Final Fantasy XV, Game Review+

Part Two of my Co-op blog post with AvidReader over FFXV.

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The Gameplay

W: With the Gameplay section I am thinking of two or three little mini titles for it one could say. General Gameplay, Combat, Side Content, and any Bugs or Issues we have had.

A: Sounds good.

W: Alright so let’s start out with General Gameplay.

A: General gameplay is pretty nice. Aside from load times sometimes taking a while…

W: Interesting. I don’t think I ever ran into that problem myself but the camera, especially while indoors like a cave or whatever could be awful.

A: I’ve never really had problems with the camera outside of a few situations.

W: So another thing with the gameplay was I guess some people wanted or expected perhaps an older style JRPG and this sort of ties into with the combat on how it isn’t turn based like older Final Fantasy games are and is more akin to a Western RPG and is what I personally call ‘Flowing Combat System’ where the only time the fighting essentially stops is when you pause the game.

A: The combat is nice in the way it’s “Active” rather than turn based. One thing is that Turn based gaming is a limitation of hardware that is now no longer a concern. It’s why all the old JRPGs would have a separate combat field when you encountered an enemy. And I think that the earliest example in a JRPG of a “Flowing Combat System”, as you call it, would be the Kingdom Hearts games.

W: Honestly I prefer it. I mean I can’t dodge or block for shit but that has been the same since Skyrim came out for me.

A: I know exactly what you mean. I try to block when I can, but most of the time I just tank hits with copious amounts of Hi-Elixirs and just deal as much damage as I can before I get knocked down. Speaking of, I’m surprised at the lack of equipment in this game. Like, once I made it to the next big town and bought the weapons from there, I didn’t have to change for a long time.

W: I call that specific topic there the ‘JRPG Curse’ because it seems, especially in JRPG’s, that changing gear is not only rare but often times unneeded or unnecessary. Probably me being too used to Western RPG’s, specifically MMO’s, where you change 12-20 pieces of equipment every like 10-15 levels.

A: It’s not just you. In pretty much all the RPG games I’ve played that had some sort of levelling system in place, I’d be changing out equipment as soon as I got to the newest town. Which is a stark contrast to XV. I’ve only recently picked up new weapons from delving into dungeons.

W: Ooh dungeons. I have personally only ran into I believe two. Not including the one the story takes you to specifically. One demolished me and I can’t even remember the second.

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A: Let’s talk more about this in the Side Content section. Getting back to Combat, I think it’s great that newer games are starting to get into Active combat. XII was a great start, because I could set up Gambits and just walk up to enemies and let the AI do the work. XIII, while a game of Corridors and not that well likeable characters, had a pretty solid Combat system… despite the fact that you could just hit Auto through most of the game.

W: I love it because I think it just lets things become more open. Like I remember some games that would have a sort of pseudo version of it? It was still turn based but you could move around some in the fights. But the full active combat deal means I can jump from a steel beam above a giant robot and skewer it with a magical spear. Which may be something I did in here in FFXV.

A: Tales games come to mind when I think of Active Combat JRPGs. I’ve played Xillia, Abyss and Zestiria and, while they still take you to a separate field, they still have you moving around and actively hitting an attack button.

W: Well we could probably spend all day talking about other JRPG’s given both of our experiences in them but we are here for FFXV. So let’s pick that side content blurt I had a bit ago and round up this section.

A: Good call. I tend to rant about things… So the dungeons in this game…. I’ve done pretty much all of them. And I have discovered that one dungeon that’s like the Water Temple in Legend of Zelda: The Sewer Dungeon…. Just… fuck that shit….

W: So many things go boom!

A: Not just that. IT’S A GODDAMN MAZE IN THERE!!

And the stupid part of it is, you can fall off ledges and have to take a long circuitous route back to where you fell off of… despite the fact that the place you fell off of had a ladder RIGHT FUCKING THERE!!!

W: I almost feel bad now that my only (rememberable) experience in a dungeon was killing level 7 goblins when I was level 19 before meeting the last boss who was like level 55.

A: That dungeon gave me so many jumpscares… Thank god I was about Level 50 when I was going through it so everything died in one hit, sometimes killing multiple enemies in one attack. Final Boss still wrecked my shit….

W: Always fun killing multiple mobs in a hit. So obviously dungeons are not the only side things to do in FFXV, a good RPG will always have a good plethora of options, any personal favorite?

A: Sidequests are varied, but still stick to the typical “Go here, kill this monster” or “Go here and search this specific area for this specific thing”. My personal favorite content is the Fishing minigame. It’s just nice to take a break from constantly fighting and to just kick back and try to reel in a good-sized fish. Which is why whenever I discover a new spot, I try to at least catch a fish from each of them.

