Before continuing I think it’s important to understand my history with the Final Fantasy Series. It started with IV. Playing as the Dark Knight turned Paladin, and the allies that he gains and loses throughout the story of crystals, summoned monsters and the Big Whale. For a good part of my life, the go to games have been those created by Square, Squaresoft, Square Enix. The only two games I personally have yet to play from the main line of “numbered” entries into the series are twelve and thirteen. That is a story for my personal blog.
Aside from XI and XIV, which are the online multiplayer entries, the ones that I have played have been turn based. Coming into XV, knowing that should help you to understand the review that we are presenting. Because to put it out there, I have developed a love/hate relationship with XV. The strides we have made as far as technology go are apparent in the visual splendor that is this installment. Along with the digitally animated pseudo-prequel movie, Kingsglaive the world really does have a life of its own.
While the main story seems to have been crunched to around 20 to 25 hours, the amount of side quest, which to me seem like MMO filler as opposed to traditional Final Fantasy linear storylines. That’s not to say the side quests are unnecessary, quite the contrary. Traditionally, random encounters where the way one would level characters in the series, but as the game has evolved with the technology, to innovate properly and keep the idea fresh, the world and leveling in it would have to change to keep up. While the fighting is just as tedious as random encounters in some cases, its balanced by quest experience to help level out the monotony of the combat system which we will get into shortly.
While it’s been stated that Eos is a beautiful world in which to travel and explore, you do start out on the outskirts, outside major cities with only little explanation as to the world. It is important to note that the movie Kingsglaive is a good move to watch prior to playing the game to get an introduction to the world. As you explore Eos, you will spend a lot of time in your car, the Regalia. While it sticks only to roads, you will be able to rent chocobo’s if you need to move quickly off-road. The chocobos can also be customized. While in the car you can have Ignis drive for you to specific points automatically or you can manually take control of the wheel. You can play various music tracks, which you can purchase throughout Eos, of soundtracks from the various other final fantasy games, adding a bit of nostalgia to the sometimes 10 minute road trips.
One of the main focuses of the story is the brotherhood of the four characters in your party. While Noctis, is the main character, there is a story about how they connect. There are several instances that emphasize this by conversations in the car, or cut scene interaction that help bring the narrative to this. While there are points where you may gain or lose one temporarily, primarily you will be using the four main characters throughout your adventure. In retrospect here, in a very clear way there is a feeling that you could see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a sort of basis for the four.
Now we come to the combat system. For the most part you are in control of Noctis, but there are times you can use skills that interact with the other members, or you may have to heal them with a potion from your control menu. The combat system is fully active now, although there is an option to switch to wait, but that seems counter intuitive. With this change, there is no waiting for a character turn to act you are in real-time combat with a button for blocking and dodging, attacking and parrying. The dpad has a function that deals with your gear, you can have four different weapons and/or magic spells equipped. Magic is created by absorbing elemental node locations and then crafting in what seems like the after thought of the final fantasy VII draw system, which from my perspective, was one of the worst. Summons, also, seem to be an attraction where they are overpowered they are not something to be dependent on and might not be available when you would like them, but they are a beauty to behold.
A big part of the same combat system is the warp strike. If you have watched Kingsglaive already, you probably have an idea of how this works, but the game has some instances where it has so much more. There are scenarios in the game where you must sneak around a base, and warp strike takes on warp kill, allowing you to warp behind an enemy and take them down silently.
Another note with warp points, which also have a combat use for regenerating hp and mp, there are out of combat uses such as sneaking around a base making it more than just a combat mechanic, but a very real part of the world. I would recommend using the in game tutorial for more information on using warp in the game.
As far as I can rate it, on a scale of 10, I would give it an 8. While it is a fun game, I feel like there are some things that I feel should be tweaked to improve combat which seems messy, (If you held down the dodge button you could indefinitely not be hit), and having side quest feel more meaningful than an errand. This could be a patch that could be implemented to have a reputation for rewards or something akin to an MMO feel in which special rewards, even if cosmetic could be obtained.