Over 10 years have passed since Final Fantasy XV was first announced. Now, the game is not a PS3 exclusive and is available on both the Xbox One and Playstation 4. Is this the best Final Fantasy game ever or is it an epic fail? Will it make diehard Final Fantasy fans happy again? Let’s find out in this review.
Final Fantasy XV’s story is overall decent. It’s nothing too spectacular, but is not horrible either. I enjoyed the mix of fantasy, sci-fi, and Wild West elements. There is a king, prince, his friends and of course lots of talk about crystals. It has a nice size story and does not over exude you with unnecessary fluff and does not drag on. It will take anyone who does not explore or do any of the side-quests about 20-25 hours to complete. Heck, with side-quests, dungeons, and caves, you’ll be tacking on another 30-50 hours onto that total.
Your adventure will begin in an area of vast wastelands and deserts. The protagonist, Noctis Lucis Caelum and his friends (Ignis, Gladiolus, and Prompto) set off on a journey to Altissia. It is at this gorgeous, Oceanside location that Prince Noctis will set sail to marry Princess Luna of Tenebrae. After completing side and main quest missions, you will eventually find out some horrifying events take place.
The news of these events makes its way to Noctis and he is now looking at a new goal. That goal is to claim powerful weapons to help him take back a crystal with great power back from the thieverous emperor. This is when the game really starts to pick up pace.
Final Fantasy XV has many awesome gameplay mechanics. Gone away forever is the turn-based system. Maybe it will come back in some way in Final Fantasy VII Remake, but is yet to be seen in Final Fantasy XV. The game has an active battle system which can also be changed to a wait system (This slows down the battles a little bit). Attacking is more fluid and reliable than the first two demos of Final Fantasy XV. I only felt the button choice a bit odd because attack is usually the square button (Never is it the circle button. Also, square is to dodge/block) in the other hack n’ slash, role-playing games that I am used to. You can change the controls to two other types (There is Type-A, Type-B, and Type-C).
Let’s talk about what you can do exactly in this game. First, you can attack with four different weapons using the D-Pad. You can also upgrade, buy, and sell weapons. The weapon upgrade system requires that you find specific items in order to upgrade the weapons and it works fine. There is magic which is very customizable.
Final Fantasy XV features a great magic creation system where you can use magic energy from the world (mainly at campsites), and combine it with an item (potions, food items, and other materials). Depending on how much magical energy and items that you use, will determine what type of magic attack and how many times you can use it. These magic attacks can be deadly if created and used properly.
Another gameplay mechanic is called linked attacks which you can use your additional characters to attack and follow-up with either another companion attack or use Noctis to attack. This can create a lot of damage. You never feel underpowered unless you do what I did. I was exploring a cave and found a level 52 boss when I was only level 5. It’d be nice if the game would add something like Bloodborne’s Bold Hunter’s Mark which lets you consume it in exchange for taking you back to a light-post checkpoint. It’s not a huge issue, but you have to just make sure you check to see what the dungeon’s level says in the one of the menus.
The next gameplay element that Final Fantasy XV features are summons. These are used much better than Final Fantasy XIII which I think had the worst use of Summons. C’mon, motorcycles and vehicles? Really Square Enix? They are useful and very powerful. I won’t spoil too much more about these big God-like creatures.
How difficult are the enemies and are the AI actually useful? Well, it depends on a couple of things. If you set the game on Easy, it should be extremely easy to get through the game. I played on normal and didn’t have too much difficulty. Your health already has the Regen effect so you’ll always gradually gain back Health and Magic Points. When taking cover (works a little bit better than Persona 5’s cover system), you gain back hp and mp much faster. The AI will attack valiantly, heal and revive one another, and most importantly have your back. This is one of the best that I have seen from a game’s AI characters. When fighting enemies, you may have to use phoenix downs and potions because they can be tough depending on you and your opponent’s level.
The leveling system is fair and quite useful. Think of Skyrim or a more enhanced Final Fantasy X system. You can sort through where you want to use AP and once you earn something new, you’ll unlock more to abilities. It is easy and very useful. I did find it quite odd that you only level up either at the end of a chapter or when you rest. I wish you’d be able to level up more frequently, but it is fine. Depending on where you sleep at, you can earn a boost to your AP (1.2x, 2.0x, etc. to your leveling up).
Speaking of resting, campsites are new to the franchise. When you come across a campsite in your exploration, you will be able to rest for the day/night. When you use a campsite to rest, you can cook a meal using your ingredients (meat, milk, eggs, etc.) to create the most realistic food that I have ever seen in a video game. The food is so beautiful that I wanted to take a photo of it (I took screenshots sometimes), and send it to my friends. You can also buy food and meals at rest stops and diners. Also, when you come across new ingredients or meals, Ignis will write down a new recipe for you to use at a campsite.
Driving a car is another feature that is kind of limiting, but it is a new included feature. Throughout the miles and miles of landscape, you can travel by car, fast travel (Sometimes, doesn’t always work. It also costs you 10 Gil.), chocobo or by foot. I sometimes wish there were less other cars on the road because they can be menacing. For example, I was driving straight and the game automatically keeps you centered so that you don’t drive off the road. There was another care that crashed into someone else. I’m not lying about this either. It happened and was random. So, I crashed into this person in front of me because I wasn’t allowed to go around them.
Cars also have radio music. You can purchase in the game several tracks from past Final Fantasy series’ games too. Customization with Cindy is an option too. It can be limiting at first, but you can find or buy car items and upgrades too. You can change the colors, add decals, and repair the car. Overall, it is a fun feature that you should try out if you get the game.
Side-quests are usually quite easy and allow the player to explore the vast environment with reason and a purpose. I never felt like the side-quests or monster quests were unnecessary. This and being able to interact with new characters was a nice feature and can be rewarding. The quests are an easier way to level up your character.
Finally, the graphics in Final Fantasy XV are a mix bag of fantastic and absolutely the best thing ever! When the game plays the cutscenes, they are the best looking that I have ever seen in a video game (Better than Uncharted 4, The Last of Us, and any PC game out there.). While playing the actual game they look good and there are a lot very interesting features (Check out Digital Foundry for technical specs in the game). For example, the game has a very organic day/night time system.
The framerate never dropped for me on the normal PS4, but the same cannot be said about the PS4 Pro. Just know that it will run fine on the original PS4. Final Fantasy XV does have one issue, crashing. I had the game crash on me once, but then I had two updates and it hasn’t crashed again. Just make sure to save because the auto-save doesn’t save every hour (I lost over an hour of gameplay and had to backtrack). The game is absolutely stunning, but looks better in the cutscenes than the actual gameplay. I think in some moments, The Last of Us or Uncharted 4’s gameplay is actually better than Final Fantasy XV, but in the cutscenes, FFXV blows them out of the water.
Overall, Final Fantasy XV is one of the best games that I have ever played this year. It has a good story, great graphics, and fun gameplay. It feels like an actual Final Fantasy game and not a separate franchise. It stands gracefully above other RPGs and should be a day one purchase.
9/10 – One of the best Final Fantasy Games! A must-own title!