The game which has taken ten years to arrive, is finally here. I haven’t been able to put this title down since receiving it on launch day…So what do I think of this legendary, long-awited title?

The latest installment of the FINAL FANTASY franchise which was originally announced as VERSUS XIII way back in 2006 and was announced to be FINAL FANTASY XV in 2012. This has been marketed as for the fans and for newcomers alike and is the first installment of the franchise to include action based combat, and when you invest the time into understanding the system is one of the game’s greatest strengths.

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This game has other pieces of media which link directly into the story of the main game. A five episode anime which shows the relationship of the main characters and an amazing CGI movie which shows the story of how Insomnia has fallen, or the events which happens when your party leaves on their adventure. Some of the scenes from the movie has been embedded into the main game, providing a small glimpse of insight into the story of how your home land fell, but they’re worth a watch.

The story follows protagonist Noctis Lucis Caelum traveling across the world of Eos, trying to reclaim his throne and reunite with his fiancee Lunafreya Nox Fleuret.  Throughout your journey you will encounter classic FINAL FANTASY monsters and develop a love for the character’s and the bond which keeps them together.

The combat is actually pretty simple but has a lot of depth. The majority of the combat consists of two buttons: Circle and Square. Holding down the circle button will enable your character to dish out attacks with Noctis’ equipped weapon and holding down square will enable him to block and phase through enemy attacks.

While attacking, if you press your analogue stick in any direction you will find that your weapons have additional combos to perform. This allows you to mix and match your style of gameplay with the weaknesses of the enemies you’re fighting. In addition to some of the fixes of the day one patch, two new combos were added as they were seen within the games ‘Oman’ trailer. You can now perform a combo with your daggers where if you hold back on the control, you will warm backwards while throwing your daggers and then leap in for a drop kick attack. Which is awesome…

This wouldn’t be a FINAL FANTASY title without magic and this system here is a throwback to FINAL FANTASY VIII. There are elemental deposits scattered around the world which enable you to draw power from and then form into your own spells while mixing in additional ingredients to spice up the power of the spell; Mixing Fire and a potion, for example, will heal the caster as he performs the spell.

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Giving credit to the developers, these spells do pack a punch. Really giving you the feeling you’re playing with the elements but there is a drawback, every spell you cast can endanger your and your team. Let me give an example, I was attacking some monsters in shallow water and was ambushed by Niflheim soldiers. Panicking, I decided to put some distance between myself and throw in a Blizzard. While the was effective and beautifully executed, I had frozen the lake over and Prompto was unable to escape as he was stuck in the ice who was then pummeled to death, poor, poor Prompto.

The combat can at some times become overwhelming. While fighting a pack of beasts somewhere in the open world, you might hear an airship flying over head and then you’re surrounded by those beasts and between four to twelve Niflheim soldiers. This is where the games Wait Mode can be useful.

Wait Mode is an option you have to enable in the options, and you can only choose between Active and Wait; this can’t be done ingame which seems like a waste.

While Wait Mode is active and you’re standing still time will freeze, allowing you to see everyone on the battlefield and enable you to select specific enemies or body parts of bigger creatures. As soon as you begin moving again, so does the flow of battle. You can gain additional information of enemies if you select them and cast libra.

The game presents you with three different methods of getting around the world of Eos.  While you’ve always got the use of your trusty legs, you can travel around in style using either the Regalia or by renting a chocobo from the farm.

Regalia

The Regalia is going to be you main mode of transportation around the world, or at least for the first few hours of the game. It comes complete with a shop, where you can order new supplies and the best item in the game which is the MP3 Player, this baby will allow you to play any of the music CDs which you’ve found while travelling the world and will enable you to listen to them while you’re outside of the car.

The car simply serves as a mode of transport, a means to get your from one location to the other. You have have Ignis drive you to each destination or you can drive the car yourself but you are limited in movement. You’re only able to drive on predefined routes and are unable to go off road or crash into other vehicles on the road; if you attempt to do this the car will right itself or to stop a collision both vehicles will stop and overtake each other.

You can customise and upgrade your car, finding new pieces to make the car more fuel efficient and eventually to be able to fly too. Stickers and patterns are hidden and sold throughout the world too and you’re given a simple to use editor to put these onto onto the Regalia too. Check these beautify out; crimson with cactuar stickers.

