Final Fantasy XV was an absolute blast to play, but even great games have pros and cons. Yesika walks through what really worked well and the elements that kind of fell flat.
Good: Perfect Balance of Fast-Paced and Strategic Combat
I was always a fan of the turn-based combat system that was prevalent in past Final Fantasy games. Some people criticize it to be too easy since it isn’t real-time. I would argue that it has its own challenge, and one wrong move can lead the death of your entire party. FFVIII was not completely turn-based, but it wasn’t as unforgiving as FFX-2 or FFXIII games. While there are a number of people who prefer slower paced combat, there’s also a large group that welcomes a faster pace. FFXV finds a way to please both sides of the party.
The game essentially allows me to choose whatever style I want mid-battle. You can hack and slash all you want but you can also easily switch to ‘wait mode’ if you’re thrown into a bender and need to plan your next move. Sometimes there are battles where I never use ‘wait mode,’ times when I use it once or twice, and moments when I use it all throughout. The freedom to do so is what makes this is a great addition.
Bad: The QTE Trial of Leviathan
Before anything else, I just want to mention that I really loved all the Astral scenes in the game to the point that I am still in awe every time I summon one. Acquiring a summon in other FF games usually involves a painstakingly fought battle with a dungeon full of lovely puzzles. I was a bit surprised then when all it took to acquire Leviathan was as simple as responding to button prompts in QTE form. This isn’t really a major criticism since I did enjoy all the scene with Leviathan, but I wish there was more agency given to the player. Titan didn’t involve a lot of effort too, but it did have a fully fledged combat encounter to its credit.
Good: Reinventing Magic
A lot of you might have caught on by now that I’m a big fan of FFVIII, so you might be able to predict what I’m going to say next. The ‘Draw’ system is back but with some improvements! To jog your memory, the draw system was an alternative to MP wherein players would draw magic from enemies or draw points as consumable items. This feature was met with mixed reception, but somehow it’s back and Square Enix found a way to make it co-exist with MP. You still need MP to case spells so having 100 of each spell won’t do you any good.
The game features only three core element spells you can draw from different points: blizzard, fire, and lightning. This might come across limiting from the beginning, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg. You can actually craft spells cross-core elements and add in some items as well that could yield in group healing or chain casting. Again, Square Enix finds one more way to give players freedom with their gameplay.
Bad: Grind, and ye shall receive!
As much as I praise freedom, sometimes it can also have its minor drawbacks. FFXV‘s open-world drew me in right from the beginning as I ventured out into areas that aren’t marked by the main quest and took on every hunt that didn’t whoop my ass. The next thing I know I was already at level 35 with a bunch of new abilities. So, I decided to take a break from of it all and actually make some progress towards saving my fiancee and avenging Lucis! I knew that I was in for an intimidating major boss fight but I knew I came in prepared… well too prepared.
The boss’ level was more than 10 levels below me and it was a piece of cake. Perhaps, I should just put my adventuring on hold?
Good: Immersive Mini-Games
Chocobo races, need I say more? One reason why I took my sweet time with the main quest is that I had fun with little games Square Enix hid around the map. There are a lot of these littered around the game from the Chocobo races, arena betting, fishing, and that viciously difficult arcade game. Fishing is also rewarding because Ignis often comes up with a new recipe every time you catch a new species of fish. It can get downright addicting just like FFVIII‘s Triple Triad and FFX‘s Blitzball. When it comes to a massive open world, it’s the little things that bring it to life.
Bad: Product Placement Side-Quests
Cup Noodles, amirite? Please, see it for yourself:
I was also informed by my colleagues about the Vivienne Westwood side-quest in Altissia. You know, I’m not against product placement but it has to be done right. Poor Gladio looks like he is suffering, and it’s really cringeworthy to watch.
Perhaps, they could just have a large screen where there’s a Final Fantasy-esque commercial of Cup Noodles?