Final Fantasy 15: Battling the World to Encourage World Building or Simply Battling?

Can the former Versus XIII channel what makes RPGs great, even while it casts aside so many of their tropes?

Posted By | On 04th, May. 2014 Under Article, Editorials


Final Fantasy Versus XIII was once a name that signified mystery and an almost impalpable level of quality. The one cinematic that debuted at an E3 many moons ago showcased fast, furious and altogether bloody gameplay. It showed us an overpowered protagonist completely unlike Final Fantasy XIII’s Lightning – someone who could dominate waves of foes while making it look easy. The overall darker tones of the game had us intrigued. Plus, it was the next big release from Kingdom Hearts II director Tetsuya Nomura, who presented an experience that took the combat in hack and slash RPGs to an altogether different level. He also served as the director on Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, a movie built on kick-ass CG fight sequences.

The hype behind Final Fantasy Versus XIII only escalated when Square Enix revealed that FFXIII would be on the Xbox 360 as well. The once hallowed Final Fantasy franchise had been contaminated and FFXIII was no longer the chosen one. It was now up to the Versus XIII to show what the PlayStation 3 was truly capable of.

And then the wait began.

Final Fantasy 15

"A world began to populate the Gotham-like noir introduced in the initial cinematic. The Hamlet-esque undertones now took a backseat to a full scale invasion and retaliation."

No one can be sure when the waiting just stopped and turned into outright forgetfulness that the title even existed. The franchise was going through its own transformations at its time – Square Enix poured boatloads of money into Western properties like Hitman and Tomb Raider while attempting to shove Final Fantasy XIV down consumers’ throats. Final Fantasy XIII was a great disappointment and not even because it released for other platforms. Square Enix seemed to have trouble supporting itself, much less to create the next big exclusive. The world itself had changed in several respects – third party studios were no longer supporting only PlayStation or only Xbox. Those that did had exclusive deals in place with either console manufacturer. But a third party publisher like Square Enix or Capcom putting their full weight behind either? That was mostly in the past.

Then Final Fantasy Versus XIII reappeared at E3 2013.

It was more or less the same game we knew before but different. A world began to populate the Gotham-like noir introduced in the initial cinematic. The Hamlet-esque undertones now took a backseat to a full scale invasion and retaliation. This game wasn’t about dominating the opposition – it was about toppling them in an effort to survive. It showed us what would happen if Final Fantasy’s mechanics were employed as real world military tactics – heck, why wouldn’t you send Summons to outright level a city as Leviathan did?

It was here that Final Fantasy XV was born. Obviously rebranded in an effort to appeal to those who felt soured by the Lightning-worship, Final Fantasy XV stood as a bold new direction for the series to take. It wasn’t about ATB bars or Dress systems or doomsday clocks. This was an action title that evolved from the remains of Kingdom Hearts 2 to become faster, more brutal and more visually appealing.

final-fantasy-xv-main-cast

"You could make the argument that JRPGs themselves, especially on consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One, have to evolve their mechanics beyond the usual battle screens, stat juggling and fetch quests."

The question: Is this the direction that Final Fantasy should go in?

Make no mistake – if Final Fantasy XV is a success, this could be the template that Square Enix abides by for future titles. The old turn-based/real-time battle system had been killed by Final Fantasy XIII and the Lightning Saga. You could make the argument that JRPGs themselves, especially on consoles like the PS4 and Xbox One, have to evolve their mechanics beyond the usual battle screens, stat juggling and fetch quests.

But then a game like Child of Light emerges – one that mixes light albeit challenging and intriguing platforming elements with a strong turn-based battle mechanic. It showcases just how beautifully all the stats, skills, weapons and items can be compartmentalized for the sake of a more engrossing experience. It was once stated that the purpose of all these mechanics was to properly immerse a player in the RPG’s story.

