Final Fantasy XV didn't live up to expectations but the potential was there
Video Game Talk Malaysia
Let's be honest here, despite all the awards and positive reviews, was this really what we were waiting for the past 10 years? I mean, I bought a console to specifically play this game! Well my answer is an easy no, it did not meet my expectations. Final Fantasy Versus XIII certainly looked like it was going be one of the best instalments of the franchise at one point. But after changing directors, title, characters, story and more — all seemingly just to complete the production without any further delays ('cause more time = more cost + pressure), we were left with this lazy/rushed, half-ass final product that could've been great.
It does show plenty of potential to be better than it is and since director Hajime Tabata and Square Enix are still releasing DLC's and are still trying to improve the game (despite not admitting that it has loads of problems), I thought maybe I'd shortlist five suggestions that I personally think they should focus on improving and implementing (instead of the pointless Timed Quests or whatever cashgrab stuff they're planning on). Spoilers, duh.
5. Dialogue Choices with Actual Outcomes
Remember in FFVII where our date at Gold Saucer was chosen based on our dialogue response selections with Aerith, Tifa and Barret? That was fun, funny, cute and it contributes to the overall experience with the game. In FFXV, however, our dialogue options rewards us with AP, EXP or whatever not-so-rare items, which for one, doesn't make sense and two, whatever we choose bares no significant consequence. The political negotiation part in Chapter 9 was a great example. Interesting but pointless as our choice of words doesn't matter and the exact same thing would happen after anyway. The best we could get out of it is Prompto's photo with Cindy in a hidden campfire sidequest. Come on!
4. In-story Carnival / Festival / Theme Park
FFXV's limited-time Moogle & Chocobo Carnival was pretty fun. Plenty of activities. Looked fantastically adorable. It made me feel like a kid again. I was totally fan-serviced. So why wasn't this carnival in the game itself during the story? In FFVII, the Gold Saucer (sorry, referencing my favourite game of all time again) was not just fun and games. The theme park actually involves the main storyline and the scenes there further develop the characters and their relationships. The Chocobo Racing and Battle Area carry highly rare and useful rewards, and they're actually challenging. In FFXV's Moogle & Chocobo Carnival, however, we only get to "date" Carbuncle. We don't even get to see the other characters at the carnival. Wouldn't it be dramatic and more emotionally impactful if Noctis dated Lunafreya at the carnival BEFORE she dies? Or have Prompto dating one of the girls based on dialogue choices? Or heck, just let the four main characters hang out together to develop their friendship in the story!
3. FMV Cutscenes
For those who grew up in the 90s like myself, remember how awesome it was to finally get to a FMV cutscene in a game? Especially in Final Fantasy games. They were exciting to watch and felt rewarding. In FFXV, there are like only three boring, brief FMV cutscenes and two longer ones — not including the choppy ones from the prequel film Kingsglaive they forced in as flashbacks. That's it and most of them aren't key, memorable moments. Come on, it needed more! It brings more context to the story and it allows a more detailed expression of emotions that in-game real-time graphics can't. Ironically, not only Kingsglaive's visuals but the story, too, ended up being more impressive than in the game itself. There are a few great FMV sequences that were shown to the public prior to the release of the game but for unknown reasons, did not make it into the game itself. Why? The scenes between young Noctis and Regis would've properly developed the father-son relationship and made an emotional difference in the story.
2. Explorability and Warpability
OPEN WORLD, MY ASS LAH. Invisible walls every where. We can't fly out of Lucis. Heck, it's not even an open nation 'cause we can't even fly the Regalia over every area in Lucis. Seriously, even the older FF games feel more open world than this one. It feels that Tabata made the game linear after Chapter 8 because they did not have enough time or budget to fully develop the world. Yes, we are able to get Umbra to bring the player back to the past Lucis and Altissia (and somehow bring over what you gained from there), but we aren't able to explore the other big locations like Tenebrae (conveniently destroyed in Chapter 12), Accordo, Galahd and the pre-ruined Insomnia, Noctis' own home. Why the fuck we can't even explore the main character's own city? Wouldn't it be more emotionally effective for the story if we got to visit them before they're destroyed or invaded by the Niflheim Empire?
When I first visited Galdin Quay (not a city, just a beautiful beach resort) and Lestallum, I was so pleased and excited that I made my first ever video with commentary about a game. And then Altissia, which is very pretty as well. And then that's it. Only two major cities. The rest stops and stations are very small and most of them look almost identical. We also aren't able to explore Shiva's icy mountains in the oddly short Chapter 12, and the highly interesting World of Ruin in the Chapter 14 where Iris has become a daemon slayer (the player's forced to hitch a ride to Hammerhead if you tried to explore too much). Darn it, we can't even go to Angelgard (that cool-looking stone prison island near Galdin Quay where Noctis wakes up at in Chapter 14). If Noctis could travel to the past, it makes no sense why he wouldn't want to travel to the past where his father was still alive.
