The Final Fantasy series can be daunting to newcomers. It’s one of the largest franchises in video game history, spanning back several decades and several console generations. It’s also downright massive, with a catalog of entries nearing triple digits. If you want to get into Final Fantasy but don’t know where to start, consider this guide your primer to the FF series. We’ll go over how many Final Fantasy games there are, which ones you should play first, which games are considered the best, and which order you should play them in.
How many Final Fantasy games are there total?
There are 95 different Final Fantasy games total as of 2021, including 15 games in the core Final Fantasy series. The overall franchise also includes two anime and five video releases.
By and large, most fans consider 15 to be the main number of Final Fantasy games — or 16 if you count X-2, the series’ only direct sequel to release so far. That number may grow to 17 if you count Final Fantasy 7 Remake as a unique release. Otherwise, the rest of the games are spinoff releases, mobile games, or collections such as Final Fantasy Origins.
Which Final Fantasy should I play first?
We know what you’re thinking: With so many games in the series, which Final Fantasy game should I start with first? As it so happens, the games have almost no continuity between releases. Instead, they merely share thematic elements and recurring creatures or character archetypes, such as Moogles or an engineer named Cid.
If you want to check out the Final Fantasy series for yourself, we’d generally recommend starting with the newest core game available for whichever platform you own. As of 2021, Final Fantasy 7 Remake is the newest release, and it’s available across PlayStation 5, PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The classic version of Final Fantasy VII is also available on previous-gen platforms, though it’s by no means a modern release.
Is there an order to play Final Fantasy games?
Since the series has effectively no continuity, there’s no preferred order in which to play Final Fantasy games. Each one does something a little bit different, but with the exception of FFX-2, none of them follow up on the events of previous releases.
However, many players choose to start the series with the first game and watch its evolution over time. As such, they begin with the original Final Fantasy release and play through the rest of the core games chronologically. They’ll also typically skip FFXI and FFXIV, since those two are massively-multiplayer online games that break from the traditional single-player JRPG formula.
It’s quite an undertaking, but if you want to see everything that the Final Fantasy series has to offer, you can work through the core games in this order:
- Final Fantasy (NES)
- Final Fantasy II (NES)
- Final Fantasy III (NES)
- Final Fantasy IV (SNES)
- Final Fantasy V (SNES)
- Final Fantasy VI (SNES) – sold in the U.S. as Final Fantasy 3, not to be confused with the NES release
- Final Fantasy VII (PlayStation)
- Final Fantasy VIII (PlayStation)
- Final Fantasy IX (PlayStation)
- Final Fantasy X (PlayStation 2)
- Final Fantasy XII (PlayStation 2)
- Final Fantasy XIII (PlayStation 3)
- Final Fantasy XV (PlayStation 4)
Which Final Fantasy is best?
If you want to hit the highlights of the Final Fantasy series, it would make sense to check out the best games in the series. However, there’s a lot of debate over which single Final Fantasy game is best. Most fans would say Final Fantasy 7 is the series’ high point, but aggregate review sites like Metacritic would disagree.
According to Metacritic, the best-ranked Final Fantasy game is FFIX, followed very closely by FFVII. FFVI, in this case, the GBA version, comes in at a close third and is ranked just slightly above FFX in the fourth spot. Tactics Advance and FFVIII effectively tie for the fifth rank, with FFVIII having a higher metascore while Tactics Advance has a higher user score.
With all that said, Final Fantasy 7 is usually considered the best. It’s simply preferred by more fans of the series and clearly has a much more dedicated following. However, FFVII, FFVIII, and FFIX all released for the PlayStation during the golden 32-bit era, and all of them consistently rank among the series’ best games. In a nutshell, any one of these games could be considered as an example of the best the series has to offer.
And what a series it is. Final Fantasy is frankly legendary in the video game industry and counts among its ranks some of the best-selling JRPGs in history. Sure, there are nearly 100 games overall, but any one of the core 15 releases will serve as a fine place to start for series newcomers.