The main problem with this game is that it is really boring. I haven't played a Final Fantasy game since X, which I played through about three times and loved to death. I gather that there has been an evolution in the style of the series and the genre, but given that this game was marketed as 'a return to form' and something for fans of the series both new and old, I was expecting more things that both reminded me of the older games, and were actually fun. After 13.5 hours of play I have the following thoughts:
First a couple of caveats. I'm a completionist and an explorer which means that despite the amount of time in the game I am only in the third chapter of fifteen. I have not been chasing the story as hard as others might and this may have impacted my experience of the game. That said, I think that creating an open world game where the only fun way to experience it is to rush through it in a linear and unbending fashion represents a fundamental flaw in game design.There are some good bits:
- The setting is beautiful and looks great on a large screen.
- The character acting is high quality and I have genuinely enjoyed most of the banter between the four guys that form your party. The scripting for these four feels genuine and natural and adds to the experience.
- The active battle system can be fun; warping around the place and executing link attacks feels quite satisfying
But then there's a whole lot of mediocre and bad:The game doesn't want you to have an adventure.
What it wants is for you to have a virtual camping holiday, and for most of the game so far it feels as if the combat and questing is somewhat of an afterthought. It is almost as if the designers resented having to put in these fights because they got in the way of your rambling excursion. There's an incredibly fiddly and tedious fishing minigame which I have avoided. Cooking is something that just happens every time you rest. You collect ingredients on your way around the world - they aren't hard to find, people will tell you exactly where everything is, and for what you can't find you can buy cheaply - and the limit of the player's interaction is selecting a dish for the team to eat. Sometimes you learn a new recipe, that's it. There's also this photography feature which adds literally nothing to the game except wasting a few seconds any time that you rest by making you scroll through the list of snapshots that one of your buddies has taken. You can share them on twitter and facebook, although I can't for the life of me think why you would want to.The itemisation is confusing and bland.
After 13.5 hours of play I have upgraded my team's weapons twice. Both times by purchasing weapons from shop. The weapons are summoned in when you strike, so you can't even really enjoy their artwork, and their lack of physical presence detracts from any sense of adventure. But then again, we're not on an adventure, we're on a camping holiday. The only other customisation options are a couple of trinkets, which do minor and uninteresting stat upgrades, and each character has two different costume options. A normal one, and one which seems to be more ski-holiday themed. You can chose whether or not you want to wear the jacket for either option. That is the full extent of character customisation. This compares to systems like materia or the sphere grid in the same way that fingerpainting compares to calculus. Also, you don't really loot anything, so even that excitement of getting a good drop isn't there. Items just accumulate during battles from enemies, which is convenient but really really dull.They tried to copy skyrim's skill system but missed the point and made it even more boring.
The skill system in Skyrim was arguably one of the weakest aspects of the game, but what they have done here is take that and make it even duller. You have constellation-like trees which upgrade different areas of your character and party. However, with few exceptions, almost all the upgrades are passive, and as passives go they are pretty dull. You buy upgrades using AP and about a third of the upgrades merely grant you more AP for doing certain things including: taking long drives in the car; cooking a meal; taking photos; catching fish; setting camp, and so on. There' aren't any AP bonuses for actually killing enemies, or using magic, or warping, or anything actually fun. But then this all supports the notion that what you are really playing is Tent Simulator 2016. Other upgrades do things like give you a sliver more HP, or allow you to harvest 10 more points of magic from nodes. They're almost all garbage and I can't even remember what half the things I upgraded were because they had so little impact on my character.Magic is a pain in every sense of the word.
This game takes the worst aspects of FF8 (having to draw magic) and makes it worse by only allowing you to draw from fixed nodes that only replenish slowly. It combines this with a crafting system that is entirely unintuitive and incredibly bland. You can craft fire spells, ice spells, or lightning spells. If you were hoping for gravity, or meteor, or ultima, or earth, or any of the wide range of niche spells that existed in the previous games then they are all gone. So are heals, and all buffs and debuffs. You can brew your spells with a potion to make them 'Healcast', but this barely mitigates against the other big problem of spells. Magic in FF XV is powerful, which is fine and dandy, but it's also all AoE, and all friendly-fire. So while you can 1-shot packs of mobs in theory, you also ruin your teammates in the process. And while there are odd groups of enemies that stand nicely in a group for you to nuke, the majority run and jump all over the place meaning you usually end up doing more damage to yourself than to the enemies.Healing is done by items, badly
. There's another mechanic in this game whereby you have HP, but when it goes to zero you start staggering about losing some sort of virtual HP, and when that bar goes to zero you (or your teammate) dies. If you use something to heal, you can only heal up to the limit of where your virtual HP had fallen to. Thus there is a confusion of items that either restore HP or max HP, only the ones that restore max HP are really expensive. So you end up spending a lot of time in the wounded state, chugging potions and hi-potions to recover what you can of your ordinary HP while getting mugged straight back down to wounded status in no time at all. Some people might say that I'm bad at the combat, and I'll admit I was worse and I have improved. However I have had several fights where there's 10+ enemies and all of them are targeting me. They're either ranged and spread out, or small and jumpy. So I heal and instantly get nuked down, and the fight devolves into me chain-chugging potions while my useless friends whittle down enough of the enemies HP to kill a few, allowing me to break the cycle. It's a bad an unintuitive systemYou're not part of the story.
This sounds bad because it is. [SPOILERS]
you're a prince and you're sent away from the city to the countryside just before the capital city gets nuked flat. You and your buddies bimble around the countryside listening to the raido hearing about all the crazy shit that's going on elsewhere. Meanwhile your story is piecemeal and all the side quests are bollocks. There are a bunch of static side quests that are just "Kill X Weebles" types of quests. Some of these happen at night which means you either use the prompt you get as soon as you take the quest to wait until nightfall, or you have to manually stand there and wait for the mobs to spawn. There's no wait function in the game that I can find, aside from hitting up one of those sweet sweet campsites, but all that does is advance you to morning. Also your buddy won't drive you around at night, so you can only fast travel during the day. Because you're not supposed to be driving at night; and if you do the roads have a tendency to spawn giant mobs 10+ levels higher than you to ruin your fun. what you are supposed to be doing is CAMPING DAMMIT.
There are other side quests, fetch a gem, take a photo of a giant cow-like thing, find some dogtags, collect some frogs. The problem is that none of these have anything to do with the story. Whether they happen or not makes no difference. And there's not much to do other than wander around, waiting for robot soldiers to drop out of the sky onto you so you can kill them for XP, or doing all these tedious fetch quests. I found one dungeon so far, and I went in, cleared a few waves of level 7 mobs and then a level 52 demon popped up and 1-shot my entire party; which was not fun. Not like camping, I've never died whilst camping in this game.In conclusion
this game is not much fun.