E3 2016 has come and gone, and we learned a lot about the upcoming release of Final Fantasy XV. The reason being, the game is finally set to come out in the next few months, with its official release date set for this September! The trailers have shown a Final Fantasy world unlike any we’ve seen in previous games, taking place in an environment that looks pretty similar to modern-day Western society. The graphics look great, the fighting style looks fresh and exciting, and it just looks like an all around great experience.
Even though each Final Fantasy is often extremely different from the prior entries in the franchise, fans have still come to enjoy some traits in the series that they’d like to see continue. We’re not just talking about Chocobos and Moogles (though we are glad that both are confirmed for the game). We want a game that takes the best concepts of what worked in the past and learns from the mistakes of previous stumbling blocks.
It’s only a few short months until we all get our hands on the game, but that still leaves time to hope for some changes along the way, so here are the 15 Things We Want to See in Final Fantasy XV.
15 PRACTICAL USE FOR THE VIRTUAL REALITY
This year’s E3 made a big thing of virtual reality being integrated into a lot of the upcoming games. We’ve come a long way since the Virtual Boy, and the Oculus Rift has gotten a lot of gamers interested in giving immersive gaming another go. Sony, in particular, was playing up the number of their games that were going to have virtual reality as an option integrated into the experience. And yes, Final Fantasy XV made that list of games.
It’ll surely be cool to be able to do fights and talk to characters in first person, but it’s still pretty questionable how practical it will be. When you’re attacked by enemies, will using first person make you more vulnerable to being hit from angles you can’t see, or have a harder time spotting if your party members are in trouble? Virtual reality is an intriguing gimmick, but we want it to be useful too. For that to happen, using the VR has to play as smooth as it would if you weren’t using it, or even better, offer some additional advantages to the new perspective.
14 NO EMO PROTAGONISTS
As much as everyone enjoys the Final Fantasy franchise, there’s no denying the protagonists can be pretty mopey at times. Cloud, in particular, is singled out as the starting point for when protagonists in the series became pretty angst-ridden. There’s nothing wrong with characters going through dark periods and reacting appropriately to dramatic moments, but it can definitely feel monotonous at some point. Especially since other characters have been similarly moody in other Final Fantasy games, like Squall in VIII, and Tidus and his father issues in X.
X-2 gets a lot of flak, but at least it showed why Yuna and her friends fought so hard to save Spira in the previous game. The main trio enjoyed doing silly activities and making corny jokes, just like real friends would. Whatever your opinion on the game, it definitely wasn’t a story you could call depressing. Now, maybe XV doesn’t have to be quite that light-hearted, but this is still the story about four friends looking for adventure together. Nobody wants to hang out with someone who’s perpetually in moody teenager mode, so even if the plot does go dark, let’s see it balanced with the characters enjoying life as well.
13 NO AREAS MADE OF "HALLWAY" BATTLES
While Final Fantasy X is still one of the most beloved entries of the franchise, one aspect people have come to criticize, in retrospect, is that the majority of the journey is basically like walking down a hallway fighting enemies. Sure, you travel through different areas, but it’s just always going forward and stopping at the occasional safe haven. It felt like the whole world was just laid out like one big game board where you had to get to the other side. And as for Final Fantasy XIII, that’s where the “hallways” really irked fans to the point that many people now consider it the worst entry in the entire franchise.
Again, people criticized Final Fantasy X-2, but one great thing it did? Immediately let you travel anywhere you wanted in the game. It really felt like an open world full of adventure. And Final Fantasy XV looks like it’s capturing that same open world philosophy, where there’s a main objective driving you forward, but you aren’t so confined to that goal that you don’t have time for a few detours along the way. Hopefully, what we’ve seen in the trailers and demos holds true for the entire game, and there’s not a sudden switch to hours of running in a straight line while being jumped by magic Flans.
12 INCENTIVE TO CHECK OUT THE ANIME AND MOVIE
The Wachowskis have some great ideas, as anyone who’s seen the original Matrix can attest to, but their ambition sometimes exceeds their ability. That was the case following the first Matrix film, which was meant to innovate by being a multimedia experience. What does that mean? Well, you know how many people think there were only two Matrix sequels? There weren’t. Every aspect of media relating to the Matrix was canon and contributing to the same story, meaning to get the complete experience, you had to watch the movies, watch the anime, and play the video games to find out everything that happens in the story. Yeah, that kind of explains why a lot of people got confused after the first one.
But hey, it was a cool idea. And with some refinement, it could work. Which is why it’s intriguing that Square Enix seems to be trying a similar thing with Final Fantasy XV. The anime is serving as a prequel to the game, while Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is an upcoming movie with a parallel narrative to the game. So obviously, skipping the anime or movie could lead to players missing out on a lot of story. What’s the best way to make sure people don’t make that mistake? Simple—make them both good! A big reason a lot of people never played the Matrix canon game Enter the Matrix was because it was terrible.
