A Final Fantasy Unlike its Predecessor
Final Fantasy XV finally arrived in November 2016 after nearly a decade in development, with original name Final Fantasy Versus XIII. I have played several Final Fantasy series on Playstation (FF VII, FF VIII, FF IX) and PC ( FF XIII). Because of the gameplay and storyline, this series easily becomes one of my favorite games of all time. The story is still typical of JRPG where the chosen one with a group of best friends starts a journey to save the world but with a deep storyline more focused on love and faith relationship. And that’s why I loved most of the JRPG compare to western action RPGs.
The story of Final Fantasy XV is about young crown prince, Noctis, heir of the Lucian throne. The Lucian is the king of Lucis kingdom and protector of the magical Crystal. Noctis ordered by his father to marry Lady Lunafreya from the neighbor empire and conduct peace negotiations between the two nations. But in the middle of the journey suddenly his kingdom gets attacked by the Empire and the king, Noctis’ father, is murdered. What the Empire looking for is the Crystal protected by Lucis kingdom that gives enormous power. And now prince Noctis begin the journey accompanied by his three best friends to retrieve back the crystal stolen from his kingdom, reclaim his throne, and save the world.
So when Square Enix finally released Final Fantasy XV last November, I’m very eager to try it. Finally, I buy the copy of the game along with PS 4 slim bundles with it. After playing for the first time, this game is really different than previous FF such as FFXIII. The Final Fantasy XV add many fresh elements that adopted in most of the today’s action RPG instead of FF XIII that still use old elements and more focused on the battle system.
A New Open World and Exciting Battle System Awaits
FF XV has open world system, lots of side-quests, and additional elements such as fishing, Chocobo riding, to driving a car to make more varied gameplay. Each character has their own unique abilities. Noctis can go fishing at the fishing spot; Gladio can harvest item from monsters at the end of a battle; Ignis can cook a meal at camp; and Prompto will take photographs that you can review and save at the end of the day. Each skill will get EXP and can level up every time you use them thus get the better outcome.
The biggest change here also the implementation of the real-time battle system that replaces turn based. In battle, you control Noctis and accompanied by your three friends with AI to aid you. You must attack enemies, dodge and block, deliver finishing blow and recover your HP/MP in real time. Your three friends have special techniques that you can launch when their tech bar is full. You can command to launch a powerful attack (Gladio’s Tempest) or heal group (Ignis’ Regroup).
In battle, you control Noctis and accompanied by your three friends with AI to aid you. The real time battle is fluid, it requires both timing and strategies. You must attack enemies, dodge or block, deliver finishing blow and recover your HP/MP in real time. Here FF XV also introduce new elements called “Warping”, where Noctis can move quickly to any Warp-point. I mainly use Warping to heal party members, re-target enemies with lowest HP, launch powerful Warp-strike or just avoid being surrounded.
This far I reckon that the battle system is the most exciting of all. It’s fun to surprise attack enemies, dodge or parry, Warping, attack again, heal when HP is low and so on. To help you the most of the difficult battles, later in the game Noctis can use special techniques like Armiger chain and summon Astral. Astral is like Gods in this game and they are very powerful. When you in danger and summon them, boom..! Enemies all burned to ashes in the ground. So don’t ever mess with Gods, right?
I bet you will spend hours practicing the battle system to really master it. The most notable flaw in the battle system is the camera movement that seems difficult to handle especially when enemies are running around. But that doesn’t take the excitement much and could be an additional challenge for you.
Hint: before you even start the game, play the tutorial first!
The open world exploration is quite easy to understand. You can explore by foot, drive the Regalia, and Chocobo riding. To ease your journey, for example after finishing a sidequest and want to quick return FF XV provide you two options: instantly return to the car or last resting point. To faster move between area by car you can choose the auto drive to Parking spot. If you have visited the Parking spot or Outpost you can choose fast travel to that location at expense of 5 gil only. FF XV also provides some customization and upgrade to your car but I reckon that is not very exciting up to this point.
You will find items, treasures, elemental forge and mining spot as you journey. Oh yeah, you can also use magic in battle. The magic is not only cost MP but it’s also consumable, you acquired it by crafting the elements found in the elemental springs. You must equip the magic first to be able to use in battle. To create it you need to have a magic flask, which is limited at first but you will find more as you journey. Sometimes you also will find items that look unimportant but actually an important ingredient to upgrade weapons. So it’s best to keep the items in your inventory instead of selling it for future purpose.
The dungeon exploration also quite exciting. You can’t save inside the dungeon and this is making the dungeon completion more challenging than ever. You will get panicked if you happen went out of restoration items or potions and will prepare more carefully before enters one. After finishing the dungeons, you can instant return to the entrance to prevents you another headache.
The EXP system meanwhile, uses a tallying system, it will be added to your characters only if they spend the night rested in hotels, caravan, or by camping in the wilderness. It will not be added instantly like any other RPG. The hotels and caravan cost you Gil but can multiplier your EXP, besides camping don’t give multiplier but you can cook ‘free’ meal to boost your stats for the day.
For character stats improvement, there’s an Ascension system that quite similar to FF XIII. You able to upgrade or learn new skills using AP. In FF XV they make it simpler, instead of each character with separate sets, the customization is set for Noctis and entire party. For example, in Teamwork grid you can choose to enhance skills for entire party or more focused on one character. For stats, the upgrades are applied to characters. There is also some other useful passive feats such as get bonus AP after a long ride in car and Chocobo or earn more money. In general, AP is very limited and the Ascension Grid have some useful skills so you have to prioritize your options.
The gear and outfit are also customizable but there are very limited supplies. The weapons choice, especially in merchant, are very limited. Usually, there are just two-three weapons options per category you find at most of the merchant. The outfit (or Attire) not also affect your appearance but also your stats. After finishing the game you will get one additional Attire set.
As the story goes, your friends each has their own saying and will. They will approach you, ask your thought and responds based on your answer. Along the journey (especially the main quest) they will always start some conversation and give you some clues about what to do next. During your main quest or resting at camp, they occasionally will request you certain favor such as visit some point of interest, take pics, help with cooking, etc. I guess this is some ‘humanity’ factor that added in FF XV.
Half-distance of the game, the side quests, which look like a very good addition at first started to getting repetitive. Actually, the same NPC give you series of quests and almost always the same task only with different location and difficulties. At this point, I ignored mostly the sidequest (except the one that gives most EXP, items or gil) and focused more on the main quest. The important side quests also those are related to upgrade your weapons. To upgrade you can ask Cid (a very familiar name in FF universe) and he will request items needed for an upgrade.
Final Fantasy XV Conclusion
So though FF XV seems pretty solid this far, it’s still inferior compared to FF VII-FF X in term of the storyline. The story is kinda a mess and feels rushed especially in second half of the game. Looks like Square Enix tried to blend western action RPG with JRPG’ well-written stories but the result isn’t as expected. But overall, Final Fantasy XV gives an exciting journey. Aside from great battle system, there are many creative elements that will be a good foundation for its successor. Tallying EXP, cooking meals, fishing, Riding a Car or Chocobo is just a few of them.
First Released Nov 29, 2016 on Playstation 4 and Xbox One
Genre: Action Role-Playing
|Playstation 4||Xbox One|
And yeah, you can also buy this Guidebook FINAL FANTASY XV guide to add to your collection of FF XV.