This week, Final Fantasy XV. Next week, The Last Guardian. I don’t know if we’ve traveled into the future or the past, but whenever we are it’s a good time to be a fan of long-awaited projects from famous Japanese game makers. Final Fantasy XV entered into production when George W. Bush was president of the United States and today, it finally hits store shelves. It advertises itself as an experience geared towards newcomers and old fans alike, and it looks terribly pretty in what we’ve all seen so far. Early reviews have been positive: people report some unwieldiness and missed opportunities, but overall people are saying that this is a big, beautiful game with heart and ambition.
Final Fantasy XV is an open world RPG, using a modified real-time combat system that attempts to communicate the classic flavor of Final Fantasy battles with more immediacy and action. The player controls Prince Noctis and his companions in their quest to save the Kingdom of Lucis. Expect Chocobos, expect crystals, expect a sprawling adventure: for all the changes that took place in the ten year development cycle, this still very much has the feeling of a Final Fantasy game.
I’ll be curious to see how this performs. Final Fantasy remains a hugely recognizable name in gaming overall, even if the brand has lost a bit of its shine over the years. I expect it to do very well in Japan, with success something along the lines of Metal Gear Solid 5 in the US. JRPGs aren’t as popular as they once were, but ten years is a long time to build up excitement. Releasing any game at all after such a protracted development cycle, and as Duke Nukem will attest, releasing something that manages to keep both its gameplay, identity and soul intact is even harder. By all accounts, Final Fantasy XV has done this, and I’m excited to dive on in to what seems like one wild road trip.