The lights are on
It may have taken 10 years of development, but when Final Fantasy XV finally released, it was an excellent game (read our review) that had anxious fans breathing sighs of relief. However, just because it was good doesn’t mean it can’t be better; the team at Square Enix has already announced plans to add free updates including new story scenes and a tweaked Chapter 13. These are welcome changes, but we can think of a few more modifications to help Final Fantasy XV come closer to realizing its full potential.
To be clear, the game does many things well. However, by clearing away some of the rough spots on this spoiler-free list, the path to appreciating Final Fantasy XV’s merits would be less obstructed.
Final Fantasy XIII caught a lot of criticism for relegating important character and story developments to text archives. Final Fantasy XV doesn’t do that (which is good), but it would benefit from having a collection of explanations that players could reference if desired. Unlike Final Fantasy XIII, this shouldn’t be required to understand the basic story arc, but it would lend the tale some extra depth for those who want it. After all, the end of the game still leaves questions unanswered; we won’t detail those specifics, but it’s enough to say that several late-game developments would have been more rewarding and impactful if players had the opportunity to become more familiar with the lore.
Smoother quest interface
Lots of people need help around the world, and your quest log in Final Fantasy XV can swell to an intimidating size. That gives you plenty to do in the world, but creating a clear itinerary is difficult because of how the interface works. You can look at the map and scroll through quests to see their individual target locations, but you can’t track multiple quests or get a view of the map that shows you all active objectives. Instead, you need to scroll through your quests (which could really use more sorting options) and take mental note of which things are in roughly the same spot. This can be a real pain if you have multiple quests to complete in an area; they could be shuffled into your quest log in various spots, so you need to go through the whole thing every time you want to take stock of nearby opportunities.
Unless you pour a lot of ascension points into it, standard elemental magic is prohibitively impractical. First of all, you expend elemental energy to craft spells, so you need to worry about keeping your supply (which is has a low cap) topped off to keep producing spells. That adds an extra layer of inventory management, which might pay off if the power of your spells justified the effort needed to maintain them – but it doesn’t. Magic doesn’t feel like the heavy artillery it should, so you typically don’t get the satisfaction of seeing a well-placed cast do immense damage. Maybe that’s good when your party members wander into the blast (magic damages friendly characters), but most of the time, casting a spell is a letdown. This whole system could use rebalancing to make magic a more consistently viable and gratifying option in battle.
Better item management
Many RPGs reward players with knick-knacks that are intended to be sold – and they are usually kept separate from quest-essential items. Final Fantasy XV has “treasures” you can exchange for money, but doesn’t have the necessary safeguards to keep players from selling something they may need. A weapon seller might ask you to go collect some monster parts; once you find the beasts and get the items you need, the parts are put in your treasures tab. Unless you turn that quest in right away, you might accidentally sell those parts the next time you clear out your treasures, forcing you to go recollect them. Or, you might get a rare item needed for a weapon upgrade, but if you don’t have that quest yet (or don’t remember the name of the item you need), you could easily sell the item for a profit without knowing it has a better application. Giving players the option to lock quest items like these away until needed would allow them to sell off their spoils without worry, which they should be able to do since it's a great source of money.
Banter while traveling
Noctis and his buddies spend a lot of time in the car. While driving, you can listen to music from previous Final Fantasy games, which is a great dash of nostalgia. However, the passengers are conspicuously silent in transit. One of Final Fantasy XV’s main themes is the bonds of friendship between these characters, but we don’t get to hear enough of them interacting in these moments. If most people were to take a cross-country trip with their best friends, the conversations in the car would be one of the most memorable elements. Apart from a few canned remarks, these exchanges are surprisingly absent from Final Fantasy XV’s road trip. Imagine what you could learn about the four main characters if they talked more as they moved between destinations – joking around, sorting out their thoughts, and waxing philosophical. It wouldn't need to be anything too revelatory, but the payoff in character development would be huge.
What changes would you like to see come to Final Fantasy XV? Share your spoiler-free thoughts in the comments below.
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