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Thread: SQUARE ENIX - Single Player RPGs are dead?

  1. #6521

    Default Re: SQUARE ENIX - Single Player RPGs are dead?

    Just do the missions Cindy assign to you and driving the car at nighttime won't be a hassle ever again.
    3DS FC: 0087 - 2971 - 9910

  2. #6522

    Default Re: SQUARE ENIX - Single Player RPGs are dead?

    So anyone remember that dragon that was just sitting on the backstage? Well...


  3. #6523

    Default Re: SQUARE ENIX - Single Player RPGs are dead?

    That's actually a lot of cutscenes for a game that won't have a Story Mode.

    Is the dragon supposed to be Shinryu?

  4. #6524

    Default Re: SQUARE ENIX - Single Player RPGs are dead?

    There was actually a time when I planned a new title called Chrono Break," Tokita explained via email. "Though it was canceled before accomplishing anything, the overall idea for the title was carried over to my latest game, Final Fantasy Dimensions II. Aemo’s character setting and the balance between the three characters at the beginning…these were based on the original concept [for Chrono Break] but were reworked for this title."
    http://www.ign.com/articles/2017/12/...l-fantasy-game

    Chrono stays dead and maybe for the better.

    While not to high on either Chrono game (despite Cross having GOAT soundtrack) with out Horii or Guchi there why bother at this point.

    Kitase just used Chrono as a base for 13-2 and Horii clearly used Chrono as a base for DQ7.
    Last edited by Jaime; December 21st, 2017 at 10:27 AM.

  5. #6525
    POE WUN BGR Greg's Avatar
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    Default Re: SQUARE ENIX - Single Player RPGs are dead?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nekketsu View Post
    Just do the missions Cindy assign to you and driving the car at nighttime won't be a hassle ever again.
    No, the key to getting around it is reaching level 31ish so that Ignis drives at night.

    That's besides the point, it was literally a roadblock in the game that forced me to sit on my laurels to wait for a sunrise.

    It's not my point whether there's a so-called 'solution'. My point is, it's piss-poor design.

    I beat it yesterday and it was just as ho-hum as I expected.

    Down to the last, a game that defiantly believes it can succeed by *telling* you how to feel and completely failing to let the user feel anything naturally through the narrative.

  6. #6526

    Default Re: SQUARE ENIX - Single Player RPGs are dead?


  7. #6527

    Default Re: SQUARE ENIX - Single Player RPGs are dead?

    Quote Originally Posted by KageKageKing View Post
    the kid named Shinra in X-2's descendents eventually space travelled to the planet of FF7 or whatever
    it's literally the most ignorable lore in history

    Set Art by Daily Rowlet

  8. #6528

    Default Re: SQUARE ENIX - Single Player RPGs are dead?

    That’s been a thing for some time.

    May be a joke also since a lot of FFX senior staff made FF7.

  9. #6529
    POE WUN BGR Greg's Avatar
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    Default Re: SQUARE ENIX - Single Player RPGs are dead?

    Contains End-Game Spoilers

    Spoiler:

    Some Context

    I’m a Final Fantasy fan.

    That’s all you need to know about my history with it.

    Sections of the first half of this review are both objective and subjective based on in-game anecdotal evidence. Subjective aspects of the review are generally related to the user experience with the standard being, simply, other modern gaming titles upon which the quality of, the gaming community agrees.

    Delving into the more emotional parts of the game, i.e. how the gamer relates to the characters and their world, this becomes a highly subjective based on anecdotal evidence. My only defense is, if I’m discussing how a game should interact with *the gamer*, if I’m not being subjective, I’m not sure it’s worth my time being honest in a review.

    A bit of my history with FFXV.

    I avoided purchasing the game when it was released based on my displeasure with the battle system as I heard and saw it described as well as the inability to character-swap during battle; a fact which defies the core of Final Fantasy games, being able to play the role of each character you control.

    When I heard that the December 2017 patch would include character-swapping, almost immediately, I purchased the game. Even if I didn’t enjoy the battle system, at least a core identifying trait of the series had been restored and I like to financially reward what I believe are positive changes for the gaming community; if not for my personal enjoyment, for the support of where I think future gaming experiences should focus on improving.

    If you’re looking for a score, there is no number at the end of this.

    No ‘score’ can reflect what the following 19,000+ words have to say about what FFXV is as a gaming experience.

    That said, I’m somewhat at a loss for how to properly begin this. Final Fantasy 15’s success and its reviews are the surest sign of one of two ends: my skill and creativity have failed me leading me away from discovering a *vital* component of the game; or gamers are now wholly satisfied with mediocrity so long as it carries a name brand and entertains the eyes. Myself, everyone else who purchased this game and most of all, the reviewers who refused to open their eyes to devastating lack of quality in this title are to blame for what *will* be coming next. We had our chance to course correct and it is the glazed-over look we get in our eyes for a nostalgic franchise title that has aborted that chance.

    So where do I start?

    How can I address the faults of this game imbued in it by committee and the minds of those who are truly and wildly out of touch with those who’ve supported them through the years?

    I suppose I should start at the beginning.


    “A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers.”

    This statement proudly shines through the darkness of your monitor’s deepest black every time you load the game and thus it is that FFXV begins with a manipulative deception before you’ve even pushed New Game for the first time.

    There is little in this title that resembles anything I am or was a fan of in a meaningful way. Is there material that I *remember* from other titles? Yes, but the fact that a character named Cid is *in* a FF title counts for very little in the overall experience. His existence reminds us of fond memories and we attach those memories to said new character as a spiritual successor. This helps us feel a familiar link to the character. It is the equivalent of nostalgia being forced from our grey matter.

    If I showed you a photo of your favorite food cooked in a way you’d never seen it cooked before, you’d probably still want to eat it. But a photo is just a photo and what really counts is the *taste* of the food. What ingredients were chosen? Do the new twists improve the flavor or simply mimic it?

    It’s the same with FF15’s superficial nods to past titles. Because these themes are included does not make it a game *for* fans. In practice, the inclusions of a Cid should simply be a technique that helps us quickly connect with a character or theme thanks to foundations built years ago and for this title to *expand* upon that role. In this title which claims to be for fans, these familiar series nods are only pumping some of that sweet, sweet nostalgia juice from our memories and doing nothing to expand upon them.

    Beyond Cid, this is of course applied to many reoccurring key themes: crystals, airships, weapon/enemy/spell names and so forth. It even extends to roles. Why is Aranea named Highwind? Because dragoons. And she’s a dragoon. And they don’t explain that or attempt to explore her in any detail because we now know that she’s a dragoon. ‘Remember those cool and conflicted dragoons you liked from past Final Fantasy titles? She’s one too! And thereby you like her too!’ Okay, well, can you do anything new with that? And hold your horses there, wasn’t this for ‘first-timers’ too? Are they supposed to know what dragoons are?

    This nostalgia-juice pumping is fine and I am probably its biggest advocate. I *want* to turn my living room into Niagara Falls over fond memories being used in exciting, meaningful and unique ways. But, and this is key, in this title these themes are not being handled in such a way. Many facets of this title that *are* expanded upon [i.e. What’s a Summoner? Why are they super-rare/important?] are hollow because they expect you to experience the characters and story through memories without giving us any *meaningful experiences* that we control.

    This game’s greatest sin -which it commits consistently from loading the game to beyond the ending credits- is *telling* the player how she or he should feel *at all times*.

    “Here, we made this for fans and for new people, we know you’ll love it!”

    No, this game was created because individuals with powerful decision-making skills decided to sign off on the project because they hoped it would sell. What they have delivered is not something ‘for fans and first-timers’ it’s for *anyone that will purchase it*.


    I’m not so jaded as to believe that any entertainment medium is wholly altruistic, however, most mediums wouldn’t start out by:

    A. Claiming to be something that they are not.

    B. Having lulled consumers into a satisfying nostalgia buzz, dropping the ball when it comes to upholding that claim *every* time.

    And so it is that every time it loads, FFXV starts off with a promise that it betrays every painful step of the way.


    Graphics & Design
    In my lengthy FFXIII review I devoted three sentences to discussing the beautiful graphics because that’s all that graphics amount to. They look pretty or they do not and that *shouldn’t* have an impact on the story they tell. That’s not my grumpiness as a NES-raised middle-aged male, it’s because all that graphics matter for, as a game designers, is conveying the interactive story you’ve provided for the player in a meaningful way. It does not matter if you have ‘stunning’ graphics, simply graphics that best tell the story you have prepared.

    Final Fantasy XV is a generation too soon. I’m not sure about the PC version, but the console versions are pushing too hard to be cutting edge and as a result they weigh down the user experience (hereafter UX) into a black hole of time.

    Do the graphics look nice? On my regular PS4 they look stunning if nothing is moving. When I start moving, especially in a town, it’s as if *everything* is ever so slightly stuttering and, at first, it was terribly distracting. Sometimes (*stares at Lestallum marketplace*) if I look at anything other than Noct I find myself getting dizzy. It doesn’t matter whether or not this can be ‘alleviated’ in PS4 Pro or otherwise, the experience should be maximized for the available platforms and it’s not as if Squenix started developing this game yesterday. They had plenty of time to implement *realistic* assets for the target platforms but they opted not to. Compare this to Final Fantasy XIII which was *silky* smooth. They understood the platforms and didn’t push the systems too far. The result was a game that while limited in exploration (and don’t fool yourself, FFXV is also wildly limited, more on that later) looked beautiful, did not suffer from laborious load times, had a silky-smooth camera in battle and out, and most importantly, complimented the fast-paced story (love it or leave it) it set out to tell.

    Speaking of the load times, why are we giving Squenix a pass on the horrific load times for ‘fast’ travel? When I hear that a game, “…looks beautiful!”, nowadays it just makes me wince. Does that mean I’ll be staring blankly at a load screen for half a minute or more just to deliver or pick up a single knick-knack fetch-quest item? With FFXV, the answer is a definitive, yes.

    It does NOT have to be this way.

    By praising this game’s graphics and allowing them to have *any* sway over quality, you are telling publishers it’s okay to waste a gamer’s time so long as I can see the rain trickling off of Gladio’s tattoos.

    Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii showed us just how important instantaneous fast travel is in a modern RPG. The graphics weren’t cutting edge but they allowed for non-existent load times and that made the countless sidequests entirely palatable no matter how mundane they might have been.

    I offer you my experience with the Lestallum market vegetable dealer line of sidequests.

    Vendor: Go get my veggies.

    *Run 30 seconds back to car or ‘fast’ travel back to car*
    *Choose destination*
    wait
    wait
    wait
    *Get out of car*
    *Run 30 seconds*
    *Kill easy enemies if they’re there*
    *Pick up veggie*
    *Run 30 seconds back to car or ‘fast’ travel back to car*
    *Choose destination*
    wait
    wait
    wait
    *Run across town to the vendor*
    *Deliver goods*


    All said and done this is roughly 5-6 minutes for -and this must be stressed- *picking up an item* Now the kicker? Noct is asked to do the same thing…..THREE MORE TIMES. That’s 20-24 minutes of running around to *pick up four items*.

    There are no difficult enemies guarding the items. On one run there weren’t even any enemies present; I just ran into the same field as before and grabbed an item and went back. There’s no making this stuff up. If this was any other title, it would be unforgivable. The game’s graphic quality requires that the player waste a half an hour of real time for a ‘quest-line’ that does not challenge you or provide any growth as a player or add to the story. But because it looks nice we’re okay with this?

    This is but one instance of the untenable failure by Squenix to understand how graphics can negatively affect the player’s in-game experience. By utilizing high-end graphic requirements best suited for the *next* generation of platforms they completely fail to respect the player’s gaming experience.


    Design
    I am so grateful for the in-game bestiary. If not for that resource I wouldn’t know what any enemy in the game actually looks like. Nearly every field enemy (and a good number of bosses) are some kind of beautifully and meticulously designed eldritch horror which are entirely impossible to view or appreciate in battle.

    Field battles are generally in mobs, say roughly 4-8 enemies in your typical field battle. Wait, 4-8? If there were 6 enemies in a standard random encounter of offline FFs up to maybe XIII, that was A LOT of enemies.

