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Good start, but quickly fades

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    Final Fantasy XV

    Rating: 2.0 – Poor

    Good start, but quickly fades

    Bar about two hours of Final Fantasy VII, I hadn’t played a single entry of the much-acclaimed series until XV. So to be greeted with a message stating that the game was for fans and newcomers alike was reassuring; I wouldn’t be thrust into a plot that made no sense, or gameplay mechanics that I didn’t understand.

    For the opening 10 hours or so, I was pretty impressed. The game is beautiful, the music engaging, the plot intriguing, and it genuinely felt like the start of an epic adventure with three companions. A few quests gently ease you in to the swing of things, and much of the world is blocked off in place of one ‘introductoryâ€?area in the ilk of The Witcher 3, but I liked that. It drip-fed things in and never felt overwhelming.

    Doing the odd fetch-quest early on felt like it could just be a means to introduce you to the combat and allow the characters to grow on you as you learned their personalities. The fact that you can’t drive the car until a certain level also withheld that excitement so you had something to look forward to and strive towards. It all felt very much like it was building up to something.

    Unfortunatelyâ€?it wasn’t. Not really. The bulk of the world opened up after a few quests, but all that really meant was more travelling between quest markers. I ended up just handing the driving over to other characters anyway such was how tedious it was to handle, and the fetch-quest system became ludicrously repetitive â€?and never even tried to hide the fact. It was literally a case of talking to character A, killing an enemy or retrieving an item, returning to character A to hand in the quest, then immediately being met with another question mark above their head to signify an identical quest just with a different tacked-on story.

    Other activities include hunting, which you effectively do in most quests anyway, and Chocobo racing, which seemed to completely glitch out on me as the animals I was riding on the back of wouldn’t accelerate. Fishing was dull and bore minimal reward, and not once did I feel incentivised to customise my car with any of the many decals I’d found.

    The combat rarely felt satisfying; consisting mainly of holding the circle button. The block and parry system was inconsistent, weapons didn’t feel to have any weight, and magic was just another bonus hit instead of a tactical option or a fighting style. My teammates seemed so reluctant to aid me anytime I got struck down that it felt like they were wanting it to end as quickly as I was. And in the midst of a big hunt where you’re close to bringing down an enemy that far out-levels you, it’s not uncommon to suddenly have a ship full of enemy troopers descend on you and randomly spoil your whole attack plan.

    The last few chapters of the game all take place in one convoluted bulk and actually had me longing to be back in the empty wilderness of the open world. I’d completely lost interest in the plot by that point, so my only motivation for play was to plug on long enough to reach the end.

    Final Fantasy XV feels like a game that wanted to be adored, but then the developers actually just couldn’t be bothered making the effort. The side-quests are unforgivably bad in my book, and there’s so little else that then makes up for that. The high points came early on, when I was feeling a connection forming to the quartet I had joined and was exploring the compact but interesting opening area. After that, it just seems like they ran out of ideas, and thought putting everything on a bigger scale would subsequently make it better.

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