While the soundtrack throughout the game is a joy to listen to, is it nice to have nods to the other games in the series. Just having the ability to purchase, with ingame gil, a selection of tracks from other titles in the franchise is a nice nod to fans.

Chocobo

After a few hours with the game, you’ll unlock the ability to summon chocobos but you’ll have to rent them first. The more you use your chocobo the more they’ll level up gaining high stats meaning they sprint for longer and faster. They also gain abilities to be used in combat too, so instead of running away there’s a chance they’ll run in and attack or you can use them to escape from combat.

You can also take your feathered friend into the races, where you can compete against your other teammates. This unlocks new colours for your chocobos and stat boosting cosmetics.

Final Thoughts

I’ve played 32 hours of the game which included slaying a whole lot of monsters, driving around with my team, playing JUSTICE MONSTERS, chocobo races, fishing and completing the main storyline.

I completely adore this game, every little detail throughout my playthrough was amazing and when this game is at its strongest it is a title worthy of the name FINAL FANTASY, but when it’s at its worst, it’s nothing but an MMO grind.

While this opinion is my own, I’m sure it will echo along with other players or fans of the franchise; this didn’t feel like a FINAL FANTASY title until part way through the storyline. It started on a strong note but as soon as you were let loose into the world, I forgot what I was playing. Unlike other open world RPGs where you’re presented with an amazing narrative, all you are presented with here are fetch quests. If you’re anything like me, you will find yourself completing these just to make your characters stronger to help you deal with whatever is going to be thrown at you.

When I eventually pushed myself back into the main storyline of the game, and i’ll be honest the only reason I did this was because I wanted to fight the Astrals, this game’s version of Summons, Eidolons or espers; we all know them as one of the other.

There was a lot of news throughout the development of the game that it will shift in how it presents the story to you. The game starts off in a very open world setting and as you progress the game will become more linear and while I was on the fence of this strategy It feels like this was the best way to move forward. You start on a road trip, learning about the world, the friendship between the main characters, getting a handle on combat and the challenges that await you in the world. When things begin to heat up and your destiny is laid before you, you can’t just walk away; you need to see it through.

I really like the approach to storytelling, considering this is a FINAL FANTASY title and the melodrama that comes with that. Walking away from your destiny and heading to your local cafe and playing pinball, just wouldn’t feel right.

The combat system becomes more complicated when you meet the realisation that enemies all more in their own way and have their own queues when they’re about to perform certain aspects. As you learn how things move, your combos can become extended and the combat begins to become flashy. You can warp throughout combat, attacking from the side and then teleporting and striking in the air and as your character grows he can eventually stay in the air permanently; it is beyond satisfying.

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With the announcement that we’re going to be receiving a New Game Plus for the title and with the season pass being introduced, while after completing the game I can see where the character episodes are going to be and I hope they don’t disappoint. There is a section of time that I wish would be explained and I won’t go into detail with there here, maybe we can discuss and put in some theorycrafting into what the Expansion for the game will include. I just hope they use this section of the game for the multiplayer portion of the DLC but only time will tell…

While the game world itself is amazing, and all the little pieces of detail throughout the story and the world are astounding, I have run into a few issues or glitches but for me they were far and few between.

When the game first went to night, there was this amazing transition. It was beautiful. However instead of my team being shrouded in darkness, I was met with brightness. The world was just an ever glowing bright white light. After running around in circles for a few minutes, the world was presented to me beautifully, the way intended.

While combat has been amazing, there have been times that the team didn’t join in and I don’t really understand why. It could be that I approached the content from the wrong direction and the team themselves were clipping on a rock surface. After an encounter which should have taken 5 minutes, lasted 20. The team warped in at the end and everyone received EXP.

Finally, during combat some enemies managed to get themselves stuck in locations that were unacceptable to me and I had to wait 20 minutes for prompto to shoot the enemy to death as no one else could reach them.

My biggest issue with the game is because of how the developers have decided to present the narrative, it feels like it is a little spotty. There are places in the story where time is skipped and the game has an issue maintaining tone and urgency throughout the majority of the story. It is only when the game becomes linear that the story is presented to you appropriately and reminds you that this is a FINAL FANTASY.

But to conclude, I’ve loved this title. I didn’t at first and maybe that was because the game isn’t what we were shown ten years ago. After putting in the time, getting to grip with the systems presented in the game and immersing myself in the lore of the world – I love this title and has easily became one of my favourite titles of the franchise.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some fishing to level up.

I would rate FFXV a 8/10.

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