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Editorial   

Final Fantasy XV: I Want to Believe

Confessions of a Final Fantasy fanboy.

In my nearly five years writing for PixlBit I think I can safely say that I have installed myself as the resident Final Fantasy superfan. I have written about the long-running role playing game series more than any other topic over the years, and have always met each main title entry with excitement. So why do I feel so much apprehension towards the impending release of Final Fantasy XV? Shouldn’t I be breathlessly counting the days, instead of dreading it? Well, that’s a complex question to answer, but I want to believe in FF XV. I’m just not sure if I can.

If you’ve followed the development of this game you surely know the story, but I’ll summarize it briefly. The Final Fantasy XV that we know today began life as a game called Final Fantasy Versus XIII. It was part of the ill-fated Fabula Nova Crystalis project, which was Square Enix trying to build an entire franchise around the release of Final Fantasy XIII. That didn’t pan out as expected: the mobile game Agito Final Fantasy XIII was renamed Final Fantasy Type-0 and moved to the PSP and later to consoles; two originally unplanned sequels to XIII were released (Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII); and Versus XIII went into developmental hell for seven years. Final Fantasy Versus XIII was eventually renamed Final Fantasy XV at E3 2013, and director Tetsuya Nomura stepped down from the lead role on the project, allowing development to continue with Hajime Tabata taking the reins.

That’s a lot to take in, and historically games with such a protracted development cycle (the game we now call FF XV was announced in 2006) end up missing the mark. A large part of that has to do with a building up of hype to critical levels, and the fact that, as a game passes that five-year mark, the industry is evolving and new games are breaking ground, leaving these problem children behind. While the argument could be made that Final Fantasy XV has actually only been in full development for about three-four years (just what were they doing before then?), at the end of the day this game will have to be a truly legendary experience to even begin to recoup its production cost.

For the record, I have not liked what I have played of Final Fantasy XV. The original demo, which was released as a pre-order bonus for the console release of Final Fantasy Type-0, was a gorgeous looking game that had, in my opinion, a haphazard battle system that somehow felt too shallow and overly complicated at the same time. The second demo was even more of a head scratcher, having all the feel of an overblown tech demo than anything even remotely resembling what the final product would be.

It's frustrating, because I love the concept of this game. Take a world that looks and feels like a “real” world like ours, but throw in those iconic Final Fantasy beasts like goblins, bombs, and behemoths, and make them look better than they have ever looked in the past. Assemble a group of characters that, unlike most of the previous FF parties, have known each other for years and let us explore those relationships. Then have them explore this world on a literal road trip, and you have a truly unique premise in a series that is known for shaking things up with each release. All of that is quite exciting to me, but I can’t help but have this sinking feeling that Final Fantasy XV is going to be a colossal flop in my eyes.

However, lately there have been things coming out of Square Enix that have begun to change that feeling in my gut. Admittedly, it wouldn’t take much to turn me around; I’m such a Final Fantasy apologist that I’m always ready to drink the Kool-Aid. First, there was this video highlighting some of the creatures in the world of Eos, where XV takes place. It’s also a showcase for some of the music provided by Florence + the Machine, which I’m sure will divide fans down the middle. As much as I have fond memories for the Japanese vocal work seen in FF VIII and X, I’m a huge Florence fan, so this video was Super Effective on me.

After that, almost a full hour of early gameplay was released. Now, I should mention that I have been trying to stay relatively dark on this game. I’ve been avoiding articles about it, especially anything talking about the story. I also refuse to engage with any of the cross media items that Square Enix has built around the game. There is that anime series called Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV, and the recently released CG movie Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV. I’ve decided that I’d rather come into this game fresh, and if I really get into the world I will seek out the rest of the media.

