Final Fantasy XV: Early Impressions

Final Fantasy XV is nothing short of an experience in time being spent slowly and surely. While many other websites have appeared to have powered their way through the main bulk of Final Fantasy XV, usually complaining about how the story or characters didn’t feel too developed or something like that. We here at The Outerhaven want to take time with Final Fantasy XV and really get a good feel for the all that the game has to offer, and not just throw out trash review for clicks. So while this is more of a First/Early Impressions preview for the upcoming review, rest assured that we are going to bring you a review that is worthy of a game that has been 10 years in the making.

Just like pushing a car, the review is going to take a while before we get to out destination

So what works?

First of all, I’ll start with the graphics in Final Fantasy XV. While I do find some fault in them, for the most part they are amazing. There are moments in the game which make you step back and really admire the care a dedication that went into the environment and some of the animals (See below) in the world. You do get a really good “Let’s go over there” vibe from the world and chances are that when you head “over there”, you’ll find something worth the trip.

The next best thing for me has been the soundtrack. Sure, it’s the same style of music that has been in every single Final Fantasy game since the beginning, but I love the fact that as you visit places in the early game, you can purchase soundtracks from previous Final Fantasy games to be listened to in the car during trips. Blasting “One Winged Angel” from Final Fantasy VII as the guys travel around just makes the road trip experience a whole lot more badass.

Something that I find myself disagreeing with other reviewers with is the characters. A lot of reviews have called them shallow and lacking personality, but I think the opposite. It’s the small touches like Noctis being a lazy spoil git sitting around doing nothing at every campsite or Ignus checking out the kitchen of a trailer so he know what to cook are amazing small moments that make the characters feel a lot more human than the usual Final Fantasy stereotypes. Other moments like seeing the group playing cards or laughing while you go through the camping sequences also adds to the idea that these guys are more than just four people tied together by some grim fate, they are good friends who know each other well and will always have each others back.

Other NPC’s are actually enjoyable. Outside of characters that are included in the story, you can find the odd one liner from the generic NPC’s to be quite amusing and funny. During one mission where I’m needing to feed a stray cat, I have to get it cooked. So I take the fish to the nearby cook who thinks I’m using the cat and fish as a pick up line. It’s grown worthy a line, but it was enough to get me to chuckle, which is saying something for a generic NPC.

Fishing… For the love of god they actually made FISHING enjoyable. It’s a simple back and forth struggle between you and the fish, but it’s something that I found myself doing a lot longer after I needed to stop doing it.

As slow as the game seems at times, moments like this make it shine even brighter
As slow as the game seems at times, moments like this make it shine even brighter

So what doesn’t work?

At times the graphics in Final Fantasy XV tend to slip. Take for example, Cindy’s hair in the screenshot below. It looks low-resolution and just all around bad for someone who is meant to be a key cast member. You can tell that Final Fantasy XV started as a Playstation 3 project and not everything got the Playstation 4 shine during the transition. Another example is the camera tracking. As you move the camera, things tend to screen tear and then fix themselves up once you have the camera resting still. It’s small things like this that draw away from an otherwise very well made set of graphics. Speaking of the camera, because it’s mostly a manual camera, things tend to get all messed up during combat unless you are continuously holding down the lock on button during fights. It’s easy to get lost in some of the larger scale battles Final Fantasy XV throws at you.

As for the combat, it’s fucking horrific. I don’t know if it’s because I’m still in the early stages of Final Fantasy XV or if this is intentional, but you can pretty much mash the attack button and not worry about anything. Sure you can sometimes block with a precise button press (which 90% of the time does not register anyway) but it’s just easier to mash away at attack and heal up when you need to. I think Square-Enix wanted to build something accessible to all players, but it’s just not something I expect from my Final Fantasy games.

If there is one thing that I’m agreeing with other reviews on is the lack of the main plot. So far in the game I understand that I’m playing as Noctis, a Prince, who is on the way to meet Lady Lunafreya, some Oracle from another Kingdom, as they are to get married… And that’s it. In order to understand the plot of Final Fantasy XV, you really do need to go and watch the anime “Brotherhood” and the movie “Kingsglave” in order to find out all the main story elements. This is made more abundantly clear as the first major patch for Final Fantasy XV has included parts of “Kingsglave” into the game itself for explanation sake. This is a really bad oversight to make for a game 10 years in development.

Sometimes its hard to tell if this is meant to be a PS4 or PS3 game
Sometimes its hard to tell if this is meant to be a PS4 or PS3 game

Would you recommend Final Fantasy XV at this stage?

At this early stage I can easily recommend Final Fantasy XV to players of Final Fantasy games in general. Since fans of the series will have watched the required media before picking up the game and usually don’t mind the HUGE time sink that is needed for Final Fantasy XV to become a full story. However it does come with a bit of a caveat: If you disliked any of the linear nature of previous entries of this series (*Cough*Final Fantasy XIII*cough*) then it might be worth waiting for a little while longer before dropping your money on Final Fantasy XV as the game does like to funnel you to go directly from Area 1 to Area 2 and so on. But this is not how Final Fantasy games are meant to be, you should be getting lost in all the side quests that Final Fantasy XV has to offer. The Bounties are everywhere, things like fishing are a joy to do, and you can just get lost in the characters banter for hours.

As for first time Final Fantasy players, I wouldn’t recommend Final Fantasy XV be your starting point as the requirement to have watched 4+ hours of supplementary material before even booting up the game is going to be a big turn off as you will be lost without it. Maybe give something like Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy VII or Final Fantasy IX a go first to see how these games have changed over the years, but also experience some of the best stories ever told in the JRPG medium. While Final Fantasy XV does open with the line “For Final Fantasy fans and first-timers”, Final Fantasy XV itself is far from something first-timers should be playing.

Final Fantasy XV actually has me enjoying fishing... FISHING!!
Final Fantasy XV actually has me enjoying fishing… FISHING!!

At this stage, I’m not too far into Final Fantasy XV as I’m doing side quests and taking my time exploring everything I can. I know a lot of places have either powered their way through the main bulk of the game or used the review document to supplement information in their reviews, leading to a very uninformed and sometimes biased experience. I do not want to give you, our readers, anything like that. I want to provide you with the best researched experience that I can muster… Even if it takes me another week or two to get myself so far into the game that I feel comfortable enough to give Final Fantasy XV the review it deserves. After all, we waited 10 years for Final Fantasy XV itself, so why not wait another week or so for the review.

Expect a full review of Final Fantasy XV, complete with video sometime in early December.