Final Fantasy 15: The Kotaku Review

Image: Kotaku

You're four years old, maybe five. Your parents got one of those Nintendos that everyone's been raving about, along with a brand new game. A role-playing game.

Other Nintendo games are good, sure, but this one's on another level, transporting you to a world full of mages, ogres, and all sorts of incredible sights and sounds. You get to control not just one hero but four, each with his own equipment and character class. The music is so good, you sometimes leave the game on just to listen. It takes you dozens of tries to get past the wizards on bottom of the Marsh Cave. Every night you dream about flying around the world in an airship. One day your save file mysteriously vanishes. No big deal. You've got all the time in the world. You pick up the controller and jump back in.

Let's get this out of the way: Final Fantasy 15 is a great video game. It steers the series in a promising new direction, reveals a spectacular new world, and introduces a combat system as satisfying as any I've played. For all of its warts and wrinkles — and there are quite a few warts and wrinkles — Final Fantasy 15 is often a thing of beauty.

It's also a drastic departure from previous games in the series. Longtime fans may wonder whether Final Fantasy 15 truly feels like a Final Fantasy game. Well. Sure. FF15 has chocobos, Phoenix Downs, and two guys called Wedge and Biggs. It's got crystals, summons, a fantastic soundtrack, a great villain, and loads of references to its predecessors. As for the rest of it? The only constant in Final Fantasy has always been that there are no constants, so the fifteenth game fits right in.

Yet FF15 is also disjointed and messy, full of technical issues and clunky story decisions. Really getting into Final Fantasy 15 means accepting that you might see the same dialogue exchange about "Ebony coffee" several dozen times and that you'll have to restart a few battles because the combat boundaries got screwy. You might run into random crashes that cost you hours of progress. The dungeons are remarkably well-designed, but most of the sidequests are simple and boring. The money system is frustrating. The story's got some issues. Like I said: warts and wrinkles.

What's strangest about Final Fantasy 15 is that it's essentially two games slammed together. For half a playthrough — or longer, depending how much you explore — you're on an extravagant road trip, driving from town to town and camping out under the stars. Then the game takes a sudden pivot, ditching the established framework and transforming into something else entirely, sort of like a reverse version of Final Fantasy VI. It's weird. It's jarring. And, ultimately, it works. If there's a lesson to learn from Final Fantasy 15, it's that a great set of main characters and a killer combat system can prop up just about anything.

You're older now, and the latest Nintendo Power has gotten you ridiculously hyped for a new role-playing game that's about to hit U.S. shores. Word is, this one's got a story — a real story, on par with Animorphs and Narnia — full of twists and turns the likes of which you've never seen in a Nintendo game. When you load it up for the first time and hear that familiar arpeggio, chills run down your spine.

You meet the Red Wings. You accidentally blow up a village full of innocent civilians. You watch your hero renounce darkness and embrace his destiny. You make your way around the world — then you go underneath it. You fight demons on the moon and find out that the big bad guy isn't actually all that bad. You didn't realise that video games could tell such elaborate stories. You had no idea that games could actually make you care about their characters. Cecil and Kain and Rydia and Edge and Rosa might just be pixels on a screen, but they're as real as anyone you know.

One of the first things you see in Final Fantasy 15 is a group of four beautifully coiffed men pushing a broken-down car down the road. On the soundtrack, Florence and the Machine perform a haunting rendition of Ben E. King's "Stand by Me." These four men are clearly good friends. They tease each other. They make bad puns. They gossip about girls and even have their own specific seats in the car, as is necessary for a proper road trip. "I won't be afraid," Florence croons, "just as long as you stand by me."

This group is: Noctis, a broody, sensitive teenage prince; Gladiolus, a brawny bodyguard; Ignis, an intellectual butler; and Prompto, a hyperactive marksman with a terrible sense of humour. Enjoyment of Final Fantasy 15 hinges on how much you appreciate this group of characters, because the game focuses on their relationships above all else.

Yet they aren't four equal partners: Noctis is royalty, and the others are ostensibly there to do his bidding. It's fascinating to watch Gladio, Ignis, and Prompto try to reconcile their commitment to servitude with what a pain in the arse Noctis can be. As the story progresses and the world starts falling apart, their responsibilities to him become more of an open question. How can they help Noctis perform his duty as a king? Should they?

