There are eight days left until Final Fantasy XV disappears from Xbox Game Pass and thereby, my Xbox Series S.
Yesterday, I embarked on an epic quest to start and finish Final Fantasy XV in the few days remaining, and after Day 1, I’m only [checks watch] three hours in. Oh boy.
Technically that number should be higher since I took the time to go through the game’s combat and lore tutorials, which I’m very glad I did. I haven’t played this game since it launched five years ago, and the only thing I can remember about the gameplay was that it gave me trouble.
Though I seem better at it now than I was back then, dodging at the right time is still difficult, so I’m nearly always finishing a fight with a sliver of HP left. Since this is the Royal Edition I do have the Ragnarok, an overpowered-as-shit sword that kills enemies in one or two hits. Hopefully the sword remains useful for a long time, because combat in particular is my one worry about finishing this game.
Trying to get through FF15 as quickly as possible means focusing only on main quests. I’m afraid I’ll end up being underleveled without the extra EXP bump that comes with side-quests, which will force me to grind and therefore waste time. I’m estimating (i.e. praying) that it’ll take me no more than 40 hours to reach the finish — a generous estimate given Kotaku’s own review clocked just 20 hours to complete the main quest. Pinning 40 hours as my target gives me wiggle room for any time spent grinding and my own inclination to simply do side-quests even though I’m not supposed to. Even last night, knowing damn well I’m on a clock, I still managed to sneak in some forbidden side-questing.
Me: OK. I’m on the clock so no side-quests, no hunts, main quests only.
Also me: But the mineral deposit for Dino is right there, it’ll just take one second!
[One hour and 3-4 strung together fetch quests and hunts later]
Me, predictably: SHIT!
So if I fail in my task, know that it was my complete inability to focus that did me in. But honestly, how could anyone stick exclusively to the critical path in a game this pretty, and with bros as chummy as Noctis and co?
Speaking of chummy bros — damn I forgot how beautiful this game’s opening is. Final Fantasy games usually open with some big setpiece battle — a fuck yeah! moment to get the blood pumping. Final Fantasy VII starts with the bombing run, in FF9 you’re kidnapping a princess, in FF10 a big-arse monster crashes your underwater soccer game. In Final Fantasy XV, your car breaks down so you and your bros have to get out and push ‘er as Florence and the Machine sings “Stand By Me.”
Just the idea of being out in the sunshine, on a road trip with your best friends, travelling to your own wedding as someone sings the equivalent of “no matter what horrors come, as long as we’re together we’ll be alright” hits so differently in 2021.
I’ll admit it, I cried. I’m crying now writing this up thinking about the friends and family I haven’t seen and deeply miss. FF15 shines brightest in the small moments between its characters — Prompto’s pictures, Ignis’ food, and all the jokes and gentle teasing — small moments I haven’t experienced with my own friends in what feels like forever. I’m looking forward to experiencing more of those moments as my journey through Eos continues.