First Impression: Final Fantasy XV


Under recommendation from a friend, I’ve decided to dip into this Final Fantasy XV, before I’ve finished with Uncharted 4 or Fallout 4. I have been itching for a good anime-style RPG adventure lately, and I’m usually one of the people who are happy with FF when it comes out with a new type of action system. I picked it up on sale for the PS4 from Amazon. I kind of wish I could have it on PC, but no matter. They call this “a Final Fantasy for fans and first-timers.” Let’s see what it’s about.

I love the style of Final Fantasy opening menus where there’s beautiful emo classical music playing, and fantastic art. I also noticed that, you can dive right into an “Open Combat” mode instead of proceeding to a full game; that’s hopefully a sign that the action in the game shouldn’t get too boring or repetitive. However, the Open Combat mode is the only thing you can really access before the full game install finishes, so maybe it’s just there because it has to be. It took about 15 minutes to finish installing itself, so I messed around with options a little until I could get a story started.

Pretty

Being a shell of the man I once was, I’m playing the game for now on a crappy 40” LCD TV from years ago, but even I can tell how epic these graphics are. Movement/combat looks great, fur-shading is improved, and the game retains that characteristic epic look that FF fans expect in this generation of gaming consoles. I am probably not getting the full effect given my TV, but I’m definitely impressed by their attention to detail.

Sound is strong as well, with a classic FF-style soundtrack, and plenty of ambient sound effects. I do really hate the voice of the small creature that guides you through the game, however; it’s annoying.

Flowing Combat

We’re no longer in the era of FF games where you pick actions from a menu and watch. But instead of being directly like a han-n-slash type of feel, you chain your attacks and defend by holding the action button and using directional cues to modify the chains. Timing is still crucially important for defensive purposes, but it feels less like smashing buttons.

For those who want a little less of an action feel, there is an option to enable “wait mode.” Basically, this mode will really slow down the game when you are completely stagnant, so that you can have more time to decide what to do next. It doesn’t stop time completely, so you can’t sit there forever. It also requires you to be still in order to activate, so you can’t use it to slow others down and keep yourself going, you darn cheater.

Shout out to Square-Enix for using the phrase “its warpin’ time” when they start the tutorial section that explains how to throw and warp to your weapons. Cool combat feature, too. However, it requires MP and if you run out, you become useless. You can recover MP by warping up to safe spots to hang from, but it can be pretty devastating to your chances if you run out of MP where you can’t recover. Sadly, magic spells are more like disposable weapons in this game; they are strong and pretty, but limited by the MP system and the way they are classified like items instead of unlimited weapons. Watch out; magic hurts your friends in this one.

Story

At the beginning of the game, you have access to a library of lore information to get an idea of the present situation. It’s a little tedious to read, especially when you are playing on a weak TV like mine. However, FF nerds like me will want to take this chance to learn as much as you can about the story before really diving in.

The story is a major reason I keep with these Final Fantasy games. This one is presented with pretty good voice-acting from what I have seen so far, but there is a bit of a drop off in the quality of acting from a couple of the supports. In the early hours, it seems like this game is going to focus a lot on the group of friends, almost to the point of making the story lacking, or disjointed. But I need more time with this before I really judge it.

Technical stuff

The game plays very smooth, but I found movement to be slightly sluggish. The loading times are pretty bad, but the world is really detailed in the small bit of exploration I’ve done. I think people are going to have a problem with the combat camera, though, and the big change to magic use makes it hard to assess balance. There are also small issues with transitions, both in the story and the gameplay. You can tell that they dragged on too long while making this game, but the result also yields plenty of impressive moments to make up for the little complaints.

What’s next?

I likely won’t finish the game quickly, because there are plans for some interesting DLC, and I would rather not have to re-play the whole game just to see the real effect of some of the DLC. However, I won’t wait too long because this game rocks from what I can tell. I would consider myself a bigger fan of the old fighting systems that felt more “tactical,” but that might be because I can’t play video games as fast as these young whipper-snappers these days. So when they say that this Final Fantasy is for newbies and long-time fans, I have to agree. At least for now.

UPDATE 2/18/17: I eventually played through this, but the game lost a lot of the promise it had at first. Most of all the controls were generally sluggish and frustrating through many sequences. I decided not to draw up an in-depth final opinion because I ended up just rushing to get through to the end of the story. I did find the story to be touching, though.

Here is the Wikia for my true nerds

FFXV on metacritic

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