The dynamics of brotherhood are reflected in combat, too. Noctis is powerful alone, but he's way more effective when working with his friends. Cooperative attacks and techniques can do exponentially more damage than solo battling. One later section, which sees Noctis separated from his friends for an extended period of time, makes it clear both to him and to the player: Noct needs these guys.

From left to right: Gladiolus, Noctis, Prompto, and Ignis.

The road trip starts out jovially enough. Noctis and his gang set off for Altissia, a beautiful coastal city where Noctis is due to marry Luna, the princess of a nearby country called Tenebrae. Along the way, Noctis gets news that the evil empire of Niflheim has invaded his home city and reportedly murdered his father, King Regis. (Noctis would have known this if he had watched Kingsglaive, the companion film to Final Fantasy 15 that serves as an adequate but unnecessary prequel.) The four bros turn around, find themselves blocked out of their hometown, and set off on a new road trip to build up Noctis's power, meet up with Luna, and reclaim the powerful crystal stolen by Niflheim's nasty emperor.

Soon enough the gang is driving around the world again, picking up side quests, listening to the radio, and bantering about nonsense. There's no new sense of urgency, as is perhaps inevitable for an open-world game. The designers at Square Enix rightly recognised that it would not be very fun for Noctis to spend the whole trip sitting in silence and thinking about his dad. Still, it's a little strange how quickly they all accept this new reality.

Two or three quests later the world starts to open up, and Final Fantasy 15 reveals its core rhythm. You can drive around, hunt monsters, and go on all sorts of sidequests. If you explore enough you might find an optional dungeon or a way-too-powerful enemy that you'll have to mentally bookmark for later. At night you'll want to make camp or stay at a hotel, which will recover your party's health and let you boost stats by letting Ignis whip up some of his favourite dishes. You'll also have to fill up your car with gas every once in a while, which is happily less annoying than it sounds.

It strikes a different beat than other comparable open-world games. While in Skyrim or The Witcher 3 you might zoom around the map knocking out your to-do list in big bunches, Final Fantasy 15 encourages you to slow down. You're not just hunting monsters by yourself — you're with a group of friends who comment on just about everything as they merrily roll along. Noctis and the gang might have an urgent mission on their hands, but they're perfectly happy to spend days in the wilderness, racing chocobos and fishing for trout. And Prompto, playing the role of That Guy, spends every car ride begging you to stop so he can take a picture. Fucking Prompto. (He makes up for it when he hums the Final Fantasy victory music after winning a battle.)

Calling a big-budget video game "beautiful" in 2016 is a little redundant, but Final Fantasy 15 is really a pleasure to look at. Some of its most striking moments happen organically: You're driving through the world and you spot a hulking creature, or the light shines just right on a stunning vista below the highway. (As you drive, you can listen to CD soundtracks from old Final Fantasy games; a nice touch.) The set-pieces — big, explosive moments inspired by games like Uncharted — are equally spectacular. The game performed well for me on a standard PS4, though the frame rate tended to drop in the sprawling city of Altissia, which also happens to be one of the most gorgeously realised cities we've ever seen in an RPG. Best of all is the animation work — few video game humans have felt as real as the ones we see in Final Fantasy 15, thanks mostly to the way Noctis and crew move around.

The city of Altissia is truly spectacular to behold, even if it's got some framerate issues.

The script is far less fluid, laced with groanworthy lines that should have been cut from an earlier draft. ("I see the sea," proclaims one character when you reach the ocean.) Many of Final Fantasy 15's pivotal cutscenes are poorly written and oddly shot, and some of the biggest moments happen off-screen for some reason. There are gaping, baffling holes in the plot. Yet there are also moments that are genuinely touching, not just during the main story but in optional scenes all across the world. One memorable scene, featuring an emotional late-night exchange between Noctis and Prompto, pops up randomly if you stay overnight at a hotel.

Awful puns aside, some of the game's best dialogue unfolds when the four bros are simply driving around in their car, swapping quips and trying to process whatever momentous story event just happened. Seriously, these dudes talk all the time. It's usually fun to listen to, except when they're repeating the same exchange ("That was a close one." "Too close for comfort.") for the 20th battle in a row.

Unlike some other recent Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy 15 avoids taking itself too seriously. Noctis, Ignis, Gladio and Promptus are constantly making jokes, trading barbs, and generally having a good time. That holds until the second half of the game, which is far darker and heavier on story, ditching the open world in favour of a more linear path. (You can revisit the open world at any time thanks to a weird but effective "time travel" mechanic that lets you go back and catch up on sidequests and hunts while carrying over all your levels and items.)

