The story takes place after the events of Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV. Noctis and his friends Ignis, Gladiolus, and Prompto travel to Altissia to prepare for his wedding with Lunafreya. Unfortunately, they have found out that Noctis home city, Insomnia has been invaded by the Nilfheim empire. During his journey, Noctis must find his calling as the future king, as well as search for the mighty power of the gods called Astral.
The story is somewhat interesting, but marred by many issues. First of all, the the story exposition of many lore and events in this game are underwhelming. For example, the absence of explanation of the Astrals origins, the power of the
Characters in the game interesting personalities, and Noctis is one of the better characters who have stronger character developments. However, all other characters have static developments, and there are not many expositions on the villains side, particularly Ardyn,
I also dislike the fact that the game's story and background lore are told in several media instead of one single game. Personally, watching Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV did not add much to Final Fantasy XV's story, except King Regis, Ardyn, Lunafreya, and Alderepts roles in the overarching story in Final Fantasy XV. Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV episodes are more interesting as they add more character expositions on Noctis' relationship between Ignis, Gladiolous and Prompto. The Nilfheim invasion and the character episodes of Prompto, Ignis and Gladiolus could be reworked and included in the main game as well.
It is safe to assume that there are lots of story plots cut out, with many characters have not much background stories to be told in the game. There will be upcoming updates for the game that may include new story scenes that flash out certain characters' stories.
This game is a mix of open-world exploration and action RPG. Combat is done in real-time, and you can explore freely in some of the major regions in the game. Each region is home to different environments, monsters, and locales.
2) Exploration and Progression Section
Your main transportation mode will be your car, Regalia. You can set the car to be driven by Ignis to your destination automatically, or you can drive manually on your own during daytime or nighttime. Night-time is dangerous, as more powerful monsters called Daemons will spawn at night, where many of them are high-leveled for you in early-game. It is best to run from them and camp somewhere to pass the day, unless you are really strong with good equipment and abilities.
Exploration is mostly done on foot, running towards to locations that you want to go, such as dungeons or when completing Hunts. You may also run around outposts and towns as well to take Hunts or completing Side Quests. Day and night cycle is present in the game, and different monsters will spawn in different periods of a day in different areas.
There are three types of Quests in the game. Main Quests are mandatory story quests where you will need to complete to progress in the story. Side Quests are optional quests scattered around in the game's regions for you to complete. Completing Side Quests will often reward you money and items. Hunts are generic hunting quests on specific monsters, and completing Hunts will reward you experience points, money, item, as well as rank progression as a hunter. You can always postpone doing Main Quests and instead do the optional quests like Hunts as well.
3) Upgrading and Customisation Section
The game's main upgrading system is called the Ascension. Ascension allows you to learn new skills or passive effects by spending AP (Ability Points) on a specific node in different branches. There are many branches for Ascension, which are Exploration, Magic, Combat, a
nd others. Different branches of Ascension offer different bonuses when activating their nodes. AP can be obtained by doing certain combat actions, leveling up, or by doing certain exploration activities after learning certain nodes from the Ascension, such as driving.
Elemancy is the magic system in the game. Unlike in previous games where using magic costs MP (magic Points), this time magic is cast like using offensive items. To craft a magic, you must first spend a certain amount of one of the elements (Fire, Ice, Thunder), and then create it. The more element you use to craft a spell, the stronger it is. You may also include an item as an additional effect for the magic, such as healing you after casting the magic, or inflict poison status on enemies with the magic. By activating certain Magic nodes in the Ascension, you can use powerful magic to obliterate multiple enemies in an instant, After crafting a spell, you can equip as an item in your weapon slots, and use it on enemies. A spell has limited uses as well as a cooldown period, but the damage it can deal is devastating.
The game also uses simple equipment system, where you can equip accessories, weapons, and magic to your party members. Only Noctis can wield four weapons, whereas the other three can only wield up to two different weapons. You may also choose to equip different attires, which may benefit your party members with different effects.
The game's leveling system is not the same as previous Final Fantasy games. You gain experience points when you defeat enemies, completing Quests, as well as do certain activities. However, you do not level up on the spot after gaining enough experience points. Instead, you must rest in an inn, caravan or a camp to bank-in the experience points to gain levels. Higher levels means higher stats. as well as rewarding you some AP.
4) Combat System
There are only four party members in the game, but you can only control Noctis fully in both combat and exploration. The combat is action based style like Kingdom Hearts series, where you can attack your enemies in real-time. You may encounter enemies while exploring in the wild, dungeons, or even when driving the car. Fights will be initiated when enemies spot you close by, but you can escape the combat zone if you run far enough from them.
Each character wields different types of weapons. Noctis can wield a variety of weapons such as swords and greatswords, Ignis wields daggers and a spear, Gladiolous wields a greatsword and a shield, while Prompto wields a gun and a machinery weapon. Each character has their own sets of Skills and Techniques, which can be learned from the Ascension.
One important thing about Noctis is his variety of skills that can be used in combat. One of his useful abilities is to Warp-Strike. Warp-Strike allows him to warp instantaneously and damage enemies from a distance, as well as allowing him to warp to save spot to recover MP. He has also the ability to dodge enemies attack, such as rolling or using his Warp Dodge skill. Some of these skills can be enhanced by learning from Ascension.
There are different variety of enemies in this game, such as wild beasts, daemons and robotic soldiers. Some of the enemies may have breakable parts, where you may obtain them as items occasionally. Each enemy has different weaknesses and resistances, such as elements and weapons. Equipping a variety of weapons on Noctis is beneficial, as well as keeping one type of magic to clear large amount of enemies faster.