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    With battles being hectic not only by virtue of your AI-controlled party members, but also with camerawork inspired by Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, there is simply no way to appreciate or recognize what you are so frantically killing. I do not remember having this issue with FFXII. I was able to fully appreciate everything I was battling and those were some fairly intricate designs considering the hardware. I’ll get more into this in the gameplay aspect later but again, we have a case of high-quality graphics being used as eye-candy for no purpose since they cannot even be appreciated while you’re playing. A mob of ground-based spindly tendril-covered grey masses from the Disc of Cauthess look a lot like the flying spindly tendril-covered yellow masses from the volcano but I’ll be damned if I can tell the difference between them outside the Bestiary.

    What I find most shocking about this, is that it applies to boss encounters as well! Even some encounters where you’re going against a single large enemy are difficult to follow and appreciate the lovingly crafted (albeit samey) design. Take the boss fight against Quetzalcoatl (hey remember him! He was a summon in FF8!)

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    The fight was so frantic and awkward that I couldn’t tell you whether it was a bird, or a dragon or a dragon bird. For all I could tell, I was fighting (or attempting to fight) a dark blue and black mass that spewed electricity. That’s all I can tell you about it, for a boss. What is the point of making something look intricate if you cannot even properly see it long enough to appreciate it? This leads us to another major fundamental problem with the game’s graphic choices affecting the player:

    If I cannot clearly focus on what I am battling, then what chance do I have of *connecting* with it?

    By that I mean, what chance do I have of standing in awe of it? How can I fear it without being *told* I should fear it? Be it ATB, battle order, gambits or whatever the hell FF13 was, the player could appreciate their target and be allowed to *feel* something thanks to its design. Here, we are robbed of that inside battle which is really the only place it matters.

    Costly and beautiful -albeit superfluous- designs that cannot be fully appreciated on an artistic level -or connected to on an emotional level- because some hack thinks overly complex designs meld well with frenetic camera work, rapid cuts and expensive effects.

    You *DO NOT* appreciate this garbage method when it comes from Michael Bay so why are you praising the *exact.same.method* here?

    So I ask you. Why does another Final Fantasy-related property from Squenix which employs a similar battle system work so well? I’m referring to, of course, Kingdom Hearts. I last played Kingdom Hearts some 16 years ago, but I can still describe and even draw fairly accurate depictions of Heartless from memory.

    How? FFXV and Kingdom Hearts are *very* similar battle systems, so why were the Heartless designs easy to recognize in frantic real-time battles? Because KH’s inherent Disney-inspired designs lend themselves to simplicity. The Heartless are created, like Disney characters, from relatively simple shapes and bright colors that stand out against their darker bodies. They are very easy to spot, recognize and identify down to their type *even with rapid camera work*.

    Compare this:
    http://kingdomhearts.wikia.com/wiki/...d_Armor_KH.png


    To this:
    http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/B...natch_FFXV.png

    To be honest, despite being a static image I’m still having a difficult time figuring out what that second one is. Imagine that in battle with a wonky camera flip-flopping about.

    And so here it is again, a basic, I mean *fundamental* misunderstanding by Squenix about what makes a great game and the psychology of gamers and gaming.

    We are *just* getting warmed up.


    User Experience
    I’m keeping this separated from Gameplay because -as it is so uncharacteristically abysmal for a high-profile title- the UX deserves its very own section.

    As this game was available for a solid year before I decided to pick it up, naturally there are other sane gamers in the world who have recognized how Squenix dropped the ball when it comes to understanding how players interact with games. This superb piece by Kirk Hamilton over at Kotaku is required reading before we continue:

    https://kotaku.com/final-fantasy-xv-...bad-1792396935

    In the opening segment, Kirk mentioned how when he started documenting what he found cumbersome, he was overwhelmed by what he ended up with. I felt, at that moment I read that, a great sense of relief and that maybe, just maybe, my fears that the world has gone numb to excellent game design are unfounded.

    Going through the game there was a constant checkbox in my head of how the game felt cumbersome but eventually I myself had to give up because it was too much to deal with. Kirk does an excellent job of highlighting major offenders. Every word that he wrote about the world map is absolute truth. Note that even he admits, the rabbit hole of unwieldy UX goes much deeper. Take for example this scenario which found me literally trapped in Lestallum.

    After just reaching Lestallum at around level 17 or so, I wandered around town trying to acquaint myself with the surroundings. I did the cheat-on-your-betrothed quest with Iris and by then the sun had set which meant I had to turn in for the night.


    Why was I required to turn in for the night? Because there is no ‘Wait Until Morning/Evening’ option in this game which *does have* day/night-specific quests. While you’re letting that sink in, the next layer in this onion of tomfoolery is the fact that driving at night up until level 31 or so is soft-gated. Monsters will appear in front of your car forcing your car to a stop and you must stop and fight (most likely die for casual gamers) these very high-level enemies.

    ****I realize that there is a glitch workaround, a temporary solution at Level 31 or so and a permanent solution with a late-game quest. But a glitch workaround nor even solutions that come later in the game are *not* an excuse for a poor UX that sees the player wasting time as I’ll describe below.****

    So what does this mean? It means I have to sleep at an inn if I want to pass the time Okay! Well, there’s that inn with the old-timer and his grandson who basically worships the ground I walk on. Heck, when his *young* grandson didn’t ‘address me in a way befitting royalty’ (the kid just said ‘hey’ or something) the grandfather almost beat the boy with a stick so I figure he’ll let me borrow a room for free.

    Nope.

    300 gil.

    So again, before I even get to my point, this is a fundamental problem. We have a character who in a cut-scene makes a big deal about respecting my character and being devoted to supporting my cause in any way he can, even at his own detriment…but he’s still gonna charge me an arm and a leg for a room for the night. I’m not suggesting a room should be free by virtue of it being convenient. But if you spend time creating a character who says he’ll do *anything to help my cause* but then make his establishment charge me for a room to stay the night, you’re completely taking me out of the game.

    So guess how much gil I had to my name? 9.

    Well, I’m stuck in Lestallum.
    I wanted to get halfway across the map to complete a quest.
    I cannot drive or fast travel at night yet.
    There is not a ‘Wait Until X’ option.
    I did not have chocobos unlocked (nor could I have afforded one)
    Following in the ‘grand’ tradition of FF13 you do not gain money from winning battles.

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    I cannot afford an inn.
    I cannot reach any Hunt quests to gain gil.

    I was thus left with the option of waiting around -at the behest of in-game time- at Lestallum until sunrise.

    That I, as a player, should be left with this option to the best of my knowledge of game mechanics, as they have been presented to me, is not only frustrating, but yet another sign that Squenix is *out of touch with how people play video games and what makes them enjoyable*. Are you seeing the pattern here?

    As it turns out, I later discovered that there was actually one option available to me that would have saved me the trouble of sitting around Lestallum doing nothing until sunrise. I could have sold some of my inventory items for gil. I am traditionally a hoarder and like to save non-healing items until post-game clean-up work because as it’s

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    this suggests to me that ***holding on to your items is usually a good idea*** since they can be used for sidequests down the line.

    So not only am I naturally averse to selling inventory items, the game did not let me know in a meaningful way that selling ***INVENTORY ITEMS LITERALLY CALLED ‘TREASURES’*** could be **safely** sold for a small amount of gil. There could have been an early quest that instructed me on gathering TREASURES and SAFELY SELLING THEM through practice but nope. They figured they’d let us stumble upon that fact by our own, somehow. More on this later. I’m not done talking about inventory management and gil.

    This is not an issue that a so-called AAA title from a premier game developer with on-again off-again development over the course of a decade should be presenting its players with. It is sloppy and, you guessed it, another sign that the development team has no idea what makes games fun.

    More on the UX, let’s talk about the Quest Log.

    Let’s say I want to hit up a quest! Logically, I’d go to my car, from the car I’d select ‘Visit Quest Point’ and choose an appropriate quest then either manual travel or fast travel to that point.

    [By the way, fast travel costs money in the form of both gasoline AND a base fee. Has Squenix confused this with a free-to-play mobile game they’re so fond of recently? But I digress.]

    ‘Visit Quest Point’ *does* gracefully auto-select whatever quest you had selected when you entered the vehicle. However, what if you didn’t want that quest? What if you want to compare it to other quests? Good news! The menu even goes so far as to let you choose from all of your active other quests! Great right?

    Wrong! Unlike the standard (i.e. outside your vehicle) quest selection screen, despite having all quests available for selection, THEY DON’T CONTAIN ANY INFO ABOUT THE QUESTS. They do not inform you of the suggested level for attempt, they don’t tell you what the quest is about, nothing! This means that unless you have memorized what quest -of the dozens and dozens available- that you want, there’s no way to ponder over a suitable quest from within the vehicle.

    And so the process must be:

    Outside vehicle enter map via button press.
    Search for a quest.
    Select the quest you want from a list.
    Exit menu.
    NOW enter car.
    From this menu choose ‘Quest Point’.
    Choose whether to fast travel or not.

    “UH-OH! Hold on a tick!”

    “I don’t have fast travel unlocked for that particular spot *or* fast travel isn’t available at all since it’s a non-descript roadside area.”

    “If I want to travel there it will take me…7 minutes. WOW!”

    “Okay there has to be a Parking Spot that I can fast travel to somewhere in the general vicinity.”

    Welcome to the true Hell of this experience: ‘Parking Spot Search’

    Kirk’s UX think-piece above went into great detail about why the world map is like navigating through a 6-year old’s attention span but of its many foibles, I believe one of the Top 5 is searching for Parking Spots. If you haven’t played the game they’re essentially Fast Travel locations. First of all, not only are there A LOT OF THEM, they mostly have complex names *which would be fine* if they weren’t impossible to commit to memory *because we never interact with the majority of them or their local region in any memorable story-driven manner*.

    Allow me to expound on this but first recall where Kirk describes the gondola map station selection map. Got it? It’s cumbersome, yes, but that selection screen is a godsent compared to the Regalia’s Parking Stop selection map. The gondola map is a stationary screen with different points that may be highlighted and easily recognized.

    A…STATIONARY…screen.
    With different points that are….HIGHLIGHTED.
    And…EASILY RECOGNIZED.

    These three key factors do not apply to the Regalia’s Parking Spot map. Moving the cursor down will wildly cut to a new zoomed in (or out!) view of the main map which makes for a terribly disorienting and at times impossible to understand location thanks to the dark and horrifically pixelated map that looks like it came from a PS2-era game. The worst part is the icon-color and icon-size choices made by Squenix make figuring out your stopping and starting point perplexing not to mention that the target cursor which *should* be centered and highlighting your destination, usually sits uselessly on a tract of wilderness taking your attention away from the destination.

    Remember now, we’re screens away from when we originally chose our quest. By now you’ve probably either forgotten where the quest was exactly which means quitting out of that menu and going back to the vehicles ‘Select Quest Point’ which, don’t forget, if you wanted to check up on anything like quest details or suggested level, you’ll have to exit the car and start the entire process over again.


    Let’s keep this UX Doom Train going with calling Chocobos! Press L2 to bring up a menu that will allow you to call your chocobo. That’s nifty right? Wait until you unlock the ability to call enemies.

    When you unlock the ability to call enemies to your location, which is a surprisingly welcome mechanic, they *still* managed to completely fudge it up with a day one of Game Design 101 error. After unlocking the ability, *this* is the order of options that appear when pressing L2 for the call menu:

    >Call Enemies
    Call Chocobo

    That’s right. Despite the fact that we’re exploring large swathes of (mostly empty actually) land that require you to travel frequently, the first option in the list and the one that your cursor will default to is, Call Enemies.

    So after you’ve survived a massive fight, you’re on your last leg, potions and elixirs are exhausted. You want to call your chocobo buddy to your side to help you get back to safety but your nerves are shot and you make a wrong button press BAM!!!! You’ve just summoned SIX LEVEL XX KILLERS WASPS!

    Basic. UX. Mistakes.

    Here’s another off the top of my head, Carbuncle! I played the Demo. I got the summon. Cool, guess I’ll wait to see it in the game sometime?

    Well, here I am post-game and I only ever saw him cameo in random pictures. I looked into the matter and well, silly old Squenix, they forgot to tell me that ****he only appears on Easy Mode****.

