Fantasy Gaming: Final Fantasy 15 Thoughts

So to say I’m a Final Fantasy fanatic is a bit of an understatement. I love Final Fantasy. Since the first one for the NES, with my Fighter, Fighter, White Mage, Black Mage combo (with an occasional Thief, Monk, or Red Mage chucked in for fun) I’ve loved the series. Final Fantasy IV just increased my love and Final Fantasy VI shot in over the top (still my favorite in the series). Later entries I’ve had mixed thoughts about. From outright confusion (FF8, FF13) to amazement (FF9, FF10) I always try to find something good to say about each entry. With the exception of a handful, I’ve beaten almost all of them. Gleefully and repeatedly even. Most recently I’ve started a new FF6 run-through in earnest. I stalled out around Doma Castle. Sorry, I don’t like ghosts. But I’ll soldier onwards. I always do when it comes to Final Fantasy.

Our fearless (anti-)hero, Noctis.

 So the recent announcement that Final Fantasy Versus 13 has been changed officially to a “numbered” entry, is pretty big news. Huge news even. It rocked my world in both a good and bad way when I found out Versus 13 had become Final Fantasy 15. Good because it looks freaking awesome. Bad because it’s coming out for PS4 which I’m leagues and hundreds of dollars away from considering as of yet.

My goal with this blog is to go through the trailers step by step and discuss the things that I think are remarkable about this next entry. I’ve included a “compilation” video of all the trailers that are available so far.

This guy looks serious. But I think he sticks his green tongue out later in the trailer after eating soup. Kawaii!
1st Trailer-00:00-2:06: First we see our hero (?) Noctis riding in a car, looking totally bored in what seems like a fantasy version of modern day Shinjuku. The sense I’m getting from Noctis is that he’s a rich kid that isn’t really satisfied with his lifestyle anymore. 
We cut to a scene of him coming out of a massive building, looking annoyed at all these men dressed as knights holding assault rifles. Why they are wearing armor and carrying assault rifles I have no idea, but it looks cool. Noctis proceeds to obliterate all of them by summoning some circle of weapons around him. Like he has his own portable weapon rack he can just conjure up. We also see that he can apparently warp around and jump all over the side of buildings. 
Then we see him sitting in a chair (throne?) in the “Conan” pose, bored because he has no one left to kill.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Noctis was some sort of badass Sephiroth type villain. But it appears that he’s the hero of our story. Looks like we’re going back to a brooding anti-hero kind of character for this entry. I have to say, Noctis’s character design is definitely cool. Not too many bells and whistles. And no sign of existential whining in the first section, which is a good sign.
2nd trailer-2:07-7:08: We see an extended scene with Noctis riding in the car with other cars following him like a motorcade. Important dude. We get the first sort of a female character, her back turned. Gives a definite sense of mystery. Some armored dudes try to shoot Noctis, but he does the slow-moving “I’m a badass Gus Fring” kind of deal and blocks all the attacks. His eyes glow red. Whoa. 
More shots of our mystery woman. Why is she so mysterious?
We see a desert scene with many powerlines toppled over. Apparently something bad has happened here. Maybe some kind of monster attack? 
The door opens to a lavish looking board room. Several figures in suits sit around in apparent anticipation of someone coming.
We see an extended version of Noctis killing a bunch of folks.
Noctis walks into a room with a mysterious white robed figure. Ah, the familiar white robes. Is this person a white mage maybe? Probably not. It could be the mysterious girl from earlier even.
At about 4:26 we see the first shot of one of Noctis’s friends holding a saw-off shotgun. He looks like typical “happy go-lucky” Final Fantasy sidekick. Like a Wakka or Rikku type. At 4:34 we see a bigger dude with a fashionable mullet. I’m assuming this is going to be the big bruiser kind of character. It seems like I saw him in one trailer wielding a massive sword that makes other massive Final Fantasy swords look tiny by comparison. Overcompensating much? Then at 4:38 we see a bookish sort, which is probably a sort of advisor or strategic leader of this team.
 Not included: Guts and his impossible to wield sword.
More driving and the team get out of the car to see a road that sort of trails off into ruin. Oh.
