Platforms: PS4, Xbox One
Developers: Square Enix Holdings, XPEC Entertainment, HexaDrive, Streamline Studios, Umbra
Publisher: Square Enix
I could write a lot more about Final Fantasy 15, but I forced myself to stop before this review turned into a dissertation. And that’s the case with a few reviews I’ve written in the past, where I have a lot to talk about. But before I ramble on about a completely different topic, let’s move onto the review.
I’ll be straight with you. As someone who plays a lot of RPGs, I’ve only played Final Fantasy 7 and I loved it. In fact it’s what got me hooked on Final Fantasy 15 and even though I wanted to play the other games in the series, there were just way too many of them, so waiting for the latest instalment made a bit more sense as a starting point, especially since it’s not dependent on previous games.
Story Gets Better After Chapter 5-ish
Eos, the world in which the game takes place, is a beautiful one. But it’s in conflict because of the Imperials taking action against the Crown. I wouldn’t say it’s a completely original story, but it’s still a pretty good one. I won’t get too much into detail about the story because I wouldn’t want to spoil it for you, but I can say that it’s worth playing for, although it doesn’t start to pick up until Chapter 5-ish. This is the point where things start to get a bit more interesting.
Gameplay is Solid
Final Fantasy 15 gameplay is pretty solid and well polished, apart from the odd thing or two tripping up. For example, sometimes you may find yourself jumping instead of interacting with something. All it takes however, is for you to re-position to fix it and I found that jumping upon reaching something or someone you’re able to interact with, will keep you jumping unless you stop pressing the jump button and wait a second for the interact command to appear.
The combat is perhaps one of its biggest selling points. It’s your typical freestyle combat with the addition of team skills (Techniques), warp strikes (use them!) and Royal Arms (an interesting mechanic). I like how you can get combos, get enemies into vulnerable states and blindside them to do increased damage. It makes it far more strategical than simply bashing away at the attack button. Weaken the enemy and you’ll be rewarded by doing extra damage.
Talking about weakening enemies, you can make enemies vulnerable to attacks by damaging limbs and appendages. So if you’re up against a mech, it might be a good idea to focus on it’s legs and rocket launcher, if it has one. That’s what I love about Final Fantasy 15. There isn’t one way to fighting an enemy.
Royal Arms and HP loss
Losing HP after each attack with a Royal Arms is a neat mechanic and while it does seem like an artificial difficulty barrier, it’ll make Royal Arms basically mandatory because they do so much damage. The great thing is that it doesn’t make them the go-to weapons because you won’t be able to sustain the damage they deal to you all the time, while they do grant you beefier stat increases such as +100 health, it’s not ideal to use frequently at lower levels. They’re mainly used for finishing off low health enemies or when an enemy is vulnerable.
The dungeons are one of the best features in the game and provide the most challenge. It’s where you’ll find yourself either ambushed quite often and if you aren’t careful, you’ll take more damage than thought you would. They also have a terrifying feeling of claustrophobia as some dungeons will force you deep into caves and tombs. What makes them even more treacherous is fighting against enemies with a lot of AoE damage and aggressive attacks. You can’t just button bash the attack button until things die. You’ll need to use more of your arsenal and fight strategically to gain victory.
Combat gets more thrilling the further you progress into the game, because you start to gain additional Ascension skills and face up against more interesting enemies. Techniques are vital against tough opponents and it would benefit you to use them as much as you can early on to max them out. You can also play around with different Techniques since there isn’t really a technique that’s best for every situation, although one of them seems to be too good not to make use of (Regroup) if you find your party low on health often. The great thing is that you can switch out Techniques for others, during combat. Need some more AoE damage? Tempest is good for that.
The same goes for gear. You can freely swap gear in combat, which gives you a lot of freedom by allowing you to try and increase your effectiveness against whichever enemy you’re fighting against. You’ll probably have to switch out gear anyway to suit your enemy so it’s good to hang onto different items just in case Gladiolus needs some extra defence gear for example.
Like Skyrim, it’s very, very easy to get sidetracked into doing side quests, finding treasures and Hunts, but that’s only because they’re a lot of fun to complete and you can get some neat rewards. It’s not just side quests, as going out of your way to slay some tough creatures is rewarding in itself, which is good to get some downtime from the main story. Want to work on the Regalia? Go for it! Although you may need to progress a bit more as it seems the quests to improve the car require you to level a large amount between each one. The good thing is, there are plenty of quests to do in the meantime.
Side quests also aren’t all that repetitive as they usually involve you doing a bunch of different things such as hunting for creatures, fishing, finding upgrades for the Regalia, finding ingredients and more. I haven’t found side quests boring at all, but the one problem I do have with them is how you can out level the first 10 or so levels of quests. I had to prioritize the ones with better rewards, such as more Gil, Regalia improving items and so on. Although, even at level 25, it might be worthwhile to finish off some lower level quests you missed for extra Gil, experience or supplies (not like you’ll need more Gil with the amount you get through Hunts).
