Final Fantasy XV Review – Not So Epic Bro Trip


Big production games like Final Fantasy XV, that have a very public and visible 10 year development cycle, are very far and few. They often suffer because of this process as they become mountains of hype in which people get so caught up, that their opinion of the game is formed way before they get their hands on it.

So we all must take the blinders off and ask: Does Final Fantasy XV live up to the hype?

Title: Final Fantasy XV
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Platform: PlayStation 4(Reviewed) and Xbox One
Release Date: November 29, 2016
Players: 1
MSRP: $59.99 (Review Copy Received)

This is a review coupled with a supplemental video review. You can watch the video review above, or read the full review of the game below.

Visually, Final Fantasy XV takes everyone for a ride through a landscape that is fairly uncommon within JRPGs. The bulk of the game sees the player exploring an area that more closely resembles the midwestern United States than a typical fantasy aesthetic.

Everything is presented in a way that is more grounded in reality, mixed with some future tech and magic. The style and visual appeal of the world is refreshing, it’s just a shame they don’t explore it more.

It is not without its faults however, as after 20 hours there were consistent graphical issue that occurred so much that it almost seemed it was a stylistic choice. Frame rate drops, graphics glitching out with red boxes around them when preforming team attacks, and odd lighting became the norm.

wildlife-fight

Character design seems to be at odds with itself as well. Where main characters related to the story seem more closely resembling that of typical JRPGs designs, everyone else falls into western design principles: as in looking more like a mix of Mass Effect and The Witcher. This also extends into the enemies of the game.

When you first start off, your focus is on daytime enemies that are typically the wildlife of the environments you are in, or mysterious and seemingly robotic soldiers. These are all refreshing and work really well with the setting and start of the story. They even rework some classic mobs to fit into the new aesthetic of the world, which are designed beautifully.

But as soon as night falls, however, enemies devolve back into a more recognizable Final Fantasy style, mostly consisting of Iron Giants, Tonberrys, and elemental Bombs. All of these monsters felt disjointed and out of place in the world they have created and presented to player. On top of this, they are extremely repetitive in their appearance at night.

Usually the Final Fantasy series spends a lot of time and effort fleshing out the visual aspects of magic and summons. Final Fantasy XV does not. While the summons you have access to are visually impressive, you can count how many there are on one hand. Magic almost seems like an afterthought, which is a real let down, especially considering they have been working on this game for 10 years.

irongiant

Diving into gameplay, it must be recognized that there are really two ways to play this game. These include: straight story to story missions, or exploring the first and second area you come in contact with completely and enjoying the robust world, side quests, collecting, and hunts.

If you go from story to story mission, you quickly beat the game in 20 or so hours depending how good at the combat you are. You will also miss what’s good about the game, as the story missions are the weakest part of the game in general.

If you choose the latter, which is highly recommended, you will find a great and varied gaming experience, filled with well rounded and interesting characters that help make your road trip feel alive.

Going on hunts to tackle big monsters, getting upgrades for your car, looking for weapons of kings who have passed, and even fishing are all optional and far more enjoyable than the majority of the story missions. This is also where the challenge is in the game, as story missions provide no challenge at all.

When not in story missions, combat is fun and engaging, consisting of juggling different types of weapons while attacking, warping, dodging, and team attacks. The player, Prince Noctis, benefits from each weapon he has equipped (up to four), giving an interesting way to raise your attack and status.

His companions and friends Ignis, Prompto, and Gladiolus, benefit from two weapons as well as a main technique unique. These techniques can be unlocked and changed which can help score some big damage numbers, heal, or even distract monsters. The two main letdowns in combat are magic and the summons.

magic

The magic system is convoluted and unintuitive. Even maxed out, magic is of little benefit, and can actually hurt your own team mates if done wrong. You’re never told how to do it right. On top of that, you have to go to specific locations through the map to “gather energy” which then needs to be crafted into magic.

Magic only consists of Fire, Blizzard, and Thunder spells that can be modified with items, which as stated above is never really explained, even in the tutorial they added in the pre patch. At the end of the game the magic spells Death, Holy, and Alterna (Final Fantasy XV’s version of the ability Black Hole) make an appearance.

They are just as lackluster as the rest of the spells and are treated as a gimmick. You’re forced to play sections that should have taken 40 minutes, which them become a two hour Resident Evil styled hallway crawl, complete with “jump scares.”

Summons feel epic when they trigger, but there are only four of them. Two of these are only available at the end of the game, which in turn can only be used if you are playing new game plus. You can’t just summon them either, you have to meet special requirements in battle (also not explained). Example: Ramuh will be the most common as the requirement is just to have a long battle.

Lastly on the subject of gameplay, we must talk about load times. The average load time is from 20 to 25 seconds, at one point I actually had a max load time over 52 seconds when I was revisiting the game after I beat it for the first time.

This happens every time you fast travel, enter a new chapter, or engage in a massive side quest with cut scenes. I ended up using this time to take bathroom breaks, or make a snack during the review. Hands down these are the longest load times I have seen in any AAA game ever released.

roadtrip

One of the best things about Final Fantasy XV is the soundtrack, and it’s very well done. You can also purchase all your favorite Final Fantasy soundtracks from stores around the map, to play in your car or a MP3 player you can buy in game.

The music selection had a lot of care taken to make the world sound impressive. This gives a nice level of immersion that will make spending tens of hours in gametime pass by in the blink of an eye. Dynamic sound adds to this in a way that completes the package with a nice red bow.

As for voice acting, it has a massive range – from cringe to great. It has to be said, this is one of the better voice acted games in the series. Some of the best voice work is presented when you are just traveling the world, seeing different sights, or discovering new things.

