Final Fantasy 15 was one of those games that a lot of us felt we'd never see Square Enix actually release. Yet this year proved its officially left development hell as we were gifted its beautiful Episode Duscae demo. We were free to wander within a closed, yet open environment (which you could escape from), interact with the protagonists of the game, see how a mission would play out and come to grips with some of the weird wildlife!
However, I was never really that impressed with Final Fantasy 15 and its demo. Of course, they have a long way to go before they can give it its official release date, during which time a lot of its issues will be ironed out. But after engaging with the likes of Bloodborne and especially The Witcher 3, I feel a bit worried for the success of Final Fantasy 15.
The Witcher 3 Has Me Worried for the Release Date of Final Fantasy 15
The JRPG of 2015 is undoubtedly going to be From Software's astounding, Bloodborne. There's nothing quite like it when it comes to consistency and atmosphere. The tone that From Software establishes in every inch of its massive world is an astounding achievement in game design. It even trumps The Witcher 3 in this regard, though CD Projekt RED have them beat in many other ways. But these two titles have me worried for the success and reception of Final Fantasy 15.
The distinct impression I got from Final Fantasy 15 during my few hours with its open world, is that it doesn't really know what it is. Is it a true RPG? Does it really want to abandon its turn-based roots? Does it want to be more western? And will it please put some more clothes on that damn gas station attendant? There are plenty of flaws in the Episode Duscae demo that I wonder whether we'll see in the final product. Was I alone in feeling this way about Final Fantasy 15?
A lot of the technical and gameplay issues that I had with the Final Fantasy 15 demo will most definitely be fixed before its release date. Everyone had issues with its combat and Square Enix made sure to address these issues when they asked gamers to let them know what they thought. I'm more worried about its inconsistencies. Bloodborne and The Witcher 3 know exactly what they want to be and succeed remarkably well in terms of creating a consistent world.
The Witcher 3 is the best comparison though, seeing as its open world is a much closer framework to that of Final Fantasy 15. The world of the Wild Hunt is a dark place to inhabit. Its evident in all of its quests, every notebook you pick up, every NPC you cross and even in how you slay your enemies. We've yet to be let off the leash completely with Final Fantasy 15, so a lot of things may change. Obviously this series has evolved over the years and you can see it attempting to hold onto its roots in some meaningful ways. Though I firmly believe that it was the combat that failed to get me engaged with the game.
Both Bloodborne and The Witcher 3 have some of the most engaging combat around. They both present unique challenges and require a great deal of skill and finesse in order to master. Final Fantasy 15 is keen to hold onto its turn-based past, but in my opinion it held back the real-time combat that they were advertising. You could lock on to an enemy, press one button and just let your character kill him. If Square Enix are attempting to westernize the series, then they'll have to give us something a bit more engaging when it comes to Final Fantasy 15's combat.
But am I alone in feeling this way? I'm all for my turn-based games and I love the Final Fantasy series, but there was something off with regards to how Square were combining the game design of two parts of the world. I'd had these thoughts while initially engaging with the demo, but looking at the masters at work with The Witcher 3 really made me compare its achievements with the shortcomings of Final Fantasy 15. Be sure to let me know if you agree in the comments and whether you're enjoying The Witcher 3 or Bloodborne!