DFTG Reviews Final Fantasy XV – Worth the Wait? FULL REVIEW

Final Fantasy is a franchise that first began back in 1987 and has been going strong ever since. Fans around the world have been anxiously awaiting Final Fantasy XV’s release and it is safe to say that gamers went nuts when waiting to see what the latest title would bring. The franchise itself is known best for the characters that force players to fall in love with their progression and become swept away with each story’s evolution. Though this latest title differed drastically in certain ways from its predecessors, Prince Noctis and his boy band, er … I mean, group of friends, still had a charismatic quality attached to them by the bond that is witnessed throughout the game. Pair that with a stunning story, and we have ourselves a winner.

The story itself is one rich with side quests, companionable hunts, and startling trials that Noctis must face in Eos. The open world immersion that FFXV guarantees plenty to do for the player while offering up challenges and means to make the characters stronger and closer than ever. The journey the boys go through throughout the story definitely gives fans of the series a level of appreciation that can be felt increasingly throughout their adventures.

XV starts out on a hilariously realistic note: pushing a dud of a car to a repair shop when everything goes to shit. We’ve all been there, or at least – know someone who has. The purpose of the road trip is to follow Noctis on his way to reunite with his childhood friend to whom he is engaged. The political marriage is in place to unite the two families in a time of war. It wouldn’t be a very thrilling story if everything went according to plan. Shortly after the gang embarks on this quest, news reaches the group that Noctis’ father, King Regis, was murdered by his fiance’s father in a bid for power. The cut scene showcasing this betrayal was brutal, breathtakingly beautiful, and infuriating. Prince Noctis finds himself elevated to position of King and must find his way to individual tombs housing powerful weapons from his ancestors to fulfill his duty to his people. Having lost everything back home, Noctis must rely heavily on his friends, those still loyal to the crown, and on his own inner strength. Though a bit slow at certain times, the overall path that the player finds themselves on is one that is well worth the journey.

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… the more fundamentally mundane features of the gameplay make the experience more relatable while still maintaining a magical tale.”

What sets apart Final Fantasy XV from previous titles is how realistic it is. Not only graphically speaking, but the fact that there are so many different elements that stack up within the storyline that players can relate to in everyday life. Though it may seem monotonous in comparison to some of the more fantastical titles in the franchise, the inclusion of learning how to make (delicious looking) meals, sleeping in crummy hotels, diners, taking selfies, and much more add a realism that was appreciated. From the car mechanics, to the chefs, to the Boston-sounding Dino – the more fundamentally mundane features of the gameplay make the experience more relatable while still maintaining its reputation as a magical tale.

 The one thing I will make mention to regarding the level of realism implemented in FFXV is that there is a definite divide between your group and the rest of the world that is really never acknowledged in game. Though it is suspected the reason being is because the fancy car, studly clothes, and outlandish hairstyles are all expected of royalty – it still makes it slightly awkward when sitting in a diner or speaking with characters such as Cindy, the mechanic, who are more grounded as “common folk.” A joke here or there to acknowledge how much your party sticks out would have made the two contrasting tones of “us vs. them” a little more blended and less awkwardly obvious.

 

Let’s talk about the car, because the Regalia deserves a sizable mention. The Regalia is an incredibly conspicuous car used for travel by the party that is fully customizable. From the interior, exterior, wheels, and custom paint jobs – why not make your main mode of travel completely yours? As a sucker for customization, I had a blast picking different themes for my ride. A sleek white exterior with a rich purple interior? Oh, yeah – I was down. Traveling in style: because when the world around you is going to hell, at least you have your ride. And  you can make it fly! Come on, if you’re not at least a little impressed with that – I don’t know what to do for you.

The latest to hit the Final Fantasy series is incredibly welcoming in its open-world exploration. Side quests upon side quests highly encourage players to venture out into the unknown for hunting expeditions, lost and found missions, and more. Speak to everyone! There are plenty of stops along the way in-game that comes with a plethora of townspeople to engage with for a multitude of ways to gain experience and level your group. From epic hunting missions to take down beasts terrorizing the common people, to hunting for gems, dog tag finding, or even menial grocery shopping runs – the many ways to level up and explore these beautiful terrains are seemingly endless. Because with your father’s murder and your people in militarized terror, it is important to go find that green choker or bronze bracelet, you know?

Veterans of the series know that it’s the party that makes the game. A solid NPC goes far in the player’s enjoyment throughout the story. As the internet likes to joke, the band of ‘brothers’ is more reminiscent to a 90s boy band than anything else, but the playful atmosphere is charming in its own way. Prompto, with hilariously snarky side will always be found equipped with his camera to commemorate the journey while taking some seriously epic selfies. Gladiolus is clearly the muscle of the group with his endearing loyalty to Noctis and dedication to always being on top of his game, he very quickly became a favourite of mine. Ignis … ah, Ignis. The “nerd” of the group, with his stoic nature and seriously impressive analytical skills. The three of them all band together to uplift Noctis throughout his trials and the camaraderie is palpable throughout every moment of the game.

Final Fantasy XV is a game for both veterans of the series as well as newcomers. Background knowledge of characters or mechanics is not paramount to the enjoyment of the latest addition to the franchise.”

Each member of the group has their time to shine as well as their own special skill that makes them unique to the party (seriously, Ignis can cook like nobody’s business!) but the levity ends there. With such a diverse group of characters, each with their own distinct personality, there is no show of evolution that is typically depicted in the Final Fantasy series. Was it a deal breaker? No, absolutely not – but it would have been nice to see more of a spotlight on the individuals as more than just cliche stand-ins.

