Final Fantasy XV is set for release on November 29, 2016. This marks over five years since its predecessor Final Fantasy XIV, an online MMORPG iteration of the series was released. This is even longer if you go strictly by the console standalone format the series began with. Square Enix has been developing this title quite longer, polishing their latest series to meet what could be impossible expectations.
They’re in a unique position. Some would say they have to continue modernizing play mechanics and battle systems of the series. They’d also have to appeal to the larger masses by incorporating western gaming sensibilities. Role playing games have evolved from their whimsical medieval plots to include complicated protagonists in wide-ranging settings. Pushing forward, they should also consider what longtime fans of the series have come to expect from this series.
Final Fantasy began on the original Nintendo Entertainment System, introducing us to the iconic sprites and sounds that would be reiterated more thoroughly in subsequent releases. The classic theme of bad guy bent upon world domination versus heroes banding together in defiance only seemed to get better with each sequel. It’s hotly debated on where the series actually peaked, but this old reddit thread clearly has its favorites.
Both Final Fantasy VI and VII showcased the best the series had to offer. Those who’ve played through them can appreciate the legacy they’ve left for Final Fantasy. Nobuo Uematsu’s iconic soundtracks and the twisting narratives elicited the deepest of emotions.
From Celes’ operatic plea of dual meanings to the heartbreaking loss Cloud faced when Sephiroth took Aerith’s life, we were never more invested. Subsequent sequels lost their way a bit, though Square gave us a satisfying wink with Final Fantasy IX. Final Fantasy X would go on to be a defining chapter for some, but not live up to the bombastic appeal of Final Fantasy VII.
You can debate the quality of these latter Final Fantasy’s based on your own experience and approach to role-playing. However, there’s no debating their quality is far from where Final Fantasy VI and VII stood when released. All this is a long way to say it’s with some trepidation I await the release of Final Fantasy XV.
There have been many iterations of this series showing the genius of its storytellers and the lack of it. Is it even fair to judge this entry based on previous game playing experience? The Mass Effect series along with The Witcher 3 has contributed to a growing change regarding modern expectations of roleplaying. Whatever the case, we’ll all find out together one week from now. This old-timer is just hoping it captures a fraction of the magic that once was for Final Fantasy.