Final Fantasy XV Day 1 Edition – PS4

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FINAL FANTASY XV is a ground-breaking fantasy based on reality, with revolutionary gameplay, awe-inspiring graphics, and cutting edge technology. Escaping the flames of war, Noctis, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Lucis, embarks on an epic journey with his best friends through a world of larger-than-life beasts, amazing wonders to behold, and dungeons filled with danger in hopes …
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Awards

Value For Money

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You Might Like

  • Fantastic characters and bonds
  • The varied enemies to fight
  • The emotional story
  • A rich world to explore

Might Not Like

  • Convoluted lore
  • The hack-and-slash combat—a change from other Final Fantasy titles
  • Some repetitive side missions
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Description

FINAL FANTASY XV is a ground-breaking fantasy based on reality, with revolutionary gameplay, awe-inspiring graphics, and cutting edge technology. Escaping the flames of war, Noctis, the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Lucis, embarks on an epic journey with his best friends through a world of larger-than-life beasts, amazing wonders to behold, and dungeons filled with danger in hopes of finding the strength to take back his homeland and end the battle.

Final Fantasy XV Feature

“A Final Fantasy for fans and first-timers.” When I booted up Final Fantasy XV, I was a first-timer. I was more than willing to dive into a decades-old franchise. With the promise of stunning graphics and superior character realism that I’d admired since Square Enix took over the Tomb Raider franchise. So many people have grown up with Final Fantasy, and it’s a staple of the RPG genre.

Without the comforting pink mist of nostalgia to muddy the sparkling Galdin Quay waters… was Final Fantasy XV a good game in its own right?

Spoilers abound for gameplay. Minimal plot spoilers.

Final Fantasy XV boys with car

A Romance for the Ages 

A group of four men, stranded on the side of a road in an arid land, trying to hitch a ride into town. Their car, the Regalia, has broken down. They decide to push it to Hammerhead, the nearest service station. They bicker like brothers as a haunting rendition of ‘Stand By Me’ echoes around them. The camera pans away to show the scope of the world just a few steps away… and the story begins.

Like most Final Fantasy games, XV is set in a fantastical world, with magic, daemons, and awe-inspiring mythical creatures. What often grounds this type of game is its characters and the relationships developed along the way. Just think of Cloud, Tifa, and Aerith from FFVII. True legends in gaming lore that return time and time again in games like Kingdom Hearts and Super Smash Brothers.

Enter stage right: Noctis, Gladiolus, Ignis, and Prompto.

You are Noctis Lucis Caelum, heir apparent to the Lucian throne. You must travel across the realm to marry your childhood friend Lunafreya, the Oracle, to forge an alliance between your two kingdoms. It’s imperative this union becomes official to steady the kingdom’s strained relationship with the empire of Niflheim and avoid war.

But who wants to get married without a stag do, am I right?

The first few parts of the game emulate a road trip undertaken with your best friends. A last-minute send-off before responsibilities get too real and you can’t hang out as much as you used to.

Gladiolus (‘Gladio’) is your lifelong friend and bodyguard. In typical tough-guy fashion, he’s strong and quick to anger, but he’s clearly affectionate to a couple of special souls. Ignis is Noct’s Royal Advisor, the brains of the group who shows his warmth through every new ‘recipeh’. And then there’s Prompto, the jokester school friend who lights up the darkest of Noct’s moods.

You can’t help but feel like part of the gang as you progress through the story. The strength of the game lies in the incredible bond established over the course of the game between the four protagonists. Sitting around the campfire every night, cooking together, training together, or just goofing around. And that makes the stakes all the higher.

Final Fantasy XV Selfie

Exploring Eos

The game has beautiful graphics and an enormous amount of side missions to get through. Often you forget about the story itself and just have fun exploring with your bros. The vistas are breathtaking – which is just as well. Driving your badass Regalia around can be quite a lengthy process when you no longer want to take in every sunset. It’s also downright dangerous at night when daemons creak out of the floor to ambush you. With a fantastic soundtrack that’ll get you reminiscing about old times, hyped up for a battle, or holding back tears, it’s an immersive experience interwoven with cosy banter between four friends.

Once you reach the Chocobo outpost, you have a much more adorable means of transport. Rent the fluffy ostriches found in most FF games and ride over the rough terrain your Regalia can’t handle. If you treat them right, they’ll kick a monster in the face for you in battle. Noct even sleeps on his Chocobo in front of the fire at night. Sweet.

Top tip: make sure your Chocobo rental period lasts if you’re planning to dash out into the open world. Away from the roads, all you have between you and lengthy stamina battles is your Chocobo- if you prepare.

Speaking of camping. When you stay at havens, you get to sample Ignis’ very appetising-looking meals. He makes them out of the materials you gather around Eos (fishing, anyone?). They give various benefits to Noct and his friends for their adventures the next day. From increased stats to resistance to afflictions, the boost’s definitely worth the effort… and to get Iggy to take care of you for a bit.

Do you want to make memories with your bros? Of course you do. Good thing Prompto is an amateur photographer. Some photos can help you capture the beauty of the world, while others are tourist snaps or just good old selfies. Make sure you have a couple of good ones; you might need them later on.