The battles lent more to tactics; the skills and character progression tied into the character’s emotional development; the quests, whatever their nature, encouraged getting to know your world and the people that populated. As far as fetch quests are concerned, the hero doesn’t knock down a dragon every five minutes – he/she also partakes in everyday tasks, helping to make people’s lives a little bit easier by being a good person. Child of Light did this without making them as rote and boring as many other RPGs.

Final fantasy XV

"It only remains to be seen if its action is simply a means to immerse the player in the story or, like Advent Children, mounds of flash upon a dash of substance."

Thus, this isn’t to excuse said horrendous RPGs that simply shoehorn these mechanics in without respect for character and world building. But as an action RPG, Final Fantasy XV will encourage more set-pieces, more linear battles, more barreling down each path to conquer the next strong foe and a more power-building as opposed to character building. It worked very well in Kingdom Hearts 2 but that was never a game about action, despite its mechanics. The story took centre stage at all times and even when it deviated to force other characters on to you, it was all for the express purpose of involving you in the world.

Final Fantasy XV at this point appears as little more than an excuse to pick a fight. We hear names of places conquered thrown out in a heartbeat. Characters speak in cryptic lines. Granted, its way too early to judge the game but then, these are some of the things that Final Fantasy XIII did as well while de-emphasizing the RPG mechanics its predecessors had carefully built up.

But let it be said once more that Final Fantasy XV‘s current direction is a welcome change of pace from the horrifyingly dull and plodding gameplay of the Lightning Saga. It only remains to be seen if its action is simply a means to immerse the player in the story or, like Advent Children, mounds of flash upon a dash of substance.


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  • MelvinGFrahm

    This game wasn’t about dominating the opposition – it was about toppling them in an effort to survive. It showed us what would happen if Final Fantasy’s mechanics were employed as real world military tactics – heck, why wouldn’t you send Summons to outright level a city as Leviathan did? http://u.to/_eZEBw

    • Guest

      .

  • Ricky Mason

    what did i just i read? FF15 has too much action not enough story? But its a breath of fresh air? No Stats are bad in JRPGs because it doesnt lead to character development….but it works in all other game prior to ff13?

    I know IGNs new gig. It’s to take the ‘popular’ opinion and write idiotic articles about it. I personally think that just comes with hiring morons as writers..but who knows, lets hope that its just the editors screaming down to the wanna-do-good writers.

    Yes, ff13 sucked. As a game is failed miserably. As a story, it was typical japanese crazy overdrama. But please…kingdom hearts story was freaking awful as well. Opinionated…sure. but you can’t call out one terrible story and tout another….If ff13 was bad, so is KHs. The only thing KHs had was nostalgia for westerners.

    i DID agree with your thoughts on fetch quests. Good job on that … write an article about that.

    • Dylan

      Um…. why did you bring up IGN? This is a gamingbolt article…

    • Guest

      KH series is as bad as FF13? What. Do you know what you just said.KH is not bad LOL. KH is actually very deep and original in its story. The blend between dinsey and final fantasy is amazing. it worked well to create an epic grand tale.

      As for the fetch part is bullshit when Xenoblade was praised to be the best 7th gen JRPG ever even though 7th gen is not over despite it having above 300 “kind sir, can you please kill 50 giant spiders and touch 30 blue orbs, thank you” with no interactive immersion. didnt even have puzzles mini games real time events etc despite being open world. it also had very bad writing, basic characterizations that didnt rise above being JRPG 101 tropes, several plot holes, and off pace structured narrative. yea but none of this stuff mattered because all major review sites gave it a 9/10 and people flocked to it like crazy, saying its the best damn thing in 13 years. now this game i speak of is bad as FF13. KH, on the other hand, is indeed very good fiction. i explain why in full detail but i dont think it would matter to you since it seems you look down upon it

  • Spoonyrogdrumps

    RIP Final Fantasy 1987-2002

    RIP…

    • xd

    • Christopher Dennis Lormand

      you are an idiot

    • Spoonyrogdrumps

      If you want to act like a child

      I know you are but what am I
      lol

  • coolasjustin

    good read but god dam can this website be any more annoying? get rid of all the stupid pop ups that cover my whole dam screen and let me read the friggen article.

