First Impressions: Final Fantaxy XV

I love video games. I love them a lot. It’s arguable that I love video games as much as, possibly more than, I do Anime.

Video games are my favourite time sink, they form many of my fondest memories and they’re my career choice.

And no other genre of video game has touched my heart than that of JRPG’s. I love JRPG’s. They’re my favourite games to play, they make up the bulk of my game collection and they’re the reason I never get through more than a few games a year: because they’re so damn long and time consuming.

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I blame Disgaea for most of it…

And amongst these many JRPG’s is a series that has always stood above the rest in its popularity: the Final Fantasy series. I’ve always been a pretty big Final Fantasy fan. My first exposure to the series was through a brief playing of Final Fantasy VII while my first real experience was with the series’ tenth instalment, unsurprisingly named, Final Fantasy X. Over the years, I played more entries from this gargantuan franchise from most of the numbered entries in the main series, to obscure spin-off titles such as Crystal Bearers, I’ve played my fair share of Final Fantasy games, and I’ve generally had a pretty great time with the series.

But ever since the release of Final Fantasy XIII, the series had begun to lose its spark for me. The game was awful. The gameplay was stale, the story was an incoherent mess with a god awful protagonist, the exploration was completely shelved in favour of narrow corridors of enemies and everything was just… Awful. Final Fantasy XIII sucked. It sucked hard. XIII-2 fixed a lot of the issues I had with it, but the damage had been done. Since then, the franchise has never felt the same. It’s felt stale and past its prime, something that I would never have come close to saying back in the days of Final Fantasy X.

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These were the good old days

However, there’s always been hope on the horizon, in the form of Final Fantasy XV, a game that started off as a spin-off titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII that eventually took the form of a main series title. This game looked incredible when it was originally showcased at the Tokyo Game Show back in 2006, and with each new reveal and every new piece of footage, the game served as a glimmer of hope for the franchise many fans thought we’d lost.

Now, after 10 years since its initial reveal, after a mass-marketing campaign that no other JRPG could ever dream of receiving, after a feature film, an Anime TV series and an immense series of development and localisation delays, Final Fantasy XV has been released. And boy, does it live up to the hype. I’m happy to say that, so far, after around 15 hours of combined gameplay between my girlfriend and I, this game is absolutely phenomenal.

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First and foremost, the game has an incredibly well realised visual presentation. This game is absolutely stunning. The character models are appealing and the world is beautifully constructed. The setting is an insane combination of our real world and its modern age, with some science fiction and fantasy elements, and despite this strange and some what messy blend it works. It sounds crazy and it’s a little jarring at times, but my god does it work. It works so well and I honestly can’t explain why it works other than it just feels and looks so damn cool.

And beyond it’s aesthetic, the world itself just feels lived in. It feels alive. It has personality. It doesn’t feel like some artificial construct made for us to play around in, it feels like a real world, with real residents living very real lives as you wander around hunting monsters or drive around the vast landscapes and go fishing with your buddies. NPC’s have conversations with each other, they have interesting chats with your party, they go about their daily activities and they notice your presence. It feels like you’re a part of this world, as opposed to just exploring it to fulfil some pre-scripted story objectives.

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Further adding to this sense of belonging is the vast amount of things to do in the world. Whether it be going on a hunt for a group of monsters to earn some Gil, or going on a quest to advance the narrative, or simply going for a drive in the games signature car: the Regalia to take in the breathtaking landscapes and scenery of the games world, you always feel like you’re really living in the world beyond simply being in control of the protagonist of a JRPG narrative. Final Fantasy XV is a game best experienced by taking your time, exploring the world and doing everything that said world has to offer. It’s provided an incredible feeling of discovery that I haven’t experienced in a video game since Xenoblade Chronicles on the Wii. That was over 5 years ago. I’ve been playing this game for around 6 hours so far, and I’ve spent most of my time doing the little things. I’ve barely advanced the plot at all, and in a way, that’s great. I’m going to be playing this game for a long time.