At 5:00 Noctis and the white robed lady/fella (?) engage in a bit of “my magic is better than yours.” This white robed person is no one to mess with. Noctis’s weapons all freeze before hitting him/her. Well, definitely not a knight carrying an assault rifle peon.
Noctis kills some more fools, then we see what looks like a disagreement between the team in the car. They’re not in the desert area anymore but this Neo Shinjuku looking place. I’m digging the darker vibe of this game already through the trailers. 
Board room scene and we get a shot of an important looking guy with gray, slicked back hair and a beard. From other trailers I’ve seen, I’ve taken this to be Noctis’s father, who is apparently an important  figure in this game world. He doesn’t look happy.
We get a shot of the team looking at some building and then doing the slow-motion walk away cool guy shot. At 5:55 you can get a good look at the characters’ clothing. Nothing too flashy. I’d say Noctis’s outfit has an almost ninja appearance to it. The other characters are casual or semi-casual. So I get a strong feeling this game isn’t going to have lots of lighten the mood creatures like moogles or chocobo. Don’t get me wrong, I love those, but I’m not expecting an appearance here.
No, chocobo. Go back to your dungeon.
We see a prolonged shot of the mysterious girl and Noctis from the previous trailer next. They look shocked to see one another, and then these weird glyphs pop out of their backs. Noctis’s is blue while the girl’s is red. Are they connected by fate somehow? If it’s a Final Fantasy, fate is most likely involved one way or another. Not sure if this is going to be some kind of angsty love story here or not. Final Fantasy does love it’s angsty love stories.
But then they both whip out swords and give each go-to-Hell looks. Huh. Guess no love there.
Noctis is in suit next, sees this same girl and she smiles at him. Oh. Well maybe there was a connection there before? Interesting.
3rd Trailer-7:09-8:05: This is a flashier, edited version of the previous trailer with Italian words flashing on the screen. Maybe an Italian trailer?
4th Trailer-8:06-11:56 : We get a William Shakespeare quote: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Perhaps this Final Fantasy is going with the theme “what is truly good or evil?” It may be in the eye of the beholder.  
 Final Fantasy? Is that one of my plays? I can’t remember.
The shot of Noctis climbing the stairs to see the mystery girl staring at some weird portrait with an effigy of Death holding it up. Not the kind of art exhibit I want to go to. They seem to admire the art together. Noctis doesn’t look terribly interested in what she has to say. The artwork appears to be from  Yoshitaka Amano, long-time contributor to the Final Fantasy series. I actually went to his art exhibit in Yokohama one time. Pretty mind-blowing stuff.
Amano art. Makes me want to go on an adventure. Or at least get a weird haircut.
Most of this trailer looks to be Noctis and this girl (whose name is revealed to be Stella here) discussing something. But it’s all in Japanese so I can’t read most of it. Maybe a translation of all this later? 
Noctis looks up at the stars. 
This trailer seems to focus a lot on the relationship between Noctis and Stella, which presumably sours along the way due to them pulling out swords on one another in other trailers. I always enjoy the dynamic of former friends or lovers being on opposite ends of a struggle. The reference to William Shakespeare makes me think this might even have a Romeo and Juliet vibe with two families fighting over control of this city. I’m getting a yakuza vibe from Noctis’s father, so that may very well be true.
5th Trailer-11:57-12:43 :We finally see some gameplay footage with Noctis running around different environments. He battles with a behemoth which seems to be in real-time. No turn-based action this time around. I have to say, moving away from the classic Final Fantasy style of battle has always bothered me, but this looks to be a soup-up version of Crisis Core or Kingdom Hearts, which can’t be a bad thing as those are both excellent games. I also think trying new things has always been sink or swim for Final Fantasy. With the popularity of games like Monster Hunter, Kingdom Hearts, and even some Western games like Skyrim, the free roaming character that you can control has its benefits. I’m interested to see how this plays out as it looks stunning.
I love you. You love me. We’re a happy family. Barney the Behemoth. 
6th Trailer-12:44- We hear the characters speak for the first time. Noctis and a driver go through somekind of checkpoint to get into the city. Perfect rendering of a Tokyo style landscape. 
