It’s been a long and dangerous trek. I’ve nearly lost my sanity more times than I can count. Hours, nay, DAYS of fighting and starving. Sleep deprivation abundant. But after all this time, I have finally completed(ish) this mammoth of a game. Final Fantasy XV. Yes, months later after its release, I’ve completed the main storyline and an incalculable amount of side quests, but there’s still much more I’d like to do.
Let me preface this with I am a new mother. I’ve not yet found the golden balance of work, child rearing, sleeping, eating and playing. The last 3 things of that sequence I frequently omit by the way. Final Fantasy has always been a beloved series of mine even through the bad (looking at you FF XIII Lighting Returns) and the ugly (still looking at you Lightning). When news of XV broke that it was FINALLY being released a decade after we saw the first, massively impressive tech demo, I almost wet me trousers in excitement. I knew I must obtain what I sought out for so long. So, I ran to Gamestop (ugh) and smacked the cashier with my money and told him I wanted to pre-order the special edition version. It comes with the Blu-Ray of the movie Kingsglaive and a pretty metal box. After the game gets pushed back a handful of times, November 29th finally rolls around. My boyfriend picks up my pre-order (thanks babe), and I fall asleep. No game playing for me tonight. The next day, I finally pop in that bad boy and load up the game. Tears are welling up in my brown eyes. I cry. It’s so darn beautiful. I’m obviously an over dramatic/emotional person, so I take in the music on the main menu page for about 5 minutes, select the save file, and then I begin. Fast forward 6 months and 108 playtime hours and here we are today.
I’m not whelmed at all by this game.
Now hold on you guys. I know everyone is yelling BLASPHEMY and BURN THAT WITCH AT THE STAKE! But I promise I have a very logical explanation.
The game is beautifully rendered. The world of FFXV really is gorgeous. The various regions and cities and even the little outpost are all very well made. But beauty is only skin deep. This game has some serious character flaws, from egregious character development to notknowingwtfisgoingoninthisconvolutedstory. Some parts of this story were so underdeveloped that it was just disappointing. There’s a million great ideas and no follow through. I play RPGs for the story. I never liked the turn based mechanics of most RPGs, but the compelling story is what always made me play them. The gameplay here is action based, which is way more my style, but the story suffers greatly. I still have sooooooooooooooooo many questions:
Who were all the past kings of Lucis? They didn’t really play a part until the end of the game.
How did Ardyn become Chancellor of the empire?
So, Lady Lunafreya really just died in that one scene? Massively anti-climatic.
When did Ravus get a change of heart and decided to help Noctis?
How did Emperor Idola come to possess daemonic powers?
Why was Shiva disguised as Gentiana?
While all of these questions can be (sorta) answered on the Wikia page for FF XV, they weren’t answered well in-game. (Yes, I watched Kingsglaive and Brotherhood prior to playing this game.)
Even with all of the well rendered scenery and characters, the game still gave me tech flaws. I frequently found myself (Prince Noctis) floating mid-air in battles or Prompto shooting targets from impossible angles. At one point, I couldn’t even whistle for my Chocobo even though I was at a point where I could definitely use that function.
These flaws aren’t fatal to the gameplay though. The game runs as smoothly as anything I’ve ever played, but there’s always going to be a glitch or two because technology isn’t perfect.
The fighting mechanics in this game were pretty outstanding. I love the combat system. It’s fun and fluid, although blocking can get a little weird at times. Once you build your characters’ stats up a bit, combos become effortless when your MP is replenished quickly. The gear is also pretty amazing for Prince Noctis. He has an array of weapons at his disposal, and they play pretty differently from each other. Some weapons are heavy and wage colossal damage while others are lightweight with smaller damage yields, but much quicker. There’s a weapon for every type of player, but Noctis is really the only one who reaps the benefits of the variety of weapons. His companions don’t have much of an array of weapons to purchase or find, so I wound up using the same weapons for the majority of my gameplay.
By the end of my campaign, I leveled up to 77. That’s much lower than I intended but once you hit level 50 in the game, the difficulty is diminished. The side quests are tantalizing with items and money, and thus I wanted to do them all. But I found after doing so many sidequests, that my characters were entirely too strong for the game’s difficulty setting. Bosses were no longer a threat. Scary daemons were cut down with ease. Ifrit was the equivalent of soggy tissue. Had I not completed so many sidequests, I’m sure my playtime would be a third of what it is now. The main story is extremely linear and goes in a blink of an eye. The game chapters are short. Very short. I’d be surprised if anyone understood every aspect of the story by just playing the main quests, although the sidequests didn’t add a much needed layer of clarity either, to be honest. However, the sidequests give you a look into the land of Eos, and Eos is pretty grand. There’s plenty to explore, but also lands that are inaccessible.
I’ve run around Cleigne, Leide and Duscae and enjoyed it very much. There are monsters and treasures and quests abundant. But it would’ve been nice to, ya know, explore the rest of Eos. We ride through Tennebrae on a train and only get a taste of what Altissia had the potential to offer. The few stops we had in Niflheim were really dope, but the player wasn’t allowed to explore more than these areas. Missed opportunity there. And we never get a glimpse of the ruins of Solheim. There were so many extra cool places to explore that got pushed to the side in order to progress the story. Some of the areas in Niflheim will be able to be explored in the upcoming DLC featuring Prompto, so I may or may not play it. But I probably will because it follows Prompto.
Which brings me to my next point, I wouldn’t have felt the brotherhood between these characters (Gladio, Ignis, Noctis and Prompto) if it weren’t for the photography feature that Prompto contributed. The dialogue and cut scenes, or rather *lack thereof*, didn’t give me the sense that these guys were really friends. At the most, they just seemed like guys who got sort of chummy while working a job. Thanks to Prompto’s photographs at the end of each day, I felt the bonding between these guys that I wasn’t getting from anywhere else.
I felt this game was lacking a more cohesive and apparent story that could have been uncovered through side quests or cut scenes. I really didn’t care if my characters lived or died. I wish there was more to explore than just the main continent that the game starts off with. However, this complaint may be rectified with the DLCs. With that being said, I did really enjoy what I was able to explore. I liked seeing Cid again, and I enjoyed meeting the new characters that were introduced (yes, you too Taka A.K.A Forest Whitaker. You ain’t slick). It was amazing (and reeeeeeally cute) to travel via chocobo. Plus, seeing the photos after the end of the day hit all my girly feels. There are SO MANY QUESTS, which isn’t a bad thing, but it did diminish the difficulty of gameplay. Maybe completing all these quests on a second playthrough rather than the initial one would have been more advantageous to keep the difficulty and character levels even. To wrap this up, I did enjoy playing this game. It wasn’t as amazing as I had hoped it would be, but it was fun. I say get it. There’s 100s of hours of stuff to do, and I definitely got my money’s worth.
About the author Elaine C. Kern:
She is a nerd. That is all.