Too Fast, Too Fantasy XV: Eight Days To Go

Having a feature that takes HUD-less pictures for me is something every video game should have.
Having a feature that takes HUD-less pictures for me is something every video game should have.
Screenshot: Square Enix
Kotaku Game DiaryKotaku Game DiaryThe latest thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we're playing.

There are eight days left until Final Fantasy XV disappears from Xbox Game Pass and thereby, my Xbox Series S.

Yesterday, I embarked on an epic quest to start and finish Final Fantasy XV in the few days remaining, and after Day 1, I’m only [checks watch] three hours in. Oh boy.

Technically that number should be higher since I took the time to go through the game’s combat and lore tutorials, which I’m very glad I did. I haven’t played this game since it launched five years ago, and the only thing I can remember about the gameplay was that it gave me trouble.

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Though I seem better at it now than I was back then, dodging at the right time is still difficult, so I’m nearly always finishing a fight with a sliver of HP left. Since this is the Royal Edition I do have the Ragnarok, an overpowered-as-shit sword that kills enemies in one or two hits. Hopefully the sword remains useful for a long time, because combat in particular is my one worry about finishing this game.

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“Prompto, less picture taking, more shooting.” -- Ignis...probably.
Screenshot: Square Enix

Trying to get through FF15 as quickly as possible means focusing only on main quests. I’m afraid I’ll end up being underleveled without the extra EXP bump that comes with side-quests, which will force me to grind and therefore waste time. I’m estimating (i.e. praying) that it’ll take me no more than 40 hours to reach the finish—a generous estimate given Kotaku’s own review clocked just 20 hours to complete the main quest. Pinning 40 hours as my target gives me wiggle room for any time spent grinding and my own inclination to simply do side-quests even though I’m not supposed to. Even last night, knowing damn well I’m on a clock, I still managed to sneak in some forbidden side-questing.

Me: Okay. I’m on the clock so no side-quests, no hunts, main quests only.

Also me: But the mineral deposit for Dino is right there, it’ll just take one second!
[One hour and 3-4 strung together fetch quests and hunts later]

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Me, predictably: SHIT!

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I loved how Noctis decides to just sit on the back of the Regalia. Such a beautiful, wordless moment.
Screenshot: Square Enix
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So if I fail in my task, know that it was my complete inability to focus that did me in. But honestly, how could anyone stick exclusively to the critical path in a game this pretty, and with bros as chummy as Noctis and co?

Speaking of chummy bros—damn I forgot how beautiful this game’s opening is. Final Fantasy games usually open with some big setpiece battle—a fuck yeah! moment to get the blood pumping. Final Fantasy VII starts with the bombing run, in FF9 you’re kidnapping a princess, in FF10 a big-ass monster crashes your underwater soccer game. In Final Fantasy XV, your car breaks down so you and your bros have to get out and push ‘er as Florence and the Machine sings “Stand By Me.”

Square Enix / Klone Wolf (YouTube)

Just the idea of being out in the sunshine, on a road trip with your best friends, travelling to your own wedding as someone sings the equivalent of “no matter what horrors come, as long as we’re together we’ll be alright” hits so differently in 2021.

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I’ll admit it, I cried. I’m crying now writing this up thinking about the friends and family I haven’t seen and deeply miss. FF15 shines brightest in the small moments between its characters—Prompto’s pictures, Ignis’ food, and all the jokes and gentle teasing—small moments I haven’t experienced with my own friends in what feels like forever. I’m looking forward to experiencing more of those moments as my journey through Eos continues.

Kotaku Staff Writer and Hornt Correspondent - Fanfiction Novelist - Unapologetically Black - Diversity Gelatinous Cube

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DISCUSSION

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Adam Withers

The best part about the opening is that it completes a circle for the game’s story and your experience with it. After you beat it and experience the ending, coming back to the beginning again is so much more powerful and emotional. It’s such a simple, humdrum way to begin a story, but it is perfect for this game and it just gets more perfect with time.

I adored this game, which may put me in the minority, but to hell with it - I enjoyed every minute. I loved the gameplay even though I generally loathe open-world type games. I loved the boys, I loved the (admittedly underwritten) girls, I loved world and taking my time. I loved the surprises when suddenly gigantic things attacked, and they somehow seemed bigger than anything I’d ever faced in a FF game before. I loved the romance, I loved the loss, I loved the ending. I may have cried*. I loved going online and reading the explanation of that INSANE secret dungeon I barely made it through (and which most players will never see, let alone understand) and how it tells the whole history of the world through metaphor and gameplay. That’s a stupidly opaque way to tell your story, but it still hit me and I still loved it. I recognize this is as flawed as a game can be without being completely broken, but it is a beautiful mess and I’ll always remember my time with it.

*I definitely cried.