Warning: This article contains spoilers about the main story of Final Fantasy XV as well as its companions the Kingsglaive film and the Brotherhood anime.
Final Fantasy XV’s biggest strength is that I don’t know how to criticize it.
I’ve played a lot of Final Fantasy games over the years, including some of the less memorable games like Mystic Quest and Crystal Chronicles—though I’m sure the devoted fanbase of either will hate that I called their game “less memorable.” In every case I clearly remember what I liked and what I hated. The same is not as true with Final Fantasy XV.
I loved the original Final Fantasy, except for the Citadel of Trials and Tower of Mirage dungeons. Although many of my friends hated the Sunken Shrine, it was one of my favourite dungeons in the game. In Final Fantasy VI I loved the World of Ruin but I hated everything to do with Shadow and Mog.
But what about the story?
I reached the end of Final Fantasy XV’s story in 24 hours. I stopped doing side missions a few hours in and just played the main story. And yet, I can’t criticize FFXV for not having compelling side content, because the main story was too compelling to stop. I’ve seen complaints about many, many unanswered questions, like Gladio’s scar, but it never bothered me. I watched the Kingsglaive film and Brotherhood before playing the game. Although I can see the merit in the argument that the films were, at best, a weird way to present critical story elements, I also respect that Final Fantasy XV wasn’t bloated with excessive exposition or flashbacks to fill in those blanks.
And the plot holes? What about those?
That’s not to say the game was without plot holes or issues. I never understood Noctis’s dismissive attitude towards his father at the start of the game. I’d expected Noctis to enter the ring like Nyx did and speak to the old kings—maybe not being forced to convince them of his right to wield the ring, but at least to be able to speak to his father one last time. And I’m still really confused about just how the ring saps the strength of its wearer. Noctis knows this, right? Why does he never address it before actually wearing the ring? Also, Gladio’s scar, Ignis’s blindness, and Promoto’s barcode weren’t expanded on enough. If Square Enix uses paid DLC to “finish” the story, I might have a legitimate complaint.
Is there a “but” coming? I feel like it’s about to say “But…”
But for whatever flaws Final Fantasy XV may have, the game is fun to play. Combat and exploration are fun. Trying to set up cool shots for Prompto is fun. I was doing a night hunt once when Magitek troops dropped from the sky and demons spawned from the ground. When the dust settled and I’d completed my hunt, it felt like I’d really accomplished something.
I also enjoyed the complicated relationship Noctis and company had with Ardyn, even if I didn’t always understand what Ardyn was up to. At the end, though, Ardyn’s story worked for me. I had no questions about his motives or his goals. He was, really, a perfect villain.
So why did I stop after only 24 hours?
When I bought Skyrim on PS3 I put more than 300 hours into it and never actually beat the game. When I buy multiplayer games like Call of Duty or Don’t Starve Together, I look at the amount of hours I am going to get and value the game in that way. But at 24 hours, Final Fantasy XV doesn’t feel like a waste. I’m not interested in beating Adamantoise or collecting ultimate weapons. I didn’t even play for the Moogle event that’s going on. I turned the game on to collect some screenshots for this article and realized I will never play it again. As I remember it now, I’d rank Final Fantasy XV pretty high in my overall Final Fantasy game rankings.
I think that despite any flaws the game has, I enjoyed my 24 hours with it so much that I can appreciate everything it was good for, and ignore the bad. Kind of like a reverse No Man’s Sky.