I’m gonna do something a little different: I’m not going to sit here and tell you how great Final Fantasy 15 is. We spent an entire podcast talking about how hype we were for the game, and to get this out of the way: So far, it’s great. It really is. I’m really enjoying it so far and I’m actually taking a break from playing it right now just so that I can write this article.
Instead, I think it might be a better idea to talk about the things about the game so far that bug me. I feel like, especially from Low Five, the next little while is going to be a lot of jerking it to how great FF15 is so I think it’s only fair that we start with a little constructive criticism. Bearing that in mind:
The Battle System is Still Pretty Wonky
So, the last Final Fantasy I played before Fifteen was Twelve. Twelve is notable as being the first one to look at the turn-based battle system and go, “Nah.” What got implemented was a really uncomfortable compromise between turn-based and action-oriented battle. You controlled only one party member, and the others worked using things called “Gambits” which were basically like…rudimentary coding, I guess? Like, lots of if/then statements that allowed the AI to do what you wanted it to do.
This is removed from FF15. Instead, the AI sorta does its own thing unless you interject and tell it to do a Technique, which is basically just a special attack. This system works a lot better than Gambits (mostly because Gambits were an absolute garbage fire) but is not without its flaws.
So, if we think of FF12 as being 50/50 between menu combat and action combat, FF15 is more like 70/30. I personally think that if they’re going to commit to an action-based battle system that they should just commit. The problem with being 30% menus is that the battle’s fluidity gets broken up every thirty or forty seconds because I need to open a sub-menu. The problem with this is especially egregious because certain important aspects of battle (namely switching out your weapons from a D-pad hotbar or crafting a spell) is buried in the main pause menu of the game. And it’s something that you have to do in way too many battles to not be streamlined.
You regain health by hanging off the side of buildings. You have two health bars (current health and maximum health) that can both sustain damage. It’s odd. Once you get used to it it’s fine, but it’s definitely not on the level which I’d like an action game to be.
The Aesthetic is…Weird
So, two caveats to this one. First, I’m only a few hours into the game, and I’m doing every sidequest I can. I just got to the second area. For Greg’s sake I guess I’ll throw a spoiler tag here: I’m going to talk a little bit about the second area of the game.
So the second area is like this magical wetland. It’s big, it’s green, it’s luscious. This is the first time that we start to see monsters with some scale as well. A chunk of the creatures are gigantic, and they’re all very fantasy-based. It’s very Lord of the Rings.
The first area of the game is Texas.
And not even like, fantasy Texas. It’s literally a highway, some rocky scrubland, and a couple gas stations. You are waited on by a curly-haired blonde girl with enormous boobs and a comically overwrought southern drawl. And right next to it, connected by the same highway, is a lush, magical marshland. To be fair, this distinction is justified by the story, but there’s definitely some dissonance associated with driving the car from one area to the next.
- Driving around takes a long time and feels like it doesn’t serve an important enough purpose
- The crafting of consumable magic frustrates me. I’d rather get weaker spells that I can keep forever.
- I’ve had some glitches associated with quest triggers. Namely a couple of mini-map markers triggered too early without the associated part of the quest, meaning that I have a marker pointing to nothing and somewhere out there is a quest trigger that I can’t find (I did eventually find it.)
- I think it’d be nice to have a bit wider variation in character design. It’s a little hard to tell who’s who, particularly in battle or if you’re all wearing similar outfits. This isn’t especially egregious, but greater variations in hair and outfit color would make it a little easier to distinguish one person from the other.
That’s all I can think of for now. So…y’know, I’m gonna go play more Final Fantasy.