Why I’d Rather Set My Hair On Fire Than Play Final Fantasy XV
I’m the biggest Final Fantasy fan in the world. Or at least one of the biggest. I will admit I was finally forced to abandon the bandwagon when the absolutely horrific Lightning Returns arrived but that doesn’t change one overriding fact: There is no other franchise that has given me more hours of entertainment and joy, or more fond memories, than my beloved FF.
Or rather, once-beloved.
For the longest time, I was one of a staunch group of supporters who believed Square Enix could pull off FFXV. After all, they’d had, what 8 years to get this freakin’ thing ready? It began its life as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, of course, and there were plenty of speed bumps along the way, but overall, it has been a very long time in the making. Therefore, there is no excuse if the game turns out to be a piece of crap; it’s just all the more depressing and embarrassing. And after playing the horrid Platinum demo, I was admittedly concerned.
I was worried about the mechanics, which totally blew. The camera sucked, the general movement sucked, the combat flow sucked, the environment sucked…the whole thing just sucked giant donkey balls. But it was early yet, right? Square Enix had time to fix these glaring issues and apparently, if you read the reviews, they did fix those problems. Even so, that’s hardly my biggest problem.
Before I get into it, though, let me offer a critical disclaimer before certain “progressive” idiots leap down my throat: No, I don’t hate FFXV because it isn’t turn-based. FF hasn’t been pure turn-based for a long time and neither have any of the other RPGs I’ve played and enjoyed in recent years. I will forever maintain that turn-based is a perfectly valid and potentially endlessly diverse system (do we recall how many different types of turn-based mechanics we saw in the PS1 and PS2 eras?), and NO, it didn’t disappear because it was inferior. It disappeared because attention spans have fallen through the floor.
At any rate, you’d have to be a fool to hate on any game just because it isn’t turn-based. No such thing even exists in the big-budget AAA realm today. I played I Am Setsuna earlier this year and while fun and solid, it was still basically a watered-down version of the wonderfully in-depth productions we used to have. Bottom line is, the old is out, and you have to accept it. And I have. If I hated action/RPGs (which are pretty much all RPGs now), I would’ve hated something like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I adored that game; it’s my second favorite game of the generation so far, next to Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End.
So, what’s the deal? Why do I want no part of FFXV?
Because it isn’t an RPG. Action/RPGs are role-playing games with distinct RPG elements placed into an action-oriented format. Like I said, I’m fine with that. But when the player’s success is more contingent on a player’s dexterity than strategy and intelligence, that is an action game FIRST. When careful planning, character advancement, party construction and maintenance, etc, takes an obvious back seat to timing and simply how well you press buttons in combat, that is not – repeat, NOT – a primary RPG. Not to me. It’s an action game with RPG traits. That’s it.
One of the reasons I always liked RPGs is that they didn’t require me to be fantastic with the controller. They prioritized thinking and strategy. That’s what turn-based is great for, by the way, though you can certainly have it both ways if you do it correctly. Yes, The Witcher 3 is action-based but guess what? When I go to change my tactic, the game slows to a virtual crawl, thereby giving me a little time to think and plan. You can do it in Fallout. You can do it in The Elder Scrolls. You can do it in real RPGs; hell, you can even do it in some third-person shooters.
But ction games don’t let you do it because…wait for it…they’re ACTION GAMES. And that’s precisely what FFXV is. It certainly has more depth than a straight-up action game but no matter what exists beneath the hood, if you’re not pulling off the warping, dodging, parrying, party combos, and any other orders that rely entirely on your timing and dexterity, it doesn’t matter in the least how well you’re equipped, now does it? All that really matters is you pressed the button at the right time.
Maybe it’s a good game. If you had called it anything else, if you didn’t desperately try to pass it off as an RPG, I might’ve given you a pass. But instead, you say it’s a full-fledged member of a once-great role-playing series and frankly, it’s Devil May Cry with a party and a few menus. Press those buttons like a champ and you win; even when you have to make a strategic change for a certain enemy, for instance, you still have to execute on the battlefield. And yep, it all boils down to pressing buttons in a timely manner.
Thanks but no thanks. I can get that elsewhere and the action will be better, anyway. Oh, and thanks for turning it into an open-world sandbox game, too, because that puts the story – the single most memorable aspect, the driving force behind every installment – firmly in the background, and further emphasizes…yeah, you guessed it. The combat. The action.
I’m just SO done with the…de-cerebral-izing of this series.