The recent trailer of Final Fantasy XV, shown off at the TGS, revealed some incredibly impressive looking in-game footage of the famous series running on next-gen systems. It’s easy to forget then that this is a game Square Enix have struggled with for a long time now, almost 8 years in fact. Originally announced as Final Fantasy Versus 13, which was to release not long after FFXIII on the PS3, the game had an exceptionally difficult birth and was heavily delayed. Deciding instead to release it as Final Fantasy XV, Square set their sights on the next gen consoles and set about trying to rebuild this troubled game.
Many players have lost some faith in Square Enix and particularly the directors who seemed to lose touch with what the fans wanted. Final Fantasy XV then started off fairly promising, with Tetsuya Nomura, from the Kingdom Hearts series, taking on the lead. However, Tetsuya eventually stepped down from directing the game in order to focus once again on his beloved Kingdom Hearts series. Square then appointed Hajime Tabata as the new director, the man who created many of the handheld games such as Crisis Core and Type-0. So what exactly has Tabata brought into Final Fantasy XV to re-engage the fans?
Well Final Fantasy fans can be a hard bunch to please and it seems that Tabata is trying hard to strike a balance of many different styles. Plenty of people would like to see the series return to the way it was, running up to around FFX; with strategic, turn based combat and a long and intricate storyline. Other players however would rather see the series advance a little, especially for the next gen consoles, where turn based combat feels somewhat less impressive and linear storylines are far less popular. For Final Fantasy XV then, the game takes place in a huge game world, there’s plenty of exploration to be had and, as the TGS trailer showed, you’ll have access to a car to travel around between locations. It’s not, however, completely open-world like many first thought. Tabata stated that a fully open-world wouldn’t fit the style of Final Fantasy, so you’ll still find that story driven narrative to direct your path through the game.
For combat you’ll find that there is no sign of that classic turn based style – and whether that’s a good or a bad thing depends on your own opinions. You’ll have much more control over your character but it doesn’t quite head so far away from its roots that it becomes a hack-and-slash. You’ll still have to make decisions during combat, including even your positioning around an enemy, something that adds a little extra depth from the old turn based style, but it wont be a case of mashing buttons either like some Western RPG’s – as with the storyline, Tabata is keen to strike that delicate balance.
Below is a more detailed look at Final Fantasy XV in action and shows off some staggeringly beautiful graphics. Note that the video is a showcase of how the game runs and how various aspects work so its not really a regular gameplay walkthrough. You can see the dynamic weather and lighting effects in the game as well as some of the combat features, such as the ability to dodge enemy attacks and also perform joint combo attacks with your party members.
Hajime Tabata may have a herculean task ahead of him to try and please both new and old Final Fantasy fans and Final Fantasy XV still has quite a way to go (it’s apparently around 55% complete). Lets not forget though that Square are capable of this kind of turnaround. Naoki Yoshida achieved what no one would have thought possible with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn by turning a monumental failure into the game that played the largest part in turning around Square’s profits. Yoshida achieved this by listening to the fans and providing them with the experiences they wanted and Square have begun to follow suit a lot more now by bringing games like Type-0 over to the Western audiences and making the decision to bunde the FFXV demo in with it, as well as re-releasing many of their classics over Steam.
Trying to rebuild a game is never and easy task and when that game is also trying to rebuild a series, things become even harder. Final Fantasy XV has a lot of burden on its shoulders right now so it will be interesting to see just where Square take it. Whether you’re a long time Final Fantasy fan or a total newcomer, let us know your thoughts on how FFXV is shaping up so far.
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