I did my waiting! 10 years of it, waiting for this day to come and it finally did.
Having been in development since 2006, FFXV did not have a steady ride to where it is today, even changing out the original director and character designer, Tetsuya Nomura for Hajime Tabata. However, all that seems to be for the better as FFXV breaks the mold of traditional Final Fantasy games packed with an overly-convoluted and complex storyline.
Jumping Right Into It
My biggest regret was not being able to take time off work to fully enjoy all FFXV has to offer so here are some words of advice – take the week off if you must, it is worth it. With that being said, Square Enix has outdone themselves on FFXV from its Active Cross Battle (ACB) System to travelling across the region of Eos as you aim to complete all the side quests even before getting into the gist of the main storyline.
The story unfolds with Noctis and his band of loveable yet mildly annoying friends with snide comments (which somewhat reminds me of my own group of friends) – Gladioulus, Ignis and Prompto as you make your way through Eos to retrieve the lost weapons of Lucii, which belonged to the ancient kings of Lucis. Along the way, Noct and his friends will encounter various beasts, daemons and foes alike while still being able to enjoy long journey car rides with running commentary; shopping, cooking and eating Ignis’ new recipes or taking wefies thanks to Prompto’s superior photography skills.
The point lead game designer Wan Azmer – who is Malaysian by the way – was trying to implement into the game is how players would actually take roadtrips with friends that comes along with an adventure of its own, witty banter and the like and on that front, has pulled off perfectly.
Fight All The Beasts
Changing the pace from the Active Time Battle (ATB) System that was first introduced in FFIV, FFXV has since come a long way with its new and improved ACB System, which is more than just your average hack-n-slash battle system; the guys over at Square Enix made sure of it. Every beast and daemon has different weaknesses so being able to plan your weapons and elemental magic on-the-fly is a crucial part of your strategy.
Another great feature that comes with the ACB System is the ability to pair up with your pals who will have a range of special abilities that can make your a battles a lot easier, called Links. One key skill to have in your arsenal is definitely Ignis’ ‘Regroup’ ability, which grants full HP and MP regeneration while forming a close circle around Noct. This allows you to plan your next move of attack without having your allies in the crossfire.
Aside from normal attacks, Noct also comes with an ability called Warp Strike; it allows you to blink towards an enemy to cause considerable damage, which could break an appendage of a foe, leading to higher damage output. You could also warp to various areas on the battlefield called Warp Points, where you can regenerate HP and MP while being invulnerable to attacks.
A great combination would be to start the Warp Strike with a Greatsword or Polearm and following it up with a flurry of attacks from a Sword or Daggers to deal the most damage in a short amount of time.
One way to get the most out of Noct and his friends is through the Ascension tree where you will spend ability points (AP) to unlock greater abilities to use in and out of combat. Being the game’s main skill tree, the Ascension section allows for a wide range of abilities to be unlocked, some of which will also grant you experience points (EXP) and even more AP. You could be fishing, driving around or riding on a Chocobo, all these everyday activities could land you more AP than you could imagine!
One core element of FFXV is the roadtrip you take with your friends – depending on which side of the fence you’re on, it could be really entertaining or just a complete waste of time while your brain slowly turns into mush – where you can travel to all sorts of different outposts, towns and cities around Eos. As you journey around the vast open world, you will encounter various side quests to fulfill for non-playable characters (NPCs), take part in hunts provided by owners of the diner and also do battle with random enemies.
All this accumulates to gaining EXP, which can be pooled to a significant amount before being tallied up and gaining a higher level. The only way for this to happen to actually spend the night at ‘Havens’, which are campsites located all around Eos or spending Gil at an inn. A good tactic that has worked out for me so far is to amass a large amount of EXP (I had about 100,000 worth), save up 10,000 Gil and spend the night at the inn located at Galdin Quay. However, you should only do this once you reach level 10, otherwise moving forward with the main storyline will be rather difficult.
When on the road, you will also come across procurement points where you can pick up random items all around that could be consumable items like Potions, cooking ingredients, equipment for your team or even ore’s that can then be used on the Regalia to give it a fresh and new look. However, be sure not to travel at night as that is when more dangerous and high levels daemons will be roaming about so if you want to avoid digging yourself into a grave, best to keep to the outposts and towns during the night until you’re at a sufficient level (I had to wait until I was above level 30 and even then it was a tough fight wandering about at night).
The only problem I have with the roadtrips is its fast travel option, which appears when you are too far from your desired destination that the game allows you to fast travel to said destination for only 10 Gil (sounds like a fair deal, no?). What it fails to mention is the long loading time in-between the travel that makes me want to gauge my eyes out and feed it to my neighbour’s cat (it meows incessently throughout the night, ruining my quality time with the game). Aside from that, there is barely any loading screen time for a game that actually takes up almost 60GB worth of space on my PS4!
Relive The Classics
I speak on behalf of all Final Fantasy fans when they say that one of the most memorable moments of their favourite game would be the music score. As a fan of FFVII and FFIX, the music score on both games take me back to a time where life was a lot simpler, responsibilities were at a minimum and the only time you got your heart broken was when you would lose in said game and not through the cold embrace of a significant other (I had a very difficult childhood, let’s leave it at that).
The leading composer for FFXV is Yoko Shimomura, who was also in charge of the music score for the Kingdom Hearts series (another personal favourite of mine). The music is spot-on as it blends exceptionally well into the game, switching between battle sequences and adventuring perfectly. Every outpost and town also comes with its own unique music score, giving every location its own identity to the game.
A throwback that Square Enix saw fit to put into the game is giving players the chance to purchase the soundtracks of the previous Final Fantasy games where they can then listen and reminisce along to whilst driving around. Imagine listening to the tunes of the older Final Fantasy games while cruising around in the Regalia, how great does that sound right! (I’m actually guilty for doing that in real life too. Yes I am single and very much available, save me, please.)
Eat Anything and Everything
A good rule of thumb to follow is to never play FFXV during the middle of the night or when you’re starving. This is because of the realism that has been implemented into the game, from the forests to the vast land you are travelling and even to the food! Malaysians in particular will be particular pleased with the food served in FFXV as one town – which I will not name because I can – serves up our very own local delicacies like Roti Canai, Satay and even Chicken Rice!
Thanks to the input of Wan Azmer, Malaysian delicies will be noticed throughout the world for gamers who will actually pay attention to what they are eating. Mind you, having a meal in FFXV will cost you quite a bit of Gil so it’s best to actually head out to your neighbourhood mamak to get your fill before actually having it in the game.
A Happy Kid Once Again
I can still remember the childlike wonders and happiness I had when I completed the old Final Fantasy games on the PS1 and PS2. FFXV has brought me back there once again and I am not even halfway done with it! Suffice to say, Square Enix have really knocked it out of the park; whether it’s the battle system, the straightforward storyline, the attention-to-detail on graphics or just the little throwbacks like music, my faith in them has since been restored and I am patiently – although it won’t last long – waiting for the FFVII remake as well as Kingdom Hearts 3.