11 AN ANTAGONIST WHO ISN'T TRYING TO BE SEPHIROTH OR KEFKA
Yes, Sephiroth and Kefka are two of the most-liked antagonists in video games. The hundreds of Sephiroth-related usernames online should be indication of that. And at the time, yeah, they were pretty original ideas. But as years have gone by, endless fan-fiction has refused to leave the two villains alone, and killing gods became commonplace in video games, both antagonists have worn out their welcome somewhat. The remake for Final Fantasy VII is exciting, and we’re happy to see Sephiroth brought back for a modern audience, but he doesn’t need any imitators in XV… or any other game out there.
We haven’t heard as much about the big villain of Final Fantasy XV, but there are plenty of ways to create an intimidating, interesting antagonist without giving them a god complex. Whether it’s a political adversary, an ally turned bad, or the dozens of other characters archetypes out there, the game can easily feature a fresher idea and make it just as memorable. Not everything has to be an all-powerful villain bent on destroying the planet. Maybe tone it down to just destroying a country or two for a change.
10 CO-OP GAME PLAY AT SOME POINT
This is one that unfortunately appears to be confirmed not to happen. But just because that’s true for the time being doesn’t mean it can never change. Who wouldn’t want to see co-op gameplay as an option at some point? With how fast-paced the action looks in Final Fantasy XV, it looks like it would be a great time to share with some friends. And with a game centered on the friendship of the four characters, getting to recreate that in real life would go along with the theme.
XV is already confirmed to be getting DLC in the future, and we’re sure extra missions and items will be part of that, but refining the experience of the game as a whole should also be a priority. Square Enix has shown they have the interest and ability for letting players fight alongside each other in their MMO Final Fantasy titles, so why not bring a similar experience into XV?
9 ELEGANT STORYTELLING
It should really go without saying, but if we’re going to be plunking down 50 or more hours into a single player story-driven game, it needs to be pretty interesting. One of the main reasons people play RPGs is because they know they’ll be getting a deeper story experience than your average action game. We want something that makes us feel, that makes us care, and something we’ll just plain understand without needing to Google the story. And yes, that last point is a reference to Final Fantasy XIII.
While we’ve praised Final Fantasy X-2 in portions of this list, this entry is the big one where it lives up to its negative critics due to a story that barely has any drama or tension. But at the same time, we don’t want something that flies right over to the other end of the spectrum and drowns in its own melancholy. Just give us a simple story that has some emotional weight and a satisfying ending and it’s hard to go wrong.
8 CHARACTERS WEARING CLOTHES PEOPLE CAN ACTUALLY AFFORD TO BUY IN REAL LIFE
Cosplaying can’t be looked at as some fringe activity anymore. People of all ages have come to enjoy dressing up as their favorite characters at any time during the year, so it only makes sense for companies to embrace that community. Square Enix has done just that in making Final Fantasy XV, dressing their characters in clothes that are available from the real life fashion line Roen. So even if you aren’t good at making outfits, now you can still look like your favorite characters from the game by purchasing their outfits.
The one little problem with this fun idea? The clothes are enormously expensive. As in one article of clothing could pay for a two-week vacation somewhere. Do you like the leather vest worn by Prompto in XV? No problem, you can own that—if you have $2,100. Sheesh. And these characters fight in those things? You’d think they’d be scared of losing a fortune the first time an enemy scratched them. The clothes are cool and everything, but how about putting out something a little more affordable?
7 AI ALLIES THAT ARE RELIABLE
There’s nothing worse in games that give you allies than the AI of your friends making them just as much of a challenge as the enemies. There are plenty of infamous examples in which on-screen buddies have been a pain, such as with Ashley in Resident Evil 4 and her total lack of defense, or Sheva in the sequel Resident Evil 5 and her obsession with wasting ammo.
Final Fantasy XV is about the friendship of the four main party members, so nothing would ruin that quicker for a player than your allies being a hassle to manage. Unlike in previous Final Fantasy games, it looks like your allies will be on-screen with you at all times. So here’s hoping the path finding on your friends never becomes an issue to where you have to stop to get them unstuck from pieces of the environment. And most importantly, if the other party members will be defending themselves in battle, it would be great to be able to depend on them to make smart decisions and not waste your best items at every opportunity.
6 FEMALE CHARACTERS WITH AN IMPACT ON THE STORY
One of the most immediately noticeable things about Final Fantasy XV was that this was a game where the spotlight was going to be on the guys. Fans were surprised when it was revealed that no female characters would be in the main group of the game, since Final Fantasy titles are usually pretty diverse in their party members. But turnabout is fair play, and X-2 did have a focus on a trio of women for the adventure, so you can’t really argue against male characters having one game in the series focused on them as well.
