Thoughts On: Final Fantasy XV

 photo fantasyXV01.jpg The Tokyo Game Show 2014 has come and gone, and there were a lot of great games shown off during the event. You had the prologue gameplay of Ori and the Blind Forest, a trailer for Bravely Second, the sequel to Bravely Default, Dragon Quest Heroes, more information about Bloodborne, the newest game in the Shining franchise called Shining Resonance revealed, gameplay for Tales of Zestiria unveiled, and there was so much more that put a smile on my face and made my wallet cry. However, the biggest reveals and the biggest showstoppers were probably Square Enix showing off Final Fantasy Type-0 HD and the upcoming Final Fantasy XV. It has been no surprise to anyone that the long running Final Fantasy franchise has hit a few stumbles after Final Fantasy X was released on the PlayStation 2. After that, the games that came out were either not up to par with previous entries, or were downright awful. So yeah, their past 13 years of game development have not been that great. Sure, they had their good games and underrated gems come out, but for their main Final Fantasy entries, there has been a dip in quality. Some people think that the more upset fans of the franchise are being too nitpicky, and shouldn’t hold the franchise with such a high pedigree, but I think that statement is flimsy at best and flawed at worst. I think if you found the more recent entries in your favorite long running franchise to be of lower quality, you would be upset. Luckily, besides a few questionable business comments by Square Enix, like the Tomb Raider reboot not being a financial success even though it sold millions of copies, they are slowly getting back to what made their games great and why millions of gamers bought their product. Their next game in the main Final Fantasy franchise, Final Fantasy XV seems to be a return to form of their old good game design philosophy. I know it sounds weird that I am praising this new game before it’s out, and I am probably gonna get a kick in the pants for some of my praise for the game, hey, I haven’t been this excited for a Final Fantasy game in years, and I am going to put in my two cents on the game so far.

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The story will revolve around a young man named Noctis, who is from the country of Lucis. On the day of a peace-signing over the game’s world crystals, an opposing country called Niflheim invades Lucis and attacks them, which results in Niflheim stealing Lucis’s crystal before launching their attacks on another country. It is up to Notcis and his all-male friends to retrieve the crystal, saving the world from another huge war. Of course, lines are crossed, and Notcis is forced to become enemies with Luna, a female friend of his, and I bet many other dramatic plot elements will pop up when needed. While the main cast is all male, and some have been comparing the cast to many interactive visual novels aimed at female consumers, the cast, from what I have seen in the trailers, feels more organic, and they click together better. The trailer from Tokyo Game Show 2014 especially cemented that opinion. I know there is some concern and criticism aimed at Final Fantasy XV that you won’t have any female party members, or as of yet have any, but personally, I am fine with the all-male party as long as their characters are good. Plus, I don’t think after the train wreck that was Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels, anyone wants a female protagonist who was mainly an archetype of poorly developed character traits as the main hero for a while. There are female characters in the game, and one of them is even one of the main villains, so we will have to see if that’s enough.

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Final Fantasy XV has been described as a tactical-action-oriented-roleplaying-game. You will be in control of Notcis as your crew of attractive Japanese male friends travel across the land, fighting monsters, taking down the bad guys, and apparently driving around in the newest model car that is in this universe. The combat has been described as something you would see in Kingdom Hearts, Square’s other huge RPG franchise. Notcis will have the ability to swap between multiple customizable weapons, warp, and perform magic attacks that will drain the magic meter. Depending on the surroundings and the situation, you will need to team up with certain party members, and take down whatever challenge is in your way. You will be able to give commands to your characters, and since the other party members are AI-controlled, they will be performing attacks and action based around what I guess is their AI programming. The game was also going to have moments where you can climb larger enemies, take out their weaknesses, and be able to pilot certain vehicles and mechs, but I honestly don’t know if that is still in the game or not. Either way, I like what they have shown off in footage of the game’s combat system, and I hope to hear more in the near future.

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It is quite obvious that the game is beautiful in the graphics department. I always like to joke around that this is where half of the budget in any Final Fantasy game goes, because they are going make sure it takes full advantage of the console’s system specs. Sure, it might not be as up-to-date as how amazing a lot of PC games can look at the best graphical settings, but still, a good looking game is still a good looking game. The music is going to be composed by Yoko Shimomura, who also composed the music for Super Mario RPG, Parasite Eve, Live a Live, Front Mission, the Kingdom Hearts series, the Mario & Luigi RPG series, Radiant Historia, Legend of Mana, King of Dragons, and helped out with other games like Xenoblade Chronicles. You can definitely see that they got one of the best RPG composers of all time to do what will hopefully be a fantastic RPG soundtrack.

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Do I have any concerns? Of course I do! I wouldn’t be giving my thoughts on them if I didn’t have a single concern or issue. Since the rest of your party will be controlled by the computer, I hope they are not acting like morons, since that could make any battle more of an issue if they are not doing what you want them to do in battle. I also hope the game doesn’t go full-on anime melodramatic on us. I think with the recent releases of other RPGs like Ni No Kuni, Japanese developers are slowly starting to move away from appealing to the more anime-centric crowds, and are hopefully shaping the characters to feel more realistic.

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Overall, I am rather excited for this game, and I haven’t been excited for a Final Fantasy game in years. I love the franchise, but I couldn’t help, but think that Square Enix hit a brick wall in terms of what they thought we would like the Final Fantasy games and their games in general to be like. I am hoping that this game is going be amazing, and from what I have seen, it has the potential to be one of Square Enix’s best games of recent year. The game is set to release sometime probably next year with recent interviews saying that the game was 50-60% finished. If you want to try out the game, you can, next year when Final Fantasy Type-0 HD is released, which will come with a playable demo of Final Fantasy XV. It’s like how Dragon Quest VIII came with a demo for Final Fantasy XII. I hope Square can get back on their A game, and start pushing for different and better games that can appeal to everyone and not just a certain demographic. I hope you are listening, Square Enix, I want Final Fantasy XV to be fantastic!