Final Fantasy is a great franchise, but lately the games seem to be more and more scientific in their approach to actually building a game, and not so much the gusto that we all saw way back when. In the early days, it was about creating a game that gamers wanted to play, and there weren't a lot of bells and whistles when it came to creating a game. In the early days it was "go to the Chocobo forest and grab your giant yellow bird and cruise the land." Ah the good old days of the FF series.
But a lot has changed since that time when gaming was simplistic and easy. When you could boot up your game and explore the land looking for monsters to slay and a few notches to add to your sword hilts. Graphics processors and CPU's became so robust in their game creating that the games seemed to be cut and paste from previous editions. The series is still in the top of their league, but the decision making has become a thing of the past. In FF 13, button mashing became the new battle system until the battle was over. Very little thought process actually drove the game forward, (which it actually progressed forward the way that Square Enix intended for it to... or where they wanted it to go for you). That's not an RPG.
Times have changed indeed, no longer does a character's armor even matter. I place an accessory on them, a new sword and then BLAM! they are just the best character I can make them. The leveling system is planned out as well. There isn't a certain amount of freedom anymore. We are all just playing a predetermined story that they wanted us to play. Where is the exploration? Where are all the tactics and decision making?
For Final Fantasy 15, there are a lot of things missing. Here are a few ideas.
1) In reading an article where it mentioned making the game darker in tone. Fully agreed. Making the game darker in tone or more "adult" will change the way we look at the game. There is nothing better about the older games than knowing that if you didn't kill this boss, then you couldn't fight the main bad guy. If you didn't fight the main bad guy, the world as we knew it would fall into ruin. This was epic, and it was because of this that we all fell for these games as a whole.
2) Bring back the past. In the earlier stages of FF's franchise the games had a whole slew of ideas that reinvented the gaming world one phase at a time. Whether it be a specific battle system, a specific special ability, job functions or leveling system. Create that special something again, and make the battles last longer than needed if possible. Make leveling essential once again. In FF13 it seemed that the walk that it took to find the end of the forest or mine was just long enough to gain the levels necessary to beat the mini-boss and move onto the next area. This was tedious and ordinary. Not a Final Fantasy.
3) Final Fantasy 13 seemed to be over too soon. This was upsetting, because there is so much more to see, so much more for game creators to expand upon. Why release the same game in two parts, ie: 13-2. This means that they weren't done creating for the game, and they weren't done in releasing ideas for the game, rather than the public waiting for a really excellent game to come out and pay the money for something so stellar that we still talk about it to this day as being one of the greatest games ever made. (Final Fantasy 7). By the time the game ended, there was a part of all of us that knew that the game had let us down, and that has happened time and time again. The best FF titles were the ones that led us down different paths, and then we said "I think I'm ready to kill the boss, there isn't much else I can do at this point."
4) The best FF titles were the ones that inspired us. The ones that challenged us and the ones that made us believe that we were actually there. The boss of FF13 was useless. Bartandelus? That's your answer? This guy isn't even worth it! There was no emotional connection with the boss, there was no reason for him to exist, there was nothing in it for the gamer anymore. Reaching the boss raised a whole lot of questions: "is this really the boss? The END boss for the whole game?" or "is there another boss after this douche-bag?" The whole idea of Bartandelus being the final boss was sort of a joke, and finishing the game was just sad.
Granted the graphics were amazing, the cut scenes and the storyline was on par for the most part but there were aspects of the game that left a player hanging. An RPG should be characters drinking at a pub, an explosion rocks the building, and then the player has to choose which four or five characters he/she wants to have for the rest of the game. Is it going to be the off duty police officer? The Doctor? The 18 year old waitress? The bartender? What pros and cons do these characters have? What decisions will they bring to the table? What is the battle system going to be like for a bartender? Maybe make some molotov cocktails and blast a Behemoth in the face. Or an off duty police officer finding Riot Gear in the crowd for armor and uses a steel pipe for a club.
It's these things that make RPG's fun, and it's these things that make them worth playing time and time again. Square Enix has a lot to think about if they want to continue to be successful, and it's the proof in writing this that we aren't done playing them just yet. What are your thoughts? Feel free to express yourself below.