And that’s not even touching on what makes up the bulk of the gameplay: the battle system, which is incredible in its own right. Breaking convention from the traditional, menu-driven, turn-based battle systems we’ve come to expect from the series, Final Fantasy XV’s battle system is a real-time battle system focusing primarily on commands mapped to specific buttons as opposed to options in a cluttered menu. It’s a nice breath of fresh air, it feels different and it’s goddamn frantic at times, which elevates the excitement of battles to levels I’ve never dreamt of seeing from a Final Fantasy game. Commands are handled by holding down the action button in real-time, so for example, you would hold down the attack button to chain a combo of attacks together against an enemy. While I initially had my worries and doubts about the whole “holding down the button” idea, and originally wished that the input was more of a button masher like Kingdom Hearts or Devil May Cry, there’s surprisingly a lot of depth to it, and it works incredibly well. Needing to switch commands in the midst of battle by changing the button you’re currently holding can create some really tense and frantic situations, and this, combined with a cover system, well-timed parries and counterattacks, an in depth Skill Tree levelling system and an incredibly useful and absolutely mental warping mechanic that allows you to warp towards enemies like a boss, makes for some truly excellent combat. It’s satisfying, it’s complete chaos at times, but most importantly, it’s just darn good fun. I haven’t had this much fun toppling giant monsters in forever.

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There’s also a “Wait Mode” variant of the battle system. I’m yet to try it out and I’m not sure if I’ll bother with it too much, since I love the chaotic and quick pace of the real-time battles, but it’s pretty cool that the option is there for those who desire it.

However, it’s not all good on the gameplay side of things. There are several glitches and design issues that crop up from time to time. A lot of these are incredibly minor and don’t do a lot to take hinder the experience, such as a party member (particularly Ignis) randomly walking on the spot into a wall indefinitely, or the camera occasionally focusing on a tree for no apparent reason (apparently trees are super interesting). These are things that can and most likely will be fixed in the future (because patches are coming), and they’re hardly worth mentioning as a result. That being said, there are some issues that simply can’t be ignored, such as the itty bitty UI text. The font size is tiny. It’s often microscopic. Who were these menus made for? Ants?

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Me

This might be my TV, or my eyesight (which is awful), but it’s so darn tiny at times that I often struggle to read half of the super important information on my screen when I’m a few feet away from my television. I need to sit super close to my screen to make half of the text out clearly, and while that isn’t too big of a deal, it’s certainly not good for my eyes, which I’m sure you’ll not be surprised to learn are photosensitive. It’s definitely not related to sitting in a dark room for most of my teenage years and sleeping constantly *yawn*

 

In all seriousness though, I keep getting traumatic flashbacks to Xenoblade Chronicles X with its itty bitty font size. It’s not a game breaker for me, but it’s been a little frustrating at times. I hope this gets patched in the future.

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*internal screaming* (Excellent game though)

Another issue I have with the gameplay is the controls of the Regalia. While driving around is one of the games highlights and adds a whole take on exploring such a large world through taking in the scenery via roadtrips, it kind of sucks that the car is on rails the whole time. While there is some degree of freedom in taking turns and doing some maneuvers I want to drive my car up a goddamn cliff Final Fantasy XV! But it’s not that big of a deal, just a slight disappointment.

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In terms of the story, I haven’t really experienced enough of it pass much judgement on it at all. I’ve only seen up to around what I believe to be the midway point of Chapter 2, and I’m certainly taking my time with progressing through it, since I’m aiming to explore and do as many little things as I can instead of trying to rush through to the end. The characters are really fun, and the 4 main characters are fantastically well handled in terms of their personalities, dialogue and general banter they have together and the relationships they have with one another. They feel like a real group of friends and they’re all incredibly memorable characters. I particularly have a soft spot for Prompto and his tendency to take photos of the group throughout the course of their journey. He’s such a quirky and goofy little guy and I love him! He never fails to amuse me, especially when he hums the all too familiar victory music that’s become a staple for the series.

