Final Fantasy XV is overall an interesting game which I completely enjoyed and I can’t wait for all the upcoming DLC to arrive. As much as I loved the characters and playing the game, there are some frustrating issues which standout; largely because so most of the game is fantastic. I’ve seen some of these issues discussed by others in very superficial ways, but I’d like to take a closer look at these and really examine what the core issue really is, additionally there’s a few things which bothered me and I haven’t really seen them mentioned at all.
It should also be said, there will be spoilers… There’s no way around it for some of these issues. So, if you want to avoid spoilers stop reading now and come back after you have finished the game.
UI Issues and Default Settings
My biggest issue with the UI is how there’s no way to see where all quests are without scrolling through each one. In an open world setting this is just a frustrating nuisance. The only reason I can imagine they didn’t include this was because after getting the map filled out with landmarks and procurement points it was quite cluttered as it was. However, not being able to plan routes to do things together is needlessly frustrating. Additionally, since you level up Gladio’s Survival skill by running around and can earn extra AP from riding Chocobos not being able to easily plan routes was doubly punitive.
Compounding this issue was a few quests which would point to the absolute wrong places for completion. For example, every single one of the weapon upgrade quests pointed towards Cape Caem as where I needed to go. Except that wasn’t where I needed to go to get the item and Cid was still in Hammerhead at that point. I was being pointed to the lighthouse for no reason. I’m fine if developers want to leave completing some quests as a bit of a puzzle to be figured out like they did with the whole Ulwatt Berries quest; however, having something point specifically the wrong way is just frustrating.
The Treasures menu was also equally frustrating because the auto-sort didn’t seem to follow any kind of obvious logic. For accessories, it worked well in that it would group items which gave similar bonuses together and arrange them from least powerful to most powerful within that grouping. The Treasures section was just a mess. The logical way to order those items would be to just arrange them in alphabetical order (which then can be problematic for localizing in other languages) but what we end up with just seems random and makes trying to check if a specific item has been obtained a big old pain in the back end.
While riding around in the Regalia we got to listen to a wide variety of music which was a lot of fun and did add another thing to collect in game. For the most part the UI for this was very straightforward and told you how to play, pause, and switch tracks on the CD player. What wasn’t included was an indication of how to skip forward to the next CD (hold the skip track button) and even worse how to change the play mode from track loop to random or just normal play (press the down directional button) to get each track sequentially and then move on to the next CD when done with the current CD. It’s not a huge deal but it is the sort of thing I look at and go “why wouldn’t you include that when you explained everything else?”
When it comes to Summons in FFXV I really like how they work. Sure, it would have been nice to use them more often but when they happened the it always looked awesome and things just disintegrated, which was nice. There was one UI issue with Summons in that it wasn’t always clear if it was working or not. I’d press and hold the indicated button and just wait and see. If I was lucky Noctis would quickly fall and yay summons happened… most of the time it just seemed to not work for no apparent reason. It would have been nice to have some sort of indicator on the progress of the summons either by way of a bar which filled or have Noctis do something different as soon as the button was pressed.
Every open world game makes use of invisible walls to some extent because games are not limitless sprawling worlds where you can walk all around the globe, it’s a necessary evil in game making. As someone who likes to explore and wander aimlessly in games I tend to find where the invisible walls are and honestly for the most part in FFXV they make sense. Invisible walls to prevent death from jumping off a cliff or drowning are fine, though if you want to run off a cliff and fall to your death why not allow the player to do that? What frustrated me was the number of completely pointless invisible walls.
The worst offender of “pointless invisible wall” is in the Crestholm Channels dungeon. There’s an area where there’s a tunnel you need to go through and it is behind a wall and slightly recessed in the ground. It’s completely possible to jump over this wall and run through the tunnel… except there’s an invisible wall preventing this. The only apparent reason for this invisible wall to exist is to make you run around the wall. There’s no locked door, no puzzle, nothing blocking you other than the random invisible wall.
