There has been a lot of buzz today following the release of a new gameplay trailer for Final Fantasy XV at this year’s Tokyo Game Show. A lot of it probably stems from the fact it looks absolutely gorgeous. The numbered Final Fantasy games almost always push their respective consoles to the limit. Hell, even Final Fantasy XI was great looking by MMORPG at the time of its release, so Final Fantasy XV being very very pretty shouldn’t come as a surprise to most.
However there are a couple of things I saw in that new trailer that did not inspire confidence. If this were any other game I would cut it more slack, but this is Final Fantasy XV. This is game that has been in development for nearly a decade now. After the lukewarm reception to the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy of games, there’s a lot riding on this next numbered (non MMO) game. There’s no room for error. If Final Fantasy XV winds up being a failure, the entire series could be in jeopardy.
As the legend goes, each numbered Final Fantasy game is it’s own separate entity, with its own battle system, characters, story, etc. Details about Final Fantasy XV are still very scarce, but we got a pretty decent preview at what combat is going to look like and while it looks pretty, it also looks very clunky. Let’s tune in at 1:14 and give it a watch to the end, focusing in on the combat:
Now it’s hard to tell what is cinematic and what is actually user controlled gameplay, but what I see in that video is ultra stiff looking attacks (from both enemies and players), and I know I can’t be the only one. The game is a work in progress, so I don’t want to be rash and doom the game already. But I would be damned if I didn’t watch that gameplay and think that it looks as rigid and awkward as Monster Hunter Freedom Unite for the PSP. This might be a small concern to some but it is emblematic of a larger problem.
Square Enix in recent years has been reacting to trends instead of setting them. Maybe in 2006 the traditional JRPG was on the way out, and action RPGs were more the flavor of the week. However the recent reemergence and success of “old-school” style JRPGs (including Square Enix’s own Bravely Default), has shown that there is still a loyal audience for these types of games.
From what we have seen so far though, it looks like Square Enix has decided to move Final Fantasy XV towards the ARPG genre. That is fine, but for the sake of the series, especially considering all the years that it has been in development, the developers better have found a way to make Final Fantasy XV feel like its own game with its own identity and ideas. The finished combat can’t be as clunky as it looks now and the story and characters need be more appealing/interesting than what we got in Final Fantasy XIII.
At least on that front, this new trailer has inspired some confidence as the whole cross country road trip idea is admittedly pretty unique and cool sounding. That being said, if what we are eventually given is a Frankenstein Monster of title trying to appeal to outed mainstream tastes just to rope in a wider audience, then this might as well be “final” Final Fantasy, because the series will likely be dead to many longtime loyal fans.