My last post was all about how FFXV struggles to take its place in the series of Final Fantasy. The game still has a lot of problems with story progression and the building of the world around Noctis et all. But there is a lot in the game that makes up for the poor story.
~arrr there be spoilers ahead~
I am a sucker for strong endings. The end of a game makes or breaks it. Mass Effect 3 is an example of how to do an ending so bad, it ruins the replayability of not just ME3 but the whole franchise for me. (And yet loving Andromeda ~have I mentioned I am also a sucker for Bioware?~) FFXV is an example of how a strong ending salvages a weak story. I love the happily tragic endings. Even in literature and film. To me it makes a story as grand as saving the world more relatable when not everyone survives. There is even a question of whether ~anyone~ survives. Yet in their sacrifice humanity is saved from the consuming darkness. The ending also make sense if you have seen Kingsglaive, as Noctis does exactly the same as Nyx, but with the stored power of the Crystal AND the Kings of Lucis. He wasn’t going to survive.
I loved it.
Let me be clear. The story of XV isn’t not inherently weak, it is the struggle of a boy coming to grips with the reality that he was destined to save the world. That there was more going on than just his struggles. Unlike what he assumed, he wasn’t groomed to be the next king of Lucis, he was being groomed to be the last. The problem is that the revelations came awkwardly and had little impact. The fact that Ardyn was the first Lucian king chosen by the gods felt under whelming. I had to watch it again because I thought I miss heard the exchange. The fact that the main villain was chosen by the gods and then abandoned for following them should be mind blowing. But it lacks substance. Even the relation to Ifrit was weakly applied. The entire time that I was playing parts of the story I kept feeling like there should have been more. More exposition, more explanations. The game never even mentions Noctis being injured as child, considering how important this single event is to the events of the game it ~should~ have been mentioned and dealt with. This single event leads to the death of Lunafreya and Ravus’ mother and is his motivation against the family of Lucis, because to him they abandoned Tenebrane to the Empire. Why wasn’t him trying to use the ring of Lucius never mentioned? It seemed kind of important, and Luna alludes to why his arm is injured. Yet nothing. Ravus as a character was clearly meant to be more than a simple bad guy, but he wasn’t flushed out enough to have any of his actions make any sense. Was he doing this to save Luna from her fate? Maybe, but it’s never really explained. He was dealt with simply in Episode Gladiolos, but it still feels like his character is missing important exposition.
~And yet here I am~
100+ hours later, and well past 10 hours after I beat Ardyn into pulp (in the weirdest and largest missed opportunity of the game) I am still farting around completing hunts and quests. This is the first Final Fantasy where I found the grinding came at the beginning, rather than at the end. At no point did I need to grind by running around outside to level up. All of the quests available from the very beginning did it for me. I found myself surpised at how high level I was at the end of the game (I was 93 at my first attempt.)
As tedious as the game felt at first, I not only persevered, I grabbed it by the horns and bashed it with the Armiger. I am currently lvl 101. And not a fan of the flying car mechanics. I still play the crap out of XV. I don’t do many end of game content in RPGs, mainly because i do so much before the end, that I end up blowing off the last few quests. XV is different. I am actively trying to get every trophy, every hunt, every quest completed. XV excels at the gameplay, and replayability.
XV proves to me that story isn’t the be all end of a game, if there are other aspects that make up for the shortcomings. The gameplay is still a button masher, but unlike XIII it keeps you engaged in the battle. Even fighting Adamantoise, being a long fight (I did it in about 45 minutes) I just had to be aware of not only my attacks, but when limits are ready and when the Amiger was ready. Being able to change weapons on the fly made the fighting less stale.
XV is hardly prefect, but it ended up being one of my top 5 games for the series.
It gives me hope for the VII remake, and the future of not only the franchise, but the company.