Can Final Fantasy 15 live up to the enormous expectations that surround it?
Can you believe that this Tuesday, after ten long years of waiting, we will finally be able to play Final Fantasy 15? The game was originally announced all the way back in 2006, as Final Fantasy Versus 13, a part of the Final Fantasy 13 universe, and its darker tone and intriguing real time combat immediately caught people’s attention- a fact that was greatly helped by Final Fantasy 13 basically failing to live up to expectations.
Final Fantasy 15 is an important game- it’s had ten long years of development, multiple delays, a change in systems, one change in directors, an entire change and reboot in direction, a name change, a whole lot of money poured into it that it is unlikely to ever make back, and in the time that separates its announcement to its release, JRPGs, and Japanese games in general, and Square Enix specifically, have gone from being eminent institutions in the gaming industry to shadows of their former selves. Final Fantasy 15 has a whole lot of expectations riding on it- not only must it live up to ten years of expectations, from the audiences and the developers and publishers, but, as with all Final Fantasy games, it also has the implicit expectation of being the standard bearer for its entire genre, and for all games coming out of its country of origin. It is not a stretch to say that Final Fantasy 15 succeeding could single handedly revitalize reception of Japanese games internationally, if not domestically.
"It is not a stretch to say that Final Fantasy 15 succeeding could single handedly revitalize reception of Japanese games internationally, if not domestically."
Then, too, there are more personal stakes involved here- not only have Square Enix managed to squander almost all of the goodwill that they once held, but the Final Fantasy brand itself is no longer the pristine, industry shaking event that it used to be. The protracted and confused development of Final Fantasy 15 aside, Final Fantasy 13 was a terrible game, that Square Enix immediately doubled down on twice, with games that weren’t much better. Meanwhile, Final Fantasy 14 was the worst game to ever release bearing the Final Fantasy name, and while Square Enix overhauled the game and made it entirely excellent later, the game being as bad as it was and coming right in the wake of Final Fantasy 13 only hurt the brand more.
Final Fantasy 7 was great, sure, and fans the world over love and respect that game- but there is nothing to suggest that the series still has it in it to deliver the kind of defining adventures that made the SNES, PS1, and PS2 games so beloved to begin with. Final Fantasy 15 looks incredible, and that’s the reason it has as much hype as it does – people are willing to be cautiously optimistic about it, in spite of the series’ recent failings, because of how great it looks – but if this game were to also disappoint, then I don’t think that Square Enix would ever get a chance to convince people that Final Fantasy was returning to form ever again.
"The fate of a series, a brand, a publisher, a genre, an entire country’s games industry rests on its shoulders effectively. Let’s hope it is capable of carrying that weight."
And that’s why it is so important that the game lives up to expectations. On a superficial level, I have no doubt that it will do so- it’s a great looking open world RPG in an era when those are very well received, and judging by the most recent demo, it is mechanically sound and plays well enough. I have no doubt that Final Fantasy 15 will be a good game, and certainly a far better one than anything since Final Fantasy 12 has- but the question is, can it live up to the ten years of inflated and bloated expectations built up around it by virtue of the fact that people have been waiting so long for it? Or is it doomed to disappoint in that regard? Have Square Enix painted themselves into a corner? Will the game being great, but not worth a ten year long wait, count as a knock against it?
One thing is for certain- the reception to Final Fantasy 15 will be very important, as will the domino effect of consequence that it sets off in motion. Once again, it is not hyperbole to say that Final Fantasy 15, no matter how it goes, will end up being the most important game release of this year. The fate of a series, a brand, a publisher, a genre, an entire country’s games industry rests on its shoulders effectively. Let’s hope it is capable of carrying that weight.
Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.