    Now, let’s say the onus is on me for that. Let’s say there was a brief pop-window somewhere early in the game (and I don’t think there was) that told me, “Carbuncle is only on Easy Mode.”

    Even if they did that, that’s *not* how you do it! You give the players a sample of it, you make them experience it so they can relate their memory of it to something meaningful and *then* tell them the details about it in a pop-up window. You don’t relegate that kind of info to the very start of the game when players are eager to start yet being bombarded with new information!

    How about this gem. Why isn’t there a fast forward option for the Regalia’s sound system? Did you realize that? It’s completely absent. Okay, maybe it’s hidden somewhere -in which case someone will no doubt inform me very quickly- but a look through the game’s help options and a cursory Google search didn’t bring up anything. One might think that including such an option when they’re going for stunning reality would be a good idea when tunes like ‘Dancing Mad’ are FIFTEEN MINUTES LONG. Grossly amateur mistake.

    Here’s another! And this one is downright deception! Downloading a game via PSN usually means thanks to partial downloads, you can download a bit of the total package and start playing. I was *delighted* to see that FF15 had this function! Imagine my surprise when I loaded it up to be met with the message *13 hours until playable*

    Huh!?

    Not even fit to give us the Platinum Demo to mess around with, the game insultingly expects you to fight an endless wave of Goblins for 13 hours in a ‘practice’ mode of sorts. I read up on this bold-faced lie and found out that other games are pulling this same stunt. Folks, you need to be passionate about this stuff. Why are you sitting there just accepting it?

    Okay, getting a little passionate. Cool down. Woo-saaaah.

    These cumbersome details.

    They exist. In games.

    No doubt.

    In small number we forgive them. Because no game is perfect and neither are people! Heck, these days most of these problems are patched away into nothingness post-launch and we forget about them six months later! But what I have described here is the utmost electron spinning on the utmost atom of the iceberg that is FXV’s MAJOR UX issues.

    I am shocked that a game like this could be released in 2016 after being in flip-flop development for a decade. The FFXV team and Jon Snow have much in common with the most basic concepts of users’ interactions with their worlds. It is egregiously sloppy and for anyone to accept these issues is not only masochistic, but that complacency only serves to damn Japanese game development when a product *teaming* with such issues is recognized and praised the way FFXV has been by both critics and fans. You (and yes certainly even I, being besmirched by the promise of character-swapping) have actively contributed to fully supporting a sloppy and half-assed UX for future titles in the series.

    Still a long way to go here.



    Inventory
    Why is this a thing? Much like UX I am puzzled by the reality that forces me to spend time discussing inventory in a Final Fantasy game. I will address the management and mechanics of: items, currency and magic in this section. Hopefully all of them will come together to wrap this segment into a bow of inefficiency that nobody wanted or asked for. This task is easier than it may sound as these systems and items are all closely tied together by nature of FFXV’s design.

    Currency & Items
    Currency is not gil as the game would have you believe. The main sources of plentiful gil may be considered finite or cumbersome. These sources being hunts and sidequests. As you might imagine, once a sidequest is complete, that’s it. As for hunts, they may be repeated for rewards but the gil amount is greatly reduced, not to mention you must suffer through the same exact fight you already mastered to reap a lower reward.

    So what is the only reasonable infinite and reliable source of gil? Like FiFXIII, items drops.

    Item drops are the new gil and this concept is the *actual* worst. Here’s why.

    Item that may be sold for gil are called ‘Treasures’. Who came up with this idea? Treasure? Why would a clear-thinking designer call materials that are *intended* to be sold for gil ‘Treasures’ in a Final Fantasy game?

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    The carefree notion of selling these items in lieu of potentially missing out on valuable items for sidequests or upgrades use never crossed my mind once. I’ll admit that I had completely forgotten (or forced out of my mind) FFXIII’s similar system. So with no early quests having taken me through the ropes of earning gil, I was severely lacking in funds for much of the game because I didn’t consider selling ‘TREASURES’. Go figure, right? When I say lacking in funds, I don’t mean forgoing the latest and greatest weapons for the whole party, I mean weighing whether I could buy much-needed curatives or stay at a pricey inn in order to level-up. So the game failed to properly introduce a basic and necessary mechanic to me, big deal right?

    So I started selling loot er, wait, ‘Treasures’ for gil meaning that ‘Treasures’ are the real main currency of FFXV that you can exchange for a *different* form of currency. And here I was thinking it was safe to start selling off items until I eventually realized the connection of ‘Treasures’ to the game’s painfully underdeveloped magic-crafting Elemancy system.


    Rejoice FF8 fans! The Draw/Junction system is no longer the most reviled magic system of the Final Fantasy series! Despite the almost universal hatred of Draw, essentially rendering Magic a finite Use item, someone thought it would be entertaining to add another layer of complication to that terrible idea by having to actually *craft* that same Use item from up to FOUR sources of raw materials.

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    At first I was onboard. I thought it was simply a matter of mixing different combinations of Fire, Ice & Water magic. This sounded…pretty entertaining actually. Sources of magic are fairly evenly spread across the map so it didn’t seem like gathering them would be a hassle. But then a fourth factor was added to the mix which made it instantly terrible, ‘Treasures’. That’s right, the game’s only reliable infinite source of currency (which is hard enough to come by) is also intended to be used as a crafting material for Use item magic.

    I’m now left with the awful decision, do I want to save this hard-to-come-by drop ‘Treasure’ for enough money to stay once at an inn, or do I want to make a FINITE Use magic bomb? There is absolutely no reason to put this many roadblocks in the path of player progression.

    [That’s what concepts like gil, EXP, HP, MP, loot are btw. They’re roadblocks to keep you at a certain level of progression so that the game is never too easy or too hard based on your place in the story. When they’re properly balanced, they’re actually fun! Like…in every other RPG you ever played (‘cept FFXII)]

    As these roadblocks stand in this game, they have been amateurishly balanced. I read a post from an individual who was on Level 43 in Chapter 3. Do you realize that the suggested level for fighting the end boss of the game is Level 50? The progression roadblocks are *pitiful* as is and yet at every turn we are faced with terrible decisions to keep our characters from stocking up on gil and spells.

    This game will allow the player to be over-leveled for the end of the game before I’m even halfway through it, but player be damned if they have a sufficient stock of gil or spells by the end of the game.


    And you know, maybe, just maybe all of this could be forgiven if Elemancy spell-crafting wasn’t convoluted, OR if using spells themselves weren’t so unwieldy, but it is both of those unfortunate pitfalls and so very much more.

    I lost complete interest in Elemancy during the Dead-Eye quest. Here is what the game told me:

    -Your spells are Use items.
    -You can aim them during battle.
    -Aim at certain objects and they might create an effect.
    - ….watchoutyoucandamageyourfriends K BYEEE! THX FAM! XOXOXO

    I can…damage my party? With…regular old spells? Not even like, end-game ultra-level spells? Just…normal spells?

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    You mean to say, that I need to be aware that the ***AI-CONTROLLED*** party members can’t be in the vicinity of a spell when I use it if I want to avoid damaging them? So, AI-controlled party members? In other words, party members that I can only loosely control right?

    “Oh but don’t you see, you get a Special Skill for one of your party members that draws them to you so that you can safely use the spell.”

    NO! No, we are NOT playing this charade where we pretend that Squenix is benevolent for ‘granting’ us a ‘skill’ that allows us to *sort of* control the party *given certain conditions*. This is and *has* been the problem with AI-controlled characters, the game ceases to be an RPG! You are no longer playing the role of those characters in the game. You are not dictating their every move at any given time! Since FFXII, Squenix has been taking more and more control away from the player and handing it over to the game! I don’t mean to rain on FFXII’s parade. I would gladly take the reasonably paced Gambit system over 13 and 15’s jokes of a battle system *any* day.

    Right, Dead-Eye quest.

    So with the game’s sage advice in mind, I went paw to sword with the critter. Red barrels littered around the field were enough of a hint as to what I needed to do.

    Dead-Eye Experience
    *****************
    I ran away from the critter.
    I sized up a barrel. Waited for the beast to approach.
    Aaaaaand!

    “Oh wait Gladio just started attacking him….”
    (yes, I’m talking in my head)

    *waits*

    *waits*

    “Oh, now Gladio is coming towards me. Wait, Gladio if you do that then Dead-Eye will just…FOLLOW YOU!”

    *reposition*
    *size up barrel. wait for beast to approach it annnd-*

    “IGNIS! GET THE HELL AWAY FROM HIM! WHY ARE YOU DOI- Y’know what? Eff it, here you go.”

    *throws magic bomb at barrel*

    *lands like 2 feet to right of barrel*

    *no special reaction. regular fire spell*


    *Ignis is injured, Dead-Eye is unscathed*

    “Huh??”

    I repeated this process 7 times. Eventually Dead-Eye stopped targeting the party and just came at me. This meant I couldn’t hit any barrels since I had zilch time to line up what apparently needed to be a VERY accurate hit on a barrel! Finally? I just kamikze’s myself by standing next to a barrel and hurling a magic bomb at it when he was close. The end result? So-so damage on him.

    I wasted 9 fire bombs this way.

    It was the last time I crafted or used Use magic-bombs in the game.
    ****************
    End Dead-Eye Experience

    Consider what I’ve presented thus far in this inventory section.


    ‘Treasures’ are not overly abundant.
    But ‘Treasures’ are basically your main reliable currency.
    Currency is used to ‘buy’ gil.
    Gil is used to purchase weapons, curatives, gasoline, fast travel, luxury items, and stay at inns.
    Gil in not available in abundance.
    You need lots of ‘Treasures’ or lots of free time (for loading time) to run around the world completing finite quests or hunts with diminishing returns.
    Fast travel also costs money.
    You also need ‘Treasures’ for one-time-use Elemancy spellcrafting.
    Spellcrafting is cumbersome.
    Your Use magic bombs are difficult to aim.
    Your allies get in your way.
    You can damage your allies.
    Damaged allies require you to heal them with curatives you’ve purchased with gil from ‘Treasures’.
    Your allies may also lead your target straight to you.
    Magic bombs are easily wasted.
    Wasting magic bombs means wasting ‘Treasure’ or other potential gil sources.


    Conclusion:
    USING MAGIC BOMBS DERIVED FROM YOUR MEASELY CURRENCY IS THE WORST IDEA EVER!

    In the past we used gil to purchase CHEAP ethers. Because a system is complex does not mean it is a good *or* fun one. Let’s talk about a related topic, the process of Elemancy.

    Elemancy
    Elemancy is a guessing game with muddled and confusing descriptions of spells that can be lost in an instant. The number of possible combinations…is overwhelming. If you have not played the game, it’s hard to describe just how many combinations are possible and that would be wonderful if it wasn’t poorly organized. But don’t take my word for it! Read this guide and see if you can catch anything without reading each sentence at least twice.

    http://www.ign.com/wikis/final-fantasy-15/Elemancy

    Add to that the fact that the only way your magic crafting history is recorded is in an automatically sorted ‘History’ section which, even if you craft the exact same magic twice in a row, takes up a slot. No way to logically log or personalize the spells you’ve created for easy access or duplication.

    No doubt some are reading this thinking, “Oh it’s not that bad! Once you get used to it, it’s like second nature!”

    I have no doubt of that. Practice throwing one rock at another rock enough times and eventually…you’ll be really good at throwing a rock at a rock; which is about as useful as Use magic in FFXV since I never touched it again after Dead Eye and never missed it once.

    So much for that intricately constructed system, eh? A superfluous magic system that can be completely ignored in the game. And yet nobody is complaining. Why is that? Are FFXV players the same people going to see Transformers?

    Not even close to finished my friends.

    Music & Sound

    I can recall two completely original themes from this game to the extent that I can sort of hum part of them.

    One of them is one of the exploration music themes. I don’t know how to describe it but the piece is remixed several times in the game so it’s probably supposed to be important. I liked the song, whenever I heard it.

    The other is the Parking Spot theme which is where I spent the majority of my time in the game, going from Parking Spot to Parking Spot. It’s pretty generic and sounds like a cartoon gas station theme.

