Final Fantasy XV: Worth the Wait?

Warning: This is an article discussing Final Fantasy XV and my thoughts and experience regarding the game. As such, while I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum, I am going to be bringing up some story points. If you haven’t played the game yet and don’t want any information ahead of time, please hold off on reading this until you have completed your playthrough. Alright, with that out of the way, here we go.

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Few game titles evoke feelings of impatient anticipation as this one, at least for me. Having waited over ten years for Final Fantasy XV to finally release, I know I’m not alone in saying my expectations for the game were astronomically high. After seeing the trailers and concepts, reading what story material had been made available, and seeing things like a giant Leviathan laying waste to a city while you teleport around the map kicking ass and taking names, I could not wait to get my hands on this game. Add to that the multiple delays and changes to the release date…

You get the picture. But maybe it’s all of that, the hype surrounding it that led me to feel a bit let down when I finally played it. I have serious mixed feelings when it comes to this game, which I’ll try to break down here. Quick aside, this is just my opinion.

Firstly…am I the only one who found it a bit irritating that much of the lead up to the game was told through a movie? The game opens with you basically having free reign over a large chunk of desert, mostly to help you get used to the mechanics, combat system and overall feel of the game. As far as the story goes, the main character Prince Noctic of Lucis, is on his way to the city-state of Altissia to meet his betrothed and get married. When you reach chapter three though, news reaches Noctis and his three companions Lucis has been conquered by the Niflheim Empire and his father the king has been killed. All of which is told in the movie Kingsglaive. Sure it was a decent movie, but you’d think that something that monumental would actually be shown to happen in the game? You see a few quick flashes from the movie just for reference, but not actually experiencing it takes a bit of the impact away.

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Continuing on that point, as you wander the world Noctis and his friend/bodyguard/nanny (Prompto, Gladio and Ignis respectively) engage in various forms of witty banter which while amusing, seriously take away from the gravity of the situation. And although as a WoW player I can appreciate Noctis’ insistence on leveling his fishing, it really makes you wonder how angry he really is at the empire when he’d rather take the time to haul in some bass.

This is a bit of a common theme, not really feeling the situation as you go forward. Another example would be the events that take place when you reach the city of Lestallum. Without going into too much detail, you meet up with Gladio’s sister, an old man and his nephew. You catch up, then leave to find another one of the ancient weapons Noctis has been tasked with collecting. When you return, you learn the old man has been killed. I get that we’re supposed to feel something here, and the game makes a huge deal out of it…but never really explains who the old man is to Noctis. It’s a little disjointing. Then, as you prepare to head for the Disc of Cauthes, you hitch a ride with a creepy old man who says he can get you past the blockade there. Now again, this is only clear if you’ve seen the movie, but the man is the Supreme Chancellor of the Empire…How in the hell does Noctis not know what a leader of the enemy country looks like?! I don’t care how lazy the guy is, this is a HUGE detail for a member of the royal family to be completely in the dark about, especially when his father King Regis knows the man on sight!

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There isn’t a whole lot to the story either when you look at the game as a whole. If you take time as you play to complete sidequests, grind, complete hunts, etc., then the game will take you awhile. But if you’re the type of player who runs through the story first and foremost, you can finish the game in about a day. There are only fourteen chapters to the main storyline and some of them are concluded with little more than a few fights and some cinematics.

There’s more. Lots more. But in the interest of brevity let’s just say the story left quite a bit to be desired. It was extremely difficult to feel emotionally invested, which should have been easier given how things go in the story, but I’ll leave that alone for now.

My other biggest issue is one you may not need to worry about anymore. I started playing the game the day it released, and there were a couple of glitches at that point. One of which actually broke the main storyline…in Chapter 2. You’re asked to make a delivery to a rest stop a little further into the desert you start in. At the same time you’ll likely have a quest to talk to a guy named Dave. Make the mistake of talking to Dave before you drop off the delivery and you are no longer able to progress. This may have been fixed since, but I was forced to start a new game , and after spending awhile grinding already, I was rather ticked off.

I feel like I’m trashing on FFXV a lot, but for all of that the game play itself was a lot of fun. The departure from the archetypical turn based system was great, and I loved being able to warp around the battlefield. Combat in this game was significantly more fun than previous installments and the sheer scope of some fights just blew my mind (Looking at you Adamantoise) though ironically the final boss was a bit of a letdown.

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The games take on summoning is also pretty interesting, since you have to meet certain requirements in order to trigger the option which can be tricky, but the result is always epic. Many of most interesting enemies are found in the depths of dungeons scattered about the world, all of which are worth exploring. One in particular, for the truly patient and collected among you is a ruin called Pitioss. Absolutely rage inducing, I highly recommend checking it out.

As far as the world itself goes, the map in this game is enormous, making it pretty obvious why they give you a car so early. The graphics are beautiful, the mobs and enemies you run into make sense based on your location. You can feel the level of effort that went into making the game itself both visually breathtaking and immersive. Chocobo riding was a lot of fun and I loved how they actually made the birds into more of a part of your group, actually showing them in camp with you when you decide to call it a night in game.

I’ve got a lot more I could say about FFXV, enough for a few more pages even, but I’ll wrap this up here for now. In summary, this was a fun game. I enjoyed playing it…but I would not say it met my expectations. I can see and feel how much work went into making the world, the combat and the feeling of immersion so prevalent. When you can learn 152 different recipes and catch some ridiculous number of fish, there’s clearly a lot of effort that went into the side quests and completionist details here.

Much as I’d like to, I can’t say the same about the story.

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