"After all this time, it feels impossible that I’m about to write these words, but here it goes: Final Fantasy 15 is good. In its first 15 hours, at least, it’s very good.
In 15 hours with Final Fantasy 15 I experienced dozens of moments like this, little developments that had me actually squealing with delight. I still have some concerns, like whether the story will pay off in the long-term, or why some of the voice acting is so rough, or how the camera can get really finicky during intense, close-quarters combat scenarios. But any complaints I have feel really petty right now in light of what Square Enix seems to have accomplished with Final Fantasy 15.
That is: It’s made Final Fantasy relevant again. They’ve actually done it. I cannot wait to play more."
Spoiler-free 60min highlights video:
"The narrative told in FFXV's first five chapters is captivating, offering an enticing setup for an epic conflict. [...]
The brief time it takes to access FFXV's open world makes it stand apart from past entries. But none of this would mean anything if the combat system wasn’t up to par. Fortunately, this aspect has been the highlight of my experiences thus far, providing tense and exhilarating battles against a variety of creatures both small and large. [...]
Whether for fans or newcomers, the game's numerous mechanics and activities proved rich and engaging. What remains out in the world of Eos is undeniably alluring, and I can't wait to explore more of it once the game finally launches this November." (Thanks to PshycoNinja for the quotes)
Final Fantasy XV: Our Thoughts So Far - The Lobby
Final Fantasy XV preview build kept Matt busy for about 15 hours. 5 chapters later he details his experience.
"Where Final Fantasy 15's story is winning me over, though, is in its moment-to-moment scenarios and side quests, and there are some truly impressive set-pieces within those opening chapters. [...]
As much as the combat and those big set-pieces are Final Fantasy 15’s more impressive draw, it's the small moments that I cherished the most. [...]
Final Fantasy 15's world is visually striking, existing on the cusp between the real and the fantastical, and it's really easy to get lost in simply being here, drinking everything in while enjoying the playful banter between these four anime bros. It's a deeply strange juxtaposition, and having those grounded moments where you get lost in the routine of everyday life in a world where a giant freaking crystal meteor just hangs out in the middle of a big open valley makes it all the more intoxicating.
But that's the paradox of the open-world, especially in a series as narrative-driven as Final Fantasy, where the pull of the main plot is diametrically opposed to the desire to seek out and craft your own stories. I'm not sure how (or even if) Final Fantasy 15's later chapters will attempt to fix the issues I have with its story, but even if it doesn't, I've enjoyed my time exploring its strange world and experiencing what it has to offer, and I can't wait to see where it goes next."
"Most of our heroes might look generic at a glance but they're emotive, have more intriguing motivations than a lot of previous Final Fantasy party members, and the world -- Eos -- is easily the best part. Think of it like a wondrous jacked-up Spira from X, with a bigger budget and less tacky nonsense like Blitzball (I actually don't hate it despite said tackiness, but that's a discussion for another day).
Even if XV crashes and burns with a horrible mid to endgame (is anyone else really jazzed to see what the superbosses will be like?), I think Eos will carry the adventure. It's gorgeous and teeming with life and personality, and there's going to be a hefty community around the high level of food porn present in XV. It's fantastic. The same goes for traveling around by foot, Chocobo, or car -- it really just grows on you over time until you're stuck in the world, committed to seeing it through until the end. Folks who dig the meandering nature of the pair of Xenoblade games will fit right in."
Final Fantasy XV Travel Diary, Day One: Against All Odds
- Jeremy goes hands-on with six hours of Square Enix's troubled RPG and finds all that time and trouble have happily paid off with an excellent new take on Final Fantasy.
"That's an enormous burden for a single game to shoulder, and by all rights FFXV should be a failure. A spectacular failure, at that. Yet I've put in half a dozen hours with the game now, starting from the very beginning, and I'm pleasantly surprised to find they may just have pulled off what by all rights should be an impossible feat. [...]
And, incidentally, I could have finished the game's first chapter in far fewer than six hours. But FFXV really sets you loose once the introduction has rolled, and I've spent most of my time wandering the wastes in search of hidden quests (there are a few!), secret fishing spots (I found a doozy tucked away in some ruins), completing monster hunts (and there are still quite a few in this region that are well beyond my team's current capabilities), and generally just seeing where I can go (basically anywhere that isn't walled off). Square Enix has a lot riding on this game, and despite all odds, FFXV just might be able to shoulder those impossible expectations.
Final Fantasy XV Travel Diary, Day Two: Force Your Way
- An in-depth look at Final Fantasy XV's combat system, and how it's improved from the early demos.
It's possible to play it as a pure, real-time action game... but I don't recommend it. Combat can be hectic, and not necessarily in a good way. Enemies don't have as many tells on their actions as in a good action game like Bayonetta, and they have a tendency to gang up on Noctis. You can make use of defensive phasing, but FFXV doesn't quite come together as an action game... which is fine. It's an RPG, and despite the enormous shift in its underlying design philosophy from previous games in the series, I've found myself surprised by how much it evokes classic Final Fantasy. It's a nebulous thing, the idea of "feel" and "fidelity," but there's more of it here than I would have anticipated.
