I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XV since last week and I’m getting closer to the end of the game, especially after the day-long play time I had during the weekend.
It’s been fun and I’ve been enjoying it. The storytelling is great and there are powerful emotional scenes as you go through the game, with superb direction and some wonderful CGI transitions.
Combat is very active and it’s made me feel like a complete badass just taking out enemies one after another with the warp mechanic. I have a few gripes about it but we’ll get to that. But overall, even if it’s essentially a button masher system, I like it. I also love the way the other characters’ attacks link up with yours.
This is a game about four friends, but with three of them sworn protectors of the fourth. It’s great seeing that dynamic play out and how the relationship strains when things go wrong and duty starts playing into it. During development, they said they chose this cast of four guys because a group of guys lets you explore themes that you can’t in a mixed group. I agree with them and it shows in the game, the way these four act together.
But, while the game has these fantastic features, it’s managed to annoy the living hell out of me with others.
The car, the Regalia, is completely worthless. I’ve played many Final Fantasy games and this is the first title in the series where I’m bored of using the vehicles. It’s slow, it corrects your driving and you can’t even take it off the road. It feels like being on-rails and it’s even more frustrating that any form of fast travel depends on the car.
I drove for the first few hours into the game, until the boredom was so great I decided I would leave Ignis to do all the driving for me.
Also, and here’s the part that annoys me the most: who in their right minds decides that you can only get the flying car AFTER you finish the game? What’s the point in that? Every final fantasy where you get a flying ship, you do so during the game, and it’s something most of us expect and even look forward to, when we’re no longer tied to the ground and can travel the skies. It’s always satisfying, and yet, in Final Fantasy XV, you can only do so after clearing the story.
It is pointless.
When I saw the first summoned beast, Ramuh, I was excited and thought it would be amazing to summon it against some of the harder enemies I face, thinking the summoning mechanic would have some connection to the MP gauge or the Link bars or even the Armitech one—this is a game with lots of bars and gauges. So imagine my surprise when I realised that summons are random.
You never have control over the summoned creatures. They grant you their “blessing,” meaning you can call them by holding down L2 on the PlayStation controller, randomly. If you needed Ramuh for this one battle against two Red Giants that popped up along the highway, well, he’s not that into you right now, so he’s not going to help.
Sure, when you do summon them they pretty much obliterate anything in the area, but it’s still disappointing that after all the trouble you go through to get their summons, you still get no say over when they appear or which one comes along.
Another issue with the combat is how much it takes control out of your hands. When your allies use their special skills, when you use items on them and even when they die, the game stops, focuses the camera on them and you have to wait for the animations to end before your game resumes. Worse still is that for the special attacks, the enemies will keep moving and attacking, so if you’re planning on that perfect strategy, just know that while your allies pull off their moves, the monster will trample over your immobile butt! Someone told me this is a bug in my game, but it still annoys me.
I hate the stamina bar, as its only purpose is to limit how much you can run and to have a couple of talents to extend it. It’s as pointless here as it was in Deus Ex: Human Revolution. I don’t really care if it’s unrealistic, don’t add a stamina bar unless it’s going to be a central mechanic or at least have more than one thing depending on it.
But I can look past the running thing considering there’s a little trick to constantly refresh it. What I can’t forgive is making me need to level up the Chocobos so they become worthwhile. It means I must run around with the beasties for enough time to grant it new abilities. And then you have the audacity to charge me for renting it.
I don’t mind the Chocobos functioning like discount Eponas with a trotting speed and a stamina-based sprint. But I do mind that I have to stop running with the Chocobo to recharge the stamina since running makes it regenerate at a very, very slow rate.
Lastly, this is perhaps the worst magic system I have ever seen in any Final Fantasy to date. The concept of crafting spells is pretty neat, but giving it a charge system and with such limited charges, even with all the upgrades, makes it feel worthless, especially because of the length of most boss battles, their difficulty and your limited crafting resources. And that’s without mentioning that magic has friendly fire enabled, so your party’s spells can screw you over.
I mean, you have MP, it’s Magic Points, make them related to magic!