The latest main title of the Final Fantasy series has finally been released after ten years of development: Final Fantasy XV. Previously known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, I played my copy during the latter half of December, when I had more time off from work and extra hours to play. I will give my impressions of this game without spoiling for those who have not played it yet.
The Great Parts of the Game
If you are already a Final Fantasy fan, then this title would not disappoint, as each main title adds more features, gameplay, and overall experience. For XV’s you get a large open world that you can drive around, as well as explore on foot and on Chocobo (the series’ resident horse-like creature). You may not get an airship, but at least in the post-game your cool car can transform to flight mode.
I liked the fast and hectic nature of the AXB battle system. Based off the battle system found in the Kingdom Hearts games, the battles made things refreshing and fast-paced. Battling will be different from a turn-based style, and challenge your convention of JRPG planning. For me JRPGs with a more active battle system are more fun, like the ones found in the Tales series, or with that of Final Fantasy XIV.
Visually, this is a very breathtaking game as you drive around and see the various landscapes in game. While you are taking in the beautiful scenery, the battles and dungeon parts transition seamlessly. Paired with such a superb soundtrack I will talk about later, the experience playing in the world of Final Fantasy XV is simply beautiful.
Room For Improvement
Even after I described how much I loved the game, I would say that after playing and completing this that it is not perfect. There were parts of the story that I felt could have been more fleshed out, such as the later chapters. It felt like there were gaps in the story that will still need to be explained in future DLC. Hopefully these later DLC called ‘Episodes’ will further explain what happened to each of your party members who temporarily left.
As for exploration, while I did enjoy the large, road-trip like environment I felt that there should have been more to explore. More towns, and more continents to explore instead of just one portion of a land area. It is already an amazing feat to have a Final Fantasy with this open world to explore, and I understand it would talk much more time to develop. Maybe a later SquareEnix game could show this extent of a world. Like other players, I would have wanted to explore what happened to the world on the penultimate chapter.
I would have also liked to keep your guest party members, especially a certain Dragoon that is in your party temporarily. Back when I played Final Fantasy III for DS, I wanted to keep those guest members, and wanted the same for this game too! I did not want to resort to a bug in game, and experience all the end-game stuff better (like all the random pictures by Prompto).
The Amazing Soundtrack
There has always been one thing strong with the Final Fantasy series: the soundtracks! For me, having a strong soundtrack makes a game outright memorable. The composition led by Yoko Shimomura have made a soundtrack that captures what Final Fantasy is: a grand adventure with really engaging and memorable music.
Some of my favorite tracks included:
Valse Di Fantastica
Veiled in Black
Even with the flaws, I still had fun playing this game. Yes the battle system had a learning curve (like the learning curve of Lightning Returns), but a game would not be fun if there was no challenge to what you are used to. The story, even with its certain parts felt missing, still told the journey of Noctis and his friends, and what responsibility and struggles he had to go through.
For the best experience, I would watch the additional material Brotherhood and Kingsglaive. They expand more on the characters and world setting for the past and early parts of the game. While not necessary to play the game, if you like having a more clearer view of the world of Final Fantasy XV then you should watch these Brotherhood anime episodes and Kingsglaive movie.
If you are new to Final Fantasy, this might not be the best representation of the series, but the overall story theme is a perfect fit for what Final Fantasy is about: the journey of the heroes, their growth, and the struggles with their comrades against those who want to destroy the world.