Story Scenes Which Can Be Missed Completely
This first part of this is everything which happens out of game in external media. The prologue of Kingsglaive not only sets-up the entire world and the state of things but explains why they went to Tenebrae and explains a bit of Ravus’ motivations. Kingsglaive is really where we see the most of Lunafreya and get to know her as a person because in game we only ever get small glimpses of her. Additionally, this movie is also where we see the perils of the Ring of the Lucii and if you’ve never seen it what Noctis goes through in just putting the ring on is completely confounding. The Brotherhood anime series gives a ton of background on the bonds between Noctis and his friends but it also points out how Luna and Noct were in contact the entire time she was a captive of the empire’s. This is a huge piece because otherwise the depth of his feelings for her seem sort of out of place if you think there’s been no contact at all since he was eight. Both Brotherhood and Kingsglaive can have a drastic effect on how the characters are interpreted in game, which is a huge problem.
In game the devs did a great job of expressing the bonds between all four of the main cast and having some real emotional impact with these characters. The problem is many of these scenes are entirely dependent on resting at the right places at the right points or else you’ll never see them. Some are simple conversations which give real depth to the characters and others are quests they ask you to engage in and through the quest more of the personalities are shown. It might not seem like much but all of these interactions help the characters feel like complete people.
There’s an important conversation with Prompto I wish everyone could see because it has direct implications for later in the game and can completely change how another scene hits. This conversation is triggered by staying at one of the small motels (I wish I remembered which one) and starts with Noctis sitting on the roof. Prompto joins him and mentions something has been on his mind, and if you let him talk and encourage him the conversation is one of the best and most honest conversations I have ever seen in a game. The short version is Prompto always feels like the odd man in the group and his goofing around is him trying to not let on how out of place he feels. Then he goes on to say he really wants to belong and works every day to earn his spot.
Originally, I thought he just meant because he’s just a commoner and isn’t particularly gifted at anything the way Ignis and Gladio are. That alone made the scene have impact when I first saw it and I was happy to have experienced it. It made Prompto feel less like a caricature and more like a real person. Then later when his real past is revealed, it hit even harder than it would have if I had never had that conversation with him. Just the knowledge his past is something which weighed heavily on him the whole time made it feel like there was a lot more depth to what was happening.
It’s ok for these sorts of scenes to be missed depending on dialogue choices, for instance if you told him to go away at the beginning of the conversation, but having them be missed because you didn’t stay at the right place at the exact right time feels overly punitive and can really hurt the impact the story has. Things like this can be the difference between the player liking and caring about a character and not caring at all.
The Way Lunafreya Dies
The fact Lunafreya dies isn’t a huge problem, it kind of sucks because she’s one of the few strong female characters but thematically it fits. Not to mention I had some inkling she might die from watching Kingsglaive, the way she talks about things made me think she knew how she was likely going to die and had accepted it. The way she died just made her feel like a plot device which is a huge disservice to her as a character.
She’s busy doing her thing helping Noctis with the Leviathan fight when out of nowhere Ardyn shows up and just stabs her in the gut with a dagger, for no apparent reason. He didn’t want to stop her from giving Noctis the ring he even says specifically in that scene he wants her to give him the ring. He didn’t even want to prevent her from helping Noct finish the ritual. It feels like he killed her just to give Noctis (and the player) a reason to hate him instead of just being annoyed and mistrustful of him, which make her death just a plot device.
If she had died through the course of the toll the summoning took on her or if something had gone with the ritual, then that would have been fine and would have made sense. Instead an interesting and complex character was turned into a way to make Ardyn be hated. Which is even more pointless because I’m sure I would have hated him anyway after the bullshit he pulled with Prompto and all of what was Chapter 13.
Everything Just Falls a Bit Short
Overall these issues aren’t horrible and like I said before I really loved playing this game. FFXV is one of the few games where I have found myself just enjoying spending time in the game and spending time with the characters, I really love all of them. But these issues aren’t small ones and unfortunately they do stand in the way of Final Fantasy XV being a truly great game, which makes me a little sad.