At this point the humour fizzles — or at least gets more morbid — and Final Fantasy 15 becomes less of a road trip and more of a straightforward RPG. It's uncomfortable, bizarre, and full of weird twists that I won't spoil, including one dreary chapter that changes up the gameplay entirely and drags on 30 minutes too long. But even the game's most sluggish moments are worth slogging through for the finale, which is beautiful. The ending hits hard.

Perhaps the most significant story deficiency is that the rest of the cast doesn't get nearly as much attention as the core foursome. Final Fantasy 15 has a fantastic, scene-stealing main villain, but the other antagonists fizzle out fast. Characters who seem like they should be important are relegated to background roles, and by the end of the game a couple of them have just stopped showing up. (Meanwhile Cindy, a personalityless mechanic who dresses like a stripper, shows up too often.) The love story between Luna and Noctis feels undercooked from the get-go, and it never quite comes together the way it could have. No big deal. Final Fantasy 15's real love story is the one between Noctis and his bros.

Word is, if you fight 700 battles in the Dinosaur Forest and then go to the Ancient Castle, you'll find General Leo sitting on the throne, alive and well. They say he'll thank you and join your party. You read this on an AOL message board, so it must be true. For weeks you embark on the quest to save Leo. During the day you dream up stories about espers and magitek soldiers; at night you go off and kill dinosaurs, tracking your progress in a marbled notebook that you're supposed to use for maths homework. When you finish your 700th battle, you're so excited your hands won't stop shaking. The trip to the Ancient Castle feels like it takes a year. You get to the throne room. Leo's not there. You pause. Did you just get scammed? Was all that time you spent really for nothing? You hop on the computer and sign back onto AOL. Someone else is saying that what you REALLY have to do is beat the whole game without using any magic...

The glue holding Final Fantasy 15 together, even at its most brittle moments, is the combat system, which ranks among the best I've ever encountered in a game like this. It's an innovative mix of real-time reflexes and cooperative strategy that feels like a natural way for Final Fantasy to step into the modern era.

Combat in FF15 takes place entirely in real time. When you see a monster on the field, you can immediately press a button to attack it. Gone are the menus and separate battle screens of previous Final Fantasy's, replaced by a faster-paced system that makes its predecessors' turn-based combat feel downright pokey by comparison.

In Final Fantasy 15 lore, the royalty of Lucis has access to a stable of magical powers including the ability to conjure weapons out of thin air, which Noctis does way too nonchalantly considering how goddamn cool it is. You only control Noctis — the other bros govern themselves — and he can equip four weapons at a time, conjuring each new one with an easy button press.

It's tempting to find one type of weapon that feels good and stick to it, but FF15's tougher enemies have strengths and weaknesses that you'll want to exploit. One boss might be strong against swords but weak to daggers; another might be resistant to most physical attacks but susceptible to magic. There are a ton of different weapons — including 13 Lucian royal arms that are powerful but cost HP to use — and juggling between them is a lot of fun. Particularly enjoyable are the ninja stars.

Combat is a highlight of Final Fantasy 15.

The whole system is tied together by Noctis's other core magical ability: warp strike. By throwing his weapon at something — an enemy, a water tower, a rock, whatever — Noct will teleport wherever it lands. If he warp-strikes a monster, he'll do extra damage. If he warp-strikes an environment point, he can hang there, regenerating health and magic points until he's ready to rejoin the fray. Having the ability to warp across the battlefield adds an interesting dimension to combat, and it makes for a great rhythm as the angsty royal prince zips between targets. Hitting an enemy from behind will boost damage and can trigger what's called a Link Strike — a cooperative attack between Noctis and one or two of his buddies — so it's beneficial to stay moving. The more I played, the more I found the flow. Attack here, warp there, block, parry, switch weapons, slam an enemy from behind. It's smooth and satisfying.

During combat, all four of your party members will get hit. A lot. When one of your bros inevitably loses all of his HP, he'll enter "danger" mode, staggering around the battlefield unable to take any actions. When a party member is in danger mode, he'll take damage to his max HP, rendering him weaker and weaker. You can get him out of danger mode in only a few ways, and it's possible to lose a party member for the rest of the fight if you don't have a proper stable of healing items. If Noctis goes down and you don't have a Phoenix Down to revive him, it's game over.