But I’ve gotten away from the crux of the matter, and that is that this hour long gameplay video (which I purposely only watched about 20 minutes of total by skimming through so as not to learn too much about story) got me, well, excited for this game. I don’t think I’ve actually been able to say that since the name was changed from Final Fantasy Versus XIII. It looks like a Final Fantasy game with a lot of new elements, and at the end of the day isn’t that every Final Fantasy game? This isn’t the Dragon Quest series, where each game explores well-worn game mechanics and themes. No, Final Fantasy has always been about changing almost everything while keeping some core components from game to game. So far, FF XV looks like a ridiculously gorgeous game with some genuinely likeable characters, and it seems like the battle system might be a lot deeper and engaging than the demos led me to believe. Take a look for yourself and see what you think:

 

There was never any doubt about me buying Final Fantasy XV. I have purchased every mainline FF game on day one since Final Fantasy VII, and my roots with the series go all the way back to the first game. But I was planning on buying it simply as a collector of Final Fantasy games (which is reaching almost embarrassing levels at this point), and not because I actually was looking forward to the game. I still have some major reservations regarding this title, especially with such a protracted development cycle and the change in directors, but now I’m going into this release cautiously optimistic. I hope this game blows our collective socks off, especially as a fan of the series that doesn’t want this to be its swan song. I’ll leave you with one last video that I just watched as I was writing this, which brings all the feels thanks to the music.


 

Comments

Our Take

Julian Titus Senior Editor

09/04/2016 at 02:46 PM

And when I say my collection is getting embarrassing, I mean it.

Catherine Hauser Staff Alumnus

09/04/2016 at 03:57 PM

That is an impressive collection (a boxed FFIII, so jealous)! In regards to XV, I completely agree with your cautious optimism. I've bounced back and forth on this game so many times, but in the end, this is a Final Fantasy game and Square knows I'm going to buy it (the deluxe edition, of course). I guess we'll see how it is come November...if they keep that date!

Julian Titus Senior Editor

09/06/2016 at 09:05 PM

I have the deluxe version preordered, as well. This game is so hard to pin down. I'm seeing impressions that are super positive, but hearing that the game is basically on fire, and might not even make the November date. Like Cary said below, looks like World of Final Fantasy might be scratching that FF itch of mine, and will be out next month.

Casey Curran Staff Writer

09/04/2016 at 06:17 PM

I'm iffy on this game. I've never been a FF fan even though I've wanted to like many of them and think there's a couple unplayed ones I could enjoy. My issue is that it seems shallow. Combat looks flashy, but I'm having a hard time seeing enough depth to it. The world looks huge, but I'm unsure whether exploring it will be fun or if the game will feel padded. I may check it out if reviews point to it being the real deal, but I think I'm skipping it for now.

asrealasitgets

09/04/2016 at 07:37 PM

Is this the FF equivalent of an AA meeting? I'm a FF fan and apologist as well. I've enjoyed all of the games and their spin-off media, as well as portable and mobile outings. I wanted to come here and talk about Kingsglaive, but since you are in a media blackout, I wont discuss it. 

I watched the original trailer for Versus XIII over and over, and was just in awe of it all. I enjoy dark themed media, games/film/books, and I was pleasantly surprised that FF, usually colorful and bright was going all dark. The idea of translating FF into the 'real' world was so interesting to me. How would it all work? Is it crossing over into our actual world? The ending of Lightning returns saw the destruction of Pulse and the souls and heroes traveled to Earth. The true ending of FFXIII saw lightning getting off a train in what looks like France country side makeing it all seem like some kind of dream. 

Anyway. Versus is dead/vaporware. We'll never know what the original Versus was going to be. FF15 is entirely a new game built from scratch and keeping some assets from Versus. However, watching Kingsglaive and the Anime makes me hopeful that the real world meets FF is still there. At this point I feel like I'm in a marathon and nearing the end. I usually wait a few months after release to get away from the hype and just enjoy games in my own bubble. I might do the same here. I've found that the community sometimes ruins things moreso than enhance the experience. I like Kingdom Hearts and most importantly they added a freeze mechanic to target enemies like in Dragon Age if you don't like the active battle, which I don't think was included in the demos.  

asrealasitgets

09/04/2016 at 07:43 PM

Wait Mode Combat

Julian Titus Senior Editor

09/04/2016 at 08:28 PM

Holy crap, that is a game changer for me! This is definitely how I'll play this game. 

asrealasitgets

09/04/2016 at 10:27 PM

Honestly, this was my main issue with the demo, way too hectic. Pausing the game allows for more accurate spell casting and enemy targeting. 

mothman

09/05/2016 at 01:45 PM

The last Final Fantasy I enjoyed was XII. Of course I bought XIII day one as is my way and after trying to play it 5 or so times it remains the number one Final Fantasy I regret buying, beating even VIII in the why did I buy this department.