Regardless of who the main party members are, though, that doesn’t mean we don’t want to see any women making an impact in the game. After all, X-2 did focus on Yuna, Rikku, and Paine, but the heart of the story was still about the search for Tidus. We already know XV will have Cindy to help the protagonists, and she’ll undoubtedly be popular among cosplayers and, well, for other obvious reasons. But we really want to see her and the other women of the game have a strong role in shaping events of the story. The more perspectives you get contributing to a story, the more it feels like a real world, and Final Fantasy games have always been good about that.
5 A COMPLETE GAME EVEN BEFORE THE DLC COMES OUT
This has increasingly become a concern for modern games, as downloadable content has become the norm, but it’s a valid one. Sometimes, it feels like game companies put out games they know are unfinished just for the sake of capitalizing off a profitable holiday season, and then they fall back on the promise of DLC and patches to fix whatever the problems are. In fighting games in particular, it’s almost worth just waiting a year until after the initial release so you can buy the game with a complete roster, balanced characters, and extra stages.
Square Enix has been pretty good with not doing that to fans, although they have gotten a little trigger happy with the sequels, especially after Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy XIII. But there’s no talk of XV-2 yet, thankfully, and simply more DLC, which sounds fine. Though hopefully Square Enix doesn’t pull a Fallout 3 or Mass Effect 3 and finish the story on such a bad note that fans pretty much demand DLC to fix it. Just do it right the first time.
4 GREAT MINI GAMES LIKE BLITZBALL
It doesn’t matter how close the world is to ending, your friends are to dying, or how powerful the evil god antagonist has become—there’s always time to stop and blitz. Or at least if you’re a Final Fantasy character. Sure, narratively it’s a bit jarring to stop for fun during the mission to save everyone, but it’s still entertaining. Sometimes, it just gets a little tedious fighting monsters all the time and you want to vary it up. That’s what mini-games are for, and the series has had some good ones.
For some, the mini-games even wind up being their favorite part of the experience. A lot of people consider Blitzball to be one of the best parts of playing Final Fantasy X. And yeah, it’s not for everyone, but they’re harmless enough since they’re usually optional (except for the mandatory Blitzball match in X, but losing that doesn’t effect anything but your pride). Since XV has vehicles, some racing mini games would make sense. And there’s got to be Chocobos to raise since we know they’ve returned. Final Fantasy has some big worlds, so we want plenty to do in them.
3 BATTLES IN THE VEHICLES
This is another one we’ve already been told won’t happen, but it sounds too fun not to hope it will be implemented at some point anyway. We have cars and flying vehicles now! How can there never even be one fight involving those scenarios, getting to fight a boss while cruising down the highway. And fighting in a plane as the countryside flies past far below? Something like that would be a standout moment in the game for sure.
We haven’t seen anything quite as ambitious in Final Fantasy as fighting a battle in a vehicle the player was controlling, although we have seen similar circumstances. There have been fights involving trains, and of course the fight against Sin on the airship in Final Fantasy X. Final Fantasy XV looks like it’s trying to innovate quite a bit, so why not go the extra mile in one of the DLC packs and throw in a big clash involving some fast-paced action on the road or in the air?
2 A PC PORT
Console exclusives are always frustrating for fans who have a followed a series for years only to find it has suddenly been claimed with an allegiance to one console or another. There have been plenty of examples in recent years, like Bayonetta 2 becoming a Wii U exclusive, or Rise of the Tomb Raider being a timed exclusive for the Xbox One. It’s something we’ve come to expect of games featuring mascot characters like Nintendo’s Mario, but when modern systems all of a sudden try to claim a series as an exclusive, fans don’t respond well.
Fortunately, something Square Enix has proven good about recently is giving PC users inclusive access to their games. Final Fantasy IX and the HD international port of X/X-2 have both recently become available for PC users. Though when it comes to XV, so far only the PS4 and Xbox One have been guaranteed a chance to play the game. Square hasn’t totally ruled out a PC port, so though we might have to wait a bit longer for it, hopefully computer users get their hands on the game too.
1 REDEMPTION FOR FINAL FANTASY XIII
Yes, one of the biggest things to overcome with Final Fantasy XV is going to be the disappointing outing of the previous single-player entry in the franchise, Final Fantasy XIII. Visually, the game looked great. But as we’ve alluded to in several of the previous entries, that game had problems. So many problems in fact, that some fans of the series consider it the worst entry in the franchise. Between its stretches of battles taking place on a linear pathway, its story that took too long to start becoming clear to the player, and a lot of people finding Lightning to be an uninteresting protagonist, the game simply had a lot of issues in the eyes of the fan base.
As we’ve mentioned, each Final Fantasy is so distinct that it’s silly to assume that one bad game in the franchise would have any effect on the next one since they’re each building their own world, characters, and battle system. But the thing is, if XV winds up being bad all on its own, how much faith would people lose in the company to turn out two disappointing single-player Final Fantasies in a row? Square Enix has some good will to earn back, but fortunately, it’s looking like XV will have no problem doing that.
What are you looking forward to seeing in Final Fantasy XV before it releases this September? Tell us about it in the comments, and share how you think it will compare to previous entries in the franchise!