO person, I never played World of Warcraft or Runescape, it’s just not been my thing. Until Final Fantasy XIV. The world is incredibly well realised, and once you get past the quite horrendous story of the base game, the expansions really do open up in terms of scope and stakes, and the characters are some of the best in the franchise.
I’d urge you to at least give this one a try, I tried it on a free trial and was hooked from there. There’s so much customisation and it’s great fun to create your own character in the FF universe. There’s plenty of jobs available to suit your playstyle, from Dancer to Machinist to Red Mage, there’s lots to get to grips with and the game is beautiful. If you want to jump headfirst into the world of Final Fantasy, XIV may be a good place to start.
How To Play Final Fantasy XIV
Is it worth playing Final Fantasy XIV in 2020? Absolutely. The game received its latest expansion not too long ago, and is constantly receiving updates with new content.
The game is available on PS4 or PC, so pick whichever suits you best. Naturally, if you have a good PC, it would probably be easier to manage all your hotkeys using a keyboard.
If you’re not feeling an MMO, but you want a modern taste of Final Fantasy, you can always play Final Fantasy XV, but personally I don’t think it’s a great place to jump into the series, and it certainly doesn’t show you the best Final Fantasy has to offer. A similar story can be said of XIII, which has its fans (and 2 sequels) – but despite an interesting attempt at a new combat system, fails to get off the ground.
You could always wait a couple of months for Final Fantasy 7 remake.
So does that answer the question of where to start with Final Fantasy? If you want my definitive pick, I would choose Final Fantasy VI, but any of the above would be great jumping on points and then you can go from there!
Which Final Fantasy game are you going to start with? If you’re already playing, which would you recommend as a jumping on point?