We see Noctis at this weird art gallery thing again with Stella talking to him. This looks a little different this time. Appears they’re covering different scenes. A light shines down from the sky. Metor? No, probably not.

It’s Meteo, you spoony bard!
We see Noctis’s father sitting in a chair. The same one Noctis was sitting in before? Perhaps. 
At about 15:40, we get Noctis moving around again. A bunch of stuff starts blowing up and flying around. Pretty hectic. We also get to see some of his party members’ names here. Ignis and Gladiolus. Someone at Square Enix loves Latin. I can’t say I’m a fan of the similar sounding name endings, but the name’s do sound rather cool.
We also see some extended battle footage, complete with menus. On the Command menu we see “Magic,” “Item” and “Summon.” Those are standard. I am ecstatic that Summons are going to be in this game. Can’t wait to see some of them. But we have a new entry here called “Ex-Arts.” What could that be? Something where he uses all his weapons in one of those dazzling displays from the trailers? That would be pretty awesome.
Noctis and company whoop a bunch of peons and then a behemoth jumps off a building and they start teaming up on it. Reminds me of Dragon’s Dogma in some ways with the team taking on a big monster.
There’s a 1st person shot of someone running in the woods. I guess it’s Noctis as we see his father.
Then we see some fighting in the wilderness against various monsters and military installments. Some mechs show up in urban combat and Noctis even climbs into one! Oh snap! Noctis is fighting on some floating ship.
At around 18:38, we see the first shot of a dragoon type of character who plummets down from the sky and lands in front of Noctis. She looks like she could be trouble. Nice entrance for sure.
At 18:45 we get a shot of who I presume to be the antagonist of the story. Another older looking gentleman wearing white robes and pointing a pistol at Noctis’s father. He sneers at him. Yes, he is evil.
Noctis is seen sitting in the chair again. Is it because his father is dead and he’s thinking what to do next? He’s now in control of this massive empire and must defend it for his father’s honor? He doesn’t look pleased with this new responsibility if that’s the case.
He gets up and tells the guy in the glasses to get ready for something. 
7th Trailer-19:31- :This is probably the most famous one floating around. The one from E3 this year. We get two people talking over a shot of a field. I’m guessing this is Noctis and Stella talking. The quote “A meeting predestined by the divine” goes across the screen. Oh, fate. See, I was right!
The white robed figure gives orders to some armored guys. Is this the same older gentelman pointing the gun at Noctis’s father in the other trailers? If so, it appears he has some kind of pseudo-religious vibe going. It’s obvious he’s interested in getting some kind of Crystal as the Crystals are mentioned several times in the trailers.
The figure turns around and, no, it’s not the old man. It’s someone else. And he’s got a huge purple shoulder thing sticking out. What the hell is that?
An airship flies overhead towards a building as ominous music plays.
We get the shot of Noctis as a young boy eating some soup he doesn’t like. His father eats it and sticks out his tongue. It’s green. Young Noctis laughs and eats his soup. This is the first scene with both of them in it. This leads me to believe that his father and Noctis probably have an up and down type of relationship.
We see a  new character at around 20:50. A purple haired guy dressed in similar robes to the older gentleman. He doesn’t look friendly. He puts on a hat and mumbles something about it being “mendokusai.” Which basically means “this is a pain in the ass.” The character’s smarmy voice makes me believe Noctis will have plenty of confrontations with this guy.
At 21:00 we see an awesome shot of some kind of watery city.
Gameplay footage, we see Noctis running around inside a mansion, simultaneously trying to avoid some kinds of jets of water (magic?) while also fighting off soldiers. His buddies are clobbering them alongside Noctis.
We see an old guy with an impressive Abe Lincoln beard marching in front of soldiers. I don’t think this is the same older guy from earlier but he’s probably part of the same faction.
Next there’s a shot of Noctis jumping around on ships and then there’s a big serpent rising up. Leviathan mayhaps? 
 Hey, what’s that? Oh, it’s a cute little snake. Let’s take it home.
More scenes of Noctis and company battling various monsters and soldiers.
There’s a stand-off between Noctis’s father and the older guy with the gun. 
The city looks like it’s caught up in a tornado as it spins around and Noctis tries to fend off the Leviathan looking thing. Gives me vertigo watching it!
