Final Fantasy XV was released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and later ported to PC. This is the last mainline entry in the Final Fantasy series as of this writing.
The game is set in the world of Eos, which is divided between four nations: Lucis (on the giant landmass), Accordo (on the southern island), Niflheim (the technologically advanced empire in the west) and Tenebrae (a land in the west ruled by a priestess called the Oracle who communicates with gods).
The natural world of Eos is guarded by six divine beings called the Astrals (which are based on summoned monsters from throughout the Final Fantasy series).
The Astrals were tasked with protecting Eos, and during the Great War of Old in the ancient civilization of Solheim, a patron of the Astrals named Ifrit planned to destroy humanity, prompting the Astrals to kill Ifrit. Thanks to Ifrit’s evil, Solheim was destroyed by the Starscourge, a plague that absorbs light and turns people into daemons. It’s the Oracle’s job to stop the Starscourge from spreading.
Noctis Lucis Caelum, prince of Lucis whose father died in the Niflheim invasion and main protagonist.
Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, an oracle and former princess of Tenebrae who is engaged to Noctis in marriage.
Gladiolus Amicitia, scion of the family that is sworn to protect Noctis.
Ignis Scientia, a military tactician and advisor to Noctis.
Prompto Argentum, friend of Noctis who is of a lower social class.
Cor Leonis, a warrior who guides Noctis.
Iris Amicitia, Gladiolus’s sister.
Cid Sophiar, a mechanic and old friend of Noctis’s father, and Cindy Aurum, his granddaughter who is also a mechanic.
Ardyn Izunia, imperial chancellor and main antagonist.
Ravus Nox Fleuret, high commander of Niflheim’s army and Lunafreya’s brother.
Verstael Besithia, head researcher of the empire.
Aranea Highwind, mercenary dragoon who serves Niflheim.
Gentiana, Lunafreya’s attendant.
Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII, king of Lucis and father of Noctis.
Final Fantasy XV was directed by Hajime Tabata (director of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy Type-0 and Kingdom Hearts Coded). The writing was divided between Saori Itamuro, Akiko Ishibashi, Takumi Nishida and Kazushige Nojima. Art direction was by Tomohiro Hasegawa, Yusuke Naora and Isamu Kamikokuryo. Tetsuya Nomura was the lead character designer.
The new Active Cross Battle system allowed for commands assigned to buttons on the controller such as “Attack,” “Defend” and “Item” as opposed to menu-based commands.
A Threat Meter appears on the top of the screen and grows in intensity the closer you get to enemies, which was a nice new warning feature.
Characters gain experience from defeating enemies but they can only gain levels from that experience after resting at safe zones called “Havens,” which could be inns or campsites. You lose all the experience you gained after your last level-up if you are defeated in battle.
It’s fitting that this is the last game I discuss in my series of Final Fantasy articles because it may have the most interesting history of all the Final Fantasy games.
This game started out as a spin-off of Final Fantasy XIII called Final Fantasy Versus XIII for PS3 as part of the Fabula Novis Crystallis Final Fantasy spin-off series. Tetsuya Nomura was the original director and scenario writer and it was being developed by the same team behind Kingdom Hearts. It was intended as a darker entry than what would normally be allowed in a main entry Final Fantasy game.
The main concept was a “fantasy based on reality,” featuring a world similar to ours but with fantasy elements, leading to in-game worlds in this Final Fantasy title based on locations such as Japan, Italy and the Bahamas.
The project suffered from a troubled and prolonged development and was re-hauled into a mainline entry for next-gen consoles instead of on the PS3. The development team was reshuffled after the game engine switched from Crystal Tools to Luminous Studio, and Nomura was replaced as the game’s director with Hajime Tabata.
Reception of the game was mostly favorable. Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi called it his favorite game of 2016, and so did a number of other game developers. The story was less complex than other recent FF entries (which is a good thing in my opinion) and the graphics were mesmerizing, the most realistic of any Final Fantasy game to date.
The only real criticisms were aimed at the story regarding some thinly written characters and some linear gameplay. Although to the point of the former, there were some films and other spin-offs which added depth to the story of the video game, for whatever that’s worth.
It was not a perfect game but it was not a bad game either. I just hope that the Final Fantasy series doesn’t go down a rabbit hole of emphasis on graphical power over fun factor. It almost plagued the previous game like a Starscourge, and the last three FF games following the PS2 game Final Fantasy XII all suffered slightly more in quality.
It is nowhere near a terrible series yet, but it is trending low compared to what Final Fantasy showed it was capable of in the nineties and early 2000s. Don’t be hypnotized by game engines. They are great tools, but good graphics do not make a game fun.