Impressions, Not a Final Review
Before even the Square Enix logo appears, you will be treated with a simple message that perfectly encapsulates what Final Fantasy XV is: a Final Fantasy for fans and first-timers.
FFXV is a love letter packed with subtle nods and references to the treasured previous games of the series, but it never goes so far as to alienate newcomers. In the past three days, I have played 28 hours and am taking a break to only write this. It has been a long while since I played a game that has gripped me to the point where I lose myself in the gameplay. I still have not finished the story and have much to still do, so don’t take this impressions article as the final review. That will be coming soon, and I’ll repost the link here once it’s complete!
Worth the Wait
Thanks to the current generation of consoles, the visuals present here are breathtaking, with far-off mountains sprinkling the horizon and rolling grasslands, swamps, forests, and tundras ahead of you.
Accompanying the gorgeous visuals is perhaps one of the best soundtracks the series has ever had. Period. Intense fights have equally as intense scores accompanying them, while somber emotional moments have slow very moving arrangements. If the new track isn’t your cup of tea, you can choose from tracks from any of the previous titles to play as you walk around (via a portable mp3 player you can purchase for cheap) or cruise in your car. As I stroll through forests, I personally enjoy the world map music from Final Fantasy VII or VIII.
New & Improved! Combat System
One area that many people were concerned with/ turned off by was that XV made a switch from a turn-based style of combat to an action style more in line with the Kingdom Hearts titles. Let me relieve your fears and happily announce that the combat in XV is one of the biggest highlights and best parts of this game. If you hate the Kingdom Hearts combat system, then good news for you! The combat system only shares that you can run around and jump in combat. Outside of that, they are fairly different, with XV relying on switching in and out your equipment to deal with specific enemies. You retain the ability to swap weapons in and out of combat with of four available weapon slots.
One unique aspect of combat is the ability to warp around the battlefield by way of hurling your weapon and teleporting to it. You can do this with certain objects in the environment and barrel into enemies, causing high damage. The combat is frantic and fast-paced, and once you have it down, you will look and feel like a badass as you destroy your foes.
The magic system takes a departure from the norm, as in this game you actually craft your spells from the 3 main elements (fire, ice, and thunder), augmenting them with items for additional properties. Magic in this game has been a HUGE lifesaver in numerous situations during my playthrough. Hurling a spell is weaker than a physical attack, but hitting 5 times instead of just once is incredibly satisfying. You need to be careful, though, as you and your teammates can get caught in the damage radius of the spell.
Speaking of teammates, Final Fantasy XV’s cast is another highlight. While the party consists of only Noctis and his four Crowns Guard members, their relationship is far beyond royalty and bodyguards. The quips, jabs, and complexity is much more akin to brotherhood. Gladiolus, Ignis, and Prompto each have a depth and complexity that adds to their in-game interchanges. VX is not just a story about Noctis; this is a story of a team—a band of brothers.
I don’t want to go into the story, as it would be much better experienced. I will tell you this—if you are a fan of the series or are just looking for a fantastic new game to play, stop reading, get some money, and go get this game right now. You won’t be disappointed.
Remember to check back for my full review in the next week or so!