It is truly amazing to see so much dialogue and clever banter when you are just traveling around. It took 20 hours of free travel to hear once piece of repeated dialog while roaming the world, which is astonishing and a large part of what makes the game enjoyable.

reaperfight

It is now time to talk about the weakest part of this game, the story. I will be doing my best to explain the major problems with the story without spoiling any of it. So fear not when reading below.

Final Fantasy XV’s story is a massive mess of plot holes and unexplained events.

The side missions give more character development to all parties involved then the actual story. Not only is the story riddled with holes and unexplained events, you can actually complete the main story arc within 20 hours.

This estimate includes moving at a leisurely pace, jumping from mission to mission, and that is being generous. Obviously this is not the ideal way to play, but the game does not encourage players to do anything but go from mission to mission.

As for unexplained events, there are two major ones that deal directly with your companions on your journey. This is huge as we really never get a sense for who these people are outside of banter and the way they act.

You know what everyone’s hobbies are as they are made into game mechanics. If you stick with the story and don’t engage in the side missions, none of those except Prompto have any relevance.

Even major character interaction and developments are not explained unless you trigger them at special locations, which are nowhere near the story mission points.

fish

The first unexplained event comes half way through the story. You see one character just saying “Hey I have to take care of something” only to leave and come back with a couple scars. When everyone is asking “What the hell happened?” he just says “You should see the other guy” and laughs.

This left me asking myself, wait what other guy? None of this gets answered or mentioned again. The second unexplained event is thrown in at the very end of the game to explain a character’s origins that were never alluded to, examined, or used in any part of the story or side missions.

This is one of the most interesting aspects of the game. It is an absolute travesty that it was never given room to breath and really has no impact on anything except being used as a Deus Ex Machina mechanic to move forward through a mission.

Speaking of the many Deus Ex Machina plot devices in the game, there is one that is magically presented with no explanation around chapter 8 of 15, which is used when you need to travel to a previously unaccessible region, only to find it open now. If this happened earlier, it would negate the main conflict in the game.

team-attack

As mentioned above, the majority of the game is in chapters 1 through 8, and from 9 to 15 its a liner mess of “why” and missed opportunity. Normally I try to stay away from the word “feel” in a review, but I have to say it feels like the last half of the game was totally rushed and suffered from some unseen development hell.

You can even see it in the levels of the monsters, skill trees, and areas you explore at the end of the game, which caps around level 50. Even the last boss fight is an unfulfilling mess that uses nothing you have gained over the course of the game whatsoever. This carries over to include your own companions who have traveled with you for 99% of the game.

The most tragic part of Final Fantasy XV’s story is that there is a better story, plot, conclusion, and use of everything you have gained in the game already built into the game. This is rewarded to the players for completing side quests and meeting NPCs throughout the world.

You can totally glance over it if you like, unless you use the short cut mentioned above. The fact is when I found it, I audibly cursed and yelled “Why is this not the major plot conflict of the story?!”

Even the main villain of this game does not make any contextual sense in any of his action and only gives you some minor explanations at the very end. It is even mentioned by your companions that realistically this is all really dumb, and it is.

night-battle

Final Fantasy XV fights itself at every turn. The melee and team combat is great while the magic and summoning is a total waste. The beginning of the game is amazing while the ending is rushed, uninteresting, makes no sense, and does not thematically explain itself well enough to justify any of it.

Everything outside the story missions is a lot of fun, but the story missions themselves are a massive disappointment. It almost seems like there were two games being developed at the same time.

The first is an amazingly interesting world-exploration game filled with great characters, interesting concepts, with the potential to expand; or a nonsensical, linear story game that feels it does not need to explain major portions of itself and leaves the player asking themselves “Why?” constantly. The world exploration, side quests, hunts, and clever travel banter is worth the purchase but the main story is not.

Final Fantasy XV was reviewed on Playstation 4 using a digital copy provided by Square Enix. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here.

The Verdict: 7

The Good:

  • Great exploration, in an interesting world.
  • Great side quests and hunts, that will bring challenge at the pace of the player.
  • Amazing banter among your companion that makes them feel real.

The Bad:

  • The story is hands down terrible.
  • Magic and Summons are a wasted opportunity.
  • Most of the mechanics are sole used outside of the story.

(Writers Note: I wanted to love this game so badly, it’s been 10 years in the making. I have been following it for years; playing the demos at E3 every time it was available and managing to stay away from all spoilers even when leaks dropped. I have put over 80 hours into this game to give you all the most thorough review possible. It should also noted that the majority of review copies for this game were sent out two days before its release even though leakers had the game sent to them early. The day one reviews mostly came from groups with early preview access as well, for what its worth.)

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Video Magus, casting that good old movie magic all over your face. Doing LIVE coverage of E3 to Tokyo Game Show for the last 10 years.

See more posts on nichegamer for Final Fantasy XV

  • Anon_Amous

    I had a prediction this would turn out wonky. I think Xenoblade X will be my JRPG #1 of gen 8. I’m happy to see Squenix responding appropriately to the criticisms though.

  • You and me both.

  • Chino Gambino

    This review is missing something. Are the waifus good?

  • Madbrainbox

    Amazing locations were always the best thing in the FF games.Even XIII had some breathtaking vistas.Making the world bland seems like the opposite of what they should’ve done.

  • NukeA6

    All that time whoring out FF13 could have been used to make 15 the greatest game in the series.

  • Kiwi Hoy

    The magic is excellent tbh. Far more interesting than its ever been in past FFs

  • Yaoi boyband walking simulator. Next.

  • LoL, the waifus are almost non existent. Unless you want to refuel your car over and over at the Hammerhead location ; )

  • I would honestly like an explanation as to why you think this.

  • Implying there’s waifus in modern Final Fantasy. Haha, good one.

  • Mr0303

    Shame to hear that the story is crap. I quite like Kingsglave, so it seemed reasonable that FFXV would be more consistent, but apparently not.

