Final Fantasy XV Review

I finished Final Fantasy XV already.  I've been home sick so I had a lot of time to blast through this game.  It was really fun and I liked it a lot!

But in a lot of ways Final Fantasy XV is an ambitious mess.  You can see that this game was caught in development hell for a long time.  There are a ton of different ideas thrown together and while some work... some just don't.  Some are super deep and others are barely fleshed out.  There are a lot of questionable decisions in the game design and just little inconsistencies too.  Overall, this game is ambitious and even though it doesn't always succeed at what it sets out to do... at least it tries.

But despite that, I liked this game a lot and I love seeing another mainline Final Fantasy come out!  It feels like this was a game Square Enix needed to get out of their development pipeline so they could finally move on and start on the next one.

Before I go further I should say that even though it's only been out for a few days I did put over 36 hours into the game since I've just been sick at home resting.  I did almost all the sidequests and tons of hunts.  I ended the game in the mid-50s for character levels.

Keep in mind that I like this game, but I really need to get a ton of nitpicks out of my head so how about we do those first:

  • The combat never really clicked with me.
  • This is the first modern open world effort for the studio and it shows.
  • The open world feels pretty empty compared to most modern games we're used to.  It's realistically dense compared to the real world, but that doesn't make for great game design.
  • Sometimes it feels like the worst parts of MMOs and Ubisoft open world games jammed together.
  • The side quests are very uninspired.  Kill X amount of things and find a thing are most of them.
  • Why can we only have one active quest at a time? Let me have more quest markers!
  • The road trip idea is cool but the execution needs work.  There's so much wasted time in the car when nothing happens.
  • There's a huge lack of talk in the car, and you spend so much time in the car.  Why don't they talk to each other more?
  • The camera framing isn't very cinematic in-engine when characters are talking.
  • Lips don't match up a lot of the time.
  • The second half of the main story feels rushed and has a completely different feel than the first half.
  • It seems like second half of the game was planned to be much more and fully realized with lots of open world areas but that didn't happen.
  • Every character not the main party of 4 feels underdeveloped.
  • Chapter 13 is really bad.  It totally breaks the flow of the game.
So those are my major gripes, my nitpicks.  But I really like the game in spite of them.  There are a  ton of good things going on with Final Fantasy XV.

When the four main characters are interacting this game is at it's best.  They feel realized and you definitely grow attached to them throughout the game.  I like the main character relationships a lot!

The main story gets told from their perspective and this game has some truly epic moments during the course of that story.  Almost all my gripes above are from the sidequests, not the main quest.  Not to mention that the story is actually easy to follow.  It's such a huge change from the word-salad that was FFXIII.  Good job getting back to storytelling Square Enix!

The progression system is really good.  It's a great mix of skill trees, experience points, and ability points.  I always had fun progressing and looking at my options for progression.  The side skills that are unique to each character are pretty cool too.  With Prompto's photography, Ignis's cooking, and Gladio's survival the only character who had a unique skill I didn't like was Noctus's fishing minigame.

Camping and sleeping to apply experience and gain levels is inspired.  It makes you take a break and just spend some time with your characters away from battle.  Whoever came up with that deserves a ton of praise.  Plus, Ignis will cook you a stat boosting meal for the next day!

The dungeons in Final Fantasy XV are some of the best I've ever seen in any game.  The sense of presence and atmosphere is amazing.  Every dungeon designer for any future game needs to play through the dungeons in Final Fantasy XV to see what they're stacking up against.

I can't believe I got this far without talking about the music.  You can pick up all the previous Final Fantasy soundtracks to play in the car while you're driving around which is pretty cool.  But even better than that is the Final Fantasy XV soundtrack itself.  It's fantastic and I love the music.  It'll stay with me for a long time.  I would put this soundtrack right near the top of FF soundtracks.

The main feeling I'm left with after beating this game is that I wish it had a New Game Plus mode.  I would love to take my overpowered characters through the game with their current powers while skipping all the side quests and just enjoy the story again.  I think I'll enjoy the game even more the second time around now that I know what I'm in for.

For now, I'm just going to pick away at some of the end-game content and enjoy the world a bit more before setting it down.  But I'm definitely holding out hope for a New Game Plus.

Since this is a mainline single player Final Fantasy game I need to rank it within my existing list.  This one was hard to place but it ended up fairly near the top... in the number three space right between Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII.

Final Fantasy Ranking
  1. IX
  2. X
  3. XV
  4. XIII
  5. VIII
  6. VII
  7. VI
  8. IV
  9. V
  10. XII
  11. II
  12. I
  13. III
Total Completion Time: 36 hours 55 minutes 31 seconds


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