Final Fantasy XV – The Journey So Far

ff15I’m 12 hours in – of those 12 hours my oldest son has shared the experience with me for around 6 of those hours. We are both enjoying the whimsical moments brought on by the “bros,” as well as the graphics, fight sequences and story so far.

The experience, at least for me, goes far beyond the quests and side missions, goes past the new fighting, even goes beyond the graphics, story and the incredible homage the game does to it’s past. For me, it is the wonderful experience of having a Final Fantasy game to share with my children, much like my own father did with me and my siblings. Like my son in the picture above, I would sit and follow along in the strategy guide. Much like me, my son asks me questions that seem totally out of the blue – seemingly having nothing to do what is going on with the game at the moment, then suddenly making sense as I move along a little more. I wrote a post about how the experience of Final Fantasy with my own father was to me, and I hope that one day my sons will do the same.

So, 12 hours in, and so far the experience with my son wins the top prize. However, not everyone will be playing the game the same way as me, or have the cheerleaders that I have. There have been a ton of reviews so far, and they all pretty much say the same thing – don’t need to watch Kingsglaive, but if you do, the game makes more sense. The story is typical Final Fantasy, in that, it doesn’t make sense (even with the movie?). Graphically amazing for its time (again, typical of Final Fantasy). Game play, fighting, etc is amazing (typical). In other words, everything we truly expect a Final Fantasy game to be, this on embodies in some sense, yet because it is on the “next-gen,” soon to be the “old-gen” systems, the game is leaps and bounds beyond anything we have seen before.

I just got into chapter 3 – yep, taking my (our) time, setting a turtles pace to play the game. This is in part because my son likes to see what is “over there,” and also in part because I am a completionist. I’m only 12 hours in because my son commands me “not to get to far ahead” when he has to go to bed or take a nap, and as hard as it is to listen to him, I am trying to. For review purposes, I find that I have in reality finished the prologue to the game – which at 12 hours is a very nice prologue indeed for a Square Enix RPG, and very fitting to the Final Fantasy universe. I am not in “phase 2” of the game, where it truly becomes open world. Saying that, If there was some sort of ending in “phase 1” of the game – with around 11 hours in that phase, I would not have been disappointment. What I mean is – add several more main quests and double the side quests – make “phase 1” another 5-10 hours longer, and compared to a lot of games over the past couple of years, you would feel like you got your monies worth. There is enough to do in “phase 1” to keep you occupied – probably more then 12 hours if you are so inclined to grind level and what not. I also know there are places I have not seen in the area, as well as quests that are not completed yet – hunts, mystery maps, dungeons, etc.

Maybe it is because I have taken my time I feel a completeness in this part of the game, but I do feel that as a prologue type area, it goes above and beyond what is necessary… and I love this game for it. I spent another hour in Duscae just doing hunts, and everywhere I turn a new question mark pops up on my map – and the map itself stretches far and wide. Knowing how long it took me to get through the first phase, I can only imagine how long it will take me to get to “phase 3” – which is the more linear portion of the game.

I can’t say enough about the visuals of the game – they are simply amazing. How the world itself interacts, and of course your companions, is phenomenal. The only game I have played that reaches this type of greatness is The Witcher 3 – and that game had a lot of visual flaws and glitches. So far, for me, this game has been pretty seamless. Granted, I’m not a graphics expert – don’t expect me to tel lyou that it is 30 fps until point A then goes to 15, etc – I don’t care as long as it looks amazing to me, and it does.

Questing so far hasn’t been dull – though I get a sense of the fetch quests becoming so, it hasn’t happened yet. Maybe it is my own play style – switching it up with a hunt, then fetch quest, another hunt and so on. Maybe its because my son never seems to get bored and his amazement is contagious. I don’t know, but so far nothing has felt bland or blah. Again, for me, that’s an amazing thing to say for an RPG – again, comparing to The Witcher 3, though I wanted to do those quests, they eventually grew dry and dull. These so far have not (maybe its because I fill most of my time playing MMO games too).

Music – I can ride in a car and listen to the Final Fantasy VII soundtrack… enough said (or any other sound track from a Final Fantasy game). World music is amazing too, my kids get a kick out of the “country” music in the games early rest areas.

Combat – the big one!! I was unsure how I would like the new fighting mechanics – I’m old school. I put up with FFXIII because i thought the game was decent – but beyond that, I like the iterations before that. I like turn based in my Final Fantasy. It’s what I grew up on. Yet, from the very beginning, I find that I really like how combat flows in this game – I also think my dad, if he was still around, would have liked it as well – and from the look on my son’s face, I know he likes how it looks (if he could ever figure out how to use two joysticks at the same time, he’d be playing it). It flows very well – and it isn’t as complicated as I thought it would be. It can be simple, yet explosive, and so far, even with easy enemies, hasn’t gotten mundane. Also, the fact that you can use the Wait system (I haven’t yet), and put the game into Easy mode (I have for a night time hunt to get past the Daemons) on the fly, is a really good system for this game.

Overall, so far, I still would rate this game below The Witcher 3 – it’s hard to beat that game, especially with it’s two amazing DLC packs. However, it’s not far behind it at all, and if the DLC packs over the next, who knows, are really good, it can become it’s equal in my mind. However, unlike TW3, I can play this game with my son (as well as the rest of my children), and that, in itself, is awesome.

I’m pretty sure my oldest son would give this game a 10, and so far being able to share this game with him like my own dad did so many times with me is an A+.

Photo Credit – My Beautiful Wife

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