I don’t think I’ve ever seen a game shit the bed quite as hard as Final Fantasy XV. In just a handful of hours, it went from a game I considered to be an early contender for my GOTY, to an early contender for my Most Disappointing Game of the Year.
I had an absolute blast during Chapters 1-8 of Final Fantasy XV. Chapter 9 seemed promising, but that’s where things rapidly fell apart. Chapters 10, 11 & 12 took a serious dive in quality and Chapter 13? Chapter 13 was so bad it made me want to stop playing the game entirely. Oh god, was it bad.
Then came the final chapter, and I was just ready for the game to be over. But Chapter 14 knocked it the f**k out of the park with an absolutely fantastic finale. And suddenly, FFXV became a contender for my GOTY once again. To say that FFXV proved to be a roller-coaster of an experience would be an understatement.
The question is: what the hell happened? Chapter 9, which introduced a new location and map, felt stripped down, and the following Chapters 10-13 felt unfinished. The story was always a little disjointed, but from Chapter 10 onwards it goes entirely off the rails. It feels like massive chunks of content are simply missing and these last few chapters were simply cobbled together with whatever they had.
Was it a matter of time and budget? I don’t know, but as I said, FFXV does gets it shit back in order for the final chapter and go out with a suitably epic bang. But my god, was Chapter 13 terrible. There are two routes available, and from what I understand, Route B was only added because of how poorly received the original (and only) Route A was. But I didn’t know that going in, so I chose Route A because it seemed the ‘right’ choice to make considering it focused on the main character.
I wish I hadn’t. Route A is so boring, tedious and infuriating it made me want to quit. But I’m glad I pushed through, because Chapter 14 f**king rocked. I don’t think I’ve sever seen a game dive so hard in quality but recover just as quickly. That’s not to say Chapter 14 doesn’t take a misstep or two. It’s a shame we didn’t see more of the new world Noctis awakes to. I was disappointed we didn’t get to see demon slayer Iris, for example.
The most fun I had with FFXV was simply exploring its world. The side quests and monster hunts do a good job of pushing you to see every area and creature. Yes, the side quests are mostly basic fetch quests, but there’s a nice variety of objectives and fighting the fantastic variety of monsters is something I never grew tired of.
As I said in my First Impressions post, the combat system of FFXV is stylish fun, but it can become very messy in enclosed environments. This is particularly true during the dungeons, many of which feature narrow tunnels and chambers. But once you’ve unlocked all of the various combat skills and abilities, there’s more depth to the combat than you might initially think. It’s very fast paced, so it can descend into a mindless brawl, but when everything clicks, it’s very satisfying to play.
I’m also quite impressed with how much post-game content there is to explore and unlock. It keeps you wanting to play, even once you’ve finished the man story. And the main story, overall, is pretty good, despite feeling butchered to pieces during the last few chapters. What sells it are the characters, all of whom are pretty fun to interact with.
Graphically, FFXV looks great but could use a few more patches to improve performance. They fixed an issue with the summoning ability, but at the time of writing I’m still experiencing what I’m sure is a memory leak. Because I don’t tend to play for extended periods it’s not really an issue for me, but many people are still reporting it.
Final Fantasy XV was the first FF game I really got stuck into and despite the flaws and that late dive in quality, it’s a game I thoroughly enjoyed and intend to keep playing until I’ve completed all of the additional content. It’s certainly got its highs and its lows, but when it hits high, it really knocks it out of the park.