Levelling up in Final Fantasy 15 is also pretty interesting in the sense that you don’t actually get experience as soon as you get it. Instead, all the experience you gain is added to a pool, which you then recieve after resting. Depending on where you rest, you can also enjoy a multiplier of 1.5x of the experience you have. In this case, it’s better to pool as much experience as you can so you can benefit from the multiplier as much as possible. Of course, there are times where you’re forced to rest in order to progress.
This is the first game where I’ve found fishing not to be a huge bore. There’s a huge satisfaction of catching a rare fish after an intense struggle. It takes a few tries to get used to the controls, but once you’re over that hurdle, it’s not so bad. Besides, fishing can get you ingredients for cooking, and sometimes you may need to do some fishing to get that sweet buff you’ve been wanting to make use of.
Now that I mention cooking, it’s a good feature that I haven’t found myself using all that often. I’ve only found myself cooking if the party needs a boost against a tough enemy or if I’m farming for things out in the wild. I wouldn’t cook all the time because you’ll eat through your ingredients quite quickly. If you’re low on ingredients, you can go out and gather some if that’s the case.
Alternatively, you can buy food at Inns and Hotels, but doing that will be costly. The buffs provided are great, but as with cooking (which can only be done while Camping), doing it all the time will put a large dent in your wallet or resources. Gil is easy to come by through Hunts, but not that easy when you’re spending over 2000 Gil on one dinner! The food does look damn delicious though, so be careful.
Manual Driving and Magic Could Be Improved
One of the most disappointing aspects of the game however, is that manual driving controls aren’t great and it feels very restrictive. Driving in manual only needs the accelerate button to be pressed down and the occasional left or right turn. I don’t expect GTA freedom, but having the car automatically stay in the correct lane makes it feel too automated. But this doesn’t really make the game as a whole, less attractive. In fact, where possible, I preffered riding Chocobos because they’re a lot more fun and well, they’re Chocobos!
Magic is also not as useful as I thought it would be. Sure I haven’t been dumping any AP into the skill tree, but the only real use it’s served is for an early chapter quest. I’m not sure if spells are supposed to be used sparingly for big damage against enemies weak against Magic, but there doesn’t seem to be a need to because weapons do enough damage.
Enemy creatures do seem a little imbalanced as I was able to beat level 30 Iron Giants at level 22, with no real trouble at all. Although having 126 damage Assassin’s Daggers was a real big help. It essentially depends on what enemy your facing. Some are undertuned, while others can feel completely the opposite. But more often than not, the game isn’t particularly difficult to the point where you’re dying countless times. If that’s the case, you’re either underlevelled or not dealing the enemy in the best way.
The Game looks and feels Great
My favourite part about the game is how the game feels. Although I haven’t played many Final Fantasy games, I’m familiar with how they look, and it’s impressive. Going up against terrifying Daemons at night or running into a pack of Sabertusks while peacefully riding your trusty Chocobo does make the experience that much more enjoyable. It’s how seamless the open world feels and how quickly you can end up in a fight. A quest I remember most was when I had to retrieve an item near a giant Zu (huge bird), which I didn’t know was there at the time, and it honestly made surprised me as I saw it right next to me, sleeping. I’ll never forget that!
Voice acting is a big part in games and have been for a while. It’s such a relief that the voice acting in Final Fantasy 15 isn’t total cheese ball. Not all of them are great, but the majority of them are. Prompto is perhaps my favourite because of his comedic value, which actually do sometimes make me chuckle. I also like that they’ve kind of steered away from stereotypes. Take Ignis for one, he has the most surprising posh accent you’d ever hear. The Japanese voices are also pretty good and I enjoy them both, but with Japanese voices, they tend to make things feel more serious, which isn’t a bad thing.
So is it Worth your Money?
Of course it is! I’m having a blast playing Final Fantasy 15 because it’s done most of the important stuff really damn well. There are things that aren’t so great like the lip syncing issue, which is the worst issue and quite frankly, a pain to look at, but everything else that works well definitely makes up for it. It’s earned its place as one of my favourite RPGs and I absolutely recommend this game to any RPG fan, and especially if you’re a Final Fantasy fan.
If you haven’t picked it up yet, what’s stopping you? If you have played it, what are your thoughts on the game? =)
- Voice acting is good on both English and Japanese voices
- Fine graphics, beautiful world and it feels like Final Fantasy
- Combat is solid and flows well
- Main story keeps you interested
- Side quests are in abundance, hold value and aren’t boring
- Creatures look fantastic and battles with giant monstrosities are incredible
- Fishing mini game is worth doing and doesn’t suck
- Manual driving controls aren’t great
- Magic doesn’t seem as useful as weapons
- Lip sync animations are surprisingly bad on both English and Japanese voices
- Game seems a little imbalanced. You can kill level 30 Iron Giants at level 20-ish, with no trouble at all, but a level 34 could wipe your entire party in one hit
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