Why Final Fantasy XV is Underappreciated – Semi-Professional Rants and Reviews: the Blog Version

Greetings, friends! This is going to be the first of a new series here on my blog site, and it’s actually inspired by a YouTube series I started earlier this month. (Or was it late last month? I don’t remember anymore.) Anyway, the series is called Semi-Professional Rants and Reviews, and the title alone says it all—it’s a video where I go on a bit of a tangent regarding a topic I felt like discussing, and sometimes, perhaps I’ll do all-out reviews! That’s sort of what this is going to be about.

It’s been quite some time since I played Final Fantasy XV, and it’s something I wanted to approach in today’s entry for that reason. I’m long past the initial hype of the release, the dread from Chapter Nine onward, and the emotional hit I took after beating the game for the first time, so for the first time, I feel like I can cover this game with a level head, looking at the aspects of it that are loved, and those that aren’t with hopefully very minimal bias swaying my words. (Though I guess listening to the soundtrack at work may sway my opinion on occasion since I love the music.)

Let’s first discuss the expectations that were set; the struggle the development team went through when working on this game. We first received word of this brand new Final Fantasy game about eleven years ago. I think I was nine years old at the time and just barely getting into the series, and up until two years ago, it was called Final Fantasy Versus XIII, sort of like it was intended to parallel what I personally think is one of the not-as-good games, Final Fantasy XIII. (And I’m not just saying that because it’s the popular opinion; I’ll eventually get into why I don’t like it.)

There were plenty of trailers over the years for the game, advertising it as a “fantasy based on reality“. It looked pretty awesome! I used to pretend I was Noctis from the first trailer I saw of all the soldiers trying to shoot at him but he completely annihilated them with all his Armiger weapons when my brother and I would play in our old backyard. In short, the game came out and was completely different. To many, it was a disappointment, but to people like me, it was absolutely incredible.

Here’s the thing with the development process of the game. If I recall correctly, they got a new director about halfway through the process, and three years ago, were forced to scrap their initial story and come up with something different. This means they only had three years to complete this massive game. They kept delaying the release until finally, they had no choice but to get it released by the end of November of 2016. In that time, a full length prequel film and an online anime series for the game were both released, but not only to up the general hype—both the movie and the anime series were a means to fill the gaps in the main game’s story. The film, Kingsglaive, focused on what happened in Noctis’s home, the crown city of Insomnia, while Noctis and his friends left on a road trip for a wedding. The anime series, Brotherhood, introduces some of the backstory for the four main characters of the game and how they knew each other prior to the game.

One of the biggest complaints the game receives is that it feels incomplete. It’s clear that there was meant to be more to the story, but the developers didn’t have the time to add everything they wanted. They had a strict deadline. People hate on the game and the developers because they thought it was “lazy developing“, but that is absolute and utter bullshit. The developers did everything they could to produce a good game in the time they had, and they went through hell for it, so the least we as fans of the series could do is understand their position instead of hating on the game and never looking past the narrow surface.

Looking back on my experiences with Final Fantasy XV, I only have fond memories. The ending gets very overwhelming, but I would still like to discuss it from a zoomed-out point of view now that I’ve taken a long break away from the game and moved on to others before I go back to it for a 100% completion run.

While we don’t have a very large main cast of characters, for the most part, they’re all very fleshed-out with their own unique personalities, stories, and motivation. The four main protagonists, Noctis, Ignis, Promto, and Gladiolus, are rather cliché in their personalities, but clichés aren’t at all bad—they are wonderful when used properly. The story itself is very emotional, and Yoko Shimomura’s phenomenal work with the soundtrack helps with the emotion quite a lot. The gameplay is fantastic, the scenery is amazing, and I love the open world aspect. The sidequests are fun (except for the tedious search quests), dungeon-exploring is amazing, and in general, despite the short length of the game, it’s incredibly fun, but it doesn’t really feel like a Final Fantasy game.

Now, that’s not at all a bad thing, but as someone who’s played every main series installation except for X-2, XI, and the other two XIII games, I say this because other Final Fantasy games have a similar feel to them. Of course, the majority of them share the same combat system, but I mean in writing, in character dynamic, altogether aesthetic, things such as that, but Final Fantasy XV feels like its own game. Again, not a bad thing at all. It makes it stand out even more. I will admit that I would have loved for it to be more cinematic, though I can see why that would be difficult in an open world game, but the last few chapters were incredible in terms of cinematics and conveying the heavy feel. In fact, it sounds weird, but the last six chapters of the game overwhelmed me emotionally so much that I had to take a month-long break before even thinking about the game again.

I still haven’t played it in quite some time, but after I beat Final Fantasy X or XII, whichever comes first, I’ll go back to play it all the way through again, but this time, with 100% completion. I could continue, but it would take more time than I have to write this. Perhaps I’ll continue another time. In any case, I hope you all have a wonderful day.

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