Let’s talk about Final Fantasy XV…

I haven’t written here in quite a while. Maybe it’s because I now have somewhere else to write about my passion. Maybe because I don’t really feel like it. I don’t know. But I’ve been thinking about writing this piece for quite a while and I wanted to do it specifically for my own blog, so here I am. What I’m going to be talking about today is one of my most anticipated video game titles of all times (just in case you’ve been reading this blog and you haven’t noticed!): Final Fantasy XV.

So yeah, I finally got to play it, even if it was three months after its release date (due to my trip to the Emirates, a whole different story). I even got the Platinum Trophy, meaning I went through all the secret dungeons, found all the ultimate weapons, beat all the mega-bosses, etc. It was quite a unique journey, even for someone who’s been to lots of places around the world!

My feelings after completing the game are mixed. I’ll go over what happens first, then I’ll address any issues I have. In the beginning, you have the promise of an amazing adventure in an epic car with your three friends. And what makes it even more fulfilling is that you don’t get the car from the start but you have to complete a series of introductory quests (something like a tutorial) in order to get it, so you have a sense of completion right there.

Then once you hop in the car, you get to travel while listening to your favorite FF tunes as the four friends comment on the events of the game. Pure awesomeness!! This was easily my favorite part of the game! And just when the four friends think they’re cruising along to get one of their friends hitched, they have a rude awakening that no, this is not “The Hangover”, but rather something closer to “Saving Private Ryan”.

In a way that only Final Fantasy knows how, the story takes a complete 180 and from random insults, relaxed attitudes and funny jokes, we have sadness, frustration, regret and worry. Crown prince Noctis seems anything BUT ready to take up the mantle that his father Regis left him and as the bodies and burdens begin to pile up, the crown just weighs heavier and heavier. Until the final act in which a renewed, older Noctis appears to have the necessary resolve to make the sacrifice that needs to be made in order for the world to be saved from the starscourge, and for daylight to return to Eos.

The story did good on showing Noctis and his friends struggle to come to terms with all that has happened. However they all shined through their individualism. Prompto was the lighthearted one, making the mood cheerier even when things seemed the gloomiest. Ignis was the one to take care of everyone and think clearly for the rest of them. Always deadly serious. And Gladio was somewhere in between, not too serious, but always willing to put himself in harm’s way in order to protect his friends and his Prince in particular.

However, the game flomped in several points. Firstly, it feels like the enemy is almost absent for the entirety of the game. We get one scene of the military empire of Nifleheim during the start of chapter 3 and that’s all we see of them for the entire game!!! This is the same empire that went in to Lucis, took the highly guarded crystal, left without so much as a scratch on them, and then proceeded to destroy the entire city, including butchering its king and his councelors (this was all shown in the movie Kingsglaive). They deserved a whole lot more than “they randomly turned into demons”!!!

There is only one character that stands out as “enemy threat”, yet he never really gets that treatment, meaning that there’s never a true boss battle against him (true in the form of “you can’t lose to him even if you drop the controller, go have lunch, do some shopping, then come back five hours later”). There’s this on-going trend in recent FF games (the first one was Type-0, now it’s XV) in which there is NO FINAL BOSS BATTLE! How can that be?! What are we playing for and what is the story building up to?? Completely unacceptable!

Speaking of “you can’t die”, it is very difficult to get the game over screen in this game. I never saw it once, despite playing in normal mode and travelling through the most (theoretically) difficult dungeons. All you need is some healing items and you’re golden. No depth in the battle system, just press “O” to win. Everything else is just either to win quicker or for eye-candy (which seems to be an excuse that this game uses a lot to get away with things!).

Going back to the story and after Noctis finds out his home was just turned into a pile of rubble and now he has to go around raiding a bunch of graves and fullfil an ancient prophecy in order to take back what’s left of it, the player gets to explore the open world. This is quite nice. (The open world, not the grave-robbing!) However, the attitude of the four friends during these chapters seems rather noticably and unnaturally… cheerful. I mean, if I found out I was just kicked out of my house and I had to sleep in tents and hotels (provided I had slayed enough man-eating beasts to even afford the luxury of a hotel room!), I wouldn’t exactly be cracking jokes about Ignis’ cooking. I’d just be happy he’s there!

However, as I mentioned, players get to explore this huge, open world, go to hidden areas, find out more about the game’s lore, find hidden weapons, defeat massive beasts… I was especially impressed with the designs of a lot of these dungeons since almost none looked like the one before! Plus, you get to decide how you wanna go about it. On foot, by car, by FLYING car (cause yeah, that’s a thing!) or by chocobo because this is still Final Fantasy!

Until chapter 9 that is, when the game says “Hey, that’s enough fun!” and decides to take it all away from you. From chapter 9 onward, when the group sets sail for Altissia, there is very limited space on which to traverse. And it gets even lesser the more the player progresses in the plot. Altissia seems like this huge city, but all we got is just 3 areas with streets put one on top of the other, and that’s the most open area players get from there on! And the most annoying part about all of this is that, when looking at the map, you can actually SEE a whole space that isn’t even accessible. Like, why? Noctis and co. decided to explore Altissia but only see like 1/3 of it..? That makes no sense!

It gets worse when on the train, during chapters 10 and later. You don’t even have to look at the map, you can actually SEE for yourself, all these unused areas! When the group goes to Gralea, I was so mad by all this unused potential! Cartanica, Eusciello, all these areas should’ve been explorable! This is like if FF VII only made the Midgar continent available for exploration! Since they gave us the flying car, they should’ve given the players the opportunity to fly it all around the world!

Also, and this is my final complaint about this game, there are so many wasted characters! Ravus (pictured below), Cor (where was Cor in Kingsglaive??), Iedolas, Luna, Aranea, Regis, Clarus, Gentiana, damn, even Pryna the dog! I won’t say Iris, Cindy and Cid cause I don’t think there was anything more they could offer the story. Even Libertus and Nyx (who’s body just randomly shows up at the end, like Noctis is supposed to care!) could’ve been in this but it is painfully obvious that movie and game were created by completely different dev teams! But yeah, buy the DLC, it’ll be explained there, I’m sure!

All in all, Final Fantasy XV is HALF a game! It begins by making promises of an epic adventure and magical locations when in reality there’s no plot twists (just kill the big baddie, from start to finish!), it steals your freedom as you tag along, and it eventually forces you down a corridor of cutscenes that are indeed impressive, but feel empty. The final scenes of the game made me feel like it was forcing some sort of emotional reaction that the story didn’t deserve. Noctis, I never really cared about you.

If I had to give this game a rating, I would say 5/10, since the first half was incredible, but the second half was pretty much waiting for it to be over.

Originally published at sopeoplewhatsup.blogspot.com on May 31, 2018.