Final Fantasy Versus, ahem, I mean Final Fantasy XV, has had an anticipated release for 2014 since the E3 showcase of the game. Yet it seems that Nomura, the director of the game, has denied any rumors of such a thing, and he has made quite a disconcerting statement in one of his recent interviews:

“For the player, having a game that’s ‘thoroughly made’ makes them excited with anticipation, but for a developer, it’s a hurdle that we have to overcome. The number of things that we have to do keeps increasing, and if we keep trying to expand we’ll never be finished.” – Nomura

So while the release date of Final Fantasy XV may be no nearer to us than the sad little dwarf planet Pluto, I would to talk about why this game will revitalize the series if it ever hits the shelves. 

Before I begin, I think it’s a good idea to give a brief synopsis of what the game is about. I would first like to point out that Nomura has made it clear that this game will not include your typical anime stereotype characters. He has stressed the fact that this is a game based on reality, and that the characters should make you feel as though they can actually exist outside of the virtual realm. So right from the get-go it’s hopeful that Final Fantasy XV will be the pillar of light in a series that has recently been out of the spotlight (Aside from FF XIII which I personally do not like). Now that that’s out of the way, let me introduce the game. Final Fantasy XV is set in the distant future, where our protagonist Noctis is prince of the most technologically advanced city state on the planet. This is due to the power of crystals, which Noctis’ nation uses to create swords and magic, while the other countries put their resources into the development of guns and other weapons of mass destruction. But of course, all of the Crystals have suddenly ceased to exist, with the exception of the one that resides in Noctis’ domain. Long story short- the crystal is stolen by an opposing nation and Noctis sets out to retrieve it.

This sounds like standard fantasy fare, yet with multiple nations fighting for the last remaining crystal the storyline has extraordinary potential.  The diverse environments that you can visit range from nations with medieval castles to Noctis’ own highly advanced state, with the enemies of each area using either guns or swords and magic depending on how they used the resources of the crystals. This will create a plethora of new strategies and tactics that the player can experiment with in order to take down their foes. Speaking of kicking butt, let’s talk about the most exciting aspect of any game; the gameplay.

One of the first things I was eager to know about FFXV was its battle system, and I can happily say that it has been confirmed and labeled as an Action RPG. Now don’t get me wrong, I have absolutely no problem with a turn based system; I actually enjoy them quite a bit. But it’s 2014, and it’s nice to see that the series is going places where it hasn’t ventured before. The E3 trailer showcased a lot of exciting elements of the gameplay, in which the main protagonist Noctis is shown wielding his absurdly long sword against a multitude of enemies, including the not-so-nice Behemoth. During the footage, Noctis takes full advantage of a dodge ability and a short distance teleportation move to swiftly move around the battlefield and take out his opponents. Yet the elements of gameplay become extremely dynamic due to the addition of vertical fights. This means that the player has to worry about attacks from above and below him, rather than just the enemies that appear in front. These new threats ensure that fights are exciting and tactical, and the maneuverability of Noctis will enable the player to reach their foes in a swift manner.

Yeah Noctis IS smashing a guy's face into a car

Yet the gameplay continues to impress as we get a glimpse of Noctis body slamming a foot soldier into the ground, and later latching onto a Behemoth’s monstrous horns (Dragon’s Dogma anyone!?) to get a better attack in. In addition to these abilities (and several others that we have yet to see), players will also be able to switch between 2 other characters on the fly, each who are equipped with their own unique abilities (This style of gameplay is reminiscent of the Kingdom Hearts series, which did a phenomenal job in my opinion). Like the rest of the Final Fantasy games, swords and magic will be at play. Yet Nomura has also revealed that gameplay includes elements of a 3rd person shooter, which is a really exciting idea in a game like this. There are so many intriguing aspects to the battle system, and if the story is top notch, I believe we might have a masterpiece in the making. 

Playing Final Fantasy XV looks to be tons of fun, and it doesn’t hurt that the game is absolutely stunning to boot. The cutscene animations are top-notch, (I took a double take when I saw the trailer) and the real time graphics are just as impressive. The E3 footage had a lot of stuff going on-explosions, sword swinging, gun firing, fireballs, teleporting- and it all looked beautiful. I wasn’t even playing the game, yet I was completely absorbed when watching the trailer (I was ready to start popping some Orville Redenbacher!).

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When you have great graphics, it makes you want to see more of the world, and luckily Nomura has already read our minds. Final Fantasy XV boasts an open world! Wait, you mean I don’t have to walk on a narrow path for 8 miles while being barraged by pesky enemies to advance the story? I know, it’s one of the greatest things my young ears have ever heard! I finally get the opportunity to go exploring in a Final Fantasy game, something that I have desperately wanted since I first played FF: VII. With the amount of diverse environments that the game boasts, exploring will likely be a top priority on my list of things to do.

I know, you’re all saying- “Hey wait a minute, Final Fantasy XIII was a brilliant game, and it did the series justice.” Well, I don’t think so. I only played around 5 or so hours of Final Fantasy XIII, and there was one major gripe I had that singlehandedly ruined the game for me. It was the fact that I was only allowed to control one character, when I had two other perfectly good characters on my team who I couldn’t utilize. Sure, you can argue that the AI does a great job, but in my eyes it will never be able to beat a user controlled character. They make choices that are irrational, and it’s incredibly frustrating. And when they make the perfect decision, I still get annoyed, because I didn’t have any influence on their actions. I want to be able to win my own battles, and even lose some because of my own mistakes. 

I truly believe that if Final Fantasy XV is ever released, it will bring the vitality back to series that has lately been lagging in quality. Its story, while seemingly cliché, has the potential to turn into a tale filled with violence, betrayal, and political intrigue. The gameplay seems to offer a staggering amount of depth, and I think the action-style RPG is a perfect direction for this game to take. With an open world style and a plethora of unique environments to explore, I can see myself getting lost in this game for days. Alas, it seems that all I can do is wait. But hey, I’ve already waited 8 years, what’s another year going to do? Kill me?