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As for the narrative itself, it seems like it’s going to deliver on the epic side of things. The plot is aiming to be some sort of dramatic conflict between two mighty kingdoms with the protagonist being thrown right in the middle of it all. It has the potential to be something great as it goes on, and I have high hopes for what will unfold further down the line. I’ve heard a lot of complaints, but it seems a large chunk of these people haven’t watched the Kingsglaive movie or the Brotherhood Anime series. While I think it’s pretty lame that you need to have watched external media to fully appreciate the narrative of the game do yourselves a favour and just go do it. The movie is pretty great, and it’s like 90 minutes long. Save yourself the hassle and watch it. The same applies to the Anime. For how well they enhance the narrative experience, they are worth every minute of your time, and if you’re going to complain about the narrative without doing so, you’re being silly. Will it hold up in the end though? I sure hope so. Square Enix are very hit or miss when it comes to their stories. They’ve made some truly incredible tales like Final Fantasy VII and X, but also some really messy and incoherent ones like XIII. I guess I’ll need to wait and see (no spoilers please!)

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Good movie. Go see it.

In terms of the soundtrack, I don’t have much to say other than it’s freaking awesome. It’s epic, it’s grandiose and it’s perfectly fitting for a game of this nature and scope. It’s a Final Fantasy soundtrack. It’s incredible.

Final Fantasy XV is one of the most ambitious games I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. With such a long wait and agonising build-up spanning the length of a decade, I expected this game to be a disappointment. I was afraid this franchise would crash and burn as a result of its own lofty hopes and ambitions for this game. Yet, Final Fantasy XV has succeeded in its vision of being one of the most ambitious and grand scale JRPG’s ever created. It is a huge leap for the franchise and the JRPG genre as a whole, and I honestly can’t wait to experience more of this fantastic game.

So far this game has delivered on all of its promises and so much more. It has brought life back to a franchise I was beginning to lose faith in and has made way for a come back like no other.

A few fans seem disappointed with this game, naturally, but I’m not. This game is everything a Final Fantasy fan could ask for, and I for one could not be happier.

And with that, I’m off for a drive in the Regalia to take in some more of that beautiful scenery. Catch you later folks.

P.S – Buy this game. It’s amazing. Don’t have a PS4? There’s finally a reason to get one.

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What are your First Impressions of Final Fantasy XV?

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18 thoughts on “First Impressions: Final Fantaxy XV

  1. Not impressed with Noctis at all and I’m in to chapter 3 – this is where the world exploration truly begins. Strangely enough I like XIII franchise and Light for that matter. You’re playing Xenoblade X?!?!?!?. Sweet so am I. Well took a small break from it. On other news, Valkyria Azure is now on the Xbox one.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t mind Noctis all that much. I definitely prefer him to the lights of Lightning and Tidus, although he’s not quite reach the level of Zidane, who is by far the best protagonist in all of the Final Fantasy (in my opinion anyway).

      And yeah, I’m playing through that game as well. It’s massive and a huge time sink so it’s taken a back seat recently.

      And nice one! Enjoy it!

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My gaming days are over. I used to me a very fanatic gamer ( I still own pretty much over 800 games on all kinds of platforms), but these I am back to oldschool gaming (boardgames lol 😂). That said, I also loved the Final fantasy franchise. Strangely enough just like Rocco B, I also enjoyed part 8, especially the collectible cardgame that was included in that one. Part X though was truly awesome, I loved the characters and the world, and I really felt a part of that one, almost as if I were watching a movie.
    From what I have seen of it, this one really looks stunning. It would almost make me pick up gaming again. This was a great and interesting read. I hope you will continue to have fun on what looks like a very cool game 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow, that’s really interesting! Board games are actually really cool if you can find the right people to play with. I used to have a great time playing through tabletop RPG’s with friends!

      FFX was definitely great. I loved the world too, Spira was such an interesting place!

