Final Fantasy XV: Hype and Hate

There’s an incessant, and unrelenting amount of expression, transitioning to an entirely negative state, being unleashed upon Final Fantasy XV right now. After a presentation, coupled with a trailer, left gamers with less content than they expected to be exposed to resulting in one of the most unprecedented backlashes against the game since before it’s reintroduction as Final Fantasy XV, I felt I needed to step into the conversational chaos as well. I think it’s safe to say that what we were shown was unexpected, but I think those clamoring that the ship has now sunk are speaking much to early, and most importantly, forgetting what we have lying in front of us as evidence to the contrary.

The Chocobos are All in a Row

First off, let’s discuss the development and media coverage pace. What’s really bothering me is that most people are reacting to this week’s Gamescom presentation as if it was the only thing we’ve gotten to see for years. But if you zoom out a bit, you’ll see that we have been getting a TON of glimpses at this game including a lengthy playable demo that came out not even half a year ago. Is our patience really stretched that thin? Does every single video they show of this game have to be a dense blow-by-blow of the entire game’s contents? The rate that they are divulging new information and showing new gameplay has been on par with any other normal game in development. We just have to learn to let go of it’s troubled development as Versus XIII and look at this like a game that was announced in 2013, not 2006, because despite the fact that it’s the same world, it’s clearly a whole different game, technically speaking.

On top of this, they already said that they are having another presentation in LESS THAN A MONTH. At the end of August, there will be another presentation for PAX, and again in September for Tokyo Game Show. I don’t know about you, but that’s more coverage than I tend to hope for regarding any game in development.

The Crystals Still Shine

Some of the fans just don’t realize they are getting what they asked for. Back when they were getting nothing but gameplay, and thorough looks at the combat and exploration, everyone was screaming blasphemy because it looked like the game’s dark tone and grim, emotional story had been swept under the rug. I said it back then, and I can say it with proof now, the original tone and focus of the game remains very much intact, and that’s exactly what Square intended to do with their Gamescom “Dawn” trailer. So now that fans finally got the “mood” they have been wishing for, they are now infuriated because we actually didn’t get a lengthy, gameplay-ridden trailer for once.

I, for one, am very happy that this trailer managed to evoke the exact same feelings of carefully extracted empathy and sorrow that the original 2006 trailer did. In fact, if any trailer were to sell me on the atmosphere and mood of the game since it’s re-reveal as Final Fantasy XV, this would be it. A trailer that literally spends an entire minute on a father and son simply having an emotional moment stands as a hallmark to me compared to all these other blockbuster-paced video games. The somber grace that was hung like a veil over Versus XIII has now been draped over Final Fantasy XV as well. This is still the same experience we all wanted. Also, I think many people are overlooking the fact that we also got an uninterrupted look at a marlboro from a completely new area in the game. That’s progress, ya’ll.

All Strength, No Accuracy.

Any change in this game from Versus XIII is looked at in a very unfair light, and most of the time, the response is negative for no logical reason that I can agree with. Noctis’ dad looked different, and many are disappointed. The fact that airships might not make the cut are causing people to think that this game is still nothing but a notebook’s worth of conception and that they have no idea what they are doing. All of these accusations are really just a generally negative mental state lashing out at whatever justification it can seek. Noctis’ dad still looks regal, imposing, and wealthy. The promise of airships is just a superfluous feature to appeal to long time FF fans, and it clearly has no plot-relevance, therefore, I’m glad that they are focusing on what matters to the story of this singular game over the staples of the franchise as a whole.

The disappointment that Stella is gone, only to be replaced by Luna is the most blown out of proportion argument I’ve seen with this game. We knew so little of Luna when the change was announced, but people simply assumed that the change was for the worse. That the whole concept of “star-crossed lovers” between Noctis and Stella was lost. And look what this game just explained to us. Luna and Noctis are fated to be married, and both of them have tragedies surrounding their upbringing. The romantic potential is still just as grand and illustrious as before.

This is About Noctis, Not You.

Amidst all this controversy, craze, and criticism, there is one thing that I appreciate about Final Fantasy XV. The team has always, and I mean ALWAYS, felt like they are taking their story as seriously as possible. So much so, that they are not succumbing to pressure, nor losing their confidence in their direction. If we siphon out all the things we expect to see, and only view what they have shown us, this game’s sense of identity and direction is staggering. The E3 2013 reveal, the playable demo, and even this most recent trailer have all felt like truly authentic looks at the game that the team should be proud of. To have the balls to release a trailer with such a specific focus as this “Dawn” trailer simply proves that they care most about their story than anything else, and because of that, we should have more faith in them.