    And that’s it folks! I think there were a variety of battle tunes but they appeared so sporadically that I never grew attached to any particular version. I also couldn’t tell what they were or weren’t depicting. Is this a boss tune? Is this a mid-boss tune? Is this a mook tune? Is this a dungeon mook tune? I have no idea. I didn’t *dislike them* as I did FFXIII’s battle themes (the violins, the violins are coming for me!) but they were strewn about so randomly that I never grew attached to one. I couldn’t hum one for you after 40 hours of actual game time. (*My final completion time was 51 hrs. but I spent a helluva lot of time letting the game sit in menus*)

    So, that’s it for original pieces. How about remixes?

    Following Squenix’s nostalgia-pumping campaign to distract the player from the game’s mediocrity, the Character Menu’s theme music is a remix of the crystal theme.

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    In case you needed a reminder that you were playing a Final Fantasy game. No hyperbole, I don’t think I’ve seen this much blatant use/abuse of the Crystal Theme in an attempt to appeal to players that they should like & feel a connection to what they’re playing. It cheapens the experience of a song that we sometimes had to work very hard to reach in a FF title and sometimes we even wondered if it would appear at all. But don’t take my word for it! Check out the FFXV entry in the song’s Wiki:

    http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Prelude_(theme)

    I full out laughed at what was supposed to be a serious scene when Shiva kisses Ifrit and the theme was AGAIN laced into the music.

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    Is that getting annoying yet? Because that’s how it felt every time I was being forcefully reminded that I was playing a Final Fantasy game. Instead of making me feel like I earned hearing its latest incarnation, I was assaulted by a stream of Crystal Theme remixes that, if anything, cheapened the experience. Yet another case of the Michael Bay moar=better school of entertainment. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the remix, it’s a good one, but its purpose is being abused.

    Speaking of remixes, Stand By Me? I’ll address this buffoonery in the Story section.

    Those are my thoughts on the music from the game. It’s a step up from FFXIII, that I’ll admit, but this is all in the context of comparing it to…itself I suppose. If I were to compare it to past titles in the series I’d have nothing kind to say about it because, comparatively, it is largely forgettable, soulless and ill-purposed silence filler.

    Now, I mentioned ‘Sound’ for this category because like UX and Inventory above, the game forced me to have a sour experience with something I never expected I would or could dislike due to, yet again, amateurish and sloppy mistakes from a world-class team.

    I am not a sound aficionado. I don’t own gaming headphones that cost as much as an engagement ring. When it comes to sound I do *not* know what I’m talking about. What I do know, is that when I’m playing a game and the sound levels are so grotesquely out of balance that even a sound-dunderhead like myself has to complain, there’s something VERY wrong with the product.


    This was my experience running around on the field:

    *peaceful exploration music playing, let’s say it’s the one sorta remember*

    CLAMP-CLOMP-CLAMP-CLOMP-CLAMP-CLOMP

    …these footsteps are the worst. *why* did they make them so loud!?

    *turns down SFX*

    *peaceful exploration*

    *more peaceful exploration*

    Prompto: D’YA THINK IF I CREEP ON CINDY SHE’LL LIKE ME!?

    *after heart starts beating again turns down voices*

    *peaceful exploration*

    oh look, some enemies. May if I sneak up I can-
    BWAAAAMBWAAAMBWAAAMBOMBAOOM

    *turns down music*

    Getting into a battle in this game is like watching a television program cut to commercial. This time, mercifully, it’s not screechy violins, but the sudden bombastic volume assaulting me is a huge mistake. Having to turn down the sound is probably why I missed so much of the music. I couldn’t even hear the Regalia airship music over the humming of the engines. Because that’s what we want in our Final Fantasy, more reality! Speaking of not being able to hear things properly…

    Is it just me or are the NPC conversations too low to hear? There’s no consistency. Sometimes you need to approach and click a prompt to hear a conversation, other times you need to stand in the general vicinity. In either case the sound is so low I was always struggling to hear what was being said. Thank goodness for subtitles! The only thing I dared not consider was raising the voice volume lest Prompto stop my heart again.

    Back to more Bayhem, as a developer, just because you can make your characters talk, doesn’t mean you should make them do so whenever you can. Here’s an example.

    I found that some objects in a dungeon environment were destructible. I started swinging my weapons around out of battle and what happened? My allies started berating me for swinging my weapon around. Not only that, Noct had to apologize…every…time. Also, whenever I stopped running, whoever was right behind me would bump into me and make a big stink out of it. It’s cute. Exactly once. After that it’s annoying and directly affects how I play the game. This is again, a case of the modern JRPG dictating how I should play, not the other way around.

    Here’s something that I found so terrible, it eventually became funny. You know the cook Takka from Hammerhead’s diner? Try talking to him any time under any circumstances. He’s staring directly at you and yet whenever you initiate a conversation, even unique ones, he will react as if you snuck up from behind and goosed him.

    “DUHAGUH. Oh, hey.”

    Boy, that sounded great booming through my speakers *every time*. But it was such a terrible and elementary sound mistake that eventually it became hilarious for all the wrong reasons.

    Okay, time to move on to the big guns. Probably going to get difficult to keep a cool head while writing this.


    Battle System & Gameplay
    “It looked good on paper.”

    That’s the theme of this section. Of the mechanics I’ll dissect here, individually, they all sound fun in theory. However, not only do they work against complimenting each other, they have also been unprofessionally constructed while ignoring the ground rules for what makes the Final Fantasy series entertaining.

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    I’m not a game developer but I can certainly understand that there’s a reason why game mechanics are what they are in a professional final product; which I believe FFXV is. FFXV is a professional product that has not been professionally *made*. Some might argue that the points I will nitpick are just petty and I would agree with that assessment. Individually, they are! As you’ll see though, almost each and every aspect of the in-game battle mechanics are littered with problems that amount to something bigger. What’s more, despite having a myriad of mechanics in place, it’s almost as if nobody bothered to ask if they even should be together in the first place. With that in mind, let’s move on.

    The battle system of FFXV as experienced through your main character is a Kingdom Hearts that wishes it could also be DMC & Souls-like but couldn’t figure out how to do that well so Squenix played rock-paper-scissors to determine which features to include. The final product is an amalgamation from these types of games which result in a battle system that is equal parts numbingly simplistic and frustratingly cumbersome.


    My first experience with the battle system was through the Platinum Demo. At that time I thought I had figured out the new gimmick. I thought that the challenge of battle would be in switching between different weapons to deal with enemies if/when they reached certain ‘phases’ of combat. By this I mean, for example, a standing beast would normally be vulnerable to a sword but, upon being knocked over, it would become vulnerable to daggers, challenging me to effectively switch between weapons in combat. I assumed that adding another enemy type to combat would mean potentially switching through 4 weapon types which, although wildly different from past FF titles, seemed like something of a challenge.

    Nope.

    You are largely forced to micro-manage your equipment with each battle you enter that includes a different enemy type than the last. You see, this is why the ‘old’ concept of switching-in/out multiple party members worked so well in past titles. Each one specialized in something so that -unless you reached a new town- you didn’t need to constantly tweak their equipment. Need a knight? Switch ‘em in at a save-point! Need a blue mage? Don’t mess with tweaking gear for two minutes in the raging heat of battle, take your time while wandering around the world map! In this title, almost every new battle means going back into the game menu (which means listening to that Crystal Theme)…

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    …and navigating sub-menus to switch up weapons and gear.

    [Sidenote: Don’t you, for instance, find it odd that the only visual cue you have about your party upon entering the menu is…their armor? How many times do you switch armor in *the entire game*? How many times do you switch weapons in and out? Having a visual clue for equipped gear at a glance would have made determining equipment at little more palatable.]

    The above described scenarios in which enemy types are varied -traditionally a good thing- but did you know that there are locations where enemy types are not varied? There’s an early dungeon which contains, almost exclusively, Level 7 Goblins. One mook enemy-type? Yep! Oh, there’s a boss, but of course there’s a boss in a dungeon, how many other titles from the past had an area with…ONE….type of mook….in a whole dungeon?

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    SO! Back to switching gear being a nuisance. This is why catch-all heroes like Noctis do not…work…in role-playing games that claim or want to be….

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    It’s like a trap that Squenix set for themselves. As the player has the most control over Noct, it all weighs on him to encompass the classes with which Final Fantasy players are historically familiar. It forces him to be a Frankenstein’s monster of classes. You have other party members who clearly fit classes but remember, for an entire year *you could not control them unless special requirements were met* and even after gaining control of them, their class-specific commands do not become regular actions.

    [Ex: The character Gladio is intended to be a heavy-swordsman/guard-type knight and in order to get him to briefly guard my main character, a specific set of requirements must be met. Now, a year after release, an update has made character-swapping in battle available, however, having Galdio defend Noctis -an ability that one might want to perform as a knight- is not a regular option.]

    This is why we’re constantly asked to change Noctis’ gear to make him most effective in battle. I grew so tired of switching his gear that eventually I just stopped thinking about it at all, equipped him with the strongest version of my favorite weapon types and continued that way from roughly Chapter 5 or so.

    Result?
    I beat the game with no problem.

    Again, just like magic-bombs/Elemancy, more mechanics that can be *entirely ignored* to beat the game. And not just any mechanics, your gear and ‘class’ assignment which are essential to any RPG battle system.

    Even Dragon Age (DA) gets this simple fact.

    ***(If you’re not familiar with that title, your hero has a healthy repertoire of abilities but he/she can’t do *everything*. When you want to control other party members to perform specific actions, DA gives the player interchangeable control of your entire party for the ability to perform class-specific actions.)***

    Even in DA this method of real-time battle is far from ideal to me but it still makes for an experience much closer to the manageable FFXII than the Bayhem on display in FFXV’s frantic battles. Speaking of which, let’s talk about the pace of battle for a bit.

    My original assumption regarding FFXV’s battle system gimmick was wrong but only partially. As we already established earlier, there are combat situations which include multiple enemy-types (this is a good thing) and switching between weapon-types is indeed required. But there’s one small problem that goes back to something we discussed in the design section: most of the enemies are intricate twisty flesh-pulps not instantly discernable from each other. Am I attacking a horse creature? A mindflayer? A wasp? A wolf? I dunno, I can’t tell. Zipping about here and there with the awkward Warp-Strike makes it even more difficult to differentiate between enemy types and to accurately aim in an effective and concise way.

    Exactly how fast are battles moving? I started to write out an explanation but I got lost in my own ramblings and rightfully so let’s break it down!

    Enemy Speed:
    Consider the titles I mentioned above: KH, DMC, and Souls-like. That’s pretty much the speed at which enemies are attacking the party. Mercifully, someone at Squenix had the good sense to balance same-level combat so that the player doesn’t suffer one-shots as frequently as is possible in either DMC or Souls-likes. I died once early on during the 40 hours of play so the gameplay isn’t unfair, it just isn’t recognizable as *fun*. Bosses can REALLY zip around the battlefield and not only the ground but also the air, which made my stomach lurch more than once as they whirled around Noctis and I tried to keep my bearings.

    Player Speed:
    Noctis moves and runs sluggishly compared to his lithe enemy counterparts. Weapon attacking speed depends entirely on what weapon-type you have equipped. Daggers are fast and greatswords are slow. Projectiles can attack from a safe distance, machinery can have a variety of close-range and ranged effects. This is all fine. It works well to counteract Noct’s slow standard movement, however, attacking groups of *fast and aggressive enemies* with any weapon, regardless of its speed, *feels* terrible.

    Attacking:
    The player ****holds down**** a single button to attack and pushes a direction. Noctis will attack an enemy in the *GENERAL* direction of the control-stick push unless you lock onto an enemy. Plenty of times I wanted to attack a specific enemy but ended up attacking a completely unrelated one. [Those of you screaming about Wait Mode, I’ll get to that dumpster fire eventually] As this is a DPS-style of attack, the player is required to hold down the attack button for as long as an attack is being performed. Once an attack is being performed, there is an animation, and if the button is still being pressed at the end of that animation, Noctis will continue to attack.

    Have you ever chipped a tooth? You were probably able to talk fine and weren’t in any pain, but you felt that something was weird and you couldn’t get your mind off of it so you constantly rubbed the chipped area with your tongue and that just made you focus more on how weird it felt.