  • Kiwi Hoy

    Magic rarely felt particularly useful or interesting in past FFs. Barring enemies with massive physical resistance like flans I rarely saw any reason to use it because it was entirely possible to just use physical abilities or summons to get the same damage effect anyway

    Making it an exceptionally powerful but limited AOE ability gives it some actual utility beyond what you can do with other things at your disposal, and crafting it with additional effects for the situation at hand was a nice touch too

  • oGMo

    Unlike prior games, magic isn’t “just another attack,” it’s powerful and tactical and has downsides. But it’s often an easy way to wipe the enemies or turn the tide in battle. At first I thought due to the area effect it was next to useless, but a little practice it’s quite good.

    For instance, don’t spam it in battle, use it as an opening or finishing move. Also pair it with Ignis’s Regroup tech to get everyone in one place, etc. I believe you can also use it as a weapon with other techs when the “attack” prompt occurs.

  • John Smith.

    Salty tears are flooding this comment section. Must be the lack of tits, pantyshots and anime shit causing it.

  • Cidney (Hammerhead Mechanic) is cute. Plus Gladiolus’ sister Iris is cute.

  • Anon_Amous

    I like HOW magic works but it’s very, very bland with only 3 types. I heard death magic shows up later so I’m excited for that a little bit but more variety would go a long way.

  • Kiwi Hoy

    Yeah the lack of aero and such was a bit of a shame

  • For the two comments above, I have never seen a Final Fantasy game where spells were not in rotation. And I ended fights much faster by just attacking with a sword and dodging. I saw no utility what so ever unless I made my spells heal cast.

  • I’m surprised by the lack of Earth magic.

  • One word: Cidney.

  • Kiwi Hoy

    Personally over generic earth id have loved it if they’d gone with geomancy from some of the spinoffs. The open world would have lent itself brilliantly to it

  • The ring magic is not fleshed out and as stated above is uses as a gimmick, they have even noted how bad it is and have stated they will be updating the whole chapter it is introduced in.

  • Kiwi Hoy

    I’ve wiped out groups of enemies that would have taken several minutes to beat with melee in a single cast. If you’re making Quintcast -ara/ -aga spells your burst damage output is VASTLY higher than melee can ever achieve in the game

  • oGMo

    There’s a lot of stuff they could have done with the spell system really, but i think with the action focus it might have gotten overly bogged down. Swapping equipment around all the time for elemental weakness is already a bit of a PITA .. if they had a better UI for this in general they probably could have done more.

    Blue or Time magic for instance…

  • When I did a low level challenge in FFIX, I was quite dependent on Vivi’s stop magic.

    Also silence magic from Eiko and Garnet.

  • Are you multi equipping weapons to build on the stat stacking?

  • Kiwi Hoy

    Yeah. The only time melee has come close to the damage I can get on a single target with magic is using royal arms which is of course a health trade off, plus still for the most part single target. The fact that magic does the damage it does to all targets in range is what makes it so powerful

    It does help if you’ve invested in the magic ascension grid though. The free boosts to potency and your magic stat increase it quite significantly

  • oGMo

    I’ve ended battles before they began, though. One shot 9999 everyone’s down, with maybe one or two enemies left for mop-up. Or speeding up battles against harder stuff. Obviously (?) you need to make high-potency multicast spells, but that’s not really hard at any point.

  • You can make Blizzard with freeze ability. But that points back at the system being unintuitive. They should go over or atleast lead the player to interesting recipes.

  • Arbitrary

    And nothing of value was lost.

  • I did that and still found it ineffective when compared to something like damage break team attacks. The royal arms can be off set with a Blood weapon which you can double up on. The warp strike damage gets insane.

  • Kiwi Hoy

    Melee is still mostly single target though. As another commenter put elsewhere, you can just 9999 (or higher if you’re using maxicast) every enemy in range and end the battle immediately with a high magic stat

    Against bosses and generally powerful single enemies melee would be better sure but in group fights (which are extremely frequent on the overworld) magic is king

  • Most of us are talking about the magic system, as I am interested in how they made their magic work more effectively as the game does not tell you how to do it at all.

  • What enemies are you fighting where you do that besides low level monsters tho? once you hit 40-50 mobs you will need 30,000 to 70,000 damage.

  • magicalfollower

    https://youtube.com/watch?v=eXJFbsQBvLw
    At least we are not pathetic enough to get mad with things like this :^)

  • Kiwi Hoy

    I’m just over halfway through the game and it’s still serving me quite well. Perhaps things change at end/ postgame and by the time I reach them everything i’m saying will be nonsense but at the moment I don’t have any melee equipment that can get my damage output over what I achieve with magic

    As far as damage calculation with magic goes, i’m not 100% sure about it but I don’t believe that the displayed damage number is just split evenly between every enemy hit. If it were I don’t expect i’d be oneshotting anything given that the enemies i’m fighting have more health than the damage i’m doing divided by their numbers. So the displayed number in late game groups like that probably doesn’t need to be quite that high

  • Smug

    Said the guy who is extremely salty over piracy

  • The only salty tears that are streaming down faces are the ones from Final Fantasy fanboys that are butthurt their sausage-fest isn’t as well-received as they had hoped

  • Well if you find magic caries you through the harder fights, let me know.

  • Madbrainbox

    What about princess Whatshername?

  • Joshua Anderson

    She’s hawt. :)

  • Didney Worl

    Earthworm Jim is in this game?

  • Kiryu

    The sales in Japan just came out;as i expected i didn’t sell so well and there’s no way SE will reach 10 mil.

  • PixelBuff

    Yeah 15 is an odd duck so far. While I’m enjoying it a lot, it feels like a solid game, it doesn’t feel like an FF game at all. I’m getting MGSV vibes; big open world you run around in an complete quests while main story takes a backseat and waits for you to finish. (hopefully this however will be a complete game).
    I like it a lot, but yeah after 10 years of development it needs a bit more.

