Years ago, if you would’ve asked me what my favorite RPG series was, I would’ve without hesitation said Final Fantasy. There was always a palpable excitement when one of these games was on the precipice of being released. Hell, you had me intrigued the moment a teaser trailer made its way online or screenshots were leaked. This was due mainly to the fact that the first game that was physically bought by someone else other than my parents in my youth was Final Fantasy IV. Needless to say, once I got a taste of the sprawling open world and precocious villains, I was hooked. Recent history however, has made me skeptical and wonders if Final Fantasy XV could be the last game in the acclaimed series, we could see for a while.
For those not following the development of Final Fantasy XV, this game has been a LOOOOOONG time coming. And I mean long. Originally, this game was going to be released shortly after FFXIII as part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series, under the title Final Fantasy Versus XIII. However, this was announced way back in 2006. A few teasers every now and then were distributed primarily to tell fans that this game was still being developed. But from 2006 to now, the Final Fantasy series has taken some bumps and bruises to its acclaimed reputation. Final Fantasy XIII wasn’t a bad game, but it deviated from the open world aspect that was a staple in the series. It also featured a fairly complicated battle system, fairly uninteresting characters, aside from the lead protagonist Lightning, and it also had an ending that required not one direct sequel, but two. FFXIV also saw its release and it was, for lack of a better term, a shit show. The game was a failure at its launch that required the whole game to be scrapped and repackaged, finally being released as Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn, which to its credit, was a better game, but the damage had already been done. Also released was Final Fantasy Type-0, a mobile game that eventually had an HD release on consoles. The reviews were mixed; check Metacritic to see what I mean.
With all of this being said, a bombshell was dropped last year at E3, the long awaited Final Fantasy XV was going to release sometime in 2016. Just recently, it was announced that the game would release in September and with that announcement came a demo. Now, demos have been released in the past for damn near all Final Fantasy games to give gamers just enough fuel for the long wait. Just enough to get you hooked and excited for the next iteration of Final Fantasy, needless to say, I came away fairly impressed
As expected the demo featured the gorgeous visuals that was frequently on display in the trailers, the animation is gorgeous and the scale of the some of the environments and summoned monsters (Leviathan especially) was seriously impressive. The action sequences of the demo were fairly well done as well, unlike previous iterations its heavy on the action, giving you the ability to switch between weapons and magic on the fly to deliver devastating combos. This is really on display in the last part of the demo, where you are given a glimpse of what Noctis will be able to do during the full game. Everybody and every game from now on needs a warp sword because it just makes dodging and attacking that much more awesome.
Putting the positivity of the demo aside, a simple question still remains. Is the game going to be good? There is so much potential in Final Fantasy XV, its mind boggling. Open world environments look to be seeing a triumphant return, the action in the game looks fast paced and frantic, the story looks to be engaging, everything is shaping up for the series to bounce back from recent follies. It needs too; Square Enix’s flagship franchise has been on a downward descent in recent years. There aren’t many fond memories that people can allude too when speaking of FFXIII, FFXIV, and Type-0. It’s even been reported that Final Fantasy XV will need to sell over 10 million copies because of the development time of 10+ years. Feasibly, the only way I see this happening is if the game is a critical darling. No lifting the review embargo the day before release, it needs to impress early to attract fans and non-fans alike. It’s difficult going against the grain and if it fails, then this may be the last Final Fantasy for quite some time.