Nearly a month ago, I sat here waiting for the postman to arrive. The package containing 10 years of hopes and dreams. I knew there was no way it could live up to the expectation. For the last 3 years I’ve been trying to put myself off it, preparing for the inevitable disappointment. But as the date slowly became a reality I started to let that slip. It was actually going to come out, after delays and delays, it was finally time.
I started it up, waited for the day one patch. Something that didn’t exist when this game was announced. I launched the game, and was taken into the world of Eos. I couldn’t believe it. For the first time, in almost seven years, I was playing an actual new numbered Final Fantasy game. I was still doing my GCSEs when the last one came out, and what a disappointment that was. I still put weeks of my life into it though.
I’m a different person now. Ten years have passed. I first watched the trailer, in silence, in the school library. My friend showed me it, along with a couple of others. I don’t speak to any of them anymore. Time drifts forever onward. We have waited so long for this, it’s important to us. Final Fantasy fans know how important this game is in general, perhaps the most significant release of the year.
For the first couple of hours, I was loving every second. Yes, the combat is overly simplified, so you can get through most of the battles with just holding one button. But it looks cool. Watching Noctis fly around, swiping. Everything in real time, long gone are the slow paced fights of yesteryear. This is a new system for a new Final Fantasy. Something every fan expects at this point. The world felt massive. Looking at the map, and seeing how far I’ve been and how much is left to explore. It’s almost daunting.
And then problems start to creep in. The car is on rails. Which isn’t a problem, but my God it’s so incredible boring watching the auto driving. There is no point in manual, unless the game forces you. They advertised this as a road trip between four friends and their tightening bond. But in reality it’s watching a car drive through mostly desert, slowly turning at the corners. I know it wouldn’t have made sense to have a full speed, weaving between traffic, crashing into barriers, thrill ride. But this seems stupid. The car is a disappointment, and there is no reason not fast travel to anywhere you have already visited.
The world is massive, and it feels great to explore it, but that doesn’t last very long. It’s pretty empty. There are battles to be fought, items to be found and hidden dungeons to be traversed. But there is also a lot of setting way points, and running in a straight line, since the car can only get you so far, or jumping on a chocobo and riding forward, not really feeling part of the world. Just trying to get to the next objective.
The story of a Final Fantasy game is one of the main reasons most of us play them. It’s probably the second thing, after the combat system, that we look for. The potential is there in XV, but it never comes through. I’m not going to give spoilers, so don’t panic. Some of the characters’ motives don’t seem to be consistent. There were a couple of bits in the game where I was taken out of the story because the characters seem forced. There is a massive tension between a couple of the main characters towards the end of the game that just straight up is unjustified and stupid. It seems to be put in there to force tension in the story, but nothing up to that point builds to it. It just happens out of the blue, and I felt lost.
There are tons and tons of side quests in this game. Perhaps too many, for a couple of reasons. They are very similar. Grab this, kill them, collect this item. Bring it back and there you go. They get boring. I don’t know how many there are in total, but it’s too many. I’ve finished with the game for now, and I have loads of them left. In a way that’s good, but I got so bored doing them. The other reason why there are too many is that there is no balance between the story content and the side quests. I started by doing them as they turned up, and at one point in Chapter 3 I became so over levelled I had to stop completely. The game is way too easy. I didn’t see one game over screen until after I finished the story and went back to clean up. I had to let myself die with plenty of items to heal, just to see if it does game over. It’s disappointing that there is never a real threat in the whole game. I wasn’t buying tonnes of items, I just found them and never saw any real danger. There wasn’t one point where I thought I was going to game over.
I have a lot of negatives for this game, but there are some positives as well. The game is gorgeous. Simply stunning. Running through the world was mesmerising. An amazing feeling, it takes a lot to completely take your out of reality and submerge you into a world of full immersion but XV does it. The fighting is really fast paced as well, which feels great. some of the fights, while lacking in danger, felt epic. The music is stunning, which is as expected from a Final Fantasy game.
I enjoyed this game, but as expected it didn’t live up to the hype. While I know the game was pretty much scrapped and restarted so the development cycle is closer to 4 years than 10, but that doesn’t mean we refreshed our wait. Only the future will tell if this game stands up next to Final Fantasy VII or becomes another XIII. It’s way too hard to tell, especially since it’s hard to distance it from the wait. Maybe in a year or two I will replay it and feel more detached, but for now the game is Okay, but that’s it.
6/10 – Good.
Something I wanted to point out, but not in the main review was that Square Enix has stated they will be updating the game for free. Enhancing the god awful chapter 13, and adding cutscenes to make the story more cohesive. While this is good, it seems like they knew it was lacking and wanted to avoid another delay. For me this seems like too little too late. I probably won’t go back and play it just to see the differences, but it’s nice knowing that when I do go back they will be there.