  • Guin

    I prefer Gladiolus’ imouto.

  • I def. agree with that.

  • DrearierSpider

    What, after 15 years of shitty sequels you expected something different?

  • Tristan (Chili1)

    I was hoping for a deeper explanation of the combat honestly. I’ve been concerned about it since parries look like they’re QTEs and being able to hold the attack button to attack and dodge seems counter intuitive to gameplay.

  • Guin

    >Grounded in reality
    FF7 and FF8 did those too without having to fucking pander to Western AAA bullshit.

    And lol 4 summons? Why, did they run out of money making more of them instead of digitally replicating dumb food and car?

  • Kiryu

    It’s grounded in reality to push a car.

  • Guin

    If only they had the magic to float it to the gas station right?

  • It does not get any deeper then what I explained.

  • Madbrainbox

    Lol.Never played that game so that was a very un8intentional reference.

  • Desert Ranger Manami

    I’d like to bet that they loved FF13’s story if they hated this one. XD

    “Terrible” he says HAHAHAHA

  • 7 is a good score in my book. but if you really don’t dig the characters and the Story is very important to you, ….you..know….. in a RPG….., i will definetly drop it to 6 / 10

  • I would not say FF7 or FF8 was grounded in reality at all. Weapons, technology, cars, and power plants all operate in similar ways as they would in the real world its just the surrounding pronominal (magic) elements add basic elements to the game. There is allot of wasted potential here.

  • Luna rarely makes an appearance.

  • FF13 had its own problems. If I reviewed it for the site I would have given it a 6.5. And yes, the story resembles your waifu(read: hot street trash)

  • KissDisqus

    Eh I wasn’t a fan but aaron paul did a great job as a VA

  • KissDisqus

    I looked it up and yikes it really did do terrible compared to past final fantasies. It had a great sales for a game in Japan but not as a final fantasy title.

  • Kiryu

    Indeed.The Lightning saga really did the brand great damage,also the reviews of amazon japan are terrible.

  • Fear Me I Am Free

    I actually enjoyed this story more than I have the last few FFs.

  • HometownFever

    I heard the reviews on Amazon Japan are terrible because people were getting the Xbox One version instead of PS4.

  • Kiryu

    I really doubt that,who in Japan plays on Xbox One?

  • 2501

    I’m enjoying it so far, the main story isn’t that great but i do like the characters considering that they actually act like human beings. The open world reminds me of the Xenoblade games.

  • 2501

    6.5 for the game that nearly killed the JRPG genre in the 7th gen.

  • Iris best girl, brah.

  • John Smith.

    I was being sarcastic, but thanks for proving me right with your comment both here and further down below in the comment section.

  • HometownFever

    I don’t think we’re on the same page here. Amazon Japan listed FFXV, but didn’t clarify that it was for the Xbox One. People ordered the game expecting to get the game for PS4. They didn’t know that they ordered it for the Xbox One until it came in the mail, so there are a bunch of one star reviews cause of the mistake. Maybe you read my post before I edited in the “lack of clarification” part, but hopefully now you get what I meant. However, like I said, “I heard,” so as far as I know this is false.

  • John Smith.

    I was being sarcastic when I wrote the OP. I took a quick glance down through the comment section while at work and spotted a comment from GamesGoodMeGood ranting and raving about yaoi boy bands and yaoi fangirls and couldn’t resist putting out some troll bait.
    …That video you linked to… Is it just me or does the whole thing just scream of being staged?

  • John Smith.

    Two words: Transgender Cid.

  • TheCynicalReaper

    “Even major character interaction and developments are not explained
    unless you trigger them at special locations, which are nowhere near the
    story mission points.”
    THANK YOU

    This is the BIGGEST problem above all! Entire scenes of Luna and the gang are MISSING from the story because they are hidden away at a particular radio broadcast or a particular rest-stop or a particular camping spot, or a particular side-mission, etc.

    The game actually does have much more story content to go through which really fleshes things out, but you literally need a MAP (outside of the game, like a guide or something) to find ANY of it unless you happen to stumble upon it by accident. It’s the dumbest choice!

  • TheCynicalReaper

    >waifus
    This is FFXV, anon. It’s not Persona 5 (no matter how much we wish it was; so much better than XV). https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/746f60092fe61b0a092819f6d2a442549e6a67a908c13e60ceaaf7db72a577c8.jpg

  • TheCynicalReaper

    I’m just pissed my waifu can’t get waifu’d or fought again
    She was the only fun boss battle in the whole game and you only get to fight her once. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/9c3b76aab0aa7ec689170d9893ed9c4291123de1c72156ffb089f31a9d61db5b.png

  • magicalfollower

    I couldn’t help but do a sassy comment as well. hahaha
    About the show it’s probably staged, but some hardcore fanboys still got pretty pissed with it.

  • Phasmatis75

    “The magic system is convoluted and unintuitive. Even maxed out, magic is of little benefit,”

    How is that dumbed down system unintuitive? You add whatever effect you want and then add in the item with the effect you want to give the spell from poison to quint cast. Little benefit is out right dishonesty. It’s a cornerstone of my combat system and a quick way to level a group, but you need to play with wait mode enabled in order to find out their weaknesses to utilize the spell properly. Even bosses can watch a third of their health get wiped out with one good spell cast.

  • Uncle Ocelot

    I want to do horrible things to that Christmas cake.

  • Uncle Ocelot

    Can’t go wrong with Sean Bean either, shame he couldn’t do the game as well.

  • Uncle Ocelot

    That sounds like quite the blunder if it’s true.

  • Chino Gambino

    I think I’ll do that.

  • Ax

    Kingsglave was quite good but it put me off FFXV and Noctis, “Your Kingdom is BURNING and your father is DEAD! let’s road trip!” why not put me in charge of a Resistance? why do i go happily camping, fishing and stuff instead? if the Prince does not care, why should I?