The wrinkle is that your party won't recover all of their damaged max HP after battles. You'll need to make camp or use special items to recover, which means that you'll have to conserve energy and pay close attention while fighting groups of tough enemies back to back. This makes fights feel like a series of calculated risks, as opposed to a series of standalone contests. When you're dungeon-crawling — especially in some of the later, tougher dungeons — you'll need to be cautious and prepared. It's a marked change from some other Final Fantasy games. You know how you used to hoard your Megalixirs and Mega Phoenixes because you thought you'd need them later, but then you never actually used them? That won't happen here.

Yep, I painted my car lime green. Don't judge.

Combat can reach a furious pitch, but it occasionally stumbles and breaks its own momentum. That's because of the peculiar way Final Fantasy 15 handles beginning and ending battles. Basically: There is a red ring on the map when enemies are nearby. When you're in the ring, you're in battle; when you leave the ring, the battle ends. It's way too easy to accidentally step out of bounds in the middle of battle, especially given how tight some encounters can be (and how poorly the game's camera handles up-close fights). Sometimes bad guys will even push you out of the ring, leading to all sorts of awkward scenarios where you're standing next to a big bad Cactuar or Marlboro but you've somehow deactivated the combat flag so they just stare at you in silence. Occasionally enemies will knock you out of the fight and then regenerate their health, undoing an entire battle's worth of progress.

There are so many combat options, it's easy to get overwhelmed. Gladio, Prompto, and Ignis can each use special techniques that do varying amounts of damage (or restore the party). You can cast elemental magic by drawing fire, ice, and lightning energy from points across the world, then transforming that energy into spells and equipping those spells into your weapon slots, where you can hurl them at enemies like grenades. Noctis has an ability called Armiger that's essentially Final Fantasy 15's Limit Break, and it's pretty damn fun to use. Once I got my head around it all and really got into the rhythm, I felt empowered enough to go spoiling for a fight. When you find yourself trapped in an underground chamber with three hulking Red Giants, there's nothing more satisfying than thinking: "Don't worry. I got this."

An older kid picked a fight with you at school this morning, and you're nervous about what he might do tomorrow. Right now, though, you're not thinking about any of that. You're thinking about what it will be like to get out of Midgar. You know Aeris dies — someone spoiled it for you on the internet — but you don't know what else happens. You're dying to see what's up with that dude Sephiroth. The instruction manual seems to imply that he joins your party? That will be awesome. You don't really understand what all those half-naked dudes were doing at the Honeybee Inn, but you do know you want to get revenge on Rufus Shinra as soon as humanly possible. He kinda reminds you of that kid at school.

Final Fantasy 15 is, more than any single-player Final Fantasy before it, absolutely stuffed with things to do. There's fishing, gardening, bounty-hunting, photography, bro-dating, arcade gaming, and a coliseum where you can wager on monster battles. There are more than a dozen optional dungeons. You can deck out your car with silly stickers and even transform it into an airship once you've finished the game. There are super-powered weapons and secret bosses. NPCs will offer you dozens and dozens of sidequests. In many ways, this game feels like a direct response to fan complaints that Final Fantasy XIII was too linear.

On a scale from The Hinterlands to The Witcher 3, most of these sidequests lean far more towards the former. They're almost all tedious. One quest lets you help a journalist find a new career. Other jobs task you with doing menial errands or taking photos. There's a sidequest that's literally an advertisement for the ramen brand Cup Noodles, to the point where they could just capture direct footage and turn it into a TV commercial.

A couple of quests lead to unique scenarios or boss fights, but most of them are unrewarding. Far more satisfying are the monster hunts — challenging beasts that you can track down for gil and rewards — if only because Final Fantasy 15's combat system is such a pleasure. I've never been the type of gamer to grind for levels just to take on optional ultra-bosses like Ozma or Yiazmat, but for FF15 I plan to go through them all. The fighting is just that fun.

Too real, Dino. Too real.

The loot system is also a disappointment. Enemies don't drop gil, only items, but some of those items are necessary for upgrading weapons and finishing quests. The game offers no indication of which items you should save and which are safe to sell. Gil is limited, so this can be really annoying — you have to just cross your fingers and hope you don't sell something that you might want later.