    That’s how this DPS implication feels when matched with the speed of the enemies.

    DMC and Souls-like games work because the player has such fine control over the main character. DMC is largely twitch-style whereas Souls-likes are more methodical and cerebral, but the fact remains, at all times, you have very specific control over your character. FFXV’s sluggish and animation-locked single-button DPS attack system feels entirely out of place among the hordes of fast-moving enemies.

    I’m not suggesting that battles are hard to win because of this -they’re not- they just *feel wrong*, like a chipped tooth. Squenix, if you want a game where the enemies move quickly, then COMMIT to making *that kind of game*.

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    The Final Fantasy series is NOT that type of game! At least not since before 13. In which case Squenix should have written:

    *A FINAL FANTASY for FINAL FANTASY 13 fans and first-timers*

    In which case, I would *never* have purchased it, even with character-swapping! It doesn’t matter if you want to make a game like…whatever this is, just don’t call it Final Fantasy. In terms of combat, even FFXI and FFXIV have more in common with the main offline series.

    Phasing:
    So how’s a gamer to defend themselves when your hero move like molasses on Hoth? Squenix’s brilliant solution was, hold a different button down to phase or dodge.

    Instead of damage-per-second, think of it like dodge-per-second. Hold dodge and as long as he has MP, Noctis will phase out of the way of oncoming attacks. It’s just that simple!!!

    Only it’s not.

    Beyond the tutorial the game never explains the intricacies of phasing and so I never fully understood when and where I could effectively use it. It worked simply enough with mooks, but the second I was against something moderately tough, phase seemed to work at random. Can I Phase out of the way of really powerful attacks? Does it block magic? If not, are there types of magic it can save me from? How about status-inducing attacks? Look, I’m not suggesting it was actually random; my point is, there were some detailed questions I had about phasing that the game neglected to expound upon and I was left at a disadvantage as a result.

    Block & Parry:
    The Block/Parry (BP) system allows you to negate damage from powerful enemy attacks and turn it into a chance to deal some high damage instead. Unlike the Phase-Dodge system which was spotty thanks to poor explanations, BP is a completely random, garbage system.

    It’s not glitchy, it’s just a terrible system that when combined with Noct’s sluggish movement, DPS animations and the speed of enemies, does not work like it should. Here’s how it’s supposed to work:

    Game prompts you to press a button (same as Phase button) to block.
    Quit whatever you’re doing and press that button.
    Press it in time and you will block a powerful enemy attack.
    The game then prompts you to press the DPS button to unleash a freebie powerful Parry attack.
    Press it quickly enough and you will land a critical hit.

    Sounds fun and the Parry aspect of it works very well! But here’s the thing, the initial Block detection is randomized trash. There’s no standard to how long the Block prompt will appear onscreen. Sometimes it’s a blip on the screen, other times it displays for a second or more. The display length doesn’t seem to be enemy-specific either. Although this is entirely speculation on my part, the Block prompt seems to be linked to proximity.

    Let’s say an enemy targeting me initiates an attack that will trigger a Block prompt; that attack has a sphere of influence and if I’m within that sphere, I’ll get the prompt. If I’m not in that sphere, I’ll only get the prompt when the enemy is close enough to me and (potentially) part-way through their attack. This means that for the same attack, I could have a Block window of a full second, or less than half of that. Where does this kind of hair-trigger reaction time action belong? DMC! Souls-likes! I’ll even say it worked in Mario RPG because it had a recognizable standard!

    There’s no standard here!

    There are times when Block barely blinked on the screen and before I could even think to react, Noct was eating dust. If the onus is on me I can try to improve myself as a player, but this is just a game giving me the illusion of choice.

    And that’s not the worst part. Due to the actions of your allies, enemy attacks causing a Block prompt can be *stopped* by your allies! Initially that sounds wonderful but this is the situation you’ll find yourself in more often than not.

    You’re surrounded by enemies.
    You see the Block prompt and manage to push the button.
    You wait…wait…Nothing.
    “Oh, I guess fam stopped the attack” (damned if you could tell for certain among the writing tentacles)
    You go back to pushing the attack button to continue your interrupted DPS when just as you’re pushing the button another Block prompt pops up!
    You try to go back to pushing the Phase/Block button but it’s too late and you’re eating grass.

    This is not uncommon.

    I also wish I had a gil for every time I held the Block button *while BLOCK appeared onscreen* and the game just straight up ignored my input leaving Noct bruised up. Yet another case where I tried to avoid their new system instead of putting up with it. Unless it was a boss battle, I just tried to dodge-roll away from BLOCK attacks rather than attempting a parry. Again, not a tough system and if you play the game ********AS CAREFULLY AS SQUENIX WANTS YOU TO PLAY******** then I imagine Blocks can be successfully replicated. But there’s the problem, playing a RPG *how someone else wants you to play* and not how you want to play it. FFXIII had the exact same problem.

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    Warp:
    So we have a game that gives us slow movement, animated DPS, spotty dodging and absolute garbage blocking; isn’t there anything that gives the player a leg-up on their speed demon enemies? Yes, meet the Warp, another link in the chain of neat ideas that don’t belong in a Final Fantasy.

    Warp gives you three types of rapid movements that use MP. Let’s look at each of them.

    1. Warp:
    Warp in the direction you’re facing via a single button press. Good for a dodge or getting around the battle field except when you didn’t mean to push it or meant to do one of the below techniques instead.

    2. Warp-Strike:
    Target: an enemy and warp to them, striking them in the process. Remember my description of the Quetzalcoatl battle? The boss that I couldn’t tell if it was a dragon or bird or some dragon-bird hybrid. This technique, combined with the boss’ speed is the main reason I couldn’t follow the action throughout the battle and so many others.

    You can target enemies to warp strike towards them but there’s no indication of whether or not the attack will land. So many attempts at an attack were ruined by targeting an enemy, Warp-Striking to them and then landing 2 yards short of them leaving myself open to Block-Prompt-Hell by the target’s cohorts which are inevitably mobbed together. Sometimes the target is just too fast. You’ll warp to an enemy and it’s not even in the same spot.

    Adding to the confusion, other times targets are too far away to be targeted by Warp-Strike but their name and health bar appear onscreen which suggests the player can target them. After tinkering with the target select system for a bit and finding it fruitless, the player is left to assume the target is too far off. There’s no visual indication of this! Disappointingly sloppy.


    3. Point-Warp (PW):
    Holding the triangle button will initiate a PW if:

    a. There are specific, Squenix-placed PW destinations present.
    b. You are VIEWING the specific destination.
    c. You are WITHIN PROXIMITY of it.


    Assuming these THREE scenarios have been met, you must hold the Warp button to warp to the point at which point your MP will be fully restored.

    Strategically speaking this provides a breather from battle (sometimes), gives you a fresh MP stock and (as most of them are fairly vertical) gives you a look at the field of battle. I can’t believe I’m writing this again but you guessed it, ‘sounds good on paper, but is terrible in this kind of game’.

    First, there’s the hurdle of having to meet three requirements in order to perform this technique. To the game’s credit, the PW destinations are plentiful; there’s usually one in the vicinity of where enemies spawn but it still means going through the trouble of looking for them in each and every location. This wouldn’t be a problem but that sometimes you can be looking directly at a PW only for it not to register because you’re too far away. Here’s that problem in reverse: you know where a PW is and you know you’re looking right at it but the game registers you as too far too reach it. Not done yet! If you’re in Wait Mode, the screen cannot be rotated and you cannot look at or search for PW.

    Warps have one other use in the form of ‘Cross-Chain’ attacks. Cross-Chains are initiated by Warp-Striking a vulnerable enemy; meaning that it has been temporarily knocked down/dazed. The in-game tutorial which clued me into this had me really excited! Finally a chance to implicate some strategy in my endless DPS attacks!

    Time and again I knocked enemies into Vulnerable status and followed up with Warp-Strike only to then be denied the Cross-Chain mini-game prompt. What was I missing? Eventually I forgot about it until during one battle the gameplay paused and told me I needed to Warp-Strike to initiate a Cross-Chain! Finally! My chance! Thanks to the cumbersome aiming system and muddled enemy life bars I ended up attacking every enemy but the one I wanted to strike. My misadventures with Cross-Chain continued for some time. I either couldn’t attack the vulnerable enemy in time or messed up the Cross-Chain mini-game because the game never explained precisely when I needed to push a button, which, btw, is completely at odds with the normal form of DPS attacking inviting more confusion. Eventually I looked to external resources on Cross-Chains in order to figure out how to initiate them and soon learned that I wasn’t alone in my perplexity. Cross-Chains appear to be entirely random for the Vulnerable status!

    Between undependable warping, broken Block/Parry, enemy speed that doesn’t match character abilities, magic bombs being a complete waste of game time and currency it’s like I’m fighting the game just to fight in the game. But we haven’t talked about the worst part yet.


    Wait Mode:
    Okay, here goes.

    Squenix designed a battle system that depends largely on speed and reflexes (odd choice for a Final Fantasy game) but abandons any semblance of long-term strategy during the main campaign. There is, however, one mechanic that attempts to add a hint of strategy to battle, Wait Mode.

    Wait Mode automatically pauses the game while you character is in battle, allowing you to select targets or decide how to command your allies if certain conditions are met.

    It sounds…good…on…paper….

    After 40 frustrating hours spent wrestling with it, I didn’t find it to be any more effective than when I first picked it up. Its first and most grievous issue is that it poorly does what it sets out to do, help the player select/lock-on to a target.

    There are two lock-on functions. One involves holding a trigger hold, the other is a button combo that locks your character onto an enemy and frees up the player’s fingers. Unless you’re fighting a single enemy (rare in even boss encounters) the perma-lock function is a hassle given the need to keep a constant eye on your surroundings in 360 degrees at any moment. This leaves the trigger lock-on function as the most reliable. So you hold a trigger, Warp-Strike into battle, attack your target (while trying to deal with all of the above nonsense I’ve discussed in this section) and eventually you’re going to need a recharge of MP. That means you’re going to look for a PW. The *logical* way to do this is to enter Wait Mode and look around for one. You enter Wait Mode by not touching a button which requires the player to let go of all buttons. The exceptions to this are the target select analog stick and the lock-on trigger. So, you stop moving.

    *Zwoom!*

    Action freezes, you’ve entered Wait Mode.

    A large gauge rests at the bottom of the screen. When the player starts the game, Wait Mode is limited and the total amount of time you can freeze time per battle is limited. Through increasing skills, the player can remove this count-down. That was the very first skill I aimed for in the game. Before I was even 3 hours into the game I had unlimited Wait Mode. And yet, despite having unlocked infinite Wait Mode, the obtrusive screen-filling countdown bar remains in the same spot for the rest of the game being useless.

    ***SCAN RANT***
    This is a bit of a tangent but it’s strongly related to this countdown peculiarity so if you’ll indulge me please. You might be asking yourself, “Why does the player have to unlock infinite time for a mode *literally called* Wait Mode? As it turns out there *is* a reason for this WHICH I LIKED but like so much else, it falls on its face. Targeting a villain during Wait Mode will also automatically initiate a ‘Scan’ on that enemy. The progress of the scan is represented by a wheel that slowly (or quickly) fills up next to the enemy’s name/HP bar, when it fills completely you’re given a visual representation of the enemy’s weaknesses.

    I like this! A lot! It’s a clever gimmick which was balanced by the Wait Mode total countdown. Let’s say you’re fighting a boss. The ‘Scan’ might take 15 seconds to complete while the total Wait Mode timer is only 10 seconds. This means you can’t ‘Scan’ the boss unless you’ve gained a skill that refills a portion of the Wait Mode bar every time you defeat a minion. Cool!!!! There’s that strategy we’ve been sorely missing! But wait.

    I was able to unlock unlimited Wait Mode very early in the game so that defeats the entire purpose, doesn’t it?

    Furthermore, and this is what drives me bonkers, after you unlock infinite Wait Mode, you’d think that ‘Scan’ would be automatic, right? I mean, you *literally have UNLIMITED TIME* so it doesn’t make a difference if you have to wait 3 seconds or 3,000 years, YOU HAVE INFINITE TIME! It’s gonna get done! But no. Again, the game totally disrespects the player’s time; bosses or high-level enemies that have long ‘Scan’ checks make you wait upwards of 20 seconds staring blankly at your screen to complete a ‘Scan’. Did nobody realize that was completely pointless? This little rant right here is like a microcosm for the entire FFXV experience.
    ***END SCAN RANT***


    Welcome back!

