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Hardest Games, Ranked By Difficulty (& How Long They Take To Beat)

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Odin, Titan and Ifrit (Final Fantasy)

Highlights

  • Final Fantasy
    , a cult classic JRPG series, has evolved over three decades while maintaining its iconic status.
  • Game difficulty varies in Final Fantasy titles, with some being easy and others being challenging.
  • Final Fantasy 16
    introduces a departure from the series’ norms, with a single-character control system.

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It is quite shocking when players look back at the launch date of Final Fantasy, one of the world’s biggest game franchises. The series came into existence in 1987, making it close to thirty-three years old. With multiple games split across three decades of its lifetime, the series is a cult classic. Final Fantasy is what people think of when they talk about JRPGs, and that is for a good reason.

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The games have continually evolved the genre and made it better with every release. However, as good as the story and gameplay evolution has been, there’s something that hasn’t been as constant. The difficulty of the games is all over the place, with some games being relatively easy while others are incredibly hard to beat. Regardless of how tough these games are, players can rest assured that they’ll be occupied by these games for hours on end as they watch their amazing stories unfold right before their eyes.

Updated on March 5, 2024, by Ritwik Mitra: Final Fantasy is one of the best video game franchises of all time. The sheer number of ways this franchise has tried to innovate on JRPG tropes and norms is admirable, even if some people feel like this series isn’t at the forefront of gaming anymore. Still, there are many people who love Final Fantasy to this day, appreciating their larger-than-life stories that are amazing to play through. While the series isn’t necessarily known for its difficulty, there are still some fights and bosses that can throw players in for a loop if they’re not careful. With adequate preparation and maybe a bit of grinding, players should be able to get through these games after some struggles.

22 Final Fantasy 16

55.5 Hours

yoshi-p-is-tired-of-final-fantasy-16-haters

Final Fantasy 16

Released
June 22, 2023

Genre(s)
Action RPG

The latest entry in the Final Fantasy series serves as a massive departure from the usual tropes of the series, letting players only control one character in a bold move for a franchise where party members were pretty much the norm. It helps that Clive is a strong protagonist who can single-handedly take out most enemies, although this does reduce the challenge factor considerably.

Players can make Final Fantasy 16 even easier with accessories that allow them to automate everything from dodges to healing. The game’s combat can become downright rudimentary if enemies are pushovers, which is why most people recommend playing through the game without wearing any of these Timely accessories. Given how long the title is, it’s important to keep combat as fresh and engaging as possible so that players don’t get bored of it in the long run.

21 Final Fantasy 10

46 Hours

Final Fantasy 10

Final Fantasy 10

Released
December 17, 2001

Genre(s)
JRPG

While some might assume that the difficulty of Final Fantasy games has gone down with time, it is not entirely true. However, in the case of Final Fantasy 10, the game is clearly on the easier side. The tenth entry in the franchise is a very good game based on the review scores, but it does lack the punch of difficulty the original games were known for. There are optional quests in-game that carry some difficulty, but the main game itself is pretty much painless.

Final Fantasy 10 is one of the longest titles in the series, with its main story clocking in at just under 50 hours. Those hoping to collect all of the ultimate weapons and beat all of the game’s super bosses should be prepared for a longer ride still, with the average completionist run taking a somewhat insane 150 hours. It’s well worth it, though, as the Dark Aeons and Penance are some of the toughest boss battles to ever grace the series.

20 Final Fantasy 13-2

42 Hours

A scene featuring characters from Final Fantasy 13-2

Final Fantasy 13-2

Released
January 31, 2012

Genre(s)
JRPG

Final Fantasy 13 was a unique experiment, even if some people felt like it marked a turn in the wrong direction for the series. The game was decent but nowhere near worthy of deserving two sequels that came with its fair share of problems and didn’t do much to turn people around when it came to Final Fantasy 13.

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While Final Fantasy 13-2 is still a fun game for people invested in this universe, the combat has been significantly toned down in terms of difficulty. Sure, players can still perish if they play absent-mindedly, but the game is nowhere near as punishing as the first game.

