My Decision-Packed Return To Final Fantasy XV

Having recently acquired a Playstation 4 Pro, I sat down to decide what game I would play with its graphical boosts. After some consideration, I opted for Final Fantasy XV. I played it when it first came out and enjoyed it a lot. But the game’s grown since then, with DLC campaigns, expanded story sequences, and side events.

Which left me with another decision: do I leap right into the new stuff or come across it naturally throughout the story?

Final Fantasy XV is a smart game, but it shipped with a lot of rough spots. A ten year long development cycle with multiple directors didn’t help, even if eventual project leader Hajime Tabata did a decent job righting the ship. At launch, though, the game had some strange problems.

An entire late-game chapter was so laborious that it later got altered in a patch; in its first iteration, major plot beats seemed to be missing, and there were clear gaps left in places where DLC content was later meant to fit.

Since I last played, Final Fantasy XV has changed. Each party member has their own little story segments in which they go on solo adventures, and the Royal Edition expansion adds new dungeons and revamps the ending.

There’s a photo mode, the ability to swap party members in combat, and more. Jumping back into the game, I felt excited but also torn. I could leap to a lot of this new content via chapter select or side menus, but would that feel right?

Narrative consistency means a lot to me. I tend to place a premium on analysing story beats and structure. I have bones to pick with FFXV’s gameplay, but when it clicks, it clicks hard. The larger issue for me was always the story, and specifically, the way the game used to fall apart in the fifth act. I felt an intense temptation to see all the fixes to this part of the game, but I got the sense that rushing to that part wouldn’t make for as clean of a storytelling experience.

As much as I’m eager to see what Prompto, Ignis, and even Gladio were up to throughout the story, leapfrogging from moment to moment seemed a recipe for a janky and disjointed replay.

Maybe I could have gotten away with checking out side events like the Final Fantasy XIV crossover event at my leisure, but something felt wrong about that. I decided to truly replay all of the story to see how everything fits.

The Royal Edition added tough new boss fights to the end of the game.

In an ideal world, I might have waited until the upcoming Episode Ardyn fleshed out the games dastardly villain, or even lived in a timeline where the additional DLC was not canceled in the wake of Tabata leaving the project.

But I am not a time traveller or alternate universe hopper, so I must re-examine this game in its current form. For me, that means replaying the entire story in order and making a better narrative than was originally there.

I’ve already started up a New Game Plus, which keeps my character’s boosted stats and makes progress faster. It keeps the pace brisk and allows me to swap out to DLC missions when the proper time arrives.

I’m excited to see how Final Fantasy XV has matured. I like this game, even its messier debut version, and now I want to give it a second chance. By weaving the new content with the old, I hope I find a marvellous new tapestry to admire.


Comments

    For me, a decidedly average game remains decidedly average. Does not give me any hope for the FF7 remake, which is sad because 7 is my favourite.

      Mine too except I was never keen for a remake, I wanted to see where it was all leading.
      Dirge of Cerberus, Crisis Core and Advent Children seemed to all point toward a massive climax or conclusion in the ultimate reunion.

      That being said, the coy comment from Square Enix that it isn't a traditional remake and would be episodic in nature tells me that it might be more about collating all the lore into a single game that might lead toward a conclusion.

      Time will tell I guess.

        Way back when, the idea of enjoying FF7's story with some updated visuals as enough to keep me interested. That was my biggest gripe with XV, even with it's mediocre combat. I feel like maybe at one point SE was fooling around with the idea of a VII-2, as you suggest, but I also feel that idea may be long passed it's sell-by date.

    I made it about 2 hours in. I wanted to enjoy it badly but...

    I remember getting to the end and just going, jeez I'm glad that's over. Good mechanics but I didn't like the story, was very confusing and had to read up on what happened on the wiki after. Average game but It's good they continued improving it well after release.

    A ten year long development cycle with multiple directors didn’t help...Well, ten years development, a complete change in story, being designed as a trilogy but then being cut down to a single game, then being cut down even further to get to release, then being padded out by a ton of extra media and games to make up for all the cut content...

    The development of FF15 went so, so wrong. I've never played a game where it was more clear that they ran out of money/time. The first section of the game is packed with things to do, which are mostly unimportant and completely detached from what you're actually trying to achieve, only to be followed by quick cuts in various new areas that you spend next to no time in by comparison.

    The Kinsglaive film was a dumb move. It would have been better placed as the first act of the game because, for those who watched it, it completely destroyed any sense of impending doom since you already knew what was going to happen. Any gravitas as the main characters discover the events falls flat.

    For those who didn't watch Kinsglaive, they're left scratching their heads. They don't have the perspective of understanding the situation and what the fall of the last resistance to the Niff empire means. They don't even know that Insomnia is the last hold out!

    The 'why' for the Niff empire is never addressed, you just turn up and they're all turned into demons.

    They never go far enough into Ardyn's motivations and/or goals. All he ever wants is to unleash demons, which he does - but even after Noctis disappears for 10 years Ardyn is still waiting to keep fighting. For what? Why? It almost feels like he wanted to be defeated in the end.

    There was so much missed potential failing to tell the story of a younger Noctis growing up aside King Regis, who knows that he is the chosen one and destined to give his life for the world.

    There are so many things wrong with FF15 you'd think it would be impossible to enjoy it, but I finished it on PC for the first time last week and think it's a beautiful story told poorly.

    Everyone joked about the boy band look of the main characters, but at the end of the game I was all in. As @chachi mentioned, they really grow on you and the ending is bittersweet.

    Fortunately I played it once all the new better ending stuff was added so I lack the perspective of what the original was like, but I really enjoyed it - I will never, ever play it again though.

    Last edited 02/01/19 2:31 pm

    Which left me with another decision: do I leap right into the new stuff or come across it naturally throughout the story?

    What story?

    I played this to completion year before last I believe and yeh it has many many flaws. But I just got the major feels for some reason while playing through it. I'm sure all the old music had a huge part in that, but I just really enjoyed the open world and finding the dungeons and all the weapons.
    I thought the way the four of them bonded through out the journey was great too.
    The telling of the story left a lot to be desired but after the conclusion ( and doing some reading online ...unfortunately ) I gotta say the story was very bittersweet and left me quite melancholy.
    Maybe I just craved a final fantasy so badly that my brain tricked me into thinking it was good. Who knows?

      It's ok to like it, don't let other people try to convince you otherwise.

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