    Scene: Wait Mode!
    Time: Frozen!
    Motivation: Search for PW!

    Only you can’t. Because your camera is locked. That’s right, the camera in the mode for strategizing your next move is locked even though you’re fighting in a 3D space.

    You want to look for a PW? You’re going to have to do that in battle.

    How about a clear look at your enemies? NOPE! The distorted color of Wait Mode makes it hard to recognize any of the already difficult to see enemies and the barely legible font size of their name/HP bars make it tough to tell what’s what.

    Now follow me here, because what follows is the deepest circle of Wait Mode’s uselessness.

    Our goal was to look for a PW, right? I *cannot* look around in Wait Mode and so I’m forced to exit it *AND TAKE MY TARGET OFF THE ENEMY* so that I can freely look for a PW destination. Let’s say I’ve found one AND I’m within range AND I have the screen centered on it. I can hold the Warp button to jump to it.

    Voila, my magic is filled.

    Now, time to get back to that villain.

    ….wait…which one was it again?

    BOOM!!!!

    After some is spent time at a PW destination where you aren’t recharging or pushing buttons, the game will enter Wait Mode. PW’s usually give you a vantage point over the battlefield but:

    1. In order to search for the PW, you had to release your target lock-on.
    2. Enemies usually attack in large packs and are clumped together.
    3. Enemies are indecipherable from one another, even as different types.
    4. Wait Mode distorts color making it even tougher to get any kind of visual cue or position.
    5. Changing targets in the mode is cumbersome which often ends with me hitting an unrelated button and shooting me out of Wait Mode.
    6. The only SEMI-successful way to find your original target is by squinting to look at the teeny-tiny HP bars, the only slightly differentiating feature among the enemies.

    It’s in this way that problems with aspects unrelated to battle mechanics have come back to haunt us and make for an overall unpleasant and unintuitive experience.


    I made a concerted effort to try and understand what I was missing. I scoured YouTube and threads for tutorials in order to find out what I was doing incorrectly. As it turned out, I just found people as confused as myself and at almost every corner, there wasn’t anything I was missing, the mechanics were really just designed poorly.

    Here’s a quick look at a few other failures of battle mechanics, gameplay, or the game not properly explaining itself.

    (QTEs Instead of Boss Battles)
    Remember fights with summons? Remember how they tested your wits and speed?
    Well, those memorable clashes have been reduced to QTEs that aren’t even on par with God of War 2’s QTE encounters.

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    Just one example, the fight with Leviathan saw me move my thumbs about 10 times. The rest was holding down the DPS button with the analog stick jammed in a single direction.

    When God of War 2 came out its QTEs were lambasted for removing the player from the experience. Where was that same sentiment over this game with wildly inferior QTEs to titles from over a decade ago?


    (Sneaking)
    The game stumbles through introducing the concept of area-specific sneaking rules and then has you perform such quests maybe a total of 4 times during the main campaign. One time with an oversized chicken which was easy, the Dead-Eye encounter felt far too scripted, and then sneaking through a base was a complete mess with area-specific stealth controls that worked only under specific circumstances. Sometimes I could strike a guard standing right next to another guard and nobody would notice. Another time I one-shot Warp-Struck a mook on a guard tower who was at least 30 feet in the air and completely alone yet THE ENTIRE BASE WAS SET ON ALERT. This is why we don’t mix genres unless we know what we’re doing Squenix!


    (Self-Phoenix Downing?)
    I died exactly once in battle early in the campaign in a old mine.
    When I was dying, the game slowly zoomed in on me as Noctis went through death throes but I could still manipulate the menus for some reason. I couldn’t understand why it took so much time for Noctis to die. Much later I came very close to dying during a big battle and Noct started going through his dying animation again.

    My revelation. That this game. Is the antithesis of everything I know about Final Fantasy games led me to experiment.

    I decided to use a Phoenix Down on myself.

    And it worked.

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    Sure. It figures that in this twisted version of fan expectations, you’d be able to Phoenix Down yourself. While this is a convenience, it simply makes no sense according to their opening promise.

    Okay, enough about that nonsense! Next, let’s talk about this ‘open’ world that Squenix created for FFXV.


    The Open World
    Final Fantasy XV, the first fully co-called open world single-player Final Fantasy RPG! And by definition, it sort of is but even a cursory assessment of the ‘world’ they’ve created suggests that although the paint job is pretty, Eos is a lemon.

    In this section, we’re going to spend a good deal of time talking about size. Ah yes, the age old question, does size matter? Not unlike graphics, it shouldn’t, just so long as you know how to properly utilize it. Whereas graphics are a fundamental pillar of exploration & battle being fun, the size and scope of FFXV’s world contributes to parts of the overall gameplay experience that are much more integral to the experience than the ‘importance’ of size itself. Understanding the size of the map will help understand the shortcomings to which it contributes and so we shall discuss it.

    When director Tabata was asked about the size of the map in a pre-release interview he said,

    So even compared to other games, we can definitely say that it’s something that’s incomparable, something new, something that you’ve never experienced before in relation to some of the other games that are already out on the market.”

    I’m going to chalk up how grandiose ‘incomparable’ sounds to a shoddy translation. Incomparable is vague and could mean ‘vastly superior [i.e. larger]’ or ‘completely different’. Knowing how these answers usually go in Japanese interviews, I’m betting Tabata intended to mean ‘completely different’. Unfortunately, either choice does not ring true as the (definable as) open world section of FFXV is:

    1. *Very* small compared to other modern open world games
    2. Not unique from other open world experiences in a meaningful or positive way

    In other words, *comparable*.

    First, let’s determine what counts as open world in FFXV.

    There are three regions/maps in FFXV:

    Lucian Continent
    Accordian Continent
    Imperial Continent

    Of these three continents, one of them, Lucian, is definable as open world. So, we’ll only be looking at Lucian and you better believe I’m not counting any DLC material.

    How does Lucian size-up against other benchmark world maps?

    Funny thing that. Pre-release fans were making mock images that had GTA5’s map tucked away in a corner of FFXV’s *full* world map. Even today, a Google search for FFXV’s actual size in square miles returns an answer of 780 square miles but guess what? That figure was not only based off a pre-release fanmade estimation, it’s also based off a theory that includes the *entire world* of FFXV, not just the only freely explorable Lucian continent.

    Post #9 here seems to have the right of it:
    https://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/9329...sy-xv/74678452

    He/she accounted for the fact that the Cleigne region is largely road and their estimation of 10sq miles is almost exactly what my estimation would have been after removing unexplorable regions.

    This is my unscientific depiction of explorable regions by land (as depicted in green) of Final Fantasy XV’s single open world map:

    https://twitter.com/ochimusha108/sta...90518074388480

    Well, gee, when you look at it like this, it looks a lot less like an open world map and more like…well boy that’s a tough one. Y’know if I had to venture a guess, I’d almost say it looks like

    A SERIES OF HALLWAYS WITH ONE BIG OPEN CENTRAL AREA

    I am of course alluding to the notion that FFXV is closer in similarity to its widely panned FFXIII sister than anyone has ventured to suggest.


    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    The largest area of the game is a vast field with a meteor in the middle. Yup, it’s big. It’s also largely devoid of *meaningful* people and locations. The second largest area is a desert. It’s about as charismatic as…a desert. Now, do you see the inherent problem here? I’m describing *large AREAS* of an *OPEN WORLD* map. Can you see the conclusion I’m alluding to?

    Of course FFXV’s world is more accessible than FFXIII, but it’s basically the same concept. Hallways -literally roads here- funnel you towards set open-locations for exploration. At first the game deceives the player into thinking the world they’re seeing is fully explorable but try traveling north along the road to The Myrlwood from Greyshire Glacial Grotto. About halfway try climbing the mountain to the west. Go ahead, I dare ya. Uh-uh, you can’t, the impenetrable guardrail blocks you! Okay, if going west didn’t work, let’s go east! Let’s try to reach Lestallum from here. A little jump over the guard rail and, HEY WE DID IT! Okay, there’s a little grove of trees for about 13 meters and just beyond that is a river which our chocobo should be able to-

    -Your chocobo will not proceed any further-

    That’s right, it may look pretty and with next-gen power it’s a little bit more wide but you’re still locked into a hallway. FFXV has traded 4 meter hallways for 13-meter hallways; sometimes even less as you’ll find yourself traveling through literal tunnels for upwards of half a minute (maybe even more if your car is busted or you’re traveling by chocobo).

    This is not open-world folks. It’s a series of open areas that are connected by lengthy hallways. This is all before the game further devolves into ****ACTUAL HALLWAYS**** for a great length of time.

    How have reviewers not picked up on this? How is this even remotely considered open world? If Lucian’s map is so vast and open then why -outside of 6 (arguably 7) regions- am I running into a fence, or a guard rail, or a mountain or an impassable river or invisible wall when I run more than 40 seconds in any direction?

    I’ll tell you why and logistically speaking there are two darn fine reasons for it. Reasons that also prove how obtrusive this kind of game world is for anything developers want to bear the name Final Fantasy with current gaming consoles.


    --------------------------------------------------------------
    Reason 1- Dungeons
    One of the reasons the game is so gated and funnels you to very specific points is for dungeons. If there’s one thing this title tried very hard to preserve from traditional Final Fantasy games, in terms of *presence* it’s the concept of dungeons. There are plenty of them in the title and the ones which are outdoors require the player to enter a very specific region in a very specific way. This means that the world in turn must be designed to logically compel the player to pursue a certain path. But here’s the catch, that funneling concept completely defeats the point of open-world. Not only does it betray the promise of a truly open world, but the joy of exploration is constantly being squashed when every 15-30 seconds I’m running into a wall/fence/cliff face/etc. It’s not fun, it’s frustrating. When you walked the ‘wrong way’ in a Final Fantasies of past, there were two things that made it fun/challenging:

    1. Rare Treasure. And yes, that’s here too, but it’s not as plentiful as the times you’ll run into an obstacle which you must circumnavigate for 3 minutes (if you can somehow navigate with the terrible map).

    2. Random Encounters. Making a wrong decision was often punished/challenged with random encounters. If you came out alive, you were a bit stronger and you learned not to travel a certain route. Here, there aren’t even random encounters to challenge you.

    “But there’s the enemy whistle!”

    It’s not realistic to expect a player to be so masochistic as to go through hoops to invite enemies because she/he made a navigational error. That’s not our job *****it’s the game’s job to be our sadistic, unpredictable, RNG dungeon master.******

    ******Dungeon Rant********
    While I’m talking about dungeons, why isn’t anyone else bothered by how monotonously samey they are?

    “Oh…another cave? Lemme guess, goblins?”

    “Oh…another lifeless concrete and scaffolding overrun military facility?”

    “Oh…another single-screen jumbled tree mess that I think is supposed to be a forest?”

    The dungeon with Aranea felt somewhat different/classic but it was just flat, empty, criss-crossing hallways. No signs of former life? Why did hallways the lead to dead ends? They were going for realism, weren’t they?

    The player ventures from the sort-of spacious hallway of the open world to literally claustrophobic hallways in dungeons. There’s no sense of joy or wonder in exploring vast ruins or caves because everything is almost certifiably claustrophobic. The cherry of mediocrity on top is that after you’ve seen about 3-4 dungeons you’ve seen pretty much all that they have to offer in terms of design until the last dungeon which a player can run through in less than 10 minutes.
    ********End Dungeon Rant********

    And so, in an attempt to force the player to approach each dungeon in a HIGHLY LINEAR and scripted method, the game drains any fun of exploration from the experience and leaves only a frustrating hassle involving running around obstacles.

    For being an open-world game, it feels so *very* small and gated. Looking at the beautiful landscapes *WHICH YOU CANNOT TRAVEL TO* makes it all the more painful when compared to the technical wonder that Breath of Wild is where, when they said open world, they meant it.

    The second reason for FFXV’s hallway open world?


