The long-running Final Fantasy series has been responsible for some of my favourite moments in gaming. In fact, VII & X easily make my top 10 favourite video games ever. Believe it or not, I even found enjoyment in the XIII trilogy. However, I’m only now getting around to playing Final Fantasy XV which released in 2016. I found the let’s say, troublesome development that the game went through off putting. Also, I wasn’t a fan of important story elements being split into not only a feature film but a web anime as well.
If that wasn’t enough, XV had further issues regarding the DLC for the game. The Royal Edition, which is meant to be the complete version of the game only comes with 3 out of 4 story DLC’s. Even more were planned but they have since been cancelled all together. From the outside, it all looked like a mess. Regardless of anything I’ve mentioned, the game fared well both critically and financially.
Final Fantasy XV is an open world action role-playing game where players take control of main protagonist Noctis Lucis Caelum during his journey across the world of Eos. Noctis is accompanied by his three companions Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto. However, Noctis is the only character directly controlled by the player. You’re free to explore the world on foot, by using the party’s car “Regalia”, or Chocobos. In towns, there are inns and hotels where they can stay, shops where items and equipment can be purchased with the in-game currency (Gil). Also, you can find local tipsters who provide information on quests, from main story missions to side quests.
The game uses an action-based real-time battle system. After a certain point in the game, Noctis can call upon summoned monsters called Astrals, which aid the party by launching a devastating attack. The summons featured are series regulars including Titan, Ramuh, Leviathan and Shiva. Their types of attack, and even whether they assist at all, is dependent on the environment.
The story sees Noctis and his three friends begin their journey to Altissia, the capital of Accordo. This is where Noctis will wed lady Lunafreya. Finding the local boat services stopped, they receive news of an attack on the city of Insomnia and theft of a powerful Crystal. Sadly, the Lucian King Regis has been assassinated, and both Noctis and Lunafreya are declared dead. Noctis is tasked with retrieving the Royal Arms, magical weapons of past Lucian kings—to rescue the Crystal and reclaim his throne.
In some ways, I do regret not checking out the feature film & anime beforehand. The game itself tells you little to nothing about the backstory of any of the characters or how they met. This damages the overall impact of certain events and scenes that take place. The bond that Noctis has with his companions is likely the most important aspect in the game. I can’t recall any game that does so very little to make you feel invested in the characters and story. However, it somehow manages to succeed with both none the less. The rapport between the characters is endearing enough that you’ll grow to care for them and feel their sadness in times of adversity.
The basic storyline is straight forward, it’s a literal tale of good vs evil. However, there is a clear underlining complexity to it that isn’t fleshed out very well at all. Too much backstory and important plot detail is lost within endless walls of text. Final Fantasy XV has the feel of a game that is unfinished. The main questline is shockingly short for a Final Fantasy game. It blows through convoluted scene after convoluted scene with no subtlety.
RPG’s come with padding, that’s to be expected. There is plenty to do in the world of Final Fantasy XV. Side quests are abundant but they quickly grow tiresome due to their repetitive nature. To call it fetch quest overload feels like an understatement.
Now that I’ve spoken about some of the negative aspects, let me be more positive. Well, for one thing the game is stunning visually. The character models of Noctis and his friends are the best that I have ever seen outside of cutscenes. The cutscenes themselves are mind blowing to witness. Traversing the beautiful, varied landscape is a lot of fun. Who knew driving a car in a Final Fantasy game could be this cool? Combat is an absolute blast even if it is very simplistic. There are some epic battles in the game and it can be very challenging at times which is great. Summons are truly amazing but far too confusing to initiate.
The soundtrack is phenomenal, one of the best ever. In certain shops you can buy soundtracks of previous Final Fantasy games that you can listen to as you drive or on foot.
On the whole, Final Fantasy XV is bit of a beautifully flawed mess. I give it high praise for managing to feel different and unique from every other game in the series. Unfortunately, as much as I liked the characters and felt their pain I never felt as attached to them as I would have liked to be. I don’t see myself putting them very high on a list of my favourite Final Fantasy characters. I enjoyed my time with the game and only time will tell if I look back on it fondly. For now, I’m happy I played it but I’m happy that it’s over with as well.
Final Fantasy XV