During E3, Square Enix revealed to the world a new numbered entry in its prolific Final Fantasy series. Final Fantasy XV was announced during Sony’s press conference on Monday and, later in the week, was confirmed to be coming to the Xbox One as well. The revelation of a new Final Fantasy, especially one with a revamped fighting system, should be enough to get me excited, but there is something bothering me about it.
A number of new features for the series were showcased during E3. Chief among them is the inclusion of real-time, action-based combat, a first for Final Fantasy’s numbered entries. From what was shown in the gameplay-heavy trailer, one could make out third-person shooting, not unlike the style of Mass Effect, that smoothly transitioned into parkour and what looked like combo-based swordplay. Although only a few glimpses of party combat were shown, Square Enix mentioned a real-time, party-based battle system that, from the sound of it, could have a lot in common with Dragon Age. Inclusion of these features might be a major boon for the Final Fantasy series, but shoddy implementation could send FFXV racing headlong into the bargain bin.
Admittedly, these new features did pique my interest in a way that no other Final Fantasy game has since the PlayStation 1 era, and I’m sure I don’t need to name-drop the specific title to which I am referring. At one time in my life, it was all I could do to withstand the anxiousness I felt over any and all Final Fantasy media. After playing every single entry up to Final Fantasy X, inexplicably, and almost over night, I fell out of love with the series. Maybe it was the aging combat system or the over-saturation of JRPGs. Perhaps it was the sudden rise in the quality of western-developed games that occurred during the PS2′s life span. Whatever the reason, I suddenly couldn’t care less about Final Fantasy.
Lately, I have noticed an increase in my personal interest of Japanese-developed gaming, along with some of my friends. One of these friends is fellow Fate of the Game editor Jed Pressgrove, who recently alluded to eastern gaming’s particular style of kink positively influencing Super Mario 3D World (the new cat suit power-up). If you listened to our most recent podcast, you would know that Super Mario 3D World, among other things shown in the Nintendo Direct last week (namely, the reveal of X), has persuaded me to purchase a Wii U, something that I once vehemently stated would never happen.
As much as I have enjoyed western-developed gaming this generation, I can’t help but have the feeling that we may be on the cusp of a “Japanese Digital Entertainment Renaissance,” and leading the charge could possibly be Final Fantasy XV. The inclusion of a more modern, western-style of combat shows how Square Enix has grown and learned from past failures (Final Fantasy XIV Online received a 49 on Metacritic). But will long-time fans of the series embrace this change or feel somewhat betrayed?
Personally, I am cautiously optimistic, and with that said, so far Final Fantasy XV looks like it’s shaping up to be an experience I could fall in love with all over again.
What do you think about Final Fantasy XV? Did the reveal influence your interests in the series?