    ---------------------------------------------------------
    Reason 2- Dem Graphics:

    Consoles (not sure about PC) aren’t at the point where they can handle an open world as detailed as FFXV’s indisputably breathtaking open landscapes -all six or so of them- without utilizing distracting tricks. Those tricks come in the form of barriers, both physical and invisible that prevent this title from being a truly modern open world experience. While it might fit the definition from 2005, we’re a long way from that time.

    I don’t think I’m being too harsh here. I’m not talking about the game having boundaries. Those are a reality in *every* game. I’m talking about the game equivalent of an invisible Berlin Wall *between* west and east regions of a map which otherwise require the player to take a *specific route* to travel between.

    Could development time have reduced this? Perhaps, but even the thought of giving this game more development time is inconceivable. Which was my point about graphics, if you’re just going to install barriers in your sandbox, turn things back a notch! Don’t be so ambitious, don’t be the Michael Bay of gaming. Do what can be realistically done to make the most immersive and pleasant experience for the gamer. If that means I can’t see dirt building up on Noct’s jacket, then so be it! I’d rather take him running up and over endless hills than getting an in-game prompt telling me I can’t cross a small stream.

    -----------------------------------------------------

    And so because of how dungeons and processing/development limitations relate to open world design, we’re left with an open world that is constantly giving us glimpses of how the sausage is made. The Disc of Cauthess, the game’s largest open area, is vast but the meaningful/interactive contents of the region don’t amount to much beyond open space and enemy spawn points sprinkled with Parking Spots and dungeons on its outskirts. Your progress through this area is impeded by cliffs jutting up from the ground, fences along its edges and an assortment of frustrating barriers.

    Perhaps the biggest piece of evidence of FFXV’s decidedly *very comparable* world map is how fans immediately dropped trying to ascertain accurate dimensions after the game’s release. Skyrim, GTA, Breath of the Wild, Witcher 3, all of these titles have world maps with meticulously calculated stats available online. Final Fantasy XV’s earnest map size speculation drops off right after September 2016, just *BEFORE* the game’s release.

    As this article suggests:
    https://nowloading.co/p/how-big-is-z...ld-map/4222329

    Breath of the Wild is about 23.5 square miles.

    According to this article:
    http://www.techtimes.com/articles/50...itious-rpg.htm

    Witcher 3’s world map is about 52 square miles.

    Can you see why fans stopped trying to get an accurate read on Lucian’s map after release? There’s nothing to brag about.

    Now here’s the takeaway point before you reach through your monitor and try to strangle me.

    I said above that size shouldn’t matter! It shouldn’t! But Squenix have *made* it a major issue with the quality of their presentation. I also wrote ‘size doesn’t matter if you know how to use it’, didn’t I? And for the reasons I’ve detailed above, it’s clear that Squenix does *not know how to use size properly*. The amount of useful/meaningful locations in the game could just as well filled a region half Lucian’s size and with a graphical downgrade, plus a different approach to funneling the player towards dungeons, it could have been solid entertainment, even if it didn’t have half the variety of biomes!

    I shouldn’t have to look into these size figures! It’s absurd! But looking at their map, how small it is to begin with, and then how very little of the map is actually explorable, well, It makes me feel embarrassed for Squenix that they thought this graphically attractive world could replace a world with a hint of substance and personality. In fact, let’s talk about that substance!

    Did you notice how many non-dungeon towns are in the game?

    Two. There are two.

    Lemme run that by you again.

    The year was 2016, a numbered ‘open world’ Final Fantasy was released and the game had two towns. Hold on, it gets better. Of those two towns, only one of them was on the Lucian map.

    The FFXV open world map…contains….one….town.

    Roadside stops?
    Hotels?
    Chocobo Stable?
    A bare bones beach bar?

    Sure. They’re there. But those aren’t towns. This vast open world, has one town.


    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    How has nobody called Squenix out on this? I feel like so much Vizzini right now because this is inconceivable!


    *****Town Rant******
    It would be petty of me to note the town’s largely empty and labyrinth-like streets so I’ll let that be but can we talk about that power plant? There’s a huge power plant that I started imagining going through with my buddies. Well, you do enter it an one point for a largely forgettable main quest which sees you (I’m serious here) running around a single circular catwalk killing a few enemies. That’s it! Why bother showing us this massive location if it’s just….ah forget it. You get me.
    *****End Town Rant********

    FFXV is FFXIII all over again. The hallways are slightly more wide and the Disc of Cauthess (this game’s Pulse field) would go a long way to making the game feel better if I couldn’t tell exactly how and when the game was trying to funnel me toward loading points or trying to cover up processing work behind the scenes.

    Fans and reviewers have ignored this reality but that map up there, unscientific as it may be, doesn’t paint an inaccurate picture of the true experience waiting for anyone thinking they can hop out of the Regalia and ‘go anywhere’, because they can’t.

    Here are some other points about the world that contribute to my displeasure with the exploration of Lucian.

    (Dungeon Crawling)
    The first time walking through a dungeon, Noctis is stumble about as if he’s terrified. Even if you put the walk analog stick at full-tilt, he will only wander about as if something is going to pounce out at him from behind every corner. This is maddeningly slow and forces the user to run through the dungeon. What’s the point of even creating a dungeon if you can’t walk through it and appreciate it at a normal pace? Another poor UX choice. Here’s another one related to dungeons.

    You’re going through a dungeon minding your own business when suddenly the game prompts you to crouch under some fallen debris. Okay, sure! That seems realistic enough, why not?

    Then it happens again. Uh…okay. Is there a point to this game-wise? It slows down my progress for a good 10 seconds soooo….

    And again.

    You’ll find that almost every dungeon, at some point or another, will force to duck, crawl, or shimmy through some sort of physical obstacle(s). The worst offender I found was a pipe in underground sewers that Noctis slowly balances and precariously wobbles his way across. Did you know, all you have to do is tilt your movement stick forward? Your speed or precise direction has no effect on Noct. SO WHY BOTHER ADDING THIS FEATURE! Each and every time it grinds the progress to a halt!

    Given their prevalence and placement I can only guess these segments are for one or both of the following reasons:

    1. It’s for loading in which case to Hades with Squenix for all the reasons I’ve given above related to graphics.

    2. It’s to barricade the player into boss encounters. In which case, cool story bro, but you’re not only giving away exactly where boss encounters are but also, if there’s no relation to loading, you could have Noctis skip through the obstacle quickly with the button prompt instead of painstakingly inching his way through, over or around every obstacle. These same obstacles remain after a boss is defeated by the way. There are much better ways to lock a player into a fight and I’m saddened that Squenix again felt wasting the player’s time was the best method.

    (Gold Quay Boardwalk)
    Why in the ever-living is the boardwalk to Gold Quay so long? If you don’t know what I’m referencing here, there’s a bar/restaurant built on top of the water in the game’s coast area and a perplexingly long boardwalk running out to it is the only way to access it each and every time (which you’ll need to do many times for sidequests). Again, a completely pointless waste of the player’s time. Speaking of wasting time through quests…

    (Returning to Complete Quests)
    Why, in a game from 2016, am I being forced to return to sidequest/hunt-givers to complete them? If I kill a hunt, just give me my rewards like any other game that respect’s the player’s time. Look game, I managed to make it where you wanted me to go. I killed the target. Are you actually so narcissistic as to think the experience of going through your loading screens and terrible fast travel system is so pleasurable that gamers are looking towards it? Again, I’m left asking myself how reviewers and fans let this garbage get a free pass.

    (Fantasy Becomes Reality & Reality is Mundane)
    The story opens as you and your mates push a car through the desert to which one quips something along the lines of this not exactly being a fairy tale adventure. This self-referential winking-at-the-camera line is cockily foreshadowing that by the end of this adventure, we’re gonna see some serious fantasy!

    Nope.

    40 hours later and the last dungeon is basically just a dirty Nega-Tokyo with the ‘villain’s’ castle resembling the Tokyo government building in Shinjuku.

    Now…I’m all for a spectrum of fantasy. I don’t need Game of Thrones for it to be fun. Some of my favorite FF games aren’t so-called high-fantasy. Look at 7 or 8, both of which see plenty of ‘modern’ and ‘futuristic’ steampunk or magicpunk vehicles, locations and themes.


    But this game, albeit literally two cutscenes, is just a reminder of how boring it is to be a regular person in real life. That is unless you find the thought of literally filling up your gas a thrilling concept. There were many moments that I had to stop and ask myself, “Why is this fun? I have to do a lot of this garbage in real life or at work.” Normally these critiques are shoved under the carpet because the UX or gameplay is silky smooth but not here.

    I already detailed the mundane farmer’s market fetch-quests above but how about the car repair kits? A major SERIES of sidequests in the game ivolve literally bringing your adventure to a grinding halt to help a rando NPC fix their car. Is there a mini-game? No. Will I see them again later? No. You just helped fix their car. How many times do you need to do this? I dunno how many total but I know I’ve done it at least 5-6 times. To what end!? What does that do for me as a player or character besides give some cheap experience? Why bother playing this game when there’s probably more real adventure in working for roadside service?


    (Illogical Enemy Placement)
    One of the earliest accessible dungeons in the game that curious first-time players are likely to come across is an ‘abandoned’ mine. A little exploration shows that the mine is inhabited by Goblins. Level 7 Goblins to be specific. Lots of them.

    After fighting wave upon wave of them, already a floor or two into the dungeon, you run the chance, like I was, of being approached on a mine cart track by a mysterious figure. I took a look at the level and couldn’t believe that I was being approached by a Level 50 samurai. The second I saw the level mark I started running away when suddenly Noctis stopped responding to my control. The samurai warped up to Noct and…..knocked….Noct…..off the mine cart track into a hoard of goblins that ganked and killed him (this was that one time I died).

    Since when did FF games challenge gamers by giving them wave after wave of mooks and then, unannounced, throw out an impossibly high-level enemy? A high-level enemy whom, I should add, you can actually assess, and say ‘NOPE!’ then start running, only to be caught? Where’s the challenge in that? But more importantly, where’s the foreshadowing?

    A progressive wave of stronger mooks?
    A character giving us a Han Solo ‘bad feeling’ about a room.
    Anything!
    But no, Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv7 Lv50!!!

    In what universe does that make for reasonable game design?

    Y’know, I’d even accept it if it was intended to establish a pattern of similar sidequest dungeons being filled with low-level enemies leading to a *very* powerful boss at the end but that’s not the case. Most other dungeons work how players expect them to with increasingly challenging mooks leading up to a challenging boss of a similar level to my party. So what’s the point of pulling that garbage move at the start of the game? It teaches us nothing about the game or the game world.

    This is all I can stand to write about but the list just goes on and on. Ten years of development have left us with a pretty but hollow world where Squenix seems to have put all of their effort into hiding the actual fun from the player.

    Last section before we wrap this up! Let’s talk about the story.


    Story
    For all of the mistakes this game suffers, the story -as it exists in lore- is an interesting one but this is only something I learned *after* beating the game. Gifted with a fairly intriguing history and characters to explore, the game seems intent on ruining any hope of joy during actual playtime as the story is presented so haphazardly that the only way to coherently follow the tale is by consuming supplemental commercial material. This has to end. Stop making games into movies/comics/light novels/8-bit games/smart phone applications…*BEFORE THEY’RE A SUCCESFUL GAME*.

    I’m not going to spend that much money or time on a game before it’s released, and, if I was crazy enough to do that, there’s a good chance that having dedicated so much time to the title, I’d be mentally prepped to love it even if it is a waste of data.

    What’s particularly painful is the methodical and welcome pace the story starts at before becoming (literally) a story running on a runaway train. The player goes from methodically working their way to their hero’s bride-to-be, to wildly shifting to a revenge quest. And, that’s okay, except this shift and many others, expect the player to know so much about the world without any explanation that one minute I was peacefully riding chocobos and less than two hours later I was QTE fighting gods for reasons that I still do not understand despite my characters talking about the tasks nonchalantly.

    The second Ardyn asks you to drive to the Disc with him is the second the player has to start playing guessing games about the world and lore with very little exposition and even fewer hidden lore hints to help them figure out why Luna is speaking to deities for us and why it sucks to be doing what she’s doing.

