Final Fantasy XV is now out and while I’m not what I would call a Final Fantasy fan, you could say I’m more a bystander who enjoys some of the franchise’s titles. I especially enjoyed those which appeared on the PS One, to which I say are the last of the good FF games; Final Fantasy X was ok but everything after that I found ‘Meh’ or bloody awful (yes, Final Fantasy XIII, im looking at you, you piece of ungodly trash!). So, in my own opinion, there hasn’t been a good FF since three console generations ago. we are talking almost 20 years here folks.
This latest installment has been in development for over 10 years and when I saw previews and also heard the development time, I got worried. It didn’t look like a traditional Final Fantasy, and I couldn’t help but think of things in context of a certain Duke Nukem game that was long in development. was the outcome just as I feared?
The game story centres around four young men: Prince Noctis, Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto from the kingdom of Insomnia on the planet of Eos. The habitat is very Earth-like, and a mix of East meets West culture for the most part. The protagonist and his party are travelling to the nation of Accordo’s capital city of Altissia where Noctis and his fiancé Lunafreya are to be married.
While on the road (in their snazzy looking car I might add), news of betrayal from the city of Niflheim who have stolen the Crystal from the Nation of Lucis, and also claim to have killed King Regis, Lunafreya and even our hero Noctis, have seized the city of Insomnia. Crownsguard commander Cor Leonis pleads with Noctis to retrieve the weapons of Lucil and take his place upon the throne.
The gameplay has changed since earlier games in the Final Fantasy series, from a turn-based RPG to a more strategy hack-and-slash style where you use different moves and magic against your opponents, while freely moving around them. You mostly use melee weapons – such as swords, lances and spears – but you can also use ranged rifles and pistols by switching up during gameplay on your D-pad. There’s also a quest element where you can also pick up items to give to Cid in Hammerhead to upgrade and customise certain weapons.
During your travels in the vast open world you can find magic spots where you draw and refill your magic, much like drawing magic In Final Fantasy VIII, but not tedious. You can craft your magic to make it useable to members of the team and also specify the potency. Each time you craft magic it will only allow you to cast that spell three times; you could put all your fire together to make a super strong formula, or you could make weaker variants.
Items for your battles like elixirs, phoenix downs, potions etc are found quite easily but not enough that there is surplus, and these items can be bought from varying shops you encounter on your travels. The shops are also quite interesting with weapons being sold from the back of trucks and diners where you gain access to quests in what feels like the most surreal American Road Trip ever. Some of the shops are the equivalent of garages, where you can buy soundtracks from previous FF titles to listen to on your car stereo.
Camp points are set up across the map where you can set up a camp for you and your party to help recover, much like the old ‘Tent’ item but only available in specific areas. You are encouraged to rest regularly, as it is only after resting that your characters level-up as your XP is only accumulated until this point. This proves an interesting system, where you can choose to camp for free during which you are intermittently rewarded with interactions with the characters and Ignis will cook you up a meal providing temporary stat boosts. The alternative option is to stay at a hotel or motel with little-to-no character interaction, but the offers of multiplying the xP you’ve built up helping you to level faster. The latter option, although appealing, does not give any temporary status boosts. However, you can visit the local diner for a little pick-me-up in that department, but at a cost of course.
Go to page 2 for more thoughts on the game.