Sub-par sidequests and loot frustrations aside, there's still a good reason to explore the sprawling open-world: The dungeons. Just about every dungeon in Final Fantasy 15 is excellent, and you'll never see them all unless you take the time to hunt them down. There are sewers, mines, icy caverns, and swampy thickets. There's a massive mountain and a haunted castle with secrets that I'll leave for you to discover.

Once you've beaten all of these dungeons, you get a reward: More dungeons. This is a game whose camera was clearly designed for open world spaces and can get finnicky when you're inside. It's also a game with plenty of weird bugs and glitches, including the occasional crash. So it's all the more impressive that the dungeons feel like such a highlight.

I'll add: One hidden post-game dungeon, which took me about five hours to complete, ranks among the most satisfying things I've ever done in a video game. It's one that people will be talking about for a long time.

Final Fantasy 15's main characters about to drop the hottest album of 2016.

Final Fantasy 15 can be frustrating. Big chunks of it feel like vestiges of an entirely different game (Versus XIII, perhaps?). But when it works, it works. After over 55 hours with the game, I can already think of dozens of moments that will stick with me. Driving from coast to coast and watching the sun set over the Duscae mountains. Sailing into Altissia for the first time. Trying to defeat the monstrous Midgarsomr too early, jotting down exactly where I'd found him, and coming back for revenge once I'd beaten the game.

I don't know how Final Fantasy 15 will be remembered when held up to the rest of the Final Fantasy pantheon. But I do know that it's got everything I want from a Final Fantasy game. I know that it will be yet another snapshot in a life filled with Final Fantasy. Another grand adventure, another gang of worthy heroes; another tale of crystals and magic and betrayal and love, all beautiful melodies and lush scenery and the finely honed complexity of carefully choreographed combat. Onward to secrets beyond the horizon, and don't forget the Phoenix Down.

If that's not Final Fantasy, I don't know what is.

You're at your parents' house for Thanksgiving, and you've just gotten a review copy of one of the most anticipated video games in modern history. You're much older now; you have a life, a job, a relationship, responsibilities. You can feel yourself getting jaded. Few big-budget Japanese games live up to the ones you loved all those years ago, and you don't think this new one will have as much of an impact on you. Then you start playing. And playing. When you finish the game, thirsty and bleary-eyed, you feel like you just got punched in the gut. What an ending. You're not ready to stop spending time with Noct, Gladio, Iggy, and Prompto. You look over at the clock. It's 4:30 in the morning. You pick up the controller and jump back in.


Comments

    Aeris dies!? Spoiler warnings please...

    This review seems to fit snugly with my expectations about the game. Something that's been in development that long and is this expansive is always going to feel like a bunch of different ideas smashed together and full of bloat.

    I'm somewhat surprised at people saying the combat is the best thing. It's great to see they did have focus on making the core activity feel great, even if maybe it was to the detriment of the others. I'd like to know how it (the combat) compares to other Squeenix properties because it seems like a mash up of Kingdom Hearts and Drakkengard. Either way, hopefully it acts as a learning experience for the FFVII remake. I know people want turn based but you can play the original for that. Let's have something new.

    Last edited 29/11/16 12:26 pm

    Only 4 or 5 when you played your first RPG? Good god could you even understand it let alone read properly? lol

      I believe there's two types of young gamers.

      1. The ones that slowly read out the words on any video game, attempting to make sense of the story, usually turning to a parent to ask, "What does genocide mean?"

      2. Ones who skip all the dialog before asking, "What do I do? Where do I go?".

    looking forward to this being on sale on PC in a few years time.
    love me a good, well priced RPG that is made well and looks pretty.

    by bad humour, did you mean puns and dad jokes type humour, because if thats the case, then that is amazing.

    Dear god this review was about as bloated as the game in its content!

      Funnily enough, the game isn't *that* bloated, as the main quest takes about 20 hours or so. What you do outside that is completely up to you. I guess it's a bit like Yakuza games in that sense.

    Are those the graphics? Really?!

    Even Final Fantasy 13 looks better than that on my PC.

    And yes, I know the images are jpg.

    I've got two questions:

    1. Is the move toward real-time hack-n-slash going to piss me off as much as it did it in the demos?
    2. Does the game suffer from the lack of diversity in the playable cast?

    Give it about a week and this game will have the same reputation as FF13. Basically it's a piece of shit, but nobody wants to admit it yet.

      Watched about 45 minutes of it streamed today and was thoroughly bored and it looked clunky as hell.