W: I find that interesting because generally fishing in video games, especially ones tied with any sort of minigame, are frowned upon by most people. For me… I think I would have to go with Prompto’s photography. Yeah generally you don’t get really any control on that compared to Noctis with fishing but it is always enjoyable for me to see at the end of the day when my team is resting on their road trip to see all the fun they are having.

A: Good point. I’ve nearly used up all the save spots available to you. And I like to go back sometimes and look at the archive of all the photos he’s taken and just remember.

W: Let’s see what else is there… Well there is the Hunter Mission things but that kind of comes back straight to your side quests with the “Go Here Kill That” stuff. Other than that… I guess we have the Chocobo Racing.

A: … Some of those hunts are BULLSHIT!! FUCK YOU NECROMANCERS AND YOUR PIECE OF SHIT INSTANT DEATH/PETRIFYING ABILITIES!!

Sorry, just had to get that out there.

W: It was interesting for me because I remember having this conversation before. At that point I was still so early in the game that I never really ran into a hard hunt. I didn’t even realize they were meant to be more difficult than similar beasts or anything. Shortly after that conversation though I ran into something… hell can’t even remember what but we were the same level around level 22 I think and I just got bloody steamrolled.

A: I went back at level 40-45 to do some of those low level hunts because I needed to rank up to do a specific hunt for a sidequest. I remember a level 21 hunt where you had to hunt a pack of reskinned Sabertusk enemies and I still struggled with them. Though that could be due to the fact that there were at least 10 of them and I couldn’t really focus on a specific one for longer than a minute before it was replaced with another one. As well as the fact that I had an imperial dropship drop down on me shortly after.

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W: Those things seem to hit at the worst possible times.

A: A good spell clears them out. Speaking of, how often are you using spells? I usually use them to clear out a group of enemies or to whittle down their health. Much to the detriment of my party members who are usually caught up in the effect…

W: Originally that was exactly why I wasn’t using them. I would notice I would clear out everything but then my party would be hit like a truck plowed through them. But last time I played at least it felt like if there were more than 6 or 7 coming up against me I would just blast them instead.

A: The Imperials got so well acquainted with my tactic of just waiting until all of their soldiers dropped to the ground before throwing a giant spell on them and destroying the entire group of them and eating up the delicious exp, that they just started sending mechs and groups of 3 high level soldiers that attack so fast they can knock your health out in a second if you don’t keep them stunlocked.

W: I still remember that time I got caught by a group of the imperials, no magic, and we were the same level, they quickly turned me into Swiss Cheese.

But keeping the conversation towards Magic. I know something I have seen talked about a lot across the web would be that of Summons, a long classic of Final Fantasy to my knowledge.

A: Summons are… not very relevant for the most part. Like you spend one chapter acquiring a summon and you don’t really use him that often unless you are in a real pinch, since there are demerits to using him, i.e. only Noct gets exp and it’s only half of what you’d earn if you beat it normally. For me, I only use him in situations where I’m finding the fight to be tedious.

W: As for myself I have yet to get to the point of having the summon. But of what I have seen of it… yeah it looks like a hail mary sort of attack more than anything.

A: It’s still the most epic thing to watch though. And I was surprised to find out that there was a different animation depending on whether you are in a dungeon or out in the world.

W: Well, I think this section is starting to get a bit long here so we should probably wrap up the last point of any Bugs or Issues we have encountered.

For myself really it has mostly just been the camera I mentioned earlier with one instance of Gladio standing on top of Ignis (Gladio confirmed top?).

A: When the camera works, it’s great. When you are fighting well, the combat system is fun. But when you combine the environment of say giant bushes that take up half the screen and enemies that like to move around a lot, it’s a nightmare to deal with.

W: I dunno why but I dislike those giant bushes… the giant fantasy creatures make up for my hate for that though.

A: I’ve also noticed some funny bugs, but aside from my game crashing 1 or 2 times, none of them have really affected my experience. And hopefully all of those things will be fixed in patches. Also, Please patch those load times Squenix. Even on PS4 Pro it seems like they take for ever. Sidenote, I’m playing on XBone, and I haven’t noticed any significant quality drops.

W: Meanwhile I, on the PS4, have only crashed once and that was due to the Playstation itself I think rather than the game. I also haven’t really noticed long load times (though I readily admit I wasn’t paying attention either).

W: Well unless you have anymore to add here I think we can head to our final section.

A: Sound design is great. Other than that, I think we can wrap up.

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