I feel like there are a lot of games I’ve waited a long time to play. For example, Starcraft II was in and out of development for 7 years. But the first trailer for Final Fantasy XV was released over ten years ago - and despite numerous rumors over the years that it had been canceled, the game was finally released this week.
When you start, it tells you it is “a Final Fantasy for fans and first-timers.” A lot has changed since the last Final Fantasy title came out in 2009. No longer is the game one where you select your attack or magic spell from a menu, and then wait your turn to watch the battle play out. Instead, the game has an active combat system more like what you would find in American role playing games. Instead of the mostly-linear gameplay of previous games, Final Fantasy XV has a more open world, all accessible by foot, car, or on the back of the series’ recurring giant birds, Chocobos.
But the story itself is classic Final Fantasy. Your character is Noctis, the prince of the Kingdom of Lucis. It is the last kingdom to stand up against the evil empire of Niflheim, through a magical shield created by a rare crystal. At the beginning of the game, Noctis is on a roadtrip with 3 of his friends when Niflheim invades Lucis, steals the crystal, and murders the king. It’s up to Noctis and his friends to repel Niflheim, but as is often the case with these games, there is an even larger, world-ending threat behind the more mundane one.
In front of the larger narrative, though, is the friendship between Noctis and his companions. It brings an intimacy to the story that keeps it grounded. At the end of every day in the game, they share their photographs and selfies. Some of them are scripted into the game, and some of them really do seem candid. You can save these, and view them at the end, to remember the long journey.
I’m not sure how much people that don’t like previous Final Fantasy titles will like this game, but for me, it’s exactly what I’ve been waiting 10 years for - and it has been worth the wait.