    I've only sunk a few hours in so far, but my observations basically amount to...
    1) This game has a bafflingly "meh" opening. It ASSUMES you have watched the preceding film / anime / demos to have ANY idea of what is going on. Why does Noctis have warping powers? It's certainly not explained in the game.
    2) Contrary to what Jason's article says, I find the combat to be horribly poor. It's scrappy, it's messy, and the elegant, tactical FF battles of old seem nowhere to be seen. So far, anyway.
    3) While I'm not hating the game, it's really not doing much to make me love it. The actors all sound bored as they read their lines, and everything just seems so... I dunno, inconsequential.

    Bottom line, I'm finding the game very weird tonally, and while I'll definitely be sticking with Noctis and co. for the long haul, it sure doesn't feel much like FF to be at all.

    Well i have been playing it for the past 10.5 hrs. I am enjoying it. I like the story and it flows if you have see the Final Fantasy movie release last year

    (SPOILER WARNING for this comment; read with caution)

    Honestly the game is interesting with game play and the whole friendship thing despite some messes with the game but I have to agree with this review that the real love story is between Noctis and his friends. Because this so-called "romance" that happens in this story is just forced. The game is not a romance or a love story; it is dark, it's heavy, it hits you with the feelings of loss but also hope and friendship and so it feels like this lunafreya character is just a forced addition. She is as interesting as a picture drawn on a piece of cardboard; enjoy this character or not, she was just there for the heck of it, to be the "main female" because apparently its probably illegal if there is no main female. And with all due respect, this character feels like the perfect example of what a Mary Sue and plot device is.

    For one thing; she's dressed in white (obvious attempt to force a pairing since Noct is in all black most of the time), prim and proper most of the time, and doesn't seem to have flaws in character at all! While having no flaws might sound nice to some on paper, it is not. The reason characters stick with us and become important to us and we relate to them is because, if done right, they have flaws that we can relate to perhaps because we are like that or we are close with someone who is like that character or it makes them feel more alive and human and you come to understand them.
    Apparently Square might have thought of this so they attempted to give this character "flaws" like how she was most likely abused as a child and so on. But that doesn't necessarily equal to an interesting or good character especially when it does not seem to go anywhere at all! This character is too much of an all-around white-wearing healer good girl that makes speeches and heals people but can't seem to develop a character outside of being so perfect that it's unnatural and boring. Also as a plot device, she is to give the Ring of Lucii to Noctis which is a super important item; plus forced/arranged marriage because neither Mary Sue nor Noctis said yes at all. It was just "poof!" like that and no one is complaining, which is strange since Noctis is supposed to "hate the strict rules of his kingdom". And while people may argue that they're friends so its at least someone they know and won't mind marrying--politics be damned--think on it: would you REALLY agree to marry your friend just like that if such a thing was expected of you?

    And true there had once been someone called Stella when it was once Versus XIII but if we all think about it, the story of XV could have been a lot better if Square Enix did not try to shove down a forced "romance" down our throats, or even have a lead female because the world is not going to end if a story doesn't have a lead female in a story where there are other more important main characters, and vice versa for a male lead. And if we think about it Noctis and Mary Sue would also be better off as just friends with a sibling relationship like Noct has with his buddies! If a romance is needed, why not take a more interesting route like not having Noctis with Mary Sue at the end but instead perhaps she has feelings for Gentiana who also happens to be Shiva. It might have been interesting, or perhaps trident lady could end up with Nyx after she gets axed off!

    And that is another thing; I agree that Kingsglaive was quite unnecessary; and it feels like another device to get people hyped for XV but since its been made and we know what happened in the movie by now, you have to ask why was it even made in the first place if they have no place or seem to exist in the game. No mention or anything (perhaps I missed it but as far as I know, the Kingsglaive were never mentioned in-game) about this elite force who serves the king and the fact that main man Nyx Ulric had better interaction and chemistry with Mary Sue, since Noctis knew her only from childhood and they never really interacted properly or at all after that brief time, it's sad that he was just tossed aside never to explore more possibilities or reunite with her in the afterlife, ironic since he had been hailed a "hero". The Kingsglaive, for an elite force that seems quite important, no damn was given about them in the game whatsoever, not even a small reference, as if they never existed, which makes the movie pointless, and also makes it quite a waste for Nyx and the others. So what was the point of the Kingsglaive?

