Final Fantasy XV: The Decade Long Hype Train
Originally titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII and as a result of different teams, directors, and branding, we finally (ha!) have Final Fantasy XV (now referred to as FFXV), the 15th insallment in the Final Fantasy franchise that we have waited near a decade for.
FFXV takes place in an Earth-like world of Eos. On Eos are several primary nations, all with a very powerful magic crystal with the exception of the nation of Nifleheim. Nifleheim, not having the benefit of a crystal, focused on scientific and military advancements to maintain equal power to the nations that have the benefit of the powerful crystals. Nifleheim(upset by not having their own pretty rock) began to expand their borders and conquered the other nations, with the sole exception of Lucis.
Lucis managed to holdback the Nifleheim advance for several years, until finally approached for peace talks. Unfortunately, this was a trick and a trap in which Nifleheim stole the crystal from Lucis, destroying their defenses and allowing the Nifleheim army to march right on in.
The story follows the crown prince of Lucis, Noctis Lucis Caelum, and his small group of friends: Gladiolus Amicitia(Noctis’ bodyguard), Prompto, and Ignis. Noctis is slated to marry the oracle and former princess of Tenebrae, Lady Lunafreya(whom is also Noctis’ childhood friend). This group essentially is going out for one last bachelor party-eaque escapade, until learning of what really happened with the peace treaty. After learning of this, Noctis and band [look for alternative for “go on”]go on a mission to reclaim their land and retrieve the stolen crystal from Nifleheim.
FFXV is the first single player installment to have real-time combat in addition to an open-world enviornment. Previous ones, like Final Fantasy XII and XIII have semi-real-time combat, but still was very much driven by turn-based shell whereas all preceeding ones have the true turn-based combat. Combat in FFXV feels very similar to that of Kingdom Hearts, just overall more polished and fluid(and arguably more useful allies than Donald and Goofy!).
You play solely as Noctis and can outfit him, and your party, with different weapons(including magic), accessories, and outfits. Noctis can equip 4 weapons while the others can have 2. Your accessories are the typical Final Fantasy stat-boosting/provisional effect (so many bangles) type of items. Outfits tend to be only cosmetic but some do actually affect your stats/resistances.
Upon leveling and completing some quests or specific goals/interactions with NPCs, you will be rewarded AP (Ability Points). AP can be spent in the Ascension tree (strong resemblance to the Crystarium from FFXIII), where you have several different categories to put points into. These range from combat, to teamwork, even to the general environment skills like fishing and cooking. Each point further out costs more points and boosts the strength of your team, so make sure to spend those points early and often!
My initial thoughts and scoring on the roughly 40 hours I’ve been able to put into the game so far are…the game is simply phenomenal. You can tell that it is well made and that a lot of time has gone into it and that they wanted it done right. Visually, this game is stunning. Mechanically it’s a lot of fun to fight and explore the world and even just cruise around in the Regalia. Storyline, while nothing particularly new, so far is great. Each character feels real and that you will come to care deeply about each and their own respective stories.
Overall, I have few complaints, and those only refer to some bugs that I’ve come across, although none are game-breaking or ruin the actual gameplay!
This truly is a Final Fantasy for both new and life-long players of the series, I would 1000% recommend picking this title up.
Current Score: 4.75/5
Written by: Sammy Musameh