So, while I wait for Final Fantasy’s 1.04 update to download (which has taken over 2 hours because my internet is slow where my PS4 located in my house) so I can install my new copy of Tales of Berseria and look forward to playing that for the next two weeks, I thought I’d do something besides grind even more in Bravely Default, which is write my thoughts on Final Fantasy XV (FFXV). FFXV came out last year and I played it exclusively for two weeks for 4-6 hours after work each day, eventually putting in a total of 50 hours before two weeks had passed since release. Basically, I played it a lot. It is now almost two months since said-release, and now that I have time to reflect on my experiences with the game, what did I take away from the experience, which mind you, was the reason I got a PS4 in the first place?
Let me get out of the way the problems I have before going any further, which you’ll know why eventually. First off, the game isn’t finished. I understand why, though. Square Enix wanted to release the game before the end of 2016, so Hajime Tabata (the game’s Director) did what he could to deliver the best he could within the time allotted. People keeping up with the game’s development will then point out that this game has been in development for 10 years, which is actually not the case. Whatever development that may or may not have happened before the rebranding of the game (from Final Fantasy Versus XIII to Final Fantasy XV) and before Hajime Tabata was brought on as Director (before was Tetsuya Namoura) was scrapped, so the actual development time for FFXV was around 3-5 years, which sounds like a long time, but due to the smaller team than other AAA development studios, is not that long. Excuses aside, there are glaring problems that are incredibly disappointing. The story is told very poorly. Character motivations are missing or ignored and the lore of the game, told through the “Cosmogony” book doesn’t feel important to the plot of the game until after the credits, or even Chapter 12. The ideas presented are great, to where I can personally forgive it, but at the same time, I had to rely on YouTube theorists and Final Fantasy fans to fill in the gaps.
There is one glitch that I want to bring up that is disappointing to say the least. In Chapter 13 (or even the beginning of Chapter 14 I’ve heard), if one were to save and quit their game, their save file will be corrupted and corrupt the rest of their saves as well. This is an egregious flaw that will leave people not wanting to play through the game to get to what I think it the best part of the game: the ending. We’ll get to that in a minute, but if you do plan on playing this game, just play through the remaining Chapters (12-14) in one sitting, or at the very least, starting at Chapter 12, don’t save and quit until you reach Hammerhead in Chapter 14.
With my main problems finished, so now let’s move on to the things I loved: pretty much everything else. Let’s start with the combat system. Instead of traditional turn-based systems for Final Fantasy’s past, FFXV is an action-RPG. The combat system is simplistic and easy to use, but it is fun. I won’t go too into it, because this is up to the individual to decide whether or not this system is too simple to be enjoyable. I, for one, like the game’s combat (especially in fights like in Chapter 6… man that was fun). The game’s soundtrack is fantastic. A lot of the tracks hit me hard and assist in making the complicated, yet bare story more effective. My personal favorites are “Somnus”, “Wanderlust”, “Noctis’ Theme”, “Hellfire”, and “Main Theme of FINAL FANTASY XV”, to name a few. I will admit that the sound mixing in the game needs work. There is a very crucial cutscene at the end of Chapter 13 to where you absolutely need subtitles, as an example of the bad sound mixing, which is why I will always tell anyone who plays this game to turn subtitles on immediately. The graphics are incredible and the spectacle and environments are gorgeous. The driving mechanic allows you to take in the environments, even the on-rails “manual” driving, which I actually have no problem with. This isn’t Grand Theft Auto: Final Fantasy, so I didn’t expect to be able to drive literally everywhere. The main antagonist of the game is maybe the game’s best achievement. Even though a lot of the character borrows from Kefka from Final Fantasy VI, there is enough of a difference to make this character stand out as one of the most interesting villains in gaming, at least in my opinion. Also, Chapter 13 is great. It’s frustrating intentionally to give off the vibe of survival horror. I liked it. Fight me.
The last thing that I loved that I want to talk about, which stems into other areas of the game, is the story. I know I just gave the story a lot of criticisms, but at the same time, because I was invested in the lore of this game before, during, and after I finished the game, I understand how the story works and l love it. I’m going to start with the other member’s of the party, because during the story, the party goes through various trials together with revelations happening throughout. Noctis, Gladiolus, Prompto, and Ignis felt like they were brothers at the end of the game, archetypes included admittedly. Noctis is the one trying to act cool all the time, Gladiolus is the buff-boi older brother, Prompto is the lovable idiot, and Ignis is the dad of the group, but the events that happen in the game add on to the traditional archetypes that made them feel more compelling than trope-y. Prompt is my favorite. Fight me. The game is centered around your (Noctis’) relationship with the other guys and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The lore of the game is really interesting and it plays out in a very interesting way, albeit a depressing way. Speaking of which, let’s talk about my favorite part of the game… the ending. This game pulls some things that are amazing to watch. All of Chapter 14 is so good that I dare not spoil anything about it so that if you decide to play it one day, that you can go it blind. Please GO IN BLIND. The last boss fight and events that follow are things you need to see for yourself. Also, did I mention how much I love the music? Because the ending really shows off how good the music is.
So, as the update is finished and Tales of Berseria is now in my PS4 waiting to be played for the next 50 hours, I hope that you can understand why I really love this game. It has flaws, like literally every game ever made. Chrono Trigger has an arguably dumbed down upgrade and magic system (although that game is practically perfect admittedly), Final Fantasy VI has really bad padding, Final Fantasy VII has poorly aged graphics and padding, and Glitches has skyrim. I think that Final Fantasy XV serves as at least an incredibly solid skeleton that Square Enix will be adding to over the next year or so to make what could be the best Final Fantasy since Final Fantasy X (or XII if you liked that game). And that’s the great thing about this, Square Enix is actually going to work on this game to make it the best it can be, even after launch. They want to win back their fans that they lost since Final Fantasy XIII (or in some people’s cases XII or even X). How this game holds up against the rest of the games in the series, I can’t personally say. I have only beaten XV and VII, and because my backlog of games look like the library of books from Beauty and the Beast, it’ll take a while to form my own opinion on that matter, but first impressions were incredibly positive. I had too much fun with this game to focus too hard on the game’s shortcomings. I really do recommend Final Fantasy XV, but only to people who are interested in Japanese games in the first place. Even though this game tries to appeal to non-JRPG players, non-JRPG player will not appreciate it in the same way as JRPG players will. This game’s western-appeal is kind of limited because of the genre, in my honest opinion. I imagine it is similar to getting your dad to watch anime. He’s not going to get it or appreciate it. He’ll just ask, “Why do they look so stupid?” “Why are they using swords, but also cell phones?” “Why does Noctis look like Sasuke?” You know… stuff like that.
At the end of the day, I love this game, and if you decide to play it, I hope you do too. Just understand, it’s going to be very different if you aren’t familiar to the genre.