    But sadly since Noctis is the main guy of the game, Square thinks its a good idea to still go ahead and shove the forced relationship onto Noctis and onto us. If King Regis had been kept alive, it would be nice to have the story focus on family and friendship without the forced stuff. Noctis did not really get the chance to properly have a father-son chat with his father and let his feelings out. It would have been touching to see Noctis reunite with his dear father who he does love deeply.

    As for the ending, I feel Square Enix should NEVER have put that "secret scene" at the end. For those of you who either finished the game or saw the scene or read the ending beforehand, you know what I am referring to. This so-called ending feels rather insulting to the players and to the characters.

    After all you have been through with Noctis and his friends, you see he finally decides to be the king he needs to be and do what he must; it's sad and it's heavy and they are no heroes but to us they become heroes because despite all this pain and suffering they went through together, you could see that they, especially Noctis made the ultimate decision and sacrifice. And then seeing Noctis reunites with his friends around a campfire like all times gets your tears flowing. And then after that it should have ended there or even end at the scene where the came slides to the throne to show a picture of Noctis and his gang together. The story could have been sad, yet beautiful if it had ended there because perhaps it means Noctis is now with his friends and family.
    Sadly we see either an afterlife or dream where Noctis ends up marrying Mary Sue and then a smooch happens.... Now, was that scene necessary? Was it needed? What part in the game did it feel like it was all driving towards that particular moment? That this was the end goal?

    The reason that scene is insulting or at least, VERY unnecessary, is because it seems to completely undermine all that the player and the main characters went through! True, at times we want a happy ending as a reward for all our deeds, but this story was focusing on more heavy themes that hits the player and even someone like me who likes happy endings know that sometimes not all tales end up with or need a happy ending in a way. So this "secret scene" just throws all our hard work, suffering, character development, and sacrifice into the garbage!

    For one thing they are dead! What is the wedding even needed for anymore? Second, where is everyone else? Aside from Umbra (and perhaps Pryna too) the dog who we see napping, nobody else seems to be around! So is this only meant for Noctis alone? Why? What about his father and his friends? Those he held dear? Do they not matter? Instead a piece of cardboard is who Noctis spends the rest of his damned like with? Rather than being with his father again or his bros who he fought along with this whole time, and who he had known since his boyhood? Why are they not there? It made it feel like nobody else was important and that they did not matter; that their struggles did not matter at all! In the end, they were all tossed aside for this forced attempt at something "touching" and "happy".

    Like that end scene or not, the game should have ended when it did or at least end with the camera staring at the picture of the whole gang and not with this, please forgive me, garbage!

    The Brotherhood anime did a better job of capturing the moments between the main characters than the ending of the game ever did. There was no reason for that scene to happen or exist and it did not feel natural and just felt like it had been dropped there just because.

    I have been a fan and lover of Final Fantasy ever since I was a child; I was perhaps 6-7 years old when I touched my first Final Fantasy. Ever since then, I was hooked, I was in love and I looked up everything I could about this franchise and their creators! And I LOVE the reason Final Fantasy got its name! Heck even though people hate it at times, I even love the Final Fantasy XIII series!

    But this? This did not feel right at all; in fact I heard it was actually THREE games mashed into one to create this beast. The game looks good, the gameplay was awesome to me, and the story was quite interesting BUT those certain elements got in the way and in the end, everything we did to save the world and be the king we need to be had been tossed aside like it was just a joke. And that damn logo in the end! A joke!

    Yes when XIII and Lightning Returns ended, it was on a happy note. For XIII, the gang fought against a fate they knew was wrong, and for Lightning Returns, being reborn had been mentioned and pointed at many times so it makes sense the characters are alive and living happily somewhere because even though there are those who hate it, we know that being born again in the new world is something that WOULD happen and what we strive towards in the game and we see how the characters were placed into the new world to begin anew. And while there had been the Serah/Snow, and maybe the Noel/Yuel thing, those games did not force any of it onto us or force focus on it. It fit in well enough.

    Sadly XV's end had been ruined badly when it could have ended nicely: WITHOUT the "secret scene". If this is how SE is going to treat Final Fantasy from now on, then they better leave the secret scenes trend to the Marvel movies from now on.

    Everyone has their own thoughts and opinions but this is my take on it; with wholehearted honesty, no bias, just my true feelings on the matter.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my ramblings, and I hope everyone has a good night or day, wherever they are.

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