Final Fantasy XV - PlayStation 4 Review

Final Fantasy XV game
Knowing this is it, and seeing you here, now, it’s… more than I can take.

  • System: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Publisher: Square Enix
  • Developer: Square Enix Business Division 2
  • Release Date: WW: November 29, 2016
  • Pricing:
    40$ Game of the Year Edition
    60$ Standard Edition
    90$ Deluxe Edition
    270$ Ultimate Collector’s Edition
    *All values calculated in USD currency.
  • Rating:M
  • Genre: Action, RPG
  • Players: Single-player
  • Official Website: http://www.finalfantasyxv.com/

Who it Caters to

“Good things come for those who wait.”

And wait we did —about ten years worth— for the title Final Fantasy XV to be released. Since it's revealed as Versus XIII (an alternate story to Lightning) all fans of the Final Fantasy franchise were captivated by the beautiful cinematic featuring a grim world and a skilled, mysterious fighter. The Versus project was never fulfilled, yet the game was never discarded, but it was heavily modified to be on par with a more modern gaming demand. After many years of being left in the dark, much of already made content lost, altered and re-designed; Square Enix (SE) finally stopped pushing back FFXV’s release date, and at last made the game hit-the-shelves by late November 2016. But, was it worth the wait? Yes, definitely yes, this Final Fantasy title is a masterpiece.

The story is dark and very emotional, so it’s best to stay away from it if you’re expecting something lighthearted and cheerful. Even so, the game offers a great deal of fun and entertainment; you will find yourself laughing a lot, crying a lot, being frustrated a lot… Well, basically it will make all of your emotions surge, so brace yourself for impact in pretty much all aspects.

What to Expect

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Expect less fantasy and female heroines and more brotherhood. It’s a little shocking to play an FF title, or pretty much any RPG, without there being a lot of heroines involved in the story; but believe us when we say: it doesn't really matter in XV. Almost instantly you will start to like the personalities of the main characters, who, instead of being extraordinary as usual, are actually just like a normal, real person. Within the first minutes of the game, you will notice XV is like no other story previously released by the franchise; it’s less magical and more “realistic”, kind of making it feel like our ‘fantastic’ heroes are having a strange crossover with our real world. Don't let that discourage you from playing it, though, there’s still a great deal of action going on, swords, goblins, magical creatures and all of that fantasy goodness with just a dab of darkness in everything.

Final Fantasy XV - Omen Trailer

Story

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In the midst of war, the prince of Lucis, Noctis Lucis, and the Oracle, lady Lunafreya are to be wed as to bringing peace between Niflheim and Lucis. The young prince embarks on a short journey across countries to meet his bride to be, together with his knights Ignis, Prompto, and Gladio, aboard the Regalia; the royal vehicle. For such an important event, Murphy's law is bound to come into play, and so it did; everything that could've gone wrong did, and what should have been a short trip became the unwinding thread for a series of events that will forever change the fate of our characters.

With no way to reach their destination on time, Noctis and the others desperately do anything in hopes of reaching Lunafreya and have the wedding; but time was ticking, ticking every second in favor of Ardyn Izunia, the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Gameplay

Additional Content

We want to start off with the supplementary material available for the game, because FFXV’s playable story is part of a bigger scope; it’s a story so meticulously elaborated that it needed a backstory on its own story. Some events happen before the story; which are covered by the 5 episode anime, Brotherhood: FFXV, and some events that were underlying simultaneously with the game’s storyline are covered in the movie, Kingsglaive: FFXV.

Is this additional content really required? Well, depends if you care enough about the totality of the story or not. The anime helps you understand how Noctis, Prompto, Ignis and Gladio met and how they forged their friendship and bonds pre-game. In the anime, we can know the background story of our protagonists, it’s shown in detail, this is the reason why the series was aired just a bit before the actual game was released and also why the background stories of Ignis and Gladio seem so vague in the actual game. The movie, well it’s for the most curious people. If you feel comfortable not knowing much about King Regis of Lucis, the war, the ring or the hollow crystal, skip the movie. But if you wish to find out what was going on behind the curtains while you started your journey, and care for more details on the empire of Niflheim and some other characters that fought alongside the king, then we’d advise watching the movie.

Characters

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The characters are basically the core focus of the game; how they react, they way they behave, their personality, thoughts, and dialogues weigh heavily in the gameplay and they are given extreme attention to.