Another very important thing on this same subject is that I feel like Square is doing a very good job of showing just enough to whet our appetite without spoiling anything important. This is important because when the story is such a dominant part of the very foundation of the game, I think it’s worth trying to hide the true scope of the story from the fans. Sure, you may have gotten some better feedback right now if you showed more story in that trailer, but then, those same fans would be less surprised by the actual release, and what matters in the end is the game…

Wait for the “Final” Fantasy XV

…What always mattered is the game. This means, nobody is right, and won’t know if they are right, until the game releases in it’s entirety. However, every single trailer, demo, or press release we have gotten has shed light on a very particular aspect of Final Fantasy XV. The weighted sword and magic based combat, the brilliant creature and summon designs, the expansive and carefully constructed fantasy world, and the melancholic and dramatic tone and story have all had equal representation now. There are two types of fantasy games out there in my eyes, both of equal merit. The kind that appeal to the fans, such as Skyrim where it feels like the game was built for us, around us, and to immerse us as the actual main character. Then there’s the kind like Final Fantasy XV, where the game was built without us, separate from us, and exists as a story all on it’s own. The question should never be if we as fans have seen enough of the game to know everything about it? But rather, does what you have seen so far make you WANT to see what they haven’t showed us?

And in my humble opinion, it really does. The fact that fans are getting so riled up over not seeing enough only means that, at least for some of them, it’s because what’s there has already won them over. Fans get scared. Scared that the game is in the development hell it was as a ps3 game under a different name. That’s no longer the case. This is a game that is under steady development and has been doing an excellent job of not staying off the radar. This is a game that sees the end, and will reach it, but is not spoiling it’s entire world and story to it’s audience in order to make the actual release worth it. By doing what you think is making the game worse, they are actually making it better. I know the wait is hard, but that doesn’t mean we are entitled to learn everything about the game through it’s previews. We all hate movie trailers that spoil everything, which is why movies, such as the recent Inside Out for example, are such pleasant surprises. It’s because, no matter how they present it to the public before release, thanks to the dedication of the team, they delivered where it mattered. On the actual product, not the promotion. That is how true works of art come to light.

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2 thoughts on “Final Fantasy XV: Hype and Hate

  1. Overall, well-written. I appreciate you putting your opinions into segmented arguments to make a definitive statement. However, while I agree with some things you’ve said, I also humbly disagree with others. Firstly, there lies a contradiction within the piece wherein one section you state, “…look at this like a game that was announced in 2013, not 2006, because, despite the fact that it’s the same world, it’s clearly a whole different game, technically speaking.” Then a little bit later you state, “I, for one, am very happy that this trailer managed to evoke the exact same feelings of carefully extracted empathy and sorrow that the original 2006 trailer did.” While I think no one would argue that this game has seen a major overhaul in every aspect of its production, it was never outright cancelled, at least by consumers’ knowledge. So these two sentiments you bring up, which, in many ways Square Enix themselves have done, while promising in many ways, also helps to exacerbate the real issue – prolonging this game even further, which I think is the main point of frustration coming out of this demonstration and trailer reveal. Fans have waited a long time and feel as though they deserve detailed information on the progress of the game and its release, not, spoiler-filled, significant updates, mind you, just a sense that progress is being made. Having been neglected for so long, it’s not unreasonable for a large amount of people to feel this way, and with many assuming the game was never coming out, it would go a long way to share a projected release date, and/or how much of the game is left to produce. While I agree with you that I think, so far, SE has done an incredible job at relaying more information on the game than ever before, this seems like a step in the wrong direction. People will disagree on whether they like seeing story trailers or not, but the point is how effective is SE being with relaying information, instilling confidence, peeking curiosity, and instilling hype into eager fans. On that front, I don’t they did a very good job at all.

    • Thanks for the awesome comment. To defend my contradiction, I used the phrase “technically speaking” very deliberately to convey that this game has pretty much started over from scratch on a production standpoint. A new engine, even an entirely new console, as well as a new director changing the foundation highly warrants this. And When I speak of the tone comparison to 2006, that is in no relation to the development time. Just the preservation of the “soul” of the game. The context of each comparison are for two different perspectives. People think that this game has been developing in one direction since 2006 and that is clearly not the case. So I say forget about anything prior to the re-branding, but this doesn’t mean we can look at what’s similar between the two, which is why I brought up the tonal similarities.

      As for what the fans are really mad about…I don’t really get it. I don’t think fans have waited a long time for detailed information. There’s a playable demo that was just updated in June. It’s barely been two months. And we have another presentation in three weeks, and two weeks after that. So basically, all the complaints of “forever” and “so long” feel unfounded now because you really don’t have to wait long for FFXV information these days. GOOD information. In fact, the most unsettling thing about this game for many fans was the loss of the dark, emotional story thanks to Stella being taken out…but I feel like this trailer almost answered that SPECIFICALLY. So for me, this trailer filled in a huge gap, and alleviated one of the biggest worries in that this was going to turn into a cheerful adventure game. Since I got a huge gameplay update two months ago, and will likely see another by September’s end…a focused presentation like this doesn’t seem poor at all to me.

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