19 Final Fantasy 9

39.5 Hours

Final Fantasy IX

Final Fantasy 9

Released
July 7, 2000

Genre(s)
JRPG

Released merely a year before the popular Final Fantasy 10, the ninth entry was more challenging than its sequel. The game was a PS1 title, so one part of the difficulty goes to the game’s old age. However, it was still relatively easy compared to many other games in the series. The game resembles a world more in line with the older titles, but the difficulty it packs is severely low in comparison. Except for the final boss and a couple of dungeons, the game proves to be relatively easy.

Clocking in at around 40 hours, Final Fantasy 9 doesn’t demand too much of its players’ time, at least not for the main story playthrough, anyway. Completionists should be prepared to allocate around twice that though, as getting hold of all of the weapons and becoming strong enough to take down the game’s optional super bosses can be a very time-consuming process indeed.

18 Final Fantasy 5

32.5 Hours

Final Fantasy 5

Final Fantasy 5

Released
December 6, 1992

Genre(s)
JRPG

Final Fantasy 5 was launched in 1992 on Super Famicom and was not as well-received as many other titles. The reasons were many, including the fact that the game had a too high encounter rate despite its difficulty. This made the entire experience overly repetitive for many fans and critics. While the game is still praised for its job system and the feature to combine abilities, it is equally criticized for its storytelling and grinding experience.

Despite the occasional need for grinding, Final Fantasy 5 is a fairly short game. Playing through its main story takes around 32 hours, making it considerably shorter than some of the series’ later entries. As is often the case with Final Fantasy games, though, a completionist run is nowhere near as straightforward and can take more than 70 hours to complete.

17 Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

50 Hours

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth Graphics Mode

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

Platform(s)
PlayStation 5

Released
February 29, 2024

The remade Final Fantasy 7 trilogy is proving to be a fun experience, even if some people feel that the game makes too many changes that sully what is already a decent product. Still, Square Enix’s attempts to reinvent instead of recreate should be lauded, especially with Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth making a splash and letting people witness Cloud and Co.’s journey with a fresh coat of paint.

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This entry captures some of the game’s most iconic moments and improves the combat significantly. With more options than ever before, fans can enjoy some cinematic set pieces as they slash, shoot, punch, claw, whack, and wallop their enemies to kingdom come while being careful about their HP and MP levels.

16 Final Fantasy 10-2

46.5 Hours

A cutscene featuring characters in Final Fantasy 10-2

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD

Released
March 18, 2014

Genre(s)
JRPG

The first ever direct sequel in the history of the series, Final Fantasy 10-2 is a great game that fans can check out if they want to explore the glorious world of Spira once again. Given how the dark and oppressive nature of the first game is done away with after the death of Sin, Final Fantasy 10-2 is a more jovial and heartwarming experience that players will have a great time with.

Dresspheres make for a unique spin on the job system, but the initial dresspheres are pretty weak and don’t really do a great job of making players feel strong as they go through the early chapters of the game. This means that players can have a hard time with random encounters later on if they don’t spend their time grinding or optimizing their party dresspheres.

15 Final Fantasy 7 Remake

42.5 Hours

final-fantasy-7-remake-part-2-party-members

Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade

Released
June 10, 2021

Genre(s)
JRPG

Final Fantasy 7 Remake has been nothing short of a massive success, and fans can’t wait to see how the story pans out in subsequent titles. The Remake has some fairly challenging moments, but players who get accustomed to the combat system will find themselves breezing past most encounters.

Even the bombastic boss fights of this game lose their luster once players realize that a combination of powerful attacks is all that is required to take down most of these foes. That being said, Final Fantasy 7 Remake has its moments where it’ll challenge players, who need to be prepared for these difficulty spikes.

14 Final Fantasy 12

61 Hours

Final Fantasy 12

Final Fantasy 12

Released
October 31, 2006

Genre(s)
JRPG

When the world of gaming was crowned with cult classics like San Andreas and Resident Evil 4, Final Fantasy 12 was just the perfect game to release. The game brought a unique experience to the table, as people were pretty much used to playing 3D games at that time. It brought a much-needed spike of difficulty to the franchise and gaming in general. On top, the game was incredibly frustrating because of its repetitiveness.