Noctis Lucis Caelum: Noct is the playable character, the protagonist. He’s the pampered prince of Lucis, but more than this he’s a young adult (20) with the temperament of an emo teenager; his royalty shows only because of a few mannerisms. He has a lot to learn in life, as he is yet to mature at the start of the game, he’s laid-back, sarcastic, pessimistic and has trouble showing how he really feels inside. He pretends to be apathetic but slowly lets his feelings show with every new day, not to mention, he’s secretly a hopeless romantic and a total sucker for his fiance, Luna. Throughout the game, we will experience cruel moments that force Noctis to mature, face the hardships of life, feel the true weight of war and carry the real burden of a king.

Ignis Scientia: His intended “job” was that of adviser for the royal family, but we all know he takes his role to heart, and often feels more like Noct’s mother than a guardian. Ignis is often called Iggy or Specs by the guys in the party, and they all treat him as a friend but with a certain level of respect, just like that of a close loving parent. Compared to the others from the group, he’s kind, understanding, soft-spoken and the most mature, not to mention he’s the brains of the party. Not only is he smart, he’s a talented cook and a responsible driver, although -unintentionally- he has a habit of screaming “That’s it! I’ve come up with a new recipe!” mostly during the oddest of times, making him become an internet sensation with the meme “I've come up with a new recipah”.

Prompto Argentum: Prompto’s like the ray of sunshine of the party; he’s bubbly, he’s always smiling, he’s a chatterbox and he loooooves taking pictures. One of the features we most enjoy from the game is actually Prompto’s passion for photography, as we can make him level up this skill, improve, see his hobby develop and best of all, save the awesome pictures for ourselves. He’s really playful, especially with Noctis; mostly we sense a relationship that of brothers from these two. But Prompto is not only rainbows and butterflies, he’s shown overreacting to situations, has insecurities, ups and downs, and when it’s down, it's REALLY down - confessing that most of the times, he tries hard to impress when he’s clearly not on the same level as his friends when it comes to social status, fighting skills or strength.

Gladiolus Amicitia: Gladio for short, or Gladdy as his little sister calls him, is mostly the “tank” of the party, the protector. His personality is very strong and rough, often giving off the sensation that he’s in a bad mood. It seems like he dislikes Noct, he’s impatient and rude to him and he makes it seem like he’s only in the party to fulfill his family’s tradition as a royal bodyguard. In reality, he cares for Noct in his own way, he likes him as his own family and knows that the prince needs someone to be strong, ruthless and direct at him to make him become aware, analyze and see the reality of the situation past his emotional wreckage. When Gladio is not feeling so rough, we see he’s actually bright and cheerful, full of energy and ready to explore the outdoors.

Battle System

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If you have been following the most recent Final Fantasy titles, the battle system was “as expected” not too wild of a change compared to the last, last main title (XIII), but definitely with fewer restraints. It’s “improved” yet everyone was expecting it since they have been implementing more freedom in every new AXB (Active X Battle). The really cool thing about XV was the “Wait Mode”, a battle system that lets you pause or freeze the battle at any time, turning it into a more old fashioned turn based RPG than an AXB. The player can turn wait mode on or off as they please, though it’s handy to have it on when you want to challenge a large-size enemy.

The magic is certainly less magical in XV, as the characters don't really produce it, more like, they farm some magical crystals and have Noctis make magic potions… kind of like alchemy? Or a mix of Chemist with Elementalist from other FF jobs. XV is also more accessory and weapon based, when it comes to gear, and sadly, so, so, so sadly, it's dependence on actual gear is minimal, which is a pity since everyone was going nuts during the first days, changing the character’s clothes (and not linking the Japanese visual kei fashion they had) but… the black butler suits are the best thing we had.

Good weapons were actually hard to come by, unless it was weapons for Noctis as he had the power of the Lucian Kings, with some super OP weapons he collected from dead kings. Noctis also had the ability to warp strike, taken as literally as it can sound, he warps to a point and from there dashes and strikes an enemy with a powerful blow. Of course, Noctis, as the special chosen one, is the only one with neat powers whilst everyone else just relies on pure skill and strength. The only real good thing about the other party members is that they think about tactics and teamwork for (you) Noctis, and before the fight sometimes they might suggest battle plans or during the fights, they team up with you to strike the enemy’s blind spot.

Unlike regular RPGs where your experience points go up after every battle, in XV you actually need to go sleep until the next day for it to count any EXP points, or AP (like skill points) in order for you to level up. At first, it’s really annoying having to hear your characters whine about how they are tired and sleepy as night fell, or hearing Mumma Duck (Ignis!) about how it's dangerous at night and that you should rest, BUT after a while you start to get used to it, wait for it and unconsciously become a good boy and do as they say (all for that AP and pictures, though).

