games / Columns

The 8 Ball: Top 8 Great Things About Final Fantasy XV

February 7, 2017 | Posted by Marc Morrison

Welcome all to another edition of The 8 Ball. This week I’m here to solely talk about Final Fantasy XV, which is a pretty odd choice. I firmly believe that Final Fantasy XV is the best game in the franchise, at least of the “core” numbered series. To everyone who goes “Oh, Kefka this!” or “Sephiroth that!”, know, A. I don’t care (I’ll never care quite frankly), and B. I only started the franchise with FF 7, so anything before that is moot as far as I’m concerned. The only two Final Fantasy games that come close to FFXV are Crisis Core and Final Fantasy Type-O. While FFXV does fall apart near the end, it does off an insanely good experience for most of the game, even if the plot if nonsensical, and the names of characters and cities are rage-inducing. With all that said, let’s begin:

#8: Cooking

Say what you will, but the cooking/food system in FF 15 is actually pretty fun. It’s simple, and just involves you gathering the materials to make the meal at camp, but it does provide some very nice bonuses once you have them unlocked. Or, you could forego it, and just eat at restaurants, which also provide stat increases for you and your party. Whenever you go off on a big dungeon run, or a monster hunt, you always have to make sure you have the right meal prepared for it.

#7: Magic System

I know a lot of people didn’t like the magic system in the game, but I was not one of them. It is limiting at the start, when you can only create a few basic spells, but once you unlock a few more bottles and understand how mixing works, it becomes infinitely more useful. You can create fire spells that poison your enemies, or thunder spells that give you experience, or blizzard spells that can cause instant death to enemies. The magic system rewards experimentation and to see what happens when you mix ingredients with the fire, lightning and blizzard elements.

#6: Experience Breaking

This is a small thing, but I really enjoy how you can completely break the leveling system in the game and min-max what skills you want to go for. The way you break the system is by amassing a huge amount of experience, and going to sleep at Galdin Quay. The reason you sleep there is because it gives you a 2X bonus to your experience. So, if you saved 50,000 experience points, it will double to 100,000. In my case, I saved 105,000 experience, doubled it, and went from level 23 to 47 in one go around. I then went from level 51 to 62 in another rest period. Aside from story-related skills, the entire skill tree is unlocked, so you can really just buy what you want, and spec Noctis and his pals in any direction you really want.

#5: Humor

I will admit that Prompto can get a tad grating from time to time, but I really dug the humor the game has, both on the surface level and the more fourth-wall breaking stuff. The way Dino speaks is honestly hysterical, and the fact someone thought that was passable, is really great. While Prompto can be annoying, a lot of the times his humor works, and he comes across with Spider-Man like quip after he has defeated some enemies. Having Florence + The Machine doing a cover of “Stand By Me” is such a bizarrely funny moment, I couldn’t help but laugh. I also got a good chuckle of buying past Final Fantasy game soundtracks and listening to them in the car, and how it would enrage fanboy purists out there.

#4: Game Structure

This is an odd pick, but an important thing to note. What I mean by “game structure” is how FFXV’s structure is from beginning to end. In most Final Fantasy games, at least the ones I’ve generally played, they start off as highly linear affairs and over the course of dozens, do they finally open up, and you’re allowed to do side content. FFXV is the inverse of this, where it starts off in a huge world you can largely explore unhindered (aside from a few military bases), and as you play, boils down into complete linearity. Actually, with most games this is a gradual up or down motion, going from linear to non-linear, but in FFXV it is a hard turn with the game literally going “You won’t be coming back here again, so do the side content now.” It’s a really fascinating game decision that I hope is expanded on in the future of the franchise.

#3: Monster Hunts

It’s interesting to me that I find one of the best things about FF 15 to be the monster hunts, especially since prior to release I derisively referred to it as “a Monster Hunter game”. The difference between those games and FF 15 is that in here it is actually fun. You don’t have to spend 15 minutes hunting down a monster, and then having to worry if it’s going to escape to another zone, or none of that garbage. You’re just told to head to an area, and basically run around it till you see the highlighted monsters, and to kill them. It reminds me a lot of the bounty system from Crisis Core, where you could take on small, bite-sized missions to earn experience and money.

#2: Open World

This is related to my “Game Structure” pick, but slightly different. The openness of the world is a pretty impressive site, especially once you get through some of the military bases and can see more of the initial starting area. It’s not really the size of the area that impresses me, but also that there is some good side stuff for you to accomplish. Not just the monster hunts, but the fishing mini-game, the Justice Monsters game, Chocobo racing, and the extra dungeons, which you can generally access from the start of the game if you’re crazy enough, all make this a more lived-in world then most of the past Final Fantasy games.

#1: The General Combat System

To be, the best thing about the game is the combat, and that is without question. Combat feels weighty with big swords, and agile with daggers. You can switch weapons at the press of a button, and swap them out more detailed by going to the menu mid-battle, if you need to, to grab the right weapon against an enemy. Personally, I almost always used a great sword as it just felt impactful when you would hit an enemy with it and they would be stunned. I know it’s really not the traditional turn-based JRPG combat, but Final Fantasy hasn’t been like that for year anyway. If the combat is going to be the same as in the Final Fantasy VII remake, I will buy that thing on day one.

For comments, list which things about Final Fantasy XV you enjoy.

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The 8 Ball (Games), Marc Morrison