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Such is the amount of content that’s crammed into Final Fantasy 12 that exploring all that Ivalice has to offer can take players more than 150 hours. Of course, a significant chunk of this will likely be spent trying to take down challenging foes like Yiazmat. Those just looking to soak in the game’s main story need only set aside around 60 hours of their time, which is perhaps a bit more realistic for most modern-day players.

13 Final Fantasy 4: The After Years

46 Hours

Final Fantasy 4 The After Years

Final Fantasy 4: The After Years

Developer(s)
Square Enix , Matrix Software

Genre(s)
JRPG

Released
June 1, 2009

With the re-release of Final Fantasy 4 on the PSP, Square Enix decided to go above and beyond. Not only did they add additional content and clean up the graphics, but they also developed a direct sequel that let players enjoy some quality time with these beloved characters once again.

Sure, the game was nowhere near as nice, but both the original iteration and the 3D remake of The After Years are fun games for fans of this classic to check out for themselves. The combat can be pretty tough, especially in the 3D version that bumped up the toughness of the original game, too.

12 Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13

47 Hours

Lightning Returns Final Fantasy 13 Equilibrium+ Equilibrium plus garb

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13

Most people still debate whether the Final Fantasy 13 trilogy was a good idea. The games weren’t really all that memorable and have now become largely forgettable chapters in the illustrious JRPG series.

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13 is the best game in the series and doesn’t skimp out when it comes to the difficulty either. Players need to be on their toes to deal with the many powerful threats that Lightning will face in the game.

11 Final Fantasy Type-0

32.5 Hours

Ace from Final Fantasy Type-0 HD

A spinoff title that is extremely unique and engaging, Final Fantasy Type-0‘s story is pretty heartwarming yet tragic at the same time. The real-time combat system was a thing of joy, and the difficulty was ultimately reliant on the player’s preferred main party.

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For the most part, players would be pretty prudent when it came to choosing their main party members, opting for characters who balance out both the party’s offensive and defensive characteristics. However, some of the characters in Type-0 are pretty poor in combat and can make players suffer if they try and control these slow and cumbersome units.

10 Final Fantasy 6

35 Hours

Final Fantasy 6

Final Fantasy 6

Developer(s)
Square Enix , Square

Released
October 11, 1994

Final Fantasy 6 was initially released in 1994 on Famicom and Super Nintendo. The game is easily a fan favorite and has received many positive reviews. However, one thing common in all the reviews was its difficulty slope. Final Fantasy 6 was one of the easiest games in the franchise, but the Pixel Remaster made some much-needed changes to make the title tougher than ever before. Enemies were faster and used their special moves more frequently in combat, making the game pretty challenging in a way that changes how players approach a battle in the Pixel Remaster of this title.

Completing the main story of Final Fantasy 6 will take players around 35 hours, although there are plenty of side quests and subplots that can easily stretch this out beyond the 60-hour mark. This is especially true of the game’s GBA port, which adds extra dungeons, new weapons, and a few additional Espers as well.

9 Final Fantasy 13

48.5 Hours

Final Fantasy 13

Final Fantasy 13

Developer(s)
Square Enix

Genre(s)
JRPG

Released
March 9, 2010

Final Fantasy 13 isn’t the best game in the series, but it is undoubtedly a memorable one. The game came out in 2010 for both PS3 and Xbox 360 and was a step in a new direction. The most notable aspect of the game has to be its visual shift and art direction, but other than that, the difficulty was pretty good as well. It is a timing-based game that requires a good command of the controls; without which, surviving just isn’t possible.

Despite often being criticized for its linear narrative, Final Fantasy 13 packs in an awful lot of story. The main narrative alone can take more than two full days of playtime to complete while tackling all of the missions on Gran Pulse can push this time well beyond the 100-hour mark.

