Expedition 33 is the Turn-Based Heir to Classic Final Fantasy

clair obscure gameplay - a man and a woman are standing next to each other in a video game .

clair obscure gameplay - a man and a woman are standing next to each other in a video game .

Final Fantasy has left the turn-based RPG genre behind, but Clair Obscur: Expedition 33 is fully embracing it, quickly becoming a standout game amidst the frenzy of Summer Game Fest.

Alongside the likes of Doom, Gears of War E-Day and Perfect Dark, the Xbox Games Showcase revealed Expedition 33, a French-developed turn-based RPG. As soon as the game’s trailer revealed its turn-based roots, it became apparent that this is what Final Fantasy could’ve been if it didn’t abandon its original genre.

Developed in Unreal Engine 5, Expedition 33 is absolutely stunning. Lavish environments and gorgeous monster designs echo the grittier nature of Final Fantasy 16, but its stylishly animated turn-based combat evokes memories of Lost Odyssey or even a gritty Persona.

Expedition 33 party members staring down an enemy in a field
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The new RPG doesn’t just make you sit and wait as characters dish out gorgeous attacks; Paper Mario-esque QTEs also appear. Some attacks require you to aim at an enemy with a reticule to target weak spots, while others need you to press a sequence of buttons to pull off a more powerful attack.

With Final Fantasy sadly abandoning turn-based combat after the failures of Final Fantasy 13, Expedition 33 looks like the game we’ve been desperately craving. It’s a AAA turn-based game that isn’t set in a High School and isn’t represented by pixel art. While games like Octopath Traveller and the upcoming Dragon Quest 3 HD are stunning in their own right, it’s high time the genre got the AAA budget it deserves.

It’s worth noting that Expedition 33 doesn’t look perfect. From the game’s reveal trailer, an incredibly convoluted narrative already seems to set the framework for your adventure. Sure, overly complex stories with massive lore dumps are par for the course in this genre, but it’s still a sticking point many will likely have when the game releases.

Final Fantasy 17 isn’t likely to return to the turn-based genre anytime soon, but Expedition 33 may be able to fill the huge void fans have in their hearts. As a huge fan of turn-based combat systems, I believe Clair Obscur: Expedition 33 is already shaping up to be one of the best.

Clair Obscur: Expedition 33 launches on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series, and PC in 2025.

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