At 22:24 we get a close up shot of Noctis and Stella. Looks like they’re on opposing sides here.
At 22:28 we get Noctis’s father and the old man with the gun. Perhaps the old man is Stella’s father? Maybe we really are getting the Romeo and Juliet treatment here?
At 22:31 we can see on the left two of Noctis’s friends. And the right we see purple haired guy and a character that isn’t seen close up in the trailer. She is a woman with straight black hair. Perhaps this is the dragoon in an earlier trailer?
At 22:34 we see the guy with glasses and another character I’m not completely sure of. Was he in any of the previous trailers? On the right we see the older man with the impressive beard. At 22:36 we see the first shot of the man “I’m not completely sure of.” He’s talking to Noctis as he stares out into the distance. What role does he play? Smoke rolls in the background.
At 22:40 we see the white robed man in the middle. Is he on either side? 
Families at war? Or catalog models?
At 22:57 we get the reveal that Versus 13 has now become Final Fantasy 15. Wow!
8th Trailer-23:00-26:50-This is the gameplay trailer. All gameplay pretty much. Noctis jumps all over the place on top of buildings slashing and killing soldiers. His blonde friend blasts a soldier point blank with his sawed-off shotgun. Ouch.
This gameplay looks frenetic but will definitely be fun I feel. It looks insane, but still appears to be cohseive. It’s almost too much to keep up with.
My opinion on the gameplay is that you’ll be able to switch between your party members as you conduct combat much like Kingdom Hearts. That should allow anyone who may complain about being only able to use one character to use different characters throughout the game.
Overall Thoughts:
1. This is a drastic shift from previous Final Fantasy games. I’d say the closest it resembles is Crisis Core, which was a pretty big success for PSP. I’m a bit disappointed that they moved the game from PS3 to PS4 because that just means I have to wait longer. However, I think it’s a smart move. Some stumbles with FF13’s reception and FF14’s initial bomb (the reboot looks like a winner though) have prodded Square Enix to deliver big with this next numbered entry. And I don’t think this game will disappoint whatsoever.
2. The gameplay isn’t my favorite style for a FF game especially, but I think Square Enix is wanting to break out of this shell that FF has to be turn-based, menu style RPGs. Those still do well now and again, but if they want to get a broader audience for their RPGs, then the action-RPG approach is a good one. Most of the biggest RPGs in the genre follow this approach and Square Enix looks to knock all of the big franchises like Elder Scrolls and Dragon Age down a few pegs. 
3. The story doesn’t look to be as a convoluted this go around. And that’s a deal-breaker for Square Enix now. They’ve had too many hard to follow stories as of late, so a solid “family vs. family feud” should be easy to swallow. Some of the characters seem to fit into typical FF fare, which is both good and bad. I’m hoping Noctis is a multi-layered, interesting character and not just a brooding badass like he appears to be in the trailers. I think his relationships with Stella, his father, and his friends should give him enough depth to resonate with fans. Noctis could in fact be one of the coolest FF characters since Cloud. I’m only saying this because Cloud is often identified as THE brooding badass of the whole series. Noctis can give him a run for his money for sure judging by these trailers.
Brooding? What’s that? I smoulder.
4. I still feel there’s big money to be made by Square Enix going old-school and making a brand-new FF game that explores what made the series popular: simple turn-based gameplay, awesome stories, memorable characters, and a quirky style. FF9 was a love letter to the fans in that regard, but couldn’t they do another one like that? Not necessarily a numbered entry, but just a 3DS or PS Vita old school Final Fantasy game. Do it. Guaranteed money.
5. In conclusion, these trailers told me several things. First, I need to get a PS4 at some point. Second, Square Enix has always been an all or nothing company. They’re taking a big risk going with this style of game when some core group of FF gamers aren’t going to like it. I think the gamble will pay off though. Third, I hope this game has the coherent, excellent story-telling that FF has been known for in the past. When the chips are down, they deliver. So I hope this entry delivers and delivers big.
Thanks for reading! My next entry will be about a movie I recently saw: Pacific Rim. Robots+giant monsters=fun at the movies. Until next time remember: all fantasy, all the time!