Final Fantasy XV chocobo

Hack-and-Slash with the Squad  

As beautiful and packed with wonders as it is, I would only run around Eos if I were Noct. That’s probably because, unlike Noct, I don’t have super Saiyan warping powers or giant anime swords at my disposal.

The gameplay is a blast. It’s definitely a hack-and-slash that you can just button-mash through if you’re on autopilot. If you want to be effective, you need to use the abilities, magic, and items at your disposal.

However, the main plus of this combat is teamwork. Many other side characters in games are there to stand by the protagonist and act as meat shields without much of a brain. This gives the player respite to back off and heal or figure out their next point of attack or extra options. But really, you are the one who will get the job done.

Whilst Noct is definitely the ‘special’ one with extra powers, there are times when one or more of the characters become separated from the rest of the group, and you really feel the loss. Ignis heals, Gladio is a tank, and Prompto can shoot guns accurately from any range, helping Noct get out of particularly tough spots. Perform Link Strikes and character techniques by having a partner near you. Parry or attack from behind, and you’ll unleash a powerful move to help you finish off enemies. Again, friendship and teamwork thread this tale together.

Synergy between magic, weapons, items, and your comrades is key to succeeding in Final Fantasy XV. Just don’t rely on the Armiger weapons. You collect them throughout Eos as part of the story and Noct’s character development, but they drain your HP and you should handle them with care.

My one gripe? If you’re a completionist like me, you’ll do all the side-quests you can. However, it’s so easy for Noct and his buds to get over-levelled by the end if you do this. I think the game needs to scale the difficulty as you level. Your final few battles end up as a cakewalk and you leave the game – usually grandiose and dramatic- a little underwhelmed.

Final Fantasy XV teamwork

Go Big or Go Home 

If you’re an FF veteran, just hearing the name ‘Tonberry’ will shake you to your very core. It’s truly impressive that a little lizard man with a knife is ultimately more terrifying than a giant god beast, whose body fills up your whole screen and then some.

But Tonberries are relatively rare in Final Fantasy XV. As you journey across Eos, you’ll find a whole assortment of different fantastical creatures. From cat-like beasts and rhinos to giraffe-deer hybrids and others you can hardly describe. Some of my favourites are the giant Catoblepas, which tower above you in a lovely lake near Alstor Slough. They sport pig-like faces and giant necks like diplodocuses.

You can either engage with these ‘enemies’ as you encounter them, or you can go to tipsters to pick up Bounty Hunts. Levels can range from 1 to 110. So, with the help of the ranking system, you must pick and choose the right bounties to complete. In return, you get various rewards. They’re fun side-quests, allowing you to find creatures all over the world that you may have overlooked, explore areas you may have missed, and open up some creatures to combat that were previously locked.

You also need to watch out for the Magitek Troopers – cybernetic combatants – and soldiers that fight for Niflheim’s army. It’s a shame you can’t blast their airships out of the sky and leave it at that.

Final Fantasy XV Catoblepas

An Emotional Ride 

Fantastical worlds? Magic hack-and-slash powers? Anime angst? You’ve got all this and more in Final Fantasy XV. But what really drives this game is its story.

Let’s start with the pros. After you have sped around Eos for a while dodging daemons, hanging out with your friends, getting stronger, and helping out the locals, things really start getting serious. I won’t spoil anything here, but I found myself fully engaged throughout. Friendships become strained, shady characters mess things up, the unexpected happens. At a few heart-breaking times, I felt myself fall along with them.

The story unfolds through both the main missions and the side-quests that flavour the rich world. You learn about the politics of the battling realms when you interact with people stuffed with personality, the citizens you’re destined to rule over. You get invested in stories concerning Gladio’s sister, or Prompto’s past. Meet beasts and generals and gods. The stakes are high, and the narrative lets you know it. It takes care to intersperse serious moments with flashes of comradery to remind you that the world might be full of evil, but there’s always something to fight for.

However, in true Final Fantasy fashion, XV’s story can get convoluted. I sometimes questioned some of the high-concept fantasy elements that drove the narrative forward or even wondered if I’d skipped a chapter. You shouldn’t have to look up a synopsis to understand some events or even character motivations, but I did. If you’re not willing to read around a little to get the full story, maybe the late game isn’t for you.

Final Fantasy XV Leviathan

Final Thoughts 

If Final Fantasy XV really is a final fantasy for fans and first-timers, then it definitely has become my fantasy, but not my final one. Since finishing it for the second time, plus all three DLC expansions, I’ve played both the old and remake versions of FFVII, and I have plans to play X very soon.

Whether hack-and-slash or turn-based RPG, what I think Final Fantasy does very well is at the emotional core of its games. Characters are well-realised and easy to fall in love with. The storylines are often complicated, but the main thread line comes across beautifully. Final Fantasy XV is no exception. The game looks and sounds lovely, and never fails to draw you into whatever’s going on at the time. Whether you are a new or veteran player, it’s an experience that will leave everyone walking tall.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Graphics
  • Multiplayer
  • Story (Career Mode)
  • Originality

You might like

  • Fantastic characters and bonds
  • The varied enemies to fight
  • The emotional story
  • A rich world to explore

Might not like

  • Convoluted lore
  • The hack-and-slash combata change from other Final Fantasy titles
  • Some repetitive side missions