  • Dylan

    Versus XIII was never going to be on 360, it was a PS3 exclusive until it was re branded as XV and even then it was PS4 and Xbox One

  • King Chibi

    ….. Please read my information about XV. Really if you are going to rant at least have knowledge about the damn game because clearly you are clueless. http://marcush108.wix.com/bimpygamenation#!final-fantasy-xv/cuvf

  • King Chibi

    It’s more about having control 100%. There is an opportunity for the player to directly playout entire scenarios that do not fit into the coordinated confines of a turn-based battle. Large scale epicenes gains nonlinear gameplay qualities. Almost everything happens without pauses. Touch a treasure box, game doesn’t pause, open a door, game doesn’t pause, and even execute flashy advent children styled moves, game doesn’t pause. Loading is nonexistent (Final Fantasy XV). QuickTime events are nonexistent (Final Fantasy XV).

    However, you are right about the mechanics being enhanced on the immersion. Just look at the fight with behemoth. You can actually experience the beast’s durability and power. Its attacks do damage to not only the party but the setting itself. You can jump on it, attacking nearly everywhere as it tosses a vehicle aside like no one’s business.

    This is a major difference in comparison to the stilled image from previous FF games, which have the HP bar moving from right to left as the only indication of a “threat”

    The entire setting is interactive, meaning you can jump onto objects, climb onto objects, push objects out the way, destroy objects, and pick up objects. An object is anything from a street lamp to a table to a building to a mountain. Swimming is even allowed. You can steal vehicles from unfriendly artificial intelligence.

    Previously in Final Fantasy, combat and traveling were two separate elements. Now it’s not. Everything blends. Cutscenes hardly look different from in game footage. Hair physics is the only difference between hi-poly models of the pre-rendered movies, and the low-poly models of in-game footage; consistent visual fidelity enhances immersion. This means a lot when the detail of a fully interactive setting can be experienced. The water just doesn’t look pretty. Having those waves slam you back in such detail brings out the connection between player and game as you swim towards shore. Of course it’s related to plot based on the context as seen in the trailers though only Cor’s line at the end of TGS 2013 trailer was not part of the script.

    Communication is not limited to the narrative. While you go from A to B, conversations between the party members occur in real-time, providing each other with their own sense of importance and plenty of motivation to complete their objectives. This makes them feel concrete and tangible enough to care for their emotions. Past Japanese developers put none cut scene conversation in smaller dialogue boxes, such as Skits (Tales of franchise). Nomura keeps his characters talking all the time and as naturally as possible without any interruptions. It is pushed a bit further by tapping into the realm of cell phones. The people of Final Fantasy XV do indeed have mobile devices. If you are away from your party members, calling them or video chatting is possible.

    Repeated battle lines, dialogue trees, niceties from NPCs, and aimless chatter are thrown out the window. Final Fantasy XV takes after Nier’s way of speaking. Anyone who played Nier would know there is a smart dialogue system and if Final Fantasy XV updates and upgrades it then that’s a pro, not a con.

    If you do some research then you would realize that Final Fantasy XV is all about playing and not so much watching. If you don’t want to experience the story in an immerseive way Final Fantasy as a franchise could never do before then play the older ones, which the jest of plot and lore was told through cutscenes or NPCs though for NPCs well done look at Last Remnant.

  • lol

  • Christopher Dennis Lormand

    cant wait until square begins its refocus on its jrpg roots. then these spoiled ignorant hack 20 something “gamers” wont have a reason to whine and rant. American gaming market is killing the industry.

    • Spoonyrogdrumps

      You might want to thank them and think before you speak. No one takes you seriously. Go cry to mommy


 

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