After a literal myriad of delays, Final Fantasy XV is about to be released. It almost seems surreal that, after almost 10 years, we’re less than a week out from its launch. And if you’re not excited, you should be. We’ve laid out the extensive details of the game in a , but I’ll summarise it here just to raise those pulses a bit more.
Unlike other Final Fantasy games, which are aimed at a specific audience, FFXV targets not only long time fans, but also fresh faces. The redesigned combat system is testimony to this. It combines the strategy of turn-based combat with a more amusing action-based approach to create a new and unique type of gameplay. On top of the hack and slash melee combat, FFXV features parrying, dodging, spells and summons. Spells are found via exploration but they can also be crafted, and in this game they function more like grenades than supernatural sorceries. Summons – called Astrals in this game – are discovered and recruited in various locations in the game’s expansive map. They’ll make all the difference in battles. And, with Titan, Leviathan and Ramuh in their ranks, these summons promise to be show-stopping spectacles.
Levelling, however, is still somewhat of a mystery. We know that you gain exp by completing battles and quests. We also know that as characters progress they gain nexuses which give stat boosts to the characters. Apparently, levelling up will form an important part of the game, and certain foes will need to be out levelled in order to be defeated.
FFXV also departs from the usual Final Fantasy romance story. Instead, it delivers a tale of brotherhood: of loyalty and of friendship. Noctis is, of course the main protagonist. His entourage features Prompto, Gladiolus and Ignis. Each is fiercely loyal to Noctic and each has an extensive back-story. These themes of loyalty and friendship underlie the main story line: the quest to return Noctis to his throne.
Outside of the core gameplay, FFXV offers an extensive collection of side quests and mini-games to keep the volatile, ADD fans in check. Cooking, chocobo riding and fishing (which, admittedly seems ridiculous) are all viable pursuits. More seriously, there’s a exhaustive catalogue of side quests, some of which tie into the main story, while others offer stand alone narratives. While Noctis is a far cry from the Witcher archetype, you’ll also be able to undertake monster hunts for bounties and unique rewards.
On top of all this, the open world is almost unbelievable. Hajime Tabata, the game’s director, has, himself, said that FFXV’s map is ‘incomparable’ to other games. The map that leaked in 2015 showed a game world that was sizeably larger than both the Witcher 3 and GTA V’s. The new 101 shows us the diversity of this picturesque world. From the seas to the cities and to the wilderness, it looks simply breathtaking. And it promises to push our next-gen hardware to its limits.
Still, Square Enix have taken a few leaps with this new title. On the surface, FFXV is unmistakably a Final Fantasy game. However, the new combat system focuses less on strategy and more on action. And the apparent absence of a romantic subplot could remove a historically fundamental part of the Final Fantasy storytelling. But, I’ve got my hopes up high because, at 21, I’ve been waiting almost half my life for this game. And I’m praying that it isn’t going to be a Duke Nukem Forever affair. I guess we’ll know in a week.