FFXV: Worth The Wait?

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***SOME SPOILERS TO FOLLOW, DON’T BLAME ME***

Final Fantasy XV hit the shelves in North American in November of 2016, a whole six years since the last single player entry, Final Fantasy XIII, was released.  There was a time when you only had to wait a year, maybe year and a half, for the next entry in the series to be released.  At this rate, I assume we won’t see FFXVI until 2025.  I don’t want to do a review on the game, mainly because I am not a game reviewer.  However, I did want to give a quick few thoughts to answer the one burning question that a lot of people have: “Was it worth the wait?”

To give you some background, I am not the biggest Final Fantasy fan you will find.  Not even in the top million fans, I would assume.  I love VII to death, and I would consider myself a super-fan in that regard.  As for the other entries in the series?  Not so much.  I have played some of IV and IX, and I have beaten VIII and X.  I played X when it initially came out, but I only beat it about a year and a half ago.  So, I haven’t play I, II, III, V, VI, XI, XII, XIII or XIV.  That might not make me a qualified Final Fantasy fan.  I have good news though, I don’t care! My second favorite would be X, and then after that I don’t think I could choose.  I liked VIII, but did not love it, and I never finished IV or IX.  I will one day, I promise.

So, was it worth the wait?  The answer isn’t simple, but if you want a simple answer, then I would have to say yes.  The game is obviously beautiful, it is clear they took a lot of time creating this world and making it look so gorgeous.  The music is some of the best I have heard in a long time.  The menu music! Ugh!! I could just turn my PlayStation on, and let that play all day.  As you can tell from the games I have played, I have only been exposed to the turn based games in the series.  The move to action combat has always been a reservation of mine, but I have to say…I enjoyed it.  I found the warping to be cool, and I actually liked the warp points to regain health and kind of ‘reset’ the battle, so to speak.  The hunts got old, but that was the best way to make money so I did a good portion of them.  I guess that makes sense, you used to get money from fighting monsters, but when was the last time you ran over a squirrel and grabbed $20 from its corpse?  The Ascension grid was nice, but there was no way I could earn enough AP to fill that out.  I guess you need to do every single side-quest, which I planned on doing, but got bored.  I really wanted to finish the game, so I knew if kept doing the optional stuff that I would never finish it.  Speaking of the optional stuff, a lot of it was really repetitive.  Saving people on the side of the road who had car trouble?  I can do that one, twice, maybe three times but 20?  Come on.  Same goes for the people in the wilderness who needed a potion.  Bring your own fucking potions.

Anyway, I got sidetracked there.  The summons were gorgeous, monsters looked great, outposts were repetitive but nice to look at.  The game really shined in one key area: the relationship between the main characters.  Noctis, Gladiolus, Ignis, and Prompto have been friends since they were children, and the game really excelled at highlighting that point.  As you know, I have not played all the Final Fantasy games, but I cannot think of another group of main characters that were actually lifelong friends.  Sure, there was Cloud and Tifa, but they weren’t very close as kids.  They just grew up in the same town, and kind of knew one another.  In X, you get the impression that Wakka/Lulu/Yuna have all known each other for many years, but even that is only a portion of the party, not the entire main party.  For the entire party to be such a tight knit group that has known each other for such a long time is rare, and it pays off.  The little conversations they have while walking or driving, really show their friendship.  Even the fact that Prompto wants to take photos of everything really drives it home.  These aren’t just heroes coming together against a common foe, these are brothers.

Now, for my gripe.  I have one of course, and it is the story.  I have read enough stuff on the internet to have a general idea of how fans feel about each game in the series.  Bold statement: if the story was better presented, or fleshed out better, this would be a top five game in the series.  For me, it could have gone as high as three on my short list.  The story just…falls flat.  This is a 14 Chapter game, with much of the story happening after Chapter 8.  There is a large portion of the game, for me it was over 40 hours, where there is very little going on and you are just fetch questing with no real rhyme or reason.  Even when the story starts to be revealed, it just doesn’t make much sense.  Ravus’ motivation?  Non-existent.  You have  no idea why he betrays Noctis, or what makes him change his mind to help Noctis.  In the official material he is listed as a secondary antagonist of the game, but did he ever really feel that way?  Not to me.  In fact, by the time we found him dead, I had forgotten about him.  I honestly have no idea why Ardyn was even helping me find Titan, seemed kind of counterproductive, looking back.  I know that the story makes more sense if you watch Kingsglaive before playing, but to me that is bullshit.  I shouldn’t have to watch a movie to understand the game better.  The story of the game should stand on its own.  I know Tabata came out and said they are going to release a story patch for the game, mostly to help out Chapter 13.  Again, that is bullshit.  Am I going to play the game again?  Probably.  However, there might be some people who never give it a second shot.  What if they add story and it makes it that much better, and there is a portion of fans who simply miss out?  That is a failure on Square-Enix’s part.  What about that part where Noctis comes back after 10 years, and when he reunites with the gang they are all like “OK, cool.  Where did we leave off?”  No one questioned where the fuck Noctis was, what the hell happened after he went into the crystal, or even what the fuck happened after the world went dark.  Just camping out and acting like nothing happened.  Really disappointing and lazy.

Overall, the game both hits and misses for me.  I was letdown by the story, but encouraged by the game-play.  This game actually gives me hope for the remake of FFVII.  I think if they can improve the game-play a little, make some tweaks here and there, it will be a gigantic success.  They already have a great story in VII, I just hope someone doesn’t screw it up by trying to change things.  We will see….in 2019…..

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