“I will be with you…always.”
King Regis mutters quietly to a young Noctis. He cradled him in his arms in a heartwarming moment between father and son during the Dawn trailer. It is not until you are too far into Final Fantasy XV you realize this game will leave it’s mark.
I myself arrived late to the Final Fantasy party. Beginning with XIII after being spurred on by the infectious enthusiasm of that teenage crush of mine. But since then, I’ve done my best to make up for the lost time. With my love for the series firmly planted it was only natural that I would give Final Fantasy 15 the chance it deserved. The announcement of 15 , and it’s availability for pre-order back in 2014, prompted my immediate need to own it. Where I then waited agonizingly for more than 2 years later for its eventual release in November 2016.
More than a year since it’s initial release, Final Fantasy XV is continuing to capture the interests and hearts of players today. With it’s tear jerker main story line, excellent character relationships and development, and it’s continued support and regular updates that expand what was already a tremendous open world experience. There are plenty of reasons why, if you haven’t already, you should pick up a copy of Final Fantasy 15.
If the story and characters are a huge part in the reasons you play games, Final Fantasy 15 definitely has you covered. Affectionately called ‘The Chocobros’ by fans, Prince Noctis, Gladious, Ignis, Prompto and the journey they take together is a large part to the main story. Their believable friendship solidified through the story and character interaction during battle and exploration. Their individual link strikes with one other and the more recent update of their joint strike that sees all four beating down upon the enemy in a seamless animation.
Unlike in many an RPG, Prince Noctis and his friends have a friendship and bond that has already been developed over the years from growing up in Insomnia together. Through trials, their bond is strengthened and it is this that gives heart to the story of XV. Their commentary, jokes and quips, personal side quests and hidden scenes, like for example, a personal favorite of mine, one touching moment between Prompto and Noctis on the roof of the hotel in Old Lestallum, all help to build the story and connect you with each individual character.
If the friendship of Noctis and his sworn guard is something you have already invested in, I highly recommend taking the time to watch Final Fantasy XV’s animated series, Final Fantasy XV Brotherhood. It’s short but very sweet and builds up the Chocobros friendship further, showing how each became friends with the Crown Prince.
With a beautiful open world, spectacular views and vast expanses, you cannot help but want to explore and take in all the sights this game has to offer. View it by walking, EVERYWHERE, Or cruise around in the regalia with the four protagonists, or by sprinting across the world on Chocobo back. With tons of side quests, camping trips, races and fishing to keep you busy.
Be careful out there!
Figuring out where to spend the night is also an important decision. Will you set up camp at one of the designated spots scattered around Eos; pitching your tent and enjoying a wonderful meal cooked by Ignis; giving you a variety of stat boosts? Or splash some Gil on a hotel with wonderful soft beds and much to Prompto’s delight, a shower! That also has the added benefit of an experience multiplier.
Though you do have to consider some issues in traveling this huge open world. Such as keeping the Regalia filled to the max with gas. You’ll avoid running out mid journey and actually having to push your car all the way to the next station. You may also have to rent Chocobos for a lengthy period of time for those journeys where the regalia simply cannot travel.
Of course, once you’ve visited a place once, there is the ever handy option to fast travel there and skip all the lengthy road trips in one go. But it’s the little things during these traveling moments that help build the characters and their friendship. Giving you insight into who they are and helping you to build a connection and kinship. In the first few hours of gameplay, most of the map will unfortunately be unavailable with the imperials taking over and barricading almost every road. Only unlocking fully after reaching chapter 8.
Who doesn’t enjoy a good side quest jaunt! As you travel the world you can do scientific research, search for rare gems, hunt for that perfect shot, track monsters and demons, farm for vegetables, help to fix broken down cars, search for lost or hurt hunters and much more. Kinda funny that no one never seems (bar a very select few) to realize that you are Prince Noctis, Crown Prince of Insomnia.
It gets better and better
There is plenty to do while exploring the open world and even post game, having missions with higher level than that needed to complete the main story line. Also, with is an abundance of optional dungeons that give challenging battles that provide weapons to help Noctis complete his armiger, becoming even more powerful.
Look out for one formidable dungeon named Pitioss-Ruins in which there are no enemies but is in fact an extremely complex labyrinth that will test not your battle skills but your puzzle solving and platforming ability.
Pull the rod towards the fish!
No game is complete without some form of fishing mini game. And if you are a trophy hunter, like me, it is a necessary activity for you to partake in as you level Noctis’ fishing skill up to that 10. But the fishing never felt like a chore for me. Relaxing and enjoyable, It’s smooth and sometimes challenging. Letting you dip in and out whenever you please as you continue to procrastinate, traveling the world to take in the sights and accepting any side quests offered up all to avoid ‘that’ chapter.
It seems almost all games have some variation to the fishing mini game and all are equally addictive. Final Fantasy XV’s fishing even prompted a release of a VR version titled Monster of the Deep. You team up with Noctis and the gang to bring down huge demon fish while trying not to be dragged under.
Occasionally during battles there are rare, but spectacularly and beautifully animated scenes that see one of the six Astrals summoned to Noctis’ side to assist in battle, who’s attack will wipe out any enemy brave enough to get anywhere close. And while no one is sure on exactly how to trigger these random, powerful Astral summons they are all in agreement how they are a beauty to behold and a superb bit of in game animation.
Let me get this shot
It seems almost all games have some form of photo mode these days. Final Fantasy XV follows that trend adding its own unique twist with Prompto continuously taking photos throughout your journey that you can view at your leisure every time you rest at a hotel or camp site. It is this feature that gives you beautiful mid battle shots and scenic selfies that add a wonderful personalisation, tailoring the stories journey to you. An approach that I very much love.
Although, more often than not, Prompto will spend more time during battle taking photos than actually fighting.
A not so FINAL Fantasy
Across both Xbox One and Playstation 4 I have racked up a total 233 hours of gameplay. That includes completing the main story line twice, battling online multiplayer and each of the three episode DLC. I have plans to journey anew for a third time with NewGame+ now that Royal Pack is available for download. This will push that number somewhere close to the 300 mark.
This newest installment adds Insomnia City Ruins, a new map that leads to the games end as well as a new dungeon to explore, new side quests, extended main story line finale battles and cutscenes that expand the story further. With 4 new episode DLC recently announced to be released, it is safe to say I see no point in the next year where enthusiasm for this game will fizzle out.
Final Fantasy XV is beautiful. The world and graphics are simply stunning.The story is gripping. It is everything a Final Fantasy game should be and more.
To quote the game itself.
“A Final Fantasy game for Fans and first timers”
While it differs somewhat from Final Fantasy titles of the past, it enters the new gamer style with elegance and charm that everyone can find something to love about. It is committed to its fan base and aims to please everyone. Well worth a few hours of your life (Or maybe, like in my case. Almost 10, non-stop days, and then some).