  • True Goddess Reincarnation

    >7

    You sir are generous

  • Mr0303

    Yeah, Nyx would’ve been a better main character for the game.

  • Ax

    exactly, he had the drive, bravery and strength that Noctis lacks and never gets, hell even Squall was a more charismatic character, i mean, what makes Noctis, Noctis? they all are just so shallow and bland.

  • Mr0303

    Judging by the Brotherhood anime the other characters all seemed more interesting than Noctis.

  • MachineCultist

    Another non-FF game with the FF brand slapped on. Sucks that one of my favorite series has been desecrated this way in death.

  • Nagato

    Fuck me, that sounds as awful as the worst in modern Western storytelling these last generations.

  • darksparda4

    I wouldn’t go so far as to say the combat is great. It isn’t bad but I wouldn’t classify it better than average. I just feel like they focused on the wrong things in combat and it’s also weird that the movie seems to put so much emphasis on warp strike combat while it’s not put together as well in the final version of the game as it was in the movie and the previous E3/TGS videos .

  • TheCynicalReaper
  • LaTaleFan1985

    There hasn’t been a good Final Fantasy game since Sakaguchi left Square Enid IMO. I’m not surprised that Final Fantasy XV is a disappointment even after being in development for a decade. :P

  • Kiryu

    SE couldn’t make a good FF even if their lives depended on it,there is no talent in that studio left.

  • Malcolm_Ecks

    Final Hallway 13.

  • Choppinfoot

    I quite enjoyed it. The main story really wasn’t very good at all, but exploring the world, enjoying the combat, doing quests and fishing were all a lot of fun.

    I highly object to magic being of “little benefit” – magic is practically a “delete the enemy” button. You can hit the damage cap using the correct elements and potency quite early, and dualcast catalysts are widely available, giving you access to a free 20k damage AoE every fight. Quadcast and Quintcast turn most bosses into a joke, too.

    The most annoying thing about magic is that if your allies get hit, it disables them for maybe 20 seconds as they sit around groaning, but their DPS is lackluster compared to Noctis and it doesn’t stop them functioning as meat shields.

  • Malcolm_Ecks

    Sadly a lot of the critiques in this review would not hold back most Western RPGs from getting 9/10. (Elder Scrolls series.)

  • Nagato

    Well, between Tokyo RPG Factory and the guys they hire at Silicon Studio, they clearly still have access to talent capable enough of making a proper FF.

    Of course, if really need to keep going down the shitty action game path, they might as well make the most out of their Platinum/Automata partnership by having Kamiya and co go all out on the IP.

  • Malcolm_Ecks

    I don’t think people know what they want from FF anymore. I think this is a fair review, but I don’t think people can explain what FF needs to do to be a great franchise again. I think people are going to have to deal with seeing JRPGs bet “Westernized” because they can’t explain how to make a great JRPG without going back to turned based combat. The stories of FF haven’t been good for a long while, that seems to be the main gripe.

  • LaTaleFan1985

    You can say that again. :)

  • Joe

    Yep. The sheer vapid facelessness of Noctis is one of my primary issues with the game. I guess they didn’t want to make him very interesting or unique because he’s supposed to be the player’s avatar and therefore an everyman to everybody. In that other update today they say they’re thinking of adding customizable avatars, and any character I or most people could make would be an improvement over Noctis…

  • catazxy

    Good, then I’ll wait for Nier A and Persona5.

  • HometownFever

    This. Chasing her down in aerial combat was pretty fun. Wish I didn’t have to go through that boring stealth segment every time I load up my separate save just to fight her again. They set her up like she’d be a reoccurring boss fight too. Really sad that they just dropped her whole “Antagonist/Rival” status.

  • Sylveria Shini

    Im kinda in the same boat. I really wanted to love this game but upon finishing the first area Im really just “good” when it should be mind blowing. I started a new job so I’ve just been exploiting the AP and EXP gain skills for riding on a chocobo for the past.. oh… 80hrs.. so I can blitz through the game over the weekend.

    Atleast it’s not near as repulsive as Final Hallway 13.

  • Sylveria Shini

    Its really as shallow as it sounds in the review. Hold Square to attack, hold a directional button if you want a combo that’s fancier but less effective. Hold Dodge when the big PARRY!!!!! thing flashes on the screen. If you really wanted you could beat most encounters by just holding down the dodge button and doing nothing but parries, going to hang off a wall when your MP gets low. There’s no precision required.

  • Chris Mendivil

    It does. Different inputs and your timing result in different attacks, taking advantage of teamwork skills is all about working their triggers into your play style and let’s not forget how satisfying it is to punish enimies that like to mob and spam you with the dodge and counter Holy spell.

    I didn’t “really want” the game to be great and I feel no compulsion to give anything but my honest feelings about it.

  • Chris Mendivil

    There is also quite a bit of strategy involved in using ally skills. Like commanding Prompto to draw enemies in for Gladio to sweep them with his special.

  • Holy is only given to you in chap 13 of 15. You can not use it until you beat the game. Tested timing, does nothing. Directional movement just changers where you move with your attack. Team attacks was talked about.

  • Chris Mendivil

    I’m talking about it like it’s a lite character action game, because that’s really what it is. As far as how granular that gets, u can quickly kill flans with the right spear attacks and punish groups of bruisers with well timed and well chosen greatsword attacks. Or you could suck up a lot of potions and just not get good. It’s a detail that gets glossed over, because it is also a jrpg and an open world game, but Noctis has more tools than what you would get with your typical hack and slash, and learning to use them is a part of what makes the game worthwhile.

  • porkbun

    lol what’s the point of playing a JRPG with a shitty story. It’s the only good part about the genre.