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Let’s shift gears a bit and talk about the combat. There is definitely plenty of time for players to feel comfortable with the in-game mechanics. The tutorial in the beginning is incredibly helpful when learning how to land those combos as well as familiarizing the player with basic, and complex, movement such as the warp. During the first few chapters, the missions aid players in learning how to utilise strategy when approaching different enemy types. Often before engaging in a fight, a key player such as Gladiolus or Ignis will speak up as to what the best method would be for taking on a foe. Sneak attack from behind, or let the tank that is Gladiolus take front and center? You decide.

The overall combat style is extremely fluid and not mechanical like it has been in certain previous titles. Movement, attack speed, interchangeable strategy – all of these work together to create an extremely enjoyable player experience. Switching out a heavy weapon for a magical ability, for instance, was something that I thoroughly enjoyed when facing varying enemies. Using lightening on foes on high ground was far more satisfying than it probably should have been, don’t judge. One noticeable difference in FFXV is that unlike previous titles, an AI takes the calculation out of managing the squad. Where as in the past, the player controls the steps of those in their party, FFXV utilizes a computer system to leave the player able to focus on their own abilities. This decision was met with differing reactions: some loved it, some hated it. Personally, the fluidity and constant motion of the combat kept me captivated, the loss of NPC control didn’t seem like a negative in my mind.

Different weapon types, magical abilities, warp attacks, and god-like Astrals are all apart of the interchangeable components of any fight. You can even swap out mid combat, which was incredibly convenient when dealing with some of the ancestral weapons that actually burn through HP simply by using them. Powerful, yes – but whether or not the cost is worth it is up to the player. That, and how many potions can be currently found in the inventory.

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What are Astrals exactly? Astrals are used in combat when the player needs a little more “oomf” to their offense. These beings are incredibly useful when they can be summoned, which isn’t always a guarantee. Plot twist. These powerful creatures are humongous as they can quickly overpower enemies with both their size and their abilities. In true FF style, the show is always impressive when the player can successfully summon them. There are four Astrals in total and each have their own specific talents that are useful in battle. Not only do they have their own talents, but apparently – their own schedules. Just because Noctis can summon one, doesn’t promise that the necessary Astral will appear. On the brink of death during an incredibly trying fight to the death? Nothing breaks the spirit more than to make the move to pull that useful card only to find that – whoops, they’re not home. A controller or two may have been thrown during my playthrough, I can neither confirm or deny this.

The magical abilities can be crafted to enhance with potions to make for one hell of an attack. The important components regarding magic include Ice, Fire, and Lightning. Each aspect is extremely powerful but make sure you are careful when in a combat zone: your party is susceptible to damage if their are too close to the spell zone. Annoying? Yes – but also kind of ingenious. The “friendly fire” aspect to a spell gone awry gives yet another strategic element to keep the player engaged in what is happening onscreen.

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As with its predecessors, XV utilizes the Ascension Grid menu to upgrade varying degrees of player mechanics. From AI behaviours, to upgrading Noctis’ skills, the Ascension Grid is an integral part of progressing through the story at the most optimal potential. The Grid is massive, so making the decision as to where points will be allocated can be kind of daunting, especially at first. Some of the more passive qualities seen in the grid can also help with acquiring money and XP at a faster rate. Regardless on what the player deems the most necessary for upgrading, it is important to not let those points go to waste. Every improvement helps when strengthening up for the big fight.

Using the Ascension Grid and the Regalia aren’t the only ways to customize the playing experience. There are items that can be used to customize stats, like any good ‘ol RPG. There are some items that can be used to get on a companion’s good side, especially when it comes to food items. Weapons are less varied in the game, which was a little disappointing, though the ancestral weapons are extremely powerful which lessens the sting a bit. The one thing that you can’t customize, which was a major let down (though it has never been a huge focal point), is that despite there being an attire menu, there isn’t really any attire available. You have four outfit options and even that is being too generous because two of them are just the same style, just sans jacket. There is a third/sixth outfit, but you don’t get it until the end of the game. As a fan of customization, and how much fun I had designing my Regalia, it was a bit of a let down to being stuck in the same skin throughout the whole game. And I only used the one, because the second option was just ugly and completely contrasted with the character in a really distracting way.

With this title being so incredibly expansive, it is easy to get lost in the side quests and hunting missions. The game may seem a little daunting at first with how much there is to do but once the general rhythm gets flowing, the story speeds up exponentially. This becomes even more apparent in the second half of the storyline. Before you know it, the slow sluggish crawl starts gaining momentum rapidly and then poof, you’ve beat the game. That’s OK, though – there is plenty of fun to be had even after the credits finish rolling. Dungeons, and monsters, and quests – Oh my!

Overall, the game is stunning. fans of the franchise will notate the refreshing intricacies added to liven up an already adored franchise while newcomers will be floored with the expansive beauty that Eos has to offer. Between the smooth combat graphics, hilarious banter, realistic components, and a mind-blowing ending: Final Fantasy XV is a title that deserves to be given a chance. Fans have waited for 10 painfully long years and we here at DFTG couldn’t get enough. Sporadic customization, stuck NPC evolution, and changed fighting mechanics aside, this title was enjoyable through and through. Visually and musically stunning,the latest Final Fantasy was definitely worth the wait. You can pick up your copy of this epic addition right here.

FINAL SCORE:

9/10

Sound off with your own thoughts on the latest addition to the series in the comment section below! Need some more FF in your life? Check out what else is going on in the Final Fantasy-verse:

Liana Ruppert577 Posts

With an arguably unhealthy obsession with Mass Effect, Liana has been an avid collector of gaming and comic memorabilia for well over two decades. With a passion for writing, gaming, and comics - she is currently working as Editor-in-Chief for the revival of Prima Games, with previous managing editor experience with several gaming publications including ComicBook.com, THQ, and other outlets. She is also the Co-Owner and Managing Editor for DFTG. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, as well as several Facebook communities online.

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