Thoughts on the game 12 hours in
Right off the bat let me say that I’m loving my time with Final Fantasy XV. The world is incredible, the combat is fun and the enemies and quests are varied.
Final Fantasy XV is a sequel that is, in their own words;
“A Final Fantasy for fans and first-timers.”
Right from the get-go it’s apparent how true this is, along with the influence of western role playing games and modern society.
What’s old is new
There are amazing little touches in the game and throwbacks to the older games in enemies, stickers for you cars, the names of objects and characters and more.
This is a very unique Final Fantasy game. It’s open world, but you are encouraged to travel from quest to quest in a linear fashion by hopping into your real-world inspired car, the Regalia, and letting one of your companions drive you there for minutes at a time. Or you can call a Chocobo up and head off road.
I don’t mind the car trips and appreciate I can fast travel back to most places. When heading on the road in my ever changing Regalia, I flick through the radio stations, turn the music up and browse the net on my phone (IRL, not in game). It is fantastic that old Final Fantasy soundtracks can be purchased at shops in the world. Every now and then the characters will chat about the world or what’s coming up when driving, although this is few and far between.
The combat is active, not turn based. You need to rest by making camp or renting a room, there are dialogue options at times and money is quite hard to come by and has real value.
Then there are the meals. I won’t say anything more about the love for food in the game, instead I’ll say go and read JIN & JASE ON THE FOOD OF FINAL FANTASY XV.
The travelling pop band
I really like the characters, although I don’t think that feeling will be universal. You’ve got the protagonist, Prince Noctis, who seems really bratty right at the start, but pretty early on you see that he is really a nice guy who is happy to go out of his way (if you so choose) for the common folk (while the world is falling down).
Ignis is your more serious travelling companion who does the majority of the driving and all the cooking. Try and drive at night when the more dangerous monsters lurk about and Ignis will let you know what he thinks about that! Gladiolus is the muscle of the group and will step in and go ahead of Noctis if he thinks there is danger. Then there is Prompto, who is sort of the comic relief. He documents the journey by taking random photos that you get to check out whenever you rest. Prompto is the man and has the best dialogue (so far).
The four main characters stand out in their capital attire. The people you come across when roaming outside of the capital are dressed pretty much like you’d see people dressed when out at the shops. This is with the exception of Cidney, who seems to have been designed with cosplay in mind. She is a fun character though and develops a nice relationship with the group. She even joined us around the dinner table in one of the rest cut scenes, which was a really cool touch.
As a numbered Final Fantasy game, it is surprising to see an active time battle system rather than a turn based one. It did not take long at all to work out the mechanics of battle and I’m enjoying combat encounters, whether taking on little imps or battling giant monsters.
I’m playing the game with “wait mode” on, which pauses the game when not moving in battle, giving you a chance to pick and choose your targets and identify weaknesses more easily. Not exactly turn based, but closer to it.
Experience points can be spent to level up the characters and there are many combat options you develop as the game goes on to mix things up.
I particularly love the combos and chain moves Noctis and friends pull off amidst battle. It would be nice if the dialogue was varied though (I’m sick of hearing Prompto say “Oh hello, opening”).
I’ve spent 12 plus hours with the game, but I’ve really spent 14 hours with Final Fantasy XV. This is because immediately before playing the game I watched Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, which is what everyone most definitely must do. This is a movie that shows what happens right before the game and what is going on in the capital pretty much through until the end of the first chapter.
Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is required viewing to have a connection to what goes on beyond the set of four characters you experience the story with.
Story so far
Since the game’s release, clips from Kingslaive have been added in, but with no dialogue as the voice actors are different (for some bizarre reason). Even with the dialogue though, it really wouldn’t make much difference as they are quite short snippets and don’t flesh out much more of the story.
The story is quite disjointed, but makes sense. The characters are awesome though and they share a great relationship and have fun and interesting interactions with each other.
Where in other Final Fantasy games we learn the story along with the characters, Final Fantasy XV has the player getting information and background filled in as the game is played. The characters know much more about the world than the player does. I find the familiarity with which new information and characters are introduced to be charming at times, but often poorly executed. I get that these characters have lived their whole life before the events of the story I’m playing, but sometimes there seems to be a level of assumed knowledge that draws me out of the game.
I’ve really been enjoying the main quest story and the side missions. The game is all voice acted, superbly. Just don’t look at the characters lips if playing the game in English as the lip syncing is way off.
Bumps in the road
With a game world as large and open as Final Fantasy XV, it’s understandable that there will be a few bugs here and there. I’ve been stuck in between trees, had slowdown, the game has frozen on me (only once) and I have been in a battle with creatures who were over a mile away from me.
All these are not turn offs and besides the one restart because of a freeze, haven’t stopped me from having fun for too long.
There are design decisions though that make me scratch my head. Mainly, only the active quest marker shows up on your mini-map. It will show quests you can start, but will not indicate characters you can speak with to complete a quest.
Also, there really should be the option to change to metres and kilometres. There are only three countries in the world that don’t use the metric system (aka: International System of Units), so why there isn’t an option to change is baffling.
Final Review to come
Since starting this impressions of Final Fantasy XV article I’ve actually put in another 7 hours into the game and have progressed another 3 chapters (it’s been awesome, but hasn’t influenced anything written here). I’ll update this to a final review upon completion.
Jase from VERSUS PLAYER finished the game in about 29 hours and skipped most of the side quests. I’ve been going hard on the side quests, especially those for Cidney as I want to improve my ride (and for other reasons that are a bit spoilerish).
You can hear Jase talking about how much he loved this game in our podcast episode GOTY Roundup, Ya Filthy Animal.
*All photos taken randomly in my game by Prompto.