Worldbuilding and conclusion:
Last, but not least I want to talk about the World itself. In my opinion, the developer missed a lot of opportunities in this topic because he focused too much on copying other open-world-games and tried to distance themselves from classical Final Fantasy characteristics. I am aware that the world of Final Fantasy XV is supposed to be developed over different media. Nonetheless, it is necessary to give the player enough information and story inside of the game, so he will be able to understand the story and the characters. Sadly, in my opinion the game doesn’t deliver that amount of information about the world. At this point I want to remark that I haven’t watched neither the Anime nor Movie yet. As I stated before, in my opinion, that shouldn’t be necessary at all to understand. A game should be enough to give an overview of what is going on. After that other interactions can deepen the experience.
The basic problem I have with the world of Final Fantasy XV is the void. There are different themed places and a lot of items scattered around waiting to be found by the player. Different kinds of enemies can be found in the different, beautiful landscapes. But they remain empty. All those abandoned farms, crater and destroyed machines are pointing into a direction that is never pursued by the game. What is the background of this place? What happened here? The game never actually answers those questions and the items scattered around serving merely the purpose of crafting magic. Games like Skyrim or Dark Souls already showed how it is done. Placing items at the right spot and telling a story through them could have been done here perfectly.
Another problem was the missing interactivity with the environment. There were a few magazines you could look at and that explained the mythology a bit. The companions also were talking to you on the journey at some points and were saying their opinions and ideas about the places. Except that, nothing though. Instead of interaction with NPC’s you only could greet some people on the streets because they recognized the player as the prince. In my opinion this is a big step backwards. Compared with Final Fantasy games of the PSX-Era, where you could talk to most people in the towns, now just saying hello with a single button seems a little bit like the paying respect in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Absolutely meaningless. In former installations of the Franchise the people in the towns were talking about their lives in the game-world or even added humor to the game. Here the characterizations were marginal and only through the bigger side-missions you could get some small information about characters and the world. For me that wasn’t enough to get to know the world and its inhabitants.
A last comparison I want to make here is with Final Fantasy X. Even though this isn’t the most liked installment of the series I enjoyed it a lot and it is one of my all-time favorites. Especially in the building of a proper story world Final Fantasy X does a way better job than XV and is a good comparison, because it has a journey as a similar theme. In the world of Spira (Final Fantasy X) there were countless information the player had to learn during the process of the game. Here the main character had a similar fate as the player himself. Because Tidus (Main character) was thrown into that world, he had to learn all about the summons, Trials, Blitzbal, races, wars, etc. by asking his companions or other characters in the world. Here the developer had an excellent Avatar that could ask all the questions the player had without creating a discrepancy. This blank canvas doesn’t exist in Final Fantasy XV. Still there could have been possibilities to make it similar. The point is, this time there were barely any information like that. They could have chosen a different approach instead of just leaving all the details out. After all, games like Skyrim and Fallout were able to do so too.
In conclusion, I would appraise this game with mixed feelings. In general I had a lot of fun with the game. The music, fighting-system and the feeling was mostly nice and immersive. Unfortunately the gameplay problems affected the fun I had and made some parts very frustrating and boring. The biggest critic I had were the story and the world and made this game mostly a disappointment to me. Until this day the Final Fantasy franchise created some of the best stories I’ve ever witnessed and exactly here Final Fantasy XV made the biggest mistakes. I could overlook this fact partly if this would be a new IP, but as a Final Fantasy it has to be compared to the predecessor and looses by a wide margin. In my opinion this is sadly the Final Fantasy with the most boring story ever.
Nonetheless, I do think the game itself isn’t bad and the developer should be praised for their bravery to try out new things. In an industry where games of a franchise barely differ anymore, this game tries to defy the known paradigms of its series. Especially the fighting-system was able to bring in a fresh new wind into the franchise. Surely it still needs some fine-tuning but should be continued by the developers and added with some variations to other games as well. The world is another point where they went into the right direction in my opinion. It looked stunning and beautiful. The atmosphere during a camp or a ride with the car or chocobo was mesmerizing. If only the world would have been filled more useful and logical it would have been much better. I have the feeling Square Enix still has some problems with “Next-Gen-Open-World-Games” and still has to learn a lot. But the way they are taking is a promising one and they shouldn’t stop pursuing this way. I’m looking forward to what this franchise will produce in the future. Even though they made mistakes I can picture them polishing this gameplay and reach the same height as in their old times.