8 Final Fantasy

17.5 Hours

final fantasy original nintendo

Final Fantasy (1987)

Developer(s)
Square

Genre(s)
JRPG , Adventure

Released
December 18, 1987

It is quite apparent why the original Final Fantasy is on the list. Despite being a classic, the game belongs to an era when genres were still evolving rapidly. This meant that the game suffers from outdated technicalities, but it also suffers from the limitations of the platform. When combined, it makes an immensely tricky experience that was unlike anything at that time.

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The series’ first entry also happens to be its shortest by far, although this is perhaps to be expected given the limitations of the NES and the fact that, at the time of its creation, it was an unproven concept. The main story takes around 18 hours to complete, although this time is roughly doubled when attempting a completionist run.

7 Final Fantasy Tactics

54 Hours

Fighting a battle in Final Fantasy Tactics

Final Fantasy Tactics

Developer(s)
Square

Released
June 20, 1997

Final Fantasy Tactics is considered by many to be the franchise’s best spin-off title. It told a lush and unique story that was further bolstered by its amazing gameplay and tough combat.

The difficulty spikes in Final Fantasy Tactics are pretty massive and come out of nowhere. Players need to be prudent with their saves and use multiple slots to avoid getting stuck in a really powerful battle.

6 Final Fantasy 2

25 Hours

Final Fantasy 2

Final Fantasy 2

Developer(s)
Square

Genre(s)
JRPG

Released
December 17, 1988

When the first game gained popularity from the classic gameplay formula and difficulty, it was fair to assume that the sequel would follow in the same steps. Final Fantasy 2 does everything that makes the first game so difficult and paddles up on everything else. The leveling system in the game was quite honestly unlike anything for the time. It was an absolute slow-moving mechanism, which will totally not flow nowadays.

As with its predecessor, Final Fantasy 2 is a relatively short game, at least by modern standards, anyway. The main story lasts for just 25 hours, although the game’s additional content manages to push this time a little past the 40-hour mark. Given the game’s difficulty, though, many players may be grateful for its short length.

5 Final Fantasy 4

23 Hours

Final Fantasy 4

Final Fantasy 4

Developer(s)
Square

Genre(s)
JRPG

Released
July 19, 1991

The fourth entry in the series isn’t just difficult. It is one of the most popular games of the time. Released in the year 1991, Final Fantasy 4 was the first FF game that was made for Super Nintendo. It was critically acclaimed, with praises ranging from its focus on quality to its story. The game was a step forward for the RPG genre in almost every way. However, the difficulty was still just as hardcore as before, at least on the Nintendo DS, anyway.

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Cecil’s story clocks in at just under a full day of playtime, although the DS port typically takes a little longer to complete. The latter also packs in quite a lot of additional content and boasts a completionist time of 56 hours. By comparison, a completionist run of the original takes fewer than 40.

4 Dissidia Final Fantasy

47.5 Hours

Bartz and Gilgamesh in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy

Dissidia Final Fantasy

Released
August 25, 2009

Genre(s)
Fighting

A fighting game spinoff that was way better than it had any right to be, Dissidia Final Fantasy is a crossover game that brings heroes and villains from each title in a grand story that focuses on a conflict between the two gods Chaos and Cosmos.

The game starts out pretty easy, but some fights become brutally hard as the story progresses. The final battle Chaos makes players feel like they’re banging their heads against a brick wall, and only a downright perfect understanding of the game and its systems will help players take out one of the hardest bosses in Final Fantasy history.

3 Final Fantasy 3

30 Hours

Final Fantasy 3

Final Fantasy 3

Genre(s)
Adventure

Released
April 27, 1990

The biggest baddy in the series has to be the third entry, Final Fantasy 3. The Nintendo DS version is said to be the epitome of difficulty in Final Fantasy games. This game is made for JRPG enthusiasts and has the same old liming job system. On top, Final Fantasy 3 can be best described as non-friendly and brutal. While some players may live for this kind of difficulty, most people may find it irritating at best.

A big part of Final Fantasy 3’s difficulty comes from its length, which, at 30 hours, is significantly longer than the two games that preceded it. Those hoping to complete everything that the game has to offer are in for an even rougher ride, too, with a full completionist run typically taking around 73 hours of torture.

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