  • Cael
  • Cael
  • Grampy_Bone

    Kingsglaive was terrible, it makes no sense, and causes way more plot holes than it solves.

  • Grampy_Bone

    Nyx is a stand-in for Noctis; he is in the movie because Noctis couldn’t be.

    Noctis: Latin for night
    Nyx: greek goddess of night.

  • DynastyStar

    Those load times practically make the game a pass on their own. I can deal with a crap plot as often I am very easy to please when it comes to storylines. I can deal with the lack of Magic and Summons. I can deal with most of the mechanics not being used in the story, but I am not waiting for almost minute long load times.

  • Guin

    They were in the sense that they didn’t feel so goddamned shoehorned into the world that they look like they were abducted from some generic Western game.

  • Guin

    Nyx looks like a generic Westaboo pandering character and I don’t want that to be the standard in my JRPG’s.

  • Mr0303

    I doubt he’ll become a standard in JRPGs. If anything Noctis is the stereotypical protagonist with no personality. All I’m saying is that he seemed like a better character.

  • Snorlaxation

    The game is fun to play, for the most part, but the story itself felt like a bumpy road that ruined my car’s shock absorbers and messed up my alignment.

  • Guin

    Noctis is the rich, cool guy everyone wants to hang out with just because…he’s rich and cool. Just think of it from that angle and he’s not so bad. He’s leagues better than Squall or Tidus.

  • Guin

    Enjoyable characters and addicting game play. Tales series fills both those quotas.

  • Guin

    Just make the FF’s in the spirit of 9 and they’re already heading towards the right direction. Is that freaking too much to ask?

  • Mr0303

    Yeah, yeah it’s the artificial coolness trope in anime. I’m quite familiar with it.

    “He’s leagues better than Squall or Tidus.” – talk about a low bar.

  • Guin

    It’s not like the rest of the cast are any better. And you can’t tell me his type doesn’t exist in real life. “bros” hanging out with that guy cus his dad bought him a sweet ride and is hella good looking to boot.

    And what else do I have to work with? Warrior of Light and Vaan?

  • Waifu Engineering

    Waifus. But this one has none, so pass.

  • 2501

    FF has always been a series of interesting ideas but bad execution, especially with the post-FFVI games. I personally blame SE’s fixation on merchandise and focus groups for this dwindling quality.

  • You are mixing the word “reality” up with “design aethstetic” my friend. It actually feels like the Japanese elements were shoe horned in, not the other way around.

  • Mr0303

    From what I’ve seen in the Brotherhood anime at least they have a personality (somewhat). Noctis seems disengaged with everything around him. Perhaps I’ve seen too many clones of him, which is why I dislike him.

    You are probably right. As far as FF protagonists go he may be one of the better ones. If nothing else people should be happy that he’s not Lightning.

  • ElKonsolero

    IMO the problem is rather that the hardcore FF Fans want something else than Square. Square wants FF to be mainstream and sell as much as possible which of course means going for the lowest common demoninator. They want to tap into the Fallout/Elder Scrolls crowd who is new to consoles (until PS3 western RPGs weren´t that much of a thing on consoles), Can´t blame them but the JRPG Fans turn away from Square in disgust especially since more and more Nichetitles come over from Japan and ATLUS is still going strong (Persona 5 has arguably had more hype than FF XV since announcement).

    I don´t know why Turn-based is such a taboo nowadays for FF. Despite what people claim it´s not outdated you can still add to the system SE did it themselves with World of FF and Braverly Default. ATLUS is getting bigger and bigger and Persona 5 will be the biggest entry in the series up to date. Nihon Falcom is also lurking in the shadows getting more well known.

    I don´t think that SE is doing themselves a favor going after Western RPG Fans because once FF doesn´t have a big name anymore (give it an entry or two) they will turn away from the series and once there gone nobody will be left because the fans who made the series big in the first place will be long gone. I´ll give XV a fair chance but this titles will be “make or break” for the series for me. There are better options out there now.

  • ElKonsolero

    Elder Scrolls has been overrated since Morrorwind which was the last really good one. Also screw Bethesda for what they have done to Fallout.

  • ElKonsolero

    Have you played World of Final Fantasy? That´s the closest Square has come to old FF titles in the last couple of years.

  • ProxyDoug

    Nothing personal, but, where is Tyler?

  • ElKonsolero

    Oh god Vaan, the second most pointless PC in FF History (the most pointless was Penello btw). I hate that git. I don´t get the hate for Tidus at least he had a point in X, Vaan was pointless from the start and doesn´t belong in the Story. Balthier should´ve been the main.

    Oh and might just be my personal taste but i don´t like Cecil once he becomes a paladin, the paladin is just lame.

  • UnpluggedBeta

    Dang, a decade and we end up with this. What a shame.

  • UnpluggedBeta

    Wasn’t Square the company that tried to legally get rid of faqs in order to promote their paid walkthroughs way back in the day?

  • Guin

    The original vision was very Japanese in aesthetic and philosophy. It was only when Tabata took charge that it turned into…this. Despite not being crazy about the guy, had Nomura still be head of the project he would have none of this Westaboo crap.

  • Kengofu

    This is an absolutely fair review. Summons have always been my favorite part of the FF series and quite frankly, these are the coolest versions of the summons in both appearance and execution, but having so little access to them and the absolute randomness that brings them forth is indeed vexing. Magic is straight up fucking dumb in this game, but it can also be crazy helpful in certain areas. Finally, there are 3 optional dungeons I think people doing endgame content should be aware of:

    Pitioss Ruins – This has no enemies and is a series of jump/perspective based puzzles that was clearly designed by the most adderall fueled members of their team.

    A Menace Sleeps in Steyliff (Lv. 82) – It’s 100 floors and they tell you NOTHING about that going in, so set some hours aside.

    A Menace Sleeps in Costlemark (Lv. 99) – It’s 60 floors, but you can’t use items, so prepare some Curecast spells.