Just let us explore all these places in their fullest glory and I'd be at least half satisfied with the game. The current state of FFXV doesn't feel like a satisfying journey like the older FF and J-RPG games that had more than just two major cities/towns to explore and every one of them has its own story, culture, quests and theme song which I really enjoyed experiencing as part of the games' story progression. And some of their "dungeons" are more than just caves or hidden dark places with creatures and items.
Also, why can't we warp outside of battles? I don't know how many more times I have to say "it makes no sense". If there's a technical difficulty with it then why put in spots where the characters have to boringly side-step on ledges or walk on narrow planks? There's even a secret dungeon (in Daurell) where we can only warp to in battle. So stupid.
1. Story and Narratives
Sigh, where do I begin? FFXV's storytelling is a mess, an epic fail, the Ultima of disappointment. It goes from a partially open world road trip with a campy, humourous tone — to depressing but short, linear train ride chapters — then suddenly just switches to a single, overly long, horror lab-crawling chapter that feels like the final act of a Resident Evil game with crammed up exposition — and then simply fast forward 10 years later and ends the game in a finale where the four goes to save the world without ALL the available help they could've gotten (Cor, Iris, Aranea, Biggs, Wedge, hunters, etc.). The game's story is very poorly told, unbalanced, inconsistent, disconnected and lack of heart.
One of the most important things about a FF game is its story. It's what makes the Final Fantasy franchise the best RPG franchise ever. So how could you, Tabata / Square Enix?! Saying that you "didn’t want to create a comprehensive and perfectly balanced story in this game" only confirms your guilt. Fuck it, I'm just gonna mention any story problems that I could recall. It probably needs its own top 5 list but I don't think I'd want to create another post about this.
The game's poor character and relationship development contribute massively to its terribly unengaging narratives. According to Tabata, friendship is the game's main theme and yet to me, it feels like the three are only sticking with Noctis because he's the chosen prince and it's their duty to protect him. The Brotherhood mini series was just not enough to justify their friendship. Those backstories should've been in the game anyway. It also would've been more emotionally effective if the mid-credit scene (where Noctis confesses to his three bodyguards that they're important to him) was shown before the final chapter.
It's not shown how the entire Niflheim Empire falls apart, only revealed in written reports (LAZY!) in that overbloated Chapter 13 filled with rushed exposition. Heck, even the incident that caused Ignis' permanent blindness is not shown on screen. It can't be because the story needs to be told through "Noctis' eyes only" 'cause there are scenes in the game that are shown in other characters' perspectives. Wouldn't it be more emotionally dramatic if we actually get to see Ignis "took one for Noctis"? But noooo. He's simply revealed to be blind now, just like that. Okaaay...
None of the characters from Kingsglaive were even mentioned in the game and Libertus, the only surviving Glaive, didn't make an appearance. Gladiolus and Iris' father, Clarus Amicitia, dies in the movie with Regis but the siblings never mentioned about him in the game either. Instead, they mourn for the death of Jared more than their own father. How does that even make any fucking sense?! Also, as mentioned previously, the father-son relationship between Regis and Noctis is missing too. The romance between Noctis and Lunafreya, who also dies, is neglected too. How are we supposed to feel anything for these deaths and struggles?
Argh, there are just way too many outrageous flaws and questionable moments to even remember. The context of certain plot points are missing and the characters' motivations and depth are not well expressed or explored as well. Many things just didn't make sense and I didn't care enough about the characters. The plot does actually have a complex premise, history and a great dark twist but it's just not well utilised. Basically, FFXV is like the Star Wars prequels — had a promising story to tell but unfortunately, it was poorly written and executed.
Since Tabata managed to fix a couple of things with Chapter 13 and would likely explain about Prompto's unclear past and unmentioned father (Verstael, an existing character that didn't have enough screen time) in the coming DLC, why not also fix the other flaws in the story? The sales of the game was a record-breaker wasn't it? No excuse for not trying to rectify the game. Square Enix, you owe us fans this much. Come on, Tabata, just activate your Armiger and get to work! Or get the original director Tetsuya Nomura back to finish the job! 'Cause to me, Final Fantasy XV is still not a complete game.
Did I miss out on any other glaring or crucial problems (other than Moogles) that need to be improved or added on? Comment below and let them know!
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