“Final Fantasy XV” is a case of highest highs and lowest lows. Despite drawbacks of convoluted, vague storytelling and some unfulfilling distractions, the new direction of the battle system and RPG elements are certainly unique and are sending the “Final Fantasy” series in a promising new direction.
“Final Fantasy XV” is an open world action-RPG that follows the story of Noctis and his three friends as they travel across the land of Eos to reclaim the kingdom of Lucis. King Regis, Noctis’ father, sends Noctis to Altissia for his arranged marriage with Lunafreya for the purpose of the unification of peace between Lucis and the empire of Niflheim.
The day before the wedding the kingdom of Lucis is overthrown by the domineering technological military of Niflheim. King Regis is deposed and murdered and the sacred Crystal that powers Lucis is locked away. Noctis must find the weapons of the old Lucian kings and commune with the gods of Eos to reclaim his throne and protect the crystal from the Niflheim Empire.
The beginning of “Final Fantasy XV” starts with one quote: “A Final Fantasy for fans and first-timers.” This certainly rings true, and fans of the “Final Fantasy” series will simultaneously realize the familiarity but also the rapid departure from what the series used to be.
The turn-based battle systems of previous games are no more; instead they are replaced with a real-time, action-oriented battle system. Noctis and his three friends – Prompto, Ignis and Gladiolus – work together in an active environment where everyone at once is working to defeat enemies. Each party member has their own unique techniques that you can apply to battle sequences to create advantages over your enemies’ weaknesses.
Initially, the active battle system is very basic and most low-level enemies can be defeated by one weapon. As the game goes on and increases in difficulty, it forces the player to strategize more and work with your other party members to succeed.
This new battle system surprisingly works very well in encouraging players to think critically. The system prevents players from just plowing through high health enemies with just relentless attacking, but instead it takes well-timed and well-placed strikes with different kinds of weapons, smart applications of magic and other elements of strategic planning while taking into account enemies’ strengths and weaknesses. This is especially important considering the variety Eos has to offer.
The world of Eos in “Final Fantasy XV” is a sprawling country mixed with a variety of landscapes, vistas, wildlife, outposts, communities, cities and many other aspects that make it feel huge. While it’s worth it alone to simply explore the vast regions of wilderness, there are quests and side quests that exemplify the open world further, though they are not remarkable. Noctis and crew use his car, the “Regalia,” to travel large distances across the open roads.
The problem with the open world in “Final Fantasy XV” is that despite how marvelous it truly is, it doesn’t nearly as often make use of its scale as it should. Many of the side quests are either simple fetch quests or hunting contracts, very few of them are sincere fleshed out side stories that take advantage of the landmark locations of Eos that are aesthetically majestic. Much of the admiration can be made from the Regalia, but that’s the furthest extent of it because most of the driving to and from places becomes very boring after a while.
Another Issue with “Final Fantasy XV” is that in order to truly enjoy the entirety of the lore and full story of the game, there’s a free exterior anime and full-length feature film (sold separately) that you need to watch in order to get the full context why things are happening in the story. It’s an interesting concept, but since these aren’t explained in the full game, it makes the plot even more convoluted than it already is.
“Final Fantasy XV” is a promising direction for the series and is an innovative and enjoyable game overall, but its vague story exceptions and half-baked open world don’t fully justify the new direction and detract from what could’ve been a serious shakeup to the RPG genre as a whole.