Improvements

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The first improvement you will notice is that from the main menu, you can actually choose the level of difficulty for the game (sadly, no hard mode) but yeah, that’s something other games have... but! THERE ARE NO TUTORIALS UNLESS YOU WANT THEM. Wow, kudos to whoever pushed this idea, this is what everyone wants to skip and hates from new games, the mandatory —almost half hour— tutorial that most games have... Like, okay, we’ve played RPGs before, you don't need to tell me being hit reduces my HP... Thankfully, XV skips this like a boss.

As always, Square Enix, especially in a Final Fantasy title, goes all out with state of the art development in regards to graphics, art, and music. The best of the best can be found in this FFXV, this is the maximum level of CG technology SE can offer at the time as well as the best yet of Nobuo Uematsu can be heard here. And what is especially good is that they didn't stop with just the magnificent OST in FFXV, they went ahead and hit all the feels, including all the OSTs from previous FF titles in the Regalia’s radio.

Another huge improvement was the open world option, something that has been a recipe for success for big titles like Skyrim or Fallout. In XV, you can travel pretty much anywhere, only if you dare to walk near some Lvl 50 monsters while being Lvl 15. The first map for FFXV is crazy huge, like, you CAN get around by foot or Chocobo but geez, you’ll have to be really stubborn; soon enough you will understand why they provided you with a neat car right off the bat. And the car isn't only there for transportation, it’s there for show, literally, there’s a lot of customizable things for the Regalia just for the enjoyment of your eyes and we have to admit, we really enjoyed tweaking the Regalia often (or just visiting Cindy?). Ups, let’s not forget that you can dye your good ‘ol Chocobo now... Sexy looking car, sure, but nothing beats a huge neon green bird.

Originality

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Everything in FFXV is something we’ve surely seen before: the chosen prince, the bad-tempered muscled guy, the —too feminine but totally not gay— blonde guy, the classy dude with the specs, the childhood friend with a crush on you, the subject of war, deaths, betrayals, despair... All of it is a jumble of clichés, yeah, but yet, the way they portray it makes it feel so original and fresh. It’s down to earth, the problems seem more like that from the real world than a fantasy world, it’s cruel and moving in a more “realistic” way, royalty doesn't feel like the ultimate role in society, and the characters have a more believable strain of thought; to make it easier to imagine, there’s less of “I will vow to protect my King because he was chosen by the Gods” and more of “I want to protect you because I care for you as a person, as my chosen family”, sort of thing.

In the end, the characters not only bond with Noctis, they bond with you as the player, it feels good and warm every time you see them well, but it feels utterly devastating when you have to say goodbye.

Honey's Gameplay Consensus:

After all, you have read, I think it’s clear as day that this game is good enough for any gamer, so to summarize: BUY IT! It’s good! It won't let you down and it’s worth every millisecond of your time. The experience is overwhelming overall, everything happens so slowly yet so fast, before you know it, you’re there, at the end, it all ended in an instant and you’re just sitting there, blank, burrowing your face in your hands, letting it all sink in.

Honey's Pros:

  • Memorable Characters
  • Challenging content
  • Car customization
  • Outstanding OST
  • Photography
  • Open World
  • Cooking
  • Fishing

Honey's Cons:

  • Supplementary material is required to understand full story
  • Short playable main story
  • Side Quests bugs (Cid!!)
  • Glitches

Honey's Final Verdict:

It’s not for nothing that this game —almost instantly— became the Game of the Year. You’re not only playing one of the best titles of Final Fantasy ever made, you’re playing a complete work of art. This game is worth playing even if you’re not into the Final Fantasy franchise, it is hands down, one of the best story-focused RPGs out there and we guarantee you will absolutely love it. Of course, it has bits and tweaks to adjust, some things could have gone better, but compared to other similar games, this is the best you will get so far.

The game is absolutely exquisite for your gaming experience, and it’s a shame the story wasn't longer, this game is surely one you will not mind if it has millions of DLCs later on or even a possible spin-off; the game’s story is so flexible it leaves you wondering why didn't it have (at least) over three alternate endings. For better or worse, the game has a very solid ending, so it’s near impossible we will be seeing an FFXV-2, but definitely, it’s a game you can play over and over again and still feel moved by it. FFXV is the kind of story that stays with you for a lifetime, a “MUST HAVE”!

Yanayme Roman

Illustrator/Editor/
Translator

Author: Yanayme Roman

Yo! I'm yet another anime lover that lives in japan! I also love RPG games! My goal in life is to work in an animation studio! I love drawing anime! Love all related to anime!!

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