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Does Assassin’s Creed make for a better RPG than Final Fantasy 16?

Final Fantasy is, without a doubt, a great RPG. But, what about Assassin's Creed?

Derek Swinhart

Jul 6, 2023

The Final Fantasy franchise has a long and storied history of RPG excellence. The series is one of the progenitors of the popular rise of JRPGs in the West but has remained a mainstay for decades through intelligent innovation and streamlining. 

The most recent entry, Final Fantasy 16, is a fantastic game, but is it a great RPG? It has removed many systems that have remained staples of the long-running franchise, and while it may no longer resemble the RPGs of the past, other large AAA series have done the exact opposite. Enter Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed started as an open-world action title with light stealth and linear story progression. Each game in the series stuck to that general framework until Assassin’s Creed: Origins in 2017, which sent the series hurtling into RPG territory, something that would be truly cemented with the next entry, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey. 

So, we have two long-running franchises that have switched gears significantly, but is Final Fantasy 16 so lacking in RPG mechanics that Assassin’s Creed has overtaken it

World and Story Structure

FF16 has an incredibly cinematic and well-realized narrative with great characters and a dark, rich world. But the player choice is minimal, even down to quest selection, with most content only available at certain intervals. 

Do enough story, and you unlock some small areas with side content; the game expands over time, but side content is not gated by level or location. They activate as you progress, so there is never content available for you that you can’t engage with. 

This is typical in a Final Fantasy game, but there is a lack of agency. Origins and Odyssey take a more standard RPG approach by having a massive world with areas and quests gated by specific level requirements. 

On top of that, these games have options to change how the level scaling works, giving players the freedom to tackle the world in different ways. Odyssey also gives players a ton of freedom within the story. Quests have multiple outcomes, players build a character where decisions can affect later story beats, and ultimately the game offers a lot more choice to develop your character. 

To FF16’s credit, the focused character development makes for a much stronger narrative, and generally, party management and the jobs systems stand in as character development in the franchise. Except that FF16 has zero party management and no real choice in how Clive engages with the world. 

Assassin’s Creed Origins quest screen.

Assassin’s Creed Origins quest screen.

Character Progression

In FF16, you level up, and stats are automatically applied to your character. You have points that can be spent on your available Eikon and core skills, but other than choosing from set abilities (of which there are many, to be fair), your character plays fundamentally the same way. 

Clive is always a swordsman with the same basic moves and animations across every player. You mix in basic attacks as you wait for cooldowns on your Eikon abilities, players can mix and match Eikons, but that is the extent of most of the customization in terms of skills. 

You upgrade skills along a set path, increasing their effectiveness, but that is ultimately the end of it.

FF16’s abilities screen (early game shown to avoid spoilers).

In Origins and Odyssey, you level up as you complete content, and levels provide you with skill points and access to higher-level gear and quests. Those skill points can be used across multiple skill trees focusing on different playstyles. 

Players can invest in stealth-focused moves, combat-focused ones, and ranged options. These change your abilities and playstyle dramatically, and both Assassin’s Creed titles offer a variety of ways to engage with content. 

Fundamentally Clive’s playstyle will never be that radically different across players, and there is very little choice in how you play. The only role you play in FF16 is Clive the Dominant and swordsman, nothing more or less. 

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s skill tree.

FF16 does excel in delivering much more satisfying and engaging combat on a moment-to-moment basis. While Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Origins have their moments, the wide approach makes individual paths less mechanically gratifying and engaging than fighting in FF16.

In terms of player agency, though, both titles excel by comparison. FF16 is a much tighter experience at the expense of giving players a choice in how they approach the combat, story, and leveling.

Assassin’s Creed Origin’s skill tree.

Gear and Customization

Origins and Odyssey both approach gear from a randomized loot perspective. As you fight and explore, random gear drops with variable stats. 

Items can be equipped in various ways, expanding greatly with Odyssey introducing armor into the mix. On top of this, equipment and outfits can be changed on the fly, in menus, or with transmogs. 

While imperfect, the loot offers many opportunities to change playstyles, mix up things with new moves, or try out different animations. A spear in Assassin’s Creed differs significantly from a hammer, a sword, etc. 

Individual players can sport a variety of styles as well as customize their look and feel in terms of which weapons they like. Even bows fall into different categories, with options like predator bows offering first-person sniping or warrior bows shooting in a five-arrow spread.

Assassin’s Creed Origin’s gear screen.

FF16 has three gear slots; they are not gated by level and have no visual effect on the player outside of what sword you have equipped. Besides equipping charms that change boosts to specific player abilities and stats, gear is limited to these items. 

On top of that, swords are the only option for the entire game. I hope you like fighting with that sword style because it is more akin to a character action game; you can’t ever change from that basic animation. 

There aren’t even party members to control or manage to alleviate this issue like in previous entries in the series.  While FF16 excels as a combat-driven narrative title, the actual control over the player’s gear and playstyle is so streamlined that it barely feels there.

Final Fantasy 16’s gear screen.

There is a total lack of character control in FF16’s gear, which is genuinely surprising. Even Clive’s look only changes at specific story points and eventually remains stagnant for most of the game. 

Assassin’s Creed Origins allows players to change the features of its protagonist Bayek from his beard to his hair, even when he remains in relatively static outfits. I don’t need full character customization in a Final Fantasy game, but with only one actual character to control, the systems in FF16 are threadbare for a major RPG.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey’s gear screen.


Clearly, FF16 lacks RPG mechanics; from character progression to gear, the game is streamlined to a fault. That doesn’t mean that it is a worse game than Assassin’s Creed Origins or Odyssey; in fact, I think overall, it offers a better experience. 

But it is a pale shadow of itself for a long-running RPG series, just like Assassin’s Creed has become a pale shadow of its former focus on fluid combat and parkour in dense environments.

Fans of both have a right to be upset by the direction, despite the quality of the games themselves, but I implore everyone to explore these games based on their own merits and approach them with an open mind. 

Ultimately, if you are looking for a rich RPG with lots of character customization and control over the narrative, you are better off jumping into something like Odyssey than FF16

Do you have any thoughts about this topic? Tell us in the comments below, or talk about it on Twitter. Don’t forget to tag us in the discussion!

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Derek Swinhart

Derek has worked in games journalism and PC gaming hardware and has a depth and breadth of experience across many genres. He plays almost everything but has a particular fondness for challenging games like the -Souls series and real-time strategy titles.


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Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go-to font for titles, paragraphs & more.

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Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go-to font for titles, paragraphs & more.

Small Running Title

Small Running Title

Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go-to font for titles, paragraphs & more.

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