5) Gameplay Conclusion
This game has good gameplay features. The combat is fun, with Noctis having access to a variety of abilities such as warping, dodge, and many cool abilities. The game's difficulty is not particularly hard when it comes to story missions, although some of the side content such as optional dungeons may prove to be a problem to players with low levels and weak gear. Quite a decent variety of enemies to be fought in the game, and the boss fights are fun to battle. The addition of several minigames such as Justice Monster V and Fishing are welcome additions.
However, this game still has some flaws. First of all, most of the game's Main Quest designs are poorly designed, with not many variety of objectives to be done such as puzzles, minigames, and other activities. The pacing of the game's story missions is incredibly rushed, especially Chapter 9 onward. There are not many obstacles in clearing the game's story other than fighting bosses or some dangerous enemies in dungeons. Dungeons are not particularly well-designed, as there are no real traps or puzzles blocking your progress. The game's main story is also not as long as I thought, as it only clocks around 20 to 30 hours if you focus solely on doing the story Quests. Story boss fights are very few in-between, despite some of them have neat designs such as the Astrals boss fights. The inability to switch characters in combat and exploration and the lack of teammate commands are disappointing as well.
While this game's usage of open-world is a bold decision, not all open-world elements are well-designed. For starters, the land that you can explore freely only comprises three regions, in the country of Lucis. You will not have the chance to travel many other possible countries in the game, and you will only be able to visit two more cities later in the game. The game's story and lore gives me the impression the threat is not world-wide, only for several countries.
A good comparison for this game would be Final Fantasy XII. While Final Fantasy XV has exceedingly better combat and enemy variety, Final Fantasy XII did better in terms of side quests, hunts, and exploration. Many areas in Final Fantasy XII have distinct locale and designs, and the monster hunts have pretty deep and detailed lore behind them.
However, not all hope is lost as Square Enix promised to release new updates to fix some of the gameplay as well as adding new story scenes, which hopefully will enhance the experience of Final Fantasy XV for players.
So far, this is the best looking Final Fantasy game. Impressive character models, great looking environments, and nicely designed monsters. There are no real performance drops I encountered while playing the game, there are some bugs I encountered such as invisible character models when being afflicted by a certain status effect. The default camera setting is an issue as well, since it sticks too close on the characters. However, this issue can be alleviated slightly by using Far option on the Camera Setting.
The soundtrack is composed mainly by Yoko Shimomura, a veteran composer for Kingdom Hearts soundtracks. This game's soundtrack is amazing, and it has lots of memorable themes such as the battle themes, Astral's theme, and the main theme Somnus. The game has a memorable reprise of Final Fantasy main's theme in one of the game's scene, and it is brilliantly done.
The English voice acting is great, where each voice actor did commendable job for their roles. My favourite English voice roles would include all four main cast, especially Noctis and Prompto. English voice actors for Iris, Cor, Ardyn, Ravus, Lunafreya, and King Regis did great job as well, but unfortunately they have limited roles in this game.
This game has good replay value. After completing the game, you can explore the regions of Lucis freely, complete new or remaining side quests, play some minigames, explore secret dungeons, or complete hunts. If you have installed the update 1.03, you may choose to play second playthrough in New Game Plus mode. However, I advise you to wait on this until Square Enix releases a new update with new story cutscenes.
This game actually has the potential to be one of the greatest action RPG games. However, there are many flaws that make it unworthy being on the top lists. Barebone story, poor story pacing, weak character developments on many supporting characters and villains, weak story progression, and the inability to choose playable characters are the culprits for this matter.
However, this game's theme of brotherhood between Noctis and his friends is incredibly well-done, and this game has many likable characters such as the cool Aranea Highwind despite minimal story exposure. The game's combat is pretty good, with decent variety of enemies to be fought. Excellent graphics and music are major highlights of this game as well. This game is actually a great entry for new Final Fantasy players, as it is a user-friendly game like it's brethren Final Fantasy X.
There will be upcoming updates that may fix the game's major issues, as well as upcoming payable downloadable expansions for Ignis, Gladiolus, and Prompto. They might expand some of the characters' stories, especially when they are not available in certain parts of the game. It is recommended for players to install any latest updates to get possible new gameplay updates and story cutscenes. This is a pretty good game with good potential, but at the moment it is just a a good game. Recommended to bewaring players who have researched Final Fantasy XV only.
Pros and Cons
- Interesting story and lore.
- Many emotional moments, especially the whole ending scene.
- Great character development for Noctis.
- Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto are very likable.
- Interesting supporting characters.
- Fun combat.
- Lots of combat options available for Noctis.
- Unique magic system.
- Bold attempt on using open-world exploration.
- Some good minigames.
- Side quests with Noctis friends are interesting.
- Amazing graphics.
- Great English voice acting.
- Excellent soundtrack.
- Multiple language support.
- Good replay value.
- Poorly paced story.
- Many underdeveloped characters, such as Ardyn, Lunafreya, Ravus, Iris, Aranea, Emperor Iedolas, and Cor the Immortal.
- The exclusion of many vital scenes from E3 2013 trailer, Omen trailer, and the Dawn trailer.
- Unnecessary tie-in with multiple media.
- Not many towns in the kingdom of Lucis.
- Some weak open-world exploration aspects.
- Lack of unique towns.
- Poorly designed story progression.
- Weak dungeon designs.
- Inability to choose playable character in exploration and combat.
- Too few story boss fights.
- Too few summons included in this game.