Ever since I was a kid, I have found the Final Fantasy franchise to be electrifying. I didn’t get giddy over a boy, but rather a new addition to a world that provided rich stories and vibrant characters. That’s always what Final Fantasy games have entailed and what we constantly come to expect from them. Considering my undying love for the franchise, I was just as excited about the release of Final Fantasy XV as any other Final Fantasy nerd. Tallying up to a total of ten years in development, the hype surrounding Final Fantasy XV was through the roof, understandably. The question remained – would considerably high expectations be met? You’re damn right they were. Hell, my head is still spinning.
Final Fantasy XV takes place in the Earth-like world of Eros. The journey begins with the introduction of Noctis, the main protagonist as well as royal prince. His kingship is accompanied by Ignis, Prompto, and Gladiolus. Bearing in mind the numerous sidequests and Noctis’ main objective, the gang is bound to encounter some crazy affairs.
Not to mention, their personalities are noticeably diverse, but their differences provide more variety in combat as well as dialogue. While roaming through Eros on foot or putting the pedal to the metal in the Regalia (their fancy vehicle), the quartet of hunters share some comical banter you can’t help but smile at. Honestly, they’re the kind of dudes you just want to hang out with because you just know they’d brighten your day.
Each of the four dynamic characters also possess unique skills personalized for them specifically.
For example, Prompto is a photographer. He will consistently snap “selfies” or intense battle shots. His photos can eventually be viewed and saved each time the group decides to take a breather. If the gang stumbles upon a campground, Ignis fashions his chef hat and whips up a feast. Depending on the ingredients Noctis has in his inventory depends on the kind of meal Ignis can prepare for everyone. The rarer the meal, the more it benefits specific attributes assigned to the gang.
The first thing a lot of folks notice about a highly developed game is its visuals. Let me be frank – Final Fantasy XV goes above and beyond with its graphical details and seamlessly rendered environments. Even studying the expressions fallen upon the character’s faces reveal a significant amount of emotions that reach out and grab you by the heartstrings – oof, it is one hell of an experience. Traveling the open world of Eros, it’s inevitable to be consumed by admiration. It’s like being in the constant state of awe, but hey, I’m not complaining.
Coasting alongside the beauty that Final Fantasy XV presents are its symphonic melodies.
Earlier Final Fantasy games are known for their adoring soundtracks and Final Fantasy XV doesn’t stray from that path whatsoever. It’s pretty awesome because if you’re frolicking along on a Chocobo, the tempo of the tune changes depending on the speed the Chocobo is strutting at. The same goes for if Noctis stops in town and enters a shop or a diner. There’s an alteration in the music, even though it’s very minor. It’s the little things you pick up on that deserve a respectable head nod.
Using the Regalia as the primary source of transportation was easy to adapt to. It’s also a relief compared to traveling on foot. Chocobos are available for renting once a specific sidequest is fulfilled, but they’re not forever. They sure are cute as a button though. Final Fantasy XV even allows customization of the Regalia. Whether it’s a change in color, adding decals, or shuffling through the songs that boom from the stereo, the Regalia’s features lie in your hands.
The option to purchase melodies from previous Final Fantasy games is even an option. Sure, there are definitely moments when the car rides seem unbearably long. Luckily, nostalgia lends a hand. It’s something magical driving along a beautiful scenic route while simultaneously jamming to ‘Cosmo Canyon’ from Final Fantasy VII. Noctis even has the option to purchase an inexpensive MP3 player. Attaining that little trinket allows Noctis to rock out to his favorite songs while wandering around Eros.
Though Final Fantasy fans are used to turn-based combat, the real-time battle system in Final Fantasy XV is well developed.
It is a learning process, but having the ability to access healing items and switch weapons anytime during combat is a huge advantage. Though Noctis is the only controllable character, all four can work together and utilize powerful combos. Noctis can also use a technique called ‘warp’ where he’ll instantly be taken to the targeted enemy and inflict additional damage. As one can imagine, this type of battling system is intense and riveting. When a foe ten times the size of the four amigos is towering over them, there’s no time to waste taking turns to attack. Plus, the challenge is that much more exhilarating when it’s now or never.
Unfortunately, enemies do not drop gil. Noctis and his gang do acquire experience and the occasional potion here and there, though. Instead, the gang can chat with proprietors in each area and land a gig to hunt monsters ranging from low to high levels. Once the hunt is completed, Noctis will receive his rightful prize, retain experience, and pocket some gil. Not too shabby of a deal, really.
What differs most about Final Fantasy XV is that the group has to either find a lodging area or make camp in order for the experience points to kick in. It’s a pretty cool concept. Some outposts will take the experience they’ve rightfully gained and actually multiply it by a set amount. Granted, the fancier the place, the more generous that amount is. It sure makes tallying up those points a hell of a lot more enjoyable.
Seeing as exploiting details pertaining to the plot would spoil some key points, I will go as far as to say that Final Fantasy XV is a rollercoaster of emotions. The amount of passion encompassed within each scene is what molds Final Fantasy XV into such an exceptional experience. One minute you’re laughing at the commentary between the gang and the next you’re bawling your eyes out. It’s safe to have a box of tissues nearby because whew, you are going to need them.
To say that Final Fantasy XV is a good game is the understatement of the year.
There is so much to experience in the stunning open world to the point where the gameplay rarely loses its flare. Giant barbaric monsters are constantly lurking the land of Eros ready to be confronted. Secret and mysterious dungeons are waiting to be discovered. There is always something to conquer. That excitement you felt when you first committed yourself to Noctis’ journey does not fade, but rather grows. Sure, it has its minor faults. During combat the camera angles may appear flawed, but nothing extravagant enough to hinder one from venturing onward. To put it simply, Final Fantasy XV is one hell of a rocky journey, but one absolutely worth taking over and over again.