  • SiliconNooB

    This is exactly how I felt.

  • Grampy_Bone

    Basch was supposed to be the hero, they changed it to Vaan because they wanted to have a younger protagonist..

  • Malcolm_Ecks

    Honestly, this here is kind of my other point. Whenever people talk about what they want from FF they want the shit that’s been done before. But the same people will shit on other major franchises for not being different enough. I don’t think anyone know what the fuck they want from FF anymore.

  • Grampy_Bone

    Have to disagree. Squall and Tidus both have more personality than Noctis. The story just doesn’t give us any reason to care about his struggles or identify with his character at all.

    The game withholds too much of Noctis’s backstory for flashbacks and dramatic reveals. This is a huge mistake because it prevents the player from identifying with him.

    Its like how in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy we see Peter Quill’s backstory about his mom’s death and abduction from Earth in the first five minutes of the film. If they had withheld this information for some dramatic reveal way later in the story, it just wouldn’t have had the same effect.

    Imagine if FF10 began with Tidus in Spira, and only showed us glimpses of his time in Zanarkand, playing blitzball, and getting swept up by Sin as flashbacks later in the story. His entire character as being from a different world in a strange place wouldn’t have worked.

    Or in FF8, if we didn’t see the opening duel or school scenes between Seifer and Squall until flashbacks during Disc 3. We’ve been fighting this guy for 2 discs of boss battles and only 20 hours into the game do we learn he gave Squall his facial scar and they are hated rivals from school.

    This is the kind of stuff FF15 pulls. They reserve all the most basic backstory and character motivations as dramatic reveals and flashbacks in the story when it’s waaaay too late to care.

  • Malcolm_Ecks

    I really don’t think people know what they want in JRPGs anymore. If FF fans loved turn based combat so much, Persona would be selling as much as the old FF games and The Legend of Heroes wouldn’t be as unknown as it is. And I love Persona, but I also love the fact that FF changed it up and dares to try something new in an industry we constantly critique as stagnant.

    As much as you’ve boosted up ATLUS, you have to admit, they’ve been doing turned based games from the jump and have always been niche, so it can’t be just turned based combat that keeps that kind of JRPG from selling outside of Persona. There’s a bunch of companies that make what I’m calling “Yesteryear Games” that cater to audiences who want to play games like FF Tactics, but not FF Tactics. Games like FF9 but not FF9. And its not like turn based FF games don’t happen, like FF13. I think the JRPG crowd is super diverse and unfortunately the people that frequent this site are just super salty about any Western influences in their games. The game has flaws sure, but when compared to the majority of games today, its still a pretty solid title. Not being another 90s nostalgia trip should not be a knock against it. I love tuen based RPGs, but there’s so many of them made today that the niche is kinda of saturated, and thanks to them being ( in a lot of cases) budget titles or ports from 90s JRPGs that never hit NA, it furthers the feeling of an overdone kind of game. I’d rather FF try to do something unusual rather than be yet another of the same kind of JRPG that 90s babies love, and I’m a 90s baby.

  • ElKonsolero

    Heard the same rumor about Balthier to be humble. The thing is Vaan for me has literally no reason to be in the game, same with Penello. Outside of the first 2-5 hour “tutorial” to get to know the world, both add nothing to the game. Well it doesn´t matter for me anyway, FF XII is by far (for me) the worst one i´ve ever played, i loath that game with a passion.

  • ElKonsolero

    Well FF and Square have build up brandrecognition you can´t compare them with Atlus or Nihon. Persona 4 was the first one of them to really break out in the west and gain an audience. Until then Persona was pretty underground and for example 4 was the first Persona to come out in the EU. Same with the Shin Megami Tensei Main series. Atlus didn´t have the bugdet that Square has both in development and marketing. Nihon Falcom is even worse because the Trails series only came out like 3 years ago on Steam (lets face it pretty much nobody played it on the PSP). Cold Steel is getting good sales in term of how unknown they are.

    You can´t really take FF13 as an example, i thought it was alright certainly no highpoint of the series but the game had way to many flaws. But the combat system was a strong point of the game (with a few slight tweaks it could´ve been on paar with former ones). The game also sold like sliced bread.

    I don´t mind western influence in games. Heck my favourite game of all time is Wild Arms a RPG with kind of a western szenario.

    Let´s face it FF Games these days don´t have the same quality standards as in the PS1 era. It started slowly going downhill with X. And yes XV is outselling every FF to date but it also has 10 years hype behind it. XIII also sold like crazy and was fastly shunned by gamers. Might be that XV is a “make or break” for many because i see a lot of people bitching about the VII Remake and not everyone is only unhappy with the change of the combat system. I don´t think “Yesterday games” is a fair term, those games are just not necessarly the mainstream RPG genre on consoles anymore. Could be we se a revival in the next 10 years when everybody´s sick of westerntype RPG could also not be.

  • Malcolm_Ecks

    I think FF’s brand name recognition does stretch miles past the conventional JRPG. It has 2 successful MMOs and mainstream entries and since 10 there’s been major changes in the combat system each time.

    As to your point about the FF franchises quality during the PS1 era, its a bit rose tinted/member berries influenced because they were most people’s first RPG. FF7 is either loved or overacted. FF8 is in the same category with more on the side of overrated. FF9 is a classic but does get overhped. There isn’t some unified reception of FF in any era. Its been a love/hate franchise since 6 to be honest.

    I think “Yesteryear Games” is a fair term. There’s a reason why I would not refer to Persona as one, but would argue that The Legend of Heroes or Citizen’s or Earth are. They bank on the fact that they remind people of a classic 90s JRPG. Looking through the genre on Steam or the Vita shows that.

  • Guin

    In terms of backstory, probably but personality wise Noctis is more palatable for the whole game. One can only handle so many “whatever’s” and “Hahahahaha” till you eject the disc and walk out the door.