      Thank you very much! I’m glad you enjoyed the post and thank you for reading and for your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Most of the boardgames I play these days are solo boardgames. It is sometimes hard to find other players to play with, so this works fine as well. I recently purchased the Attack On Titan deckbuilding game, which I have recently featured on my blog 😀Seriously boardgames are getting cooler every day 😀

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  3. First of all, GREAT POST! I’m glad we both really really loved FFX, and that we’re both really enjoying this game so far. I think we’re in the same chapter pretty much. I’m just doing as many side quests and getting money and experience as well. I think the “wait” mode will be something unappealing to you. I kinda get swept up and out by the frantic pace of battle so for someone like me the “wait” mode is good. It can get annoying – so i’d suggest you not play with ‘wait’ mode. lol. I have to get used to blocking and parrying – but i really enjoy those moves! Also, when you said something about “ants” all i could think about was that Zoolander scene with the architectural model. “what is this a building for ants?!”

    and i whole heartedly agree – this game is definitely designed to really take your time and explore the world. I personally don’t ever drive because I hate banging up the Regalia. lol!

    Also are you working in the gaming industry?? That’s great! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. FFX was a great game. One of the best games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing through.

      Yeah, judging from your post we seem to be at around the same part of the game, which is cool!

      I’m also doing the same, just taking my time with everything, going on hunts, taking in the scenery and earning some sweet, sweet EXP and cash for some future shopping sprees I’ll no doubt find myself in whenever I reach the next major city.

      I’m definitely going to give Wait Mode a go at some point, just to see what it’s all about, but knowing me, I’ll most likely stick the Active Mode, since that’s been one of the biggest selling points for me. It’s really cool that you’re using it though! Makes for an interesting perspective!

      And hahaha, I unintentionally made a movie reference? Sweet!

      And that’s really cool! I full scale crashed into a fence at one point for the lols and wound up banging up the Regalia something awful. It cost a fortune to repair! D:

      And yeah! I work as a Games Tester and hope to eventually become a Games Designer! That’d be swell!

      Thanks for reading and for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t know if you watch Game of Thrones. but I found a reference to it in the game. My friend doesn’t believe there’s a connection – but I thought it was hilarious. Like when it’s night time there’s a notification that pops up about night driving “the night is dark and full of daemons” it makes me LOL cuz in Game of Thrones they say “the night is dark and full of terror”

        Liked by 1 person

  4. While I liked the post, there’s one thing I REALLY disagree with.

    “For how well they enhance the narrative experience, they are worth every minute of your time, and if you’re going to complain about the narrative without doing so, you’re being silly.”

    They’re not being silly. They want to play the game. And judge the game for the story it tells within the game. If someone wants to appreciate the story, they can watch the movie/anime and appreciate it, and rate it based on what it tells in that format. If they want to complain about the game’s story being vague and leaving out a lot of holes, they have every right to complain about it, because that’s all the game gives you within its self. It’s similar to Marvel movies and how fans always coo “If you want more insight you have to read the comics, dumdum!” Why don’t they just put it in the movie? Why are we expected to be given extra homework after completing a test (Movies/Games are hardly tests, but you get the analogy)? The only thing I’d find justifiable is if it was a continuation of some sort, but the anime/movie is a precursor to it, right? It’s not exactly necessary. Just for more insight going into it. Feels like slimy corporatism at work. Sorry, that may have been my entire motivation for complaining; CORPORATISM!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t disagree with you at all. It’s ridiculous that you should need to watch any kind of external media in order to get a full grasp of certain events. I definitely don’t deny that at all. Luckily, Square have been made aware of how stupid this actually was and are now working on putting relevant scenes in the game as free DLC. It’s a little late, but at least they’re taking it on board and fixing it. And they’re doing it for free, while a lot of companies would charge you for it.

      I was probably a little harsh there to be fair. Apologies. I do however think that the movie and anime are both very good watches on their own, and really, in total, it’s about 2 hours maybe 2 and a half hours of someones time to increase the enjoyment of the story of a 40+ hour long game.

      Of course, it’s still absurd that we’re expected to watch them as homework though, I’ll be looking forward to seeing how Square handle this free DLC and what changes it will make.

      Thankfully it hasn’t quite reached the quantity of Marvel and DC… Yet… I agree that having to go and “read the comics” to enjoy a movie is really, really stupid. Do people have any idea how much stuff that probably entails going through?

      I get your point though, I may have been a little erroneous in my judgement. Apologies!

      However, I’m glad you enjoyed the post otherwise, thanks for reading and for your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

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