Final Fantasy XV is an epic action RPG that will have you laughing, smiling, frowning and crying. By the end of FFXV I felt like I had lost four of my best friends, a part of what made me me, like I had been the fifth un-named member of this troope. Sometimes, even now, knowing how much I loved the game and appreciated the story, I regret playing it.
If I never played it, I would never have to deal with the loss of finishing it.
Final Fantasy XV is an action RPG that was released in 2016 (2018, if you play on Microsoft Windows) as the newest addition to the epically long Final Fantasy series. The first Final Fantasy was released in 1987, a whopping ten years before I was even born. It’s fairly easy to say I had never played a Final Fantasy game before.
Even after seeing XV in stores, loving the cover and thinking it looked cool, I just never picked it up. I never researched a review and didn’t bother looking it up online. My belief has always been to start everything from the beginning – I would miss out on the story if I joined in at XV (or, that was what I always believed). It wasn’t until July 2018 that I decided to pick it up and again remark how cool it looked. My boyfriend helpfully pointed out that it was a game I would enjoy, and answered my ever-burning question: do I have to know what happened in the other games to play this? Square Enix answered that question in-game, but my boyfriend was nice enough to tell me before I spent my cold-hard cash.
Luckily for me, the game was going out cheap. Even with my poor university student funds, and general scrooge mentality, I managed to buy it. After completing the tutorial which left me a little confused, I jumped straight into the game.
I wouldn’t resurface for another three days.
Instantly, I was drawn in by the music, graphics, and story. The characters looked cool, their hair moved nicely, the music created a great atmosphere, and it seemed like an epic adventure I could get behind. The opening scene draws you into the story, explains the plot and does all the general exposition things. The first scene where you control the character, however, is where things really start happening.
Watching PewDiePie’s playthrough of the opening car scene really ruined it for me. PewDiePie is all about humor and entertaining, that’s true. But I feel like his acting really ruined the scene for its emotional impact. When you play, relish this scene, bask in the slow simplicity, beauty of Florence and The Machine’s song ‘Stand By Me’, the small bickering between the characters and the slow pace that you move. I will forever remember the impact that opening scene left on me, especially once I finished the game.
Final Fantasy XV has everything I could ever want from a game.
If there’s only one game I can recommend you to play for the rest of your life, this would be the game.
I could give you a heartfelt account of everything I ever thought whilst playing the game, and how it’s taken first place in the list of my favourite games, instead I will give you a list of reasons I loved that game (and a couple of bad things). Spoilers ahead!
Things I Loved (pretty much everything)
- Open-World with a Story
Many of my favourite games are RPG’s with open world capabilities with a great story to accompany them. Think Tomb Raider, Uncharted, Assassin’s Creed (earlier versions, at least). Final Fantasy did this excellently. The only complaint I have is that you can’t complete a lot of the mina story tasks without leaving the open-world section, progressing the game. You can return later but it’s slightly different as you travel back in time. Personally, I worked through a lot of open-world (hitting level 50) before I even progressed with the story.
Okay, maybe these guys don’t need their own bullet point. But, it’s Chocobo’s.
I’m no graphics snob, by any means, but even I could tell the graphics in Final Fantasy XV were beautiful. Whilst running around the world might not always look the best, sometimes a few leaves look a bit dodgy, but the characters always look on point. Their clothes, their facial expressions, their hair (oh god, their hair). I wish I had hair this beautiful.
If the graphics in the game looked good, the graphics in the cutscenes were insane. You can watch the FFXV Cutscene movie here, although it’s a devastating 5 hours long. And let me tell you, it’s a hell of a movie. The scenes are beautifully done, the story is artfully crafted and the music just ties it all up in a tiny bow. I spent hours crying, laughing, hoping after watching these scenes.
- The Boys
The characters are the type that grows on you with time. I disliked one at the beginning and liked a different one, and by the end that had flipped. The team dynamics, the bickering, the action; it created an epic adventure team that I was sad to see go when I finished the game. The reason this is called the boys and not just characters is because of Luna. We will touch on this later.
- Fighting System
There’s two ways to fight in this game. I stayed with the original settings, but you can change it to “wait mode”, where you freeze time and analyse your opponents, finding out what spells and weapons are the most effective to use. I only used this a couple of times on really tough opponents, however you don’t need to do this if you are skilled. Personally, I just warp-strike around because I am not that great of a technical fighter; I don’t pay attention to the fighting systems until things get difficult. Nonetheless, the fights were always flashy and fun, with nice comments made by the characters to goad each other, cool powers and flashy strikes.
- The Photos
One of the best things in the game is the ability to take photos, and the photos that get automatically taken throughout the day. For those who have played the entire way through, cry with me a little now. For those who haven’t played it through… appreciate those damn photos.
Things I Didn’t Like:
Alright, so this isn’t 100% accurate. I did like Luna. I didn’t cry when she was killed, as I did see it coming a little, but I still liked her. The issue lies in the fact that I liked the boys more. Yeah, she was supposed to be my fiancé, but I felt no connection to her as a character. She wasn’t the one telling me off for swinging my sword too close to them, asking me to stop and take a photo, telling me to sew my button back on; she was just some girl I was seeing cutscenes and flashbacks of. I did write to her in the book, but that only happened, like, three times. Seeing the flashbacks did help to flesh her out, but overall I felt she was a little lacking compared to the other characters and their depth.
- Linear Second Half
As much as I loved the game, I do have to admit that they did ruin the second half a little. We go from opening the game with an open-world environment, where the player can move anywhere and do anything, to ending with linear, forced gameplay. From the second half onwards the game pushes you into narrow corridors, straight lines, forced paths and basic actions. There’s no more exploring (unless you go back in time), there are no decisions to be made – it’s just ‘follow this pathway and kill people, then there will be a cutscene’. It didn’t ruin the game entirely, but it definitely put a damper on the overall feel. If I hadn’t spent so long in the open world already I probably wouldn’t have played through the story section all at once, and instead would have jumped back and forth to get a break from the linear style.
- Weak Levels
I personally felt like the leveling system in the main quests was a little low level, but I believe that is because the open-world section is basically optional in this game. If you don’t enjoy open-world themes and quests, jumping straight into the main story, then they probably would be at the right level. However, the largest fights were against enemies so large and powerful that there was no way to lose. In one of these fights I managed to just randomly attack (no idea how, since I was floating in the sky) and I didn’t get hit once. It just seemed a bit lacking on the depth of enemy levels, especially on these massive fights which shape the game they ended up just being confusing but easy.
Overall, there’s not a lot I can dislike about FFXV however some people will find these to be important elements of a game that Square Enix has gotten wrong. For me, this game ticked all the boxes a hundred times, even with its downfalls.