  • Guin

    I don’t speak for anyone else but my own, and in my opinion, FF should just stick to the narrative styles, characters and development of the likes of 6 and 9. These things are the bare minimum to make FF great again.

  • TsukuyomiMagi99

    At least Penelo had a nice ass.

  • edge

    Hmm, it’s a fair review, but it’s very hard to call this game a disappointment.
    It’s the first time in over a decade that a new non-online FF game has been released that I actually enjoy. It would be fair to say that this is because final fantasy 13 is the only one that has come out and FF 13 was pretty unappealing.

    People are really upset about lack of waifu, I mean it sucks guy, but ffs I hope that wasn’t your only reason for playing final fantasies.
    I believe sakaguchi actually gave quite a bit of feed back on this game, I haven’t heard anything about him being disappointed in the result, but can’t claim to have tracked anything down.

  • Grampy_Bone

    Well it’s no Final Fantasy 2 or 3, but yeah it’s pretty lousy. Vaan is just a sidekick who has no role in the overall story beyond stealing the nethecite.

  • Grampy_Bone

    The laughing makes sense in the context of the scene. Play any random scene from any game out of context and they look weird.

  • ScarredBushido

    how many sold and also do you know if anyone translated the reviews?

  • Guin

    There’s always an explanation for someone’s actions. Doesn’t mean I’m supposed to like it.

  • The Japanese parts are hands down the weakest

  • Guin

    Then as a JRPG, it fails in that respect. Why not just turn the whole main cast into GTA protags with generic suits and shaved heads?

  • ElKonsolero

    I guess you mean the american versions of IV and VI? If that´s the case i agree with you enjoyed both games. V is also pretty underappreciated imo.

  • ElKonsolero

    Had to genuine laugh at that. You made my day.

  • ElKonsolero

    Fair enough with explaining more your “Yesterday games”. Trails are pretty oldschool (but also really good).

    I just think you can still add to turnbased. Braverly Default/Second, Lost Odyssey, Persona 5. FF XIII had a good combat system imo, with a few tweaks in the right direction it could´ve beem a great combat system.

  • Malcolm_Ecks

    Oh i think you can still add to turned based games. The problem is that with the Yesteryear Games, the stories are not unique enough and are too filled with homages to other established franchises. The problem isn’t that they’re bad games, its that there are too many of them and they’re not original enough.

  • RetroGamer

    I’m having fun with it so far. My biggest complaint so far is that if you just randomly strike out into the wilderness without actively being on a quest, the world seems pretty dull.

  • Chocolate ISISCream

    The ending was very satisfying.

  • EinMugenTenshin

    The story isn’t terrible, as a matter of fact it’s pretty good, but it needs some polish towards the later chapters. If you play it like a normal JRPG and explore everything, then it won’t be as noticeable. They’ve said they’ll fix this, where chapter 13 is the pillar/most obvious of this, while chapter 14/the final is great in bringing it back for epic final fights and omg moments.

    Overall the game if brilliant and next tier in my book, and I wouldn’t use the minor hiccups as argumentation to not buy the game. If you like JRPGs this is a must buy.

  • Grampy_Bone

    No, I was referring to the original NES/Famicom games, Final Fantasy 2 and 3, saying they were lousy games and FF15 is at least better than they are.

  • Sati Zakito

    All the good stories are already TOLD???
    FF XVI needs another approach.
    BUT HEY! HALF the game is very good! no is not a total waste.

  • Miguel Angel Opazo Arancibia

    It’s another Metal Gear 5 TPP then.
    I assume that when a videogame feels rushed and unpolished it’s because it was rushed. Period.
    Seems like the stockholders were concerned about ROI so the suits arranged for the game to be finished, packaged and distributed ASAP.

  • ElKonsolero

    Haven´t played FF 1 or 2 yet (will get to it eventually). III felt really outdated when i played it some years ago (the DS remake). I´m not very fond of switching jobclasses in FF games and the characters seems rather bland. Then again i played through the game and you could still see the basic which made the later FF games great. In XII nothing worked for me it´s the first FF i outright quit because i simply had no fun with it (after around 30 hours which is like what 20% of the game?). I really tried to like this game but so much didn´t feel right to me from the characters (i only liked Balthier and Basch was alright), to the stupidity of the licence board, to the combat system , to the story being a rip-off of Star Wars.

    XIII solely gets a passing grad from me because XII was so much worse imo (XIII is still not a good FF though don´t get me wrong).

    Square tried something else with XII (and sure it had it´s fans who are happy for the remaster coming out) but this game failed on every level possible in my mind. Adding to the insult SE stated that Ivalice was the world of Vagrant Story (a game which is like) a totally different setting and afaik nobody has ever seen prove of it. They just claim it because some people worked on both games.

  • Obbliglol

    I disagree so far (apart from Titan, no idea how to summon him) but I’m currently at Chapter 8, so I’ll have to see how the “second half” pans out. It’s a 9/10 so far in my book, fishing is great, the dungeons are fantastic (that dungeon banter is god-tier), it’s so refreshing to be able to go and fight the level 54 Midgardsomr if I want, or go try and complete the Canals dungeon if I want. Those Royal Arms aren’t gonna find themselves~

    Story is a bit uneven, you’re right there. I’ve seen Lunafreya like twice. I know it’s not really the solution, and I’m not making excuses, but at least the DLC seems to promise to patch that up a bit. Makes me wonder what the game will look like in 18 months time – maybe even on PC.

    Now, back to internet blackout so I can complete the damn game.

    (Hearty kek at giving this a lower score than SO5 though. Different reviewers, I know, but c’mon.)

  • machariel00

    Yeah it really sucks especially for me when I would very, very rarely rest at a camp fire because I was the 1.5 or 2.0 xp gain from a motel or hotel.