I played the latest demo where you play as the kid with the toy weapons and I kept looking for Mickey and Goofy. I haven't played the other demo.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

09/06/2016 at 09:07 PM

Ultimately, I enjoyed XIII. I loved the characters and the battle system, but hated the story and the lack of exploration for the majority of the game. I don't regret playing it, and it actually is higher on my FF list than most people, but I certainly don't want it informing the future of the series.

mothman

09/07/2016 at 07:51 AM

Didn't mind the characters, didn't even mind the story, didn't like the lack of exploration but absolutely hated the battle system. Seemed to be nothing more than frantic paradigm shifting.

I also did not like the fact that you could not grind if you had trouble with a boss and were capped in your abilities until you moved on to the next chapter.

I remembered that I still have the code for the first demo of XV. Downloaded it on the weekend but I'm too busy playing I am Setsuna and 7th Dragon to get to it.

Cary Woodham

09/05/2016 at 09:59 PM

Well if FF XV ends up being a disappointment to you, you can always fall back on World of Final Fantasy.  I just played it at PAX West, and it's the Final Fantasy game that -I- want to play!  It's like they made it just for me!

Julian Titus Senior Editor

09/06/2016 at 02:14 PM

It looks really cool, and I have it preordered as well. 

transmet2033

09/06/2016 at 09:11 PM

Final Fantasy isn't really my series.  I have tried nearly all of the main entries because I fell in love with IV so badly.  At this point, with what little I have seen or heard I really just want to play the game.  Somewhat out of a morbid curiosity, but at the same time it sounds like a game that I might actually enjoy.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

09/09/2016 at 12:15 AM

Curious! Even Final Fantasy VI? I really feel like that's not only the best Final Fantasy game, but one of the best games of all time, even though I love IV more for personal reasons. Why did you bounce off of that one?

transmet2033

09/09/2016 at 03:39 AM

I have played through a good portion of VI, but I cannot remember what pulled me away.  I might have lost my save and then when I came back to it that Moogle sequence near the beginning of the game pissed me off the second time through.

I have bought it twice since that point, on VC and as a PSOne Classic.  I may just be holding out for SquareRoots at this point...  assuming they actually decide to play it.

A different thought could be that I was fairly picky with RPGs when I first started getting into them.  If memory serves me correctly, I discovered RPGs with FF IV and moved right into Chrono Trigger, both are in my Top 10 games of all time.  Then I tried to play VI.

There are countless, lousy excuses.  I have a copy on my Vita, I plan to play it eventually.  When I am in the mood.

LesserBilby

09/07/2016 at 12:13 PM

I'm kinda looking forward to it, although, like the author I've purposely kept myself in the dark. Combat reminds me of Xenoblade Chronicles X from the little I've seen. I have a feeling I'll spend more time with XV though.  Mixed feelings on the whole Bro thing, could be interesting or annoying, guess we shall see.  The weapons magically appearing in your character's hand is kind of annoying me already.  But there's still a chance it won't get added to my backlog of games that get played for a couple weeks and never finished.  I don't know, I might try to get back into FF XIV tbh.  Both XI and XIV are my favorite vision of the Final Fantasy universe (even though the solo playstyle fits me better).

 

 

 

Julian Titus Senior Editor

09/09/2016 at 12:16 AM

FF XI is in my top five for the series, but I haven't had much time to play XIV. But yeah, the bro thing could fall on its face, but so far I've really loved what I've seen of their interactions.

SanAndreas

09/07/2016 at 05:17 PM

I'm looking forward to FFXV more and more. I was concerned about it for awhile myself, given Square Enix's problems with FFXIII (which I enjoyed) and FF Versus/XV itself. And Square Enix's weak console showing on PS3/Xbox 360/Wii. Most of what was enjoyable from them was stuck on DS or PSP.

That said, they've done quite a nice turnaround on PS4, though they still have a ways to go before they catch up to the days of Final Fantasy XII and Dragon Quest VIII. Two of my favorite games of last year were Square Enix titles, Final Fantasy Type-0 and Dragon Quest Heroes. And everything I've seen on FFXV looks and plays great. Can't wait for November.

Julian Titus Senior Editor

09/09/2016 at 12:16 AM

I've been looking at more stuff for XV since I wrote this and find myself getting more excited for it. Also, looking forward to Dragon Quest Builders!

Matt Snee Staff Writer

09/30/2016 at 06:40 PM

I believe.

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