After a long, long time, we have finally been graced with Final Fantasy XV. I didn’t preorder the game, instead waiting to see what the general reaction was from early adopters. After it appeared the game was not a complete failure, I got a copy and have started playing.
I never played through all of the Final Fantasy 13 series, so seeing Final Fantasy on a next-gen console is quite nice (even moreso having just come from FFVI on Gameboy). I was immediately impressed with the visuals.
Now, I started the game without having watched either the Kingsglaive movie nor the short anime series for the game. Given that, I was a little confused at the beginning with all the characters, why I should care about stuff, who was who, etc.
I have since watched both pieces of side content and would definitely recommend both the movie and the anime series for those getting into the game. Kingsglaive really gives a good look at the background of what the factions are, and why the war is occuring, etc. The anime shorts do a great job giving background to each of the characters, where I think the strength of the title truly lies.
Story-wise, I am a bit confused, as Noctis appears to know various characters that we meet that do not explain where they came from, why they are willing to help, why they are planting carrots, etc. A bit more background on why some of the secondary or tertiary characters have an impact would be helpful.
I have really enjoyed the characters and their banter. Initially I was trying to figure everyone out simply from their side comments. However, the YouTube series really sheds light on each character’s motivation, personality, and backstory. I highly recommend checking it out – Prompto is probably the biggest surprise.
Gameplay-wise, I am a big fan of the combat. FFXV follows in Kingdom Hearts footsteps with real time action combat. While this is quite a departure from the traditional turn-based system Final Fantasy has been known for, its done quite well. Fighting the monsters while switching weapons and spells on the fly is fun and fast. Interacting with your teammates to escalate damage is also fun.
However, I am not impressed by the sidequest system. While the set-up is fine the way it is, it really is a long series of fetch quests and “go kill X” waypoints. It felt a lot like World of Warcraft in that sense, and felt quite static, like it didn’t really matter what happened. Given all of that, I have still been hellbent on finishing all the quests and exploring the map.
Exploration is done via car, chocobo, or good old fashioned running. The use of the car to take you from place to place fits the narrative of a group of dudes trying to figure everything out. However, this comes with a slew of tedium.
Whenever you want to fast travel somewhere (which you will, the map is huge and otherwise you just watch a car driving on the road), you are met with a loading screen. Going back and forth from resting and other activities also has loading screens. The loading screens are not short, so there is just a lot of waiting. I’m not sure what could be done technically to mitigate this, but it made things slow way down.
I’ve also noticed that quite a few animations are off. This is not a make-or-break deal, but it was enough for me to notice. Characters lips are not synced, Noctis will push open doors that have already opened, can’t advance in clear areas because you are caught on a twig. I had expected Square would clean a lot of these types of things up.
In sum, the story is a little sloppy, there are some technical issues, and the quest system is entirely bland and unoriginal. However, the combat and flow of actual play makes the game quite enjoyable. I can’t quite put my finger on it just yet, but the glaring issues I’ve encountered would normally really kill my desire ot keep going. Somehow FFXV has managed to overcome these deficiencies and now I’m hooked.
Have you played FFXV yet? What are your thoughts? Does the game need more? Did you bother to watch the side content? Comment below!