Final Fantasy XV Travel Diary, Day Three: Authentic Road Trip
- The greatest strength of this Japanese RPG just might be how perfectly it captures the experience of trekking through the American hinterlands.
So yes: Final Fantasy XV feels nostalgic. It contains constant callbacks to earlier games in the series, of course — that's to be expected for a Final Fantasy game. Even though battles take place seamlessly in the game world, even though there's no victory fanfare when battles can flow one into the other, even though you're battling monsters in real-time with minimal use of menus, it still captures a certain ineffable sense of Final Fantasy. But for someone who grew up ranging across America's so-called "flyover states," this game improbably kindles some long-forgotten memories.
It's a strange juxtaposition, smashing Final Fantasy aesthetics and tropes together with what amounts to a road trip across what appears to be a thinly veiled simulation of the rural United States. But it works. Roaming vast spaces that are something besides the generic fantasy lands or non-specific wildernesses of other enormous games creates a subtle anchor for a story that amounts to one part Final Fantasy VI, one part Game of Thrones. A big part of what drove me to explore the desolate corners of Liede was the quality and familiarity of the land, and that sensation has only grown since I've reached the Duscae province.
And I've still only seen a small percentage of the overall game world, and completed an even smaller fraction of its quests and story. And that's OK by me. I haven't been hooked by a game world like this in a long, long time, and I'm more than happy to take this experience slowly and savor it.
Final Fantasy XV Travel Diary, Final Day: Stray Thoughts and Observations
- There's still plenty to see and do in Duscae, but it's time to close the book on this massive RPG (until November 29).
I could honestly go on for quite a while longer about FFXV. I haven't been this hooked on a game in years. Like everyone else who has played these first few chapters of the game, I have no idea how the final product will turn out, or if it will maintain my interest all the way through to the end. Still, that I've enjoyed it as much as I have for as long as I have already comes as a huge (and quite pleasant) surprise. This project has experience so much tumult over the past decade that I never really expected it to see the light of day — let alone to turn out so well.
It's hard to believe we're just four weeks away from its launch, but the proof is in the playing. There's a tough month ahead for me, waiting to get my hands on the final release of the game, but I'm happy to be going into this long-awaited RPG knowing that I'll enjoy what lies ahead for me.
Answering Your Best Final Fantasy XV Questions
- I have played 10 hours of Final Fantasy XV, a video game about how One Direction spends their days off, and I’m pleased to report that so far, it’s good. Very good. Maybe even excellent.
"Compared to the demos, does it play the same, or does it feel refined? -@ZChocobo
Combat feels significantly better in the final game than it does in both demos, especially Platinum. (In retrospect, Platinum was a terrible way for Square to showcase Final Fantasy XV — playing as real Noctis feels nothing like playing Dream Child Noctis.) There’s a certain rhythm that you can’t really wrap your head around until you’ve played the game for a few hours. In the real FFXV, you can’t expect to defeat tough monsters just by mashing buttons; you have to dodge, switch weapons, and warp to safe ground to recharge your MP. Noctis has access to an array of powerful weapons called the Royal Arms, each of which can do a great deal of damage but only at the cost of your health. There are a lot of moving pieces, in other words, which is very much unlike the two demos."
"Does the game do a good job of making you care about the characters/plot? -@PatrickKul
Yes. I didn’t think Noct and crew would grow on me as much as they have, but their endless banter has grown on me. There have been moments both big and small that have gradually made me care about Gladio and Ignis and Prompto—good old annoying Prompto—far more than I thought I would. At least one optional cut-scene has popped out of nowhere and surprised me with its raw emotion and intimacy. (Prompto!)"
"In footage I’ve seen, seems like the characters constantly talk to each other. Do they ever stop, and does this get annoying? -@bri_provan
No, they never stop. No, it hasn’t gotten annoying for me yet. The dialogue is generally entertaining and well-written, outside of some awful puns. (“I see the sea!”)"
Final Fantasy XV Preview - Beautiful, colossal, phenomenal. A must buy on release day.
"For me, Final Fantasy XV felt more like an open-world RPG like The Witcher 3 rather than a Final Fantasy title but that’s definitely not a bad thing.
It takes everything that’s traditionally associated with the series and turned it upside-down and I absolutely loved it.
As a huge Final Fantasy fan, we were always afraid that the changes proposed by Square-Enix would ruin the experience but if anything, they’ve made it even better.
Still, we would 100% recommend picking Final Fantasy XV up when it finally releases because there really is no other game like it on the market right now.
We've no doubt that Final Fantasy fans will love the new direction of the series.
But equally, by not adhering to the conventions of the previous games we also think this will be the perfect Final Fantasy title for newcomers to jump in.