Okay, I’ve been waiting for Final Fantasy XV for at least three years, officially. Unofficially, I’ve been waiting for ten, because FF Versus made one of the coolest goddamn trailers of all time and had me hooked. But, besides skipping THE ENTIRETY of a ten-year console cycle, it has also grown into the game which I waited desperately for years: A true, action-RPG Final Fantasy. Seamless battles, beautiful graphics, and a story I’m already deeply invested in, mainly because I’m so deeply invested in the vision for this game. It could really be the one to top all other RPGs on my list, the most frustrating of which is the Kingdom Hearts series (Tetsuya Nomura, you manipulative bastard, I love you.) and the most recent of which is Skyrim.
But where I feel like Skyrim failed in delivery of its narrative by allowing you to ignore the main story indefinitely then stumbling to find its footing at the resolution, Final Fantasy has always been about the gripping sense of adventure and curiosity that carries you through to the climactic end—100+ standard hours of side missions not-withstanding. And now, all of this is wrapped in a combat system that changes every encounter in a way no numbered FF game has done to date. This is franchise-groundbreaking shit right here.
Plus, the shrinking of your party to 4 characters who will be with you the entire game opens up excellent opportunity for camaraderie (possibly romance?) and loss. It won’t be the same “head into battle with 8-12 characters” that are realistically only going to get so much exposition, which is characteristic of the later versions of the series. By narrowing their focus, they have the possibility to make some serious emotional plays. And I’m sure they will (FFX ending, anyone?). That’s what’s so Goddamn Exciting. Don’t you see? It’s not just that I get to spend 160 hours bro-road-trippin’ with super swords and summon monsters. But that I will be able to feel a real sense of loss and danger for these four, central characters. If someone slaps Gladiolus with a Banish spell, Imma be PISSED. I won’t simply shrug and sub him out with another damage dealer until he’s back in action. I am going to need revenge. You don’t step to my people like that and expect me to flee. I’m Throwing Down, son. Even if that means Game Over. This is FFXV. “We ride together. We die together. Platonically-involved Boyz 4 LIFE.” (If only Will Smith was playable…) Witnessing these characters’ relationships develop will truly be, if Nomura and Tabata are on their shit, legendary.
Then, there’s the “World of Wonder.“ Don’t even get me started on the “World of Wonder.“ Alright, maybe get me a little started. But you gotta see it. It’s the Promised Land of Final Fantasy, and I haven’t even played in it, yet. Since this is also an open-world game, meaning you can drive/fly your ballin-ass car to all corners of the world (for at least half the game…), the sense of adventure is heightened, and FF begs you to wander off the beaten path. This is the game series that prides itself on being nigh-impossible to complete 100%, so they went ahead and made sure getting completely lost in the big picture would be a delightful distraction and not a malfunctioning-GPS anecdote from hell.
Though I digress: if this game is playable, I’m going to be completely satisfied. That’s right, I’m saying it straight up—I’m biased as fuck. How did they do that, though?? Usually making someone wait 10 years for something means that it can’t possibly live up to the tremendous expectations exponentially exaggerated through a solid decade of wishing. Now, though, I’m ready to forgive mostly all of its flaws and usher it politely into my personal favorites list. But the exact opposite happened with Kingdom Hearts III. Oh, I’m still gonna play KH3. I’m still going to thoroughly, indecently enjoy the shit out of it. It will still bring closure to what will amount to half of my LIFE thus far. But I’m going to be angry about the entire ordeal. I’ll tell you why.
KINGDOM HEARTS HAS NO EXCUSE.
None. Absolutely and unequivocally No Damn Excuse. If you think any differently, then you’re lying to yourself. But it’s probably better that way, because that is the last method you have left to wait for the game—repeating, “It’ll come out next year…” in shallow whispers before you go to bed, like you’ve been doing these last 14 years. KH could have kept the ball rolling on things and released two tie-in games before moving on to the third installment on the PS3, and most people wouldn’t have been that upset. Of course that’s not what happened, though. It needed to expand 5 different platforms and 14, I can’t say that enough, 14 goddamn years! Not to mention it’s the last one. Nobody has blue-balled an entire generation like that before. You don’t get to the end of a series and then take a 10-year hiatus. FFXV is what FF Versus was never going to be. KH3 could have been KH3 7 years ago.
Therein lies the problem. FFXV has me hardcore flipping out because it isn’t a tie-in to a series. It continues no story. It is self-contained (movies and youtube series aside), and I’m hoping there are no sequels (direct sequels, anyway). As soon as I realized that it hadn’t disappeared entirely, I knew the franchise was saved. Sure, I was excited about it back from the very beginning. But I also had the privilege of forgetting about it and continuing my life. There was FFXII, XIII, XIV, and then they pulled their ace: “Hey, remember that game you were all freaking out about? Yeah, that’s our new FFXV.”
And then Square-Enix dropped the mic.
And we all cheered.
Somehow they had us on the road to a theme park when we were teenagers, and, yeah, we were all excited. Then, somewhere along the line they turned around and said, “If you wait a bit longer we can just go straight to the Promised Land, kids. In fact, we’re already halfway there.” (That’s where Moses messed up. Not having a car.) I signed straight on for that trip, and I’m more excited because of it (that’s how effective manipulation works). Sure, it’s been delayed, but I’m so jaded by this point that I expect delays. At least they had the decency to release a demo. Then they changed the battle system, and there were more delays, but it wasn’t three-years worth. Two months at the end of the development cycle? Sure. Go ahead. Polish that game until you redefine a franchise.
As long as I know I’m definitely getting to the Promised Land.