    “That’s why you have to search every nick and cranny for hints!”

    NO! That’s not how that works! We, as players, *must know the major methods and motivations of our characters*!

    Luna spoke with Titan.
    Wait, why? When? Some context please? Why is he fighting me? What’s going on?

    25 hours later: The Empire killed Titan.
    WHAT!? THEY DID!? Like, KILLED, KILLED!? Was that when I was there!? What about the meteor??

    But he’s still a summon.
    HUH!? HOW?

    BTW Shiva was killed.
    SHE WAS!? THEN WHY IS SHE FINE!? What does being killed mean? Anything?

    Ravus has a strange arm.
    He does!? Everyone in this game has some weird crazy armor, I just assumed that’s what it was! When were you planning on telling me that wasn’t normal?

    Ardyn can mimic people.
    Wait, huh? I don’t understand, where did you show me this?

    Remember on the train when you knocked Prompto off?
    I KNOCKED PROMPTO OFF!? The camera work was HORRIBLE! I thought Ardyn knocked him off after I hit Ardyn! Again, why didn’t you tell me this when it had an emotional impact and not out of the blue!?

    I’m not suggesting that there aren’t perfectly good reasons for all of these and more, I’m suggesting that such reasons *which we need to know as players* are not clearly conveyed to us. We’re not talking about the lack of an in-game explanation for Setzer not being able to re-equip a bandana because he doesn’t want to be mimicked. We’re talking about *major* story movements and character actions that players are only given glimpses of. A game that strives to tell a story must include crucial information about our characters so that our heads aren’t left spinning by story developments. I want to be following alongside the story, not playing catch-up because I didn’t watch a supplemental movie before playing the game or pay for a DLC a year after the game came out.

    This isn’t Star Wars, I’m not asking how Phasma got out of the garbage shoot, I’m asking why is my hero’s love interest suffering so deeply for something that she needs to do for me? In fact, what is she even doing for me? But this isn’t the worst part. By far, the game's’ biggest blunder rests with how it refuses the let the player feel a single natural emotion on his or her own.

    An excellent story shows the listener its characters and over time, through the motions of the tale, we will naturally feel a range of emotions appropriate to our characters and their trials and tribulations.

    This game cannot help itself from forcing emotion down your throat.

    Not until the end *end* of the game with Noct on the throne does the game allow us to naturally feel an emotion. Every other moment uses Bayhem imagery, the *oldest* of tropes, and the *SAPPIEST* of music to grab the viewer by the heartstrings and say, “HEY!!!! YOU SHOULD FEEL THIS WAY RIGHT NOW! DO YOU FEEL THIS WAY!? WELL YOU SHOULD BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT WE WANT YOU TO FEEL! NOW GO GRAB A BOX OF TISSUES!!!”

    ‘ Stand By Me’?

    Are you f***ing kidding me? What the actual hell? That’s some Grade-A self-indulgent Hideo Kojima malarkey right there! Some goof at Squenix felt this tune touched them when they watched an 80’s movie (a good 80’s movie btw) so they wanted to put it in a Final FANTASY?

    FANTASY!!!!

    FINAL FANTASY!!!!

    AS IN NOT REALITY!!!!

    *A FINAL FANTASY for fans and first-timers*

    …sorry. That really gets me. It’s a lovely rendition of the song! But its use is so arrogant it makes me sick.

    So, just forget about giving us an original tune we can learn to relate over the course of the game? I mean, what were they even thinking!? Usually when you hear a main theme, you think, “I wonder how the game will come to relate to this!”, and with that in the back of your mind you slowly put together the details over the course of the game.

    THIS SONG’S USE, AT THE START OF THE GAME, COMPLETELY BETRAYS THAT! I mean forget the fact that it’s trying to work purely on nostalgia! What do we know going into the game? We know that these guys are bruhs. What do we know going out of the game? They’re….STILL BRUHS.

    “Oh but they have fights.”

    DON’T GET ME STARTED ON THE DAMN IN-FIGHTING! Galdio and Noct locking horns at the Disc is one of the most forced angst-ridden and genuinely inhuman battles of bruised egos I’ve seen in a modern game.

    Noct: Imma go check that grave like I have the rest.
    Gladio: SURE GO AHEAD!!!!
    Noct: Cool! New weapon! Hey I wonder what’s AAAAAAH!
    Gladio: YOU STUPID KID!!!! HOW COULD YOU DO THAT!!!????
    Noct: I WAS JUST DOING WHAT I AWAYS DO [he was]
    Gladio: YOU’RE THE WORST!
    Noct: YOU WON’T LET ME BE MYSELF!!!!

    Uhm…I think the game is *TELLING ME* to feel tense and angry? But…I just feel that these two are really being aholes to each other and are completely betraying the repertoire they’ve shown me during the adventure to this point…which makes me doubt their motivation here and the writing…

    How about Noct and Luna? We’re supposed to believe they love each other because they hung out once years ago.

    Game: Here’s a sh*tload of flashbacks. These two met long ago and you should feel that they’re really in love.
    Me: Um, that’s great and cute, but what have they done recently to keep this affection going? I mean we keep hearing that Luna is communicating with deities for Noct, but what does any of that even mean? Why is it a big deal? What is she actually giving up? Why does she have such a strong connection to him when he was off cheating with Iris in Lestallum?

    It goes on and on like this! If you’re a teen and you’re going through relationship pains, I get how you can eat this pulp for breakfast, but you’re being TOLD how to feel, not asked to feel anything on your own which, if you don’t understand how bottom-of-the-barrel that technique is now, you will in a few years.

    So the game ends and we hear ‘Stand by Me’ over pictures of our journey.

    Not one tear.

    I am the biggest emotional sad-sack around. I just look at certain panels of One Piece and the waterworks start pumping on their own. But this game? Nothin’ not once. Because it felt like the game was always trying to force an emotion out of me, rather than relying on its strengths and letting me feel emotions on my own.

    You realize that not one thing has changed from the opening credits when that song was first used, right? Nothing. I’m talking about character motivation and loyalty. Let’s take stock. One lost his eyesight? One is a magic clone of an ahole I saw in one scene? Another has…more muscles? THOSE ARE PHYSICAL CHANGES! NOTHING IMPORTANT HAS CHANGED ABOUT *WHO THEY ARE*! SO WHAT IS THE POINT OF PLAYING THE SONG AT THE START AND AT THE END!?

    “Oh but we get to know them so well!”

    Do we? Is their robust relationship really filled out as much as everyone says? I dunno, it’s pretty damn cheap when for 40 hours Noct complains about the heat the same way and Gladio reprimands him the SAME WAY. See, Bayhem. Because your characters *can* talk, doesn’t mean they should keep saying the same things over and over. If I hear that exchange thirty times, it’s never going to be more interesting than the first. When we talk to an NPC or party member and they start repeating the same thing, we don’t ask or want them to keep saying the same thing for 30-40 hours!

    The game starts by telling us they’re bruhs.

    The game proceeds to show us they’re bruhs.

    In one scene a guy literally has to say, “They’re you’re buhs, bruh. So treat ‘em like bruhs.”

    Then the game ends by telling us they’re bruhs.

    NOTHING.

    HAS.

    CHANGED!!!!!

    Those of you waxing praise on the game for giving us, ‘such an amazing representation of brotherhood!’ are completely off! What the game did is tell us that these three people act as brothers and, surprise, they prove to be just that. The End. That’s it! Their banter? Filler! You’re not watching any growth, just people being the same people you assumed they were! When Prompto gives his big reveal it drops with the weight of a feather, and, appropriately, nobody in the party gives a damn because, as we know, they’re bruhs! Of course it won’t matter to them!

    So Squenix is being praised for making our heroes, lemme get this straight, likable? As in, you’re really shocked that Squenix made heroes that we could…enjoy? Really? WOOOOW! Call the press! Get a hashtag ready!

    I’ve never seen a Final Fantasy that tried so hard to be an American hero cartoon from the 90’s.

    Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles begins with a song that tells us about our heroes and how they’re bruhs. We watch their bruh antics. They take down the evil villains. They’re still bruhs. End with same song about how they’re bruhs.

    THAT’S WHAT YOU JUST SPENT FORTY HOURS DOING!

    The best part of this game and perhaps the only part that allowed you to connect with ANY character on ANY level, was ironically, the part that everyone hates.

    I kept hearing complaints about Chapter 13! About how unapologetically linear it is. Y’know what? You learn more about Noct and the kind of person he is in those dank corridors than you did in the previous 35 hours! The game isn’t barraging us with the same context-sensitive conversations for the 57th time, we’re experiencing the game as Noct, hearing his reactions and learning about him! It’s magnificent! Okay sure, the hallway stuff is long, but during that length, you connect with your hero more in those hallways than any other segment.

    BTW, people refer to everything beyond Leviathan as the ‘latter half’ of the game. Latter half? I started that segment and got to the final chapter in *one sitting*. If that’s the latter half, how short is the meaningful (i.e. not fetch-quests or hunt) segment of this game?

    There’s a lot to love about these characters and the game indigently provides any means of conveying that to the gamer who isn’t easily entertained by pretty sights and loud noises. So who’s at fault for this milquetoast fantasy game?


    The Power is Yours

    Despite all of this, like the victim in an abusive relationship, there’s so much I want to forgive and love about the game. I want to laugh at Prompto’s endless positivity, Gladio’s caveman-like reasoning, and the way Ignis says, “I came up with a new recipayh!” After a year of sticking my feet in the ground, Squenix’s update allowing character-swapping finally melted my heart and gave me hope for something resembling an actual Final Fantasy game but instead I’m back where I was after FFXIII, shocked that anyone could give this game a positive review not only as a Final Fantasy, but as a video game.

    My personal opinions about story aside, there are severe issues with the UX and gameplay which create a sluggish, buggy and fourth-wall-breaking experience as the game tries to hide the fact that its ambitious design shouldn’t have been brought out on this current console generation.

    I wanted so eagerly to believe that *maybe* this game was the **MOST EXPENSIVE BETA TEST EVER** for Final Fantasy VII Remake but after completing FFXV I went back to FFVII’s trailer to see if I could spot any carryover. Guess what?

    https://youtu.be/A3sBZ5Nr4hc?t=40

    Here’s Cloud running down a claustrophobic hallway and (my God, it’s so prevalent they even put it in the trailer) scooching past debris! Not once! But TWICE! NOOOOOOO!!!!

    All of you praising this game, what’s wrong with you? Why do you just accept this as a ‘positive’ thing? I’m not talking about whether you like or relate to the characters, that’s the one part of the game I really don’t take issue with. But even more so, if you enjoy these characters, how can you possibly tolerate them being in a package this sloppy?

    Every reviewer out there who waxed poetry over the ‘connection of the boys’ is blatantly ignoring why the game’s positive aspects don’t amount to anything when the rest of it is the antithesis of a professionally assembled positive gaming experience.

    If this is what you’re accepting as the new standard of great gaming and you continue to reward Squenix with record-breaking sales, even if you don’t feel the same way I do today, there will come a time when you’re woke to the mediocrity of FFXV and the games that will no doubt be built on the shoulders of its undisputable success.

    Don’t be distracted by honey-laced lies, pretty effects, loud noises, nostalgia massages and force-fed emotion. You’re better than that. If you and the reviewers out there continue to lie to yourselves about what quality gaming is because you *want* something you’ve invested a part of yourself in to be a success, then we will never again have a Final Fantasy for fans and first-timers.
    Last edited by Greg; January 4th, 2018 at 12:45 AM.

  10. #6530

    Default Re: SQUARE ENIX - Single Player RPGs are dead?

    Read it when I get free time (and hopefully gets spoiler tagged).
    Quote Originally Posted by Ubiq View Post
    I've often wondered about that myself; seems like being supported by people who only want you there so the world can end in fire (with you going to Hell in the process) would be somewhat off-putting
    3DS Friend Code 0044-2806-5284




  11. #6531

    Default Re: SQUARE ENIX - Single Player RPGs are dead?

    I'm suuuuuper tempted to just end the thread with that and then start a new one.

  12. #6532
    POE WUN BGR Greg's Avatar
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    Default Re: SQUARE ENIX - Single Player RPGs are dead?

    tldr:


    Okay, now end it.

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