Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition (Review)

Introduction

I don't know if this qualify as a review or is just an article, but it's basically me writing about the game, what I liked, disliked, the development and story.

A development hell

I remember when this game was supposed to be a spin-off from the Final Fantasy XIII mythos back during E3 2006. It was originally developed using the same engine as Final Fantasy XIII 'Crystal Tools' but later switched to their new engine known as the 'Luminous Engine'. In the end they had a lot of technical issues. You can read more about it over at Wikia.

Around the time PS4 was out, a lot of us who had looked forward for Final Fantasy Versus XII had started to give up a hope on if this game was ever going to be released and to become yet another cancelled games that we always wish for (such as Star Wars 1313). During E3 2013 we got a trailer that showed updated gameplay and HUD and in the end it showed to have been rebranded as what we know it today as Final Fantasy XV. This rebranding was a great move because even if you like or dislike the name change etc., it indicated that the game had become a first-priority project for Square and they would be working hard to get this game released, now for both PS4 and Xbox One. After so many years, all my hype for the game was gone, but I still had some interest to see the game released.

Watch Kingsglaive before playing the game

The movie Kingsglaive is an important part of the story and throughout the game you'll see tidbits of scenes from the movie, more captured as hollow memory flicks and doesn't do it justice because you're looking from the outside. The movie was released several months in advance in order for people to watch it before the game and I highly recommend everyone to watch the movie before playing the game. It's a good movie and once again it shows that Square is great at video animation that I think they could had made better use it in the actual game.

Better late than never

I tested Final Fantasy XV out around the time the game had launched and later on watched people play the game at random sections for some hours. My first thoughts was very mixed as I wasn't hyped and had no urge to play it.

The first trailers from Final Fantasy Versus XIII was different about how the game actually played.

Developer Square Enix (Division 2)
Publisher Square Enix
Platform Xbox One, PC and PS4
Original release 2016-11-29 (November 29th, 2016)
Royal edition 2018-03-06 (Mars 3rd, 2018)
Director Tetsuya Nomura (2006-2012), Hajime Tabata (2012-2016)
Producer Shinji Hashimoto
Composer Yoko Shimomura

There's a lot of negative and positive things to say about this game. Overall it's a good game, at times it's a great game, but it suffers from a lot of issues and lack of polish. It's a mix of Final Fantasy story and characters, Kingdom Hearts fun gameplay, but sadly a medicore open-world game, but thanks to the flavoured Final Fantasy monsters, makes the open-world at least enjoyable at times to find and hunt them. As a standalone open-world game compare to other games this generation, it isn't up to pair at all.

What I really liked

Royal Arms

Having dungeons that offers weapon rewards in terms of story-sense and gameplay is a great thing. It motivates players to do optional content.

Combat

I really liked the combat in this game partly because I love the combat in Kingdom Hearts, but this game offer it with a bit less air-combat.

Soundtrack

I really enjoyed the music in this game. I could hear some similarities with Crisis Core, and the Opera orchestra for the boss/harder battles was an awesome music change and the song itself was very engaging.

Monsters

Even if the open-world had a lot of issues, the strength was to exploring a large amount of familiar monsters and hunt them down.

Mini-games

A lot of Final Fantasy games in the past has had pretty bad executed mini-games but in recent years started to get better. In this game I mostly enjoyed the Pinball-like game "Justice Monsters Five" and ended up spending hours upon hours and at the same time you get great rewards and a ton of cash by selling some rewards.

The things I did not liked about the game and overall issues I had

UI/Menu-system

The graphical design of the UI was good, but the structure and implementation was at times confusing or just annoying. Example the fast-travel and map-system being separated made it annoying when you wanted to explore at times because you was looking at the map and then suddenly realise you have to redo your positioning.

Magic collecting

This reminds me of the magic system in FF8 which was terrible as to use magic you first has to collect it. Even tho magic is useful in this game, it becomes annoying and makes you just wanna slash trough enemies a hundred times and not use magic a couple of times.

Magic = Friendly Fire

If you want to use Magic you also need to use equipment that prevents friendly fire. This is yet another reason magic in this game is annoying to use as it takes a lot of AP to unlock an extra third accessory slot.

Photos taken is worse than gameplay

Every photo taken has worse quality than in gameplay, they are blurrier and I don't understand why. If anything it made me less engaged in the taking photos part of the game. You want photos to make it look better, other open-world games this generation has had stunning photo-mode's that makes it extremely fun and creative.

The Map is a low-resolution bitmap image

This is something I would expect with earlier open-world games where the hardware was much more limiting. In this game, when you load the map, it's one bitmap image which makes it load fast, but once you zoom, the picture and some text gets all pixellated and looks really bad. If you're going to use a bitmap, at least make sure to make it a high-resolution so you can zoom without loosing quality .

A lot of invincible walls

This game has a lot of pre-designed areas and smaller mountains where you can't jump up from it or down from it and rather you are forced to take a specific and long path around it. Makes it very strange to a lot of other open-world games where you could just jump up or down to cut the path.

Side-quests

This game suffers from the same issue like many other open-world games, most side-quest is repetitive and become these long fetch quests. Example the guy who wanted you to take a billion photos on different locations. It's fun at first, but after a couple of times, it becomes a boring time sink trying to finish his tasks.

Texture popping and mixed graphics

Some of the areas has some great graphics for a game in 2016, but then others places is worse than a game from last generation. I think this was partly due to it being a game with such a long development cycle.

As I was playing on the PS4 Pro, I suffered from texture popping here and there. Example a logo or text on a shirt in a cutscene was initially pixellated the first 3-5 sec, then suddenly it pops to good quality.

The combat is a arena type battle

If you leave the area then the game thinks you are running away and the HP will reset of the enemy you're trying to kill and is annoying. This also happens in Assassin's Creed: Odyssey, so it's not an issue specific to this game.

Sometimes I don't wanna leave the battle as I'm trying to recover health by dodging around the same time an enemy does magic attacks and suddenly he stops attacking and his health restores because I accidentally left the close-combat area. Final Fantasy 12 did this a lot better.

Party members get stuck behind

When inside a dungeon, a lot of time my party would get lost and stuck way back for some reason. They get stuck at some staircase or just stand still while making me walking all the way back to find them.

Noctis is missing break damage limit

Why?

The story...

The story held me upon the point Lunafreya died and the city you just arrived to was about to get destroyed. We just got here, you never have us to explore the city and the city basically had no major story missions and seemed very rushed.

All of that made me stopped playing the game for a couple of weeks as I started to lack interest of the mission goal. After that the game got more and more depressing and just sad. I still enjoyed playing trough the end.

Square want us to replay the game and play DLCs etc. but with a depressing ending like that I don't wanna play more of it afterwards. It was a good game and experience. I have no urge to go back and play more, not even to do side-missions and explore the big city. I've heard there's a fighting area there, but the story cut it off. I think they should had been a lot more missions in the city forcing us to explore it on the way.