The last time I fully enjoyed a “numbered” Final Fantasy game was Final Fantasy X. Let that sink in for a second, the last numbered Final Fantasy game I enjoyed was released 15 years ago. How many series can you think of where something like this happens AND you’ve stuck with the series regardless? I can’t think of any others, that’s for damn sure!
I played a little bit of Final Fantasy XI, but I didn’t know anyone who played it, so it became extremely difficult to keep interested with the game. I was indifferent to Final Fantasy XII, I never really fully enjoyed the game, it was more a game where I played it just because I was already so into the series, I just accepted a mediocre game. I’ve still yet to finish it too, I’m pretty sure when I stopped I was 80-90% the way through, I just turned it on one day and thought “Wait…what am I fighting for? Who am I fighting? Why am I fighting?” and without an answer, that was it, I put it down. I think my thoughts on Final Fantasy XIII have been echoed over and over again as well, I absolutely despise that series of three games (well, XIII-2 was passable) and they nearly killed my love for Final Fantasy completely. Lastly, even though I said I wouldn’t until it was free-to-play, I have played Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. I got a copy cheap in a Humble Bundle with a 30-day free trial, so I tried it out and it’s actually pretty fun, but I’m still not paying monthly for it.
All in all, since 2001, minus the odd side game here and there, Final Fantasy has been a thorn in my side, one that I wish every single day would get off its ass and be what it used to be.
Final Fantasy XV in my eyes might just be the last chance the series has to prove to me that it’s still got it.
After a stretch of games where I was uninterested in the worlds, Final Fantasy XV at the very least at first glance more than intrigues me. It’s like the game is in the present day but it’s a Final Fantasy version of real life, monsters and boys with weird haircuts a’plenty! The idea of walking around in a world that looks so much like the present day, driving around in a badass car and then in the meantime stopping to fight giant monsters like I’m Nightcrawler with a sword? I’m in!
The battle system also has my full attention. I remember seeing the first official trailer for the game at E3, I believe in 2013? Regardless, seeing the battle system, looking like what would happen if you took the Kingdom Hearts battle system and made it even crazier with teleports and shit, I was beyond amazed and wanting to see more. After XII and XIII’s terribly boring battle systems, I wanted one of two systems in the next non-online Final Fantasy game. I wanted either Square Enix to revert back to the good ol’ days of the ATB system a la Final Fantasy X, or hell, let’s go back to Final Fantasy VI’s system, it’s still perfect today! The other system was what we look to be getting with the new game, a Kingdom Hearts-like battle system. I felt that XII and XIII’s battles were more like you were watching a game, rather than playing it and I was sick and tired of that. When games like Mass Effect can be these crazy deep RPGs and yet still have a very rewarding and engaging combat system, Final Fantasy has been struggling to have any semblance of fun in them.
But I did play the first demo of Final Fantasy XV and experienced the battle system. It’ll take some getting used to, but after that demo, I saw promise. Which is more than I can say about the last 15 years of Final Fantasy games.
The one thing that does worry me is the main characters in the game. The main four are all male and the demo while short and light on actual story content, none of the four guys really grabbed me. In fact, the one character who had my full attention was Cidney (pictured above) and no, it’s not because of her outfit, so shut the fuck up, feminists. Cidney actually had a personality different than what I’m used to seeing in JRPGs, a more Southern-like personality. While the guys have the usual “I’m tough”, “I’m smart”, “I’m funny” and “I’m bored” cliche personalities, Cidney isn’t a cliched character. So my worry lies in the four men I’ll be spending the majority of my time with, worried that I will get tired of them before the game reaches its end. Because regardless how good a story is, how fun a game is, it’s really hard to keep playing something when you’re not attached to any of the main cast.
I also don’t feel like I can trust Square Enix when it comes to writing a story in a Final Fantasy game, after all it’s been 15 years since the last game that I felt had a good story. When games like Persona 3 & 4, Trails of Cold Steel, and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt are RPGs with fantastic stories, Final Fantasy just isn’t anywhere near the quality that the best in the genre are at, and Final Fantasy is supposed to be the series at the top, yet as far as I’m concerned, they’re not even Top 5 today.
So when November 29th rolls around, I have it pre-ordered, I will be playing it regardless of what people say, though from what I’ve heard by early reviewers, it hasn’t been bad. But this game my just decide whether I continue to play games in the series after this, at least in terms of the main franchise, games like World of Final Fantasy can still work with me, but if Final Fantasy XV is terrible to me, the chances of me playing Final Fantasy XVI will be next to none. I’ve been burned enough times, that my love of the series is now in question and if Square Enix decides to fuck with me one more time, that might just be it. I’m not the archetypical hardcore fan, I won’t stay through thick and thin, I’m not above outright leaving a series alone.
So Square Enix, the ball’s in your court now. Let’s see what you got!