January has been a month of playing nothing but Final Fantasy XV. Between hunts, dungeon crawls, and chocobo rides I’ve been indulging in my break from my video game challenges for a month. After clocking over 50 hours of the game so far, I’ve developed further impressions about FFXV since the last time I discussed it.
Until now, I’ve been slowly taking my time with FFXV. The open world is vast and so beautiful to explore. While picking up sidequests along the way or stalking dangerous beasts to complete hunting challenges for gil, I often stop Noctis mid-run to look up at the dark night sky to see the millions of stars above his head or to look out into the blue ocean from the boardwalk leading up to Golden Quay, the swanky beach resort Noctis and his friends can stay at (and one of the best ways to cash in your EXP points to level up your guys at a faster rate). Story progression often took a backseat in favor of leveling up or completing as many sidequests as I can get my hands on. Earning gil, the game’s currency, isn’t as easy to get as it might have been in previous Final Fantasy games. Your best bet is to go on hunts to collect reward gil after defeating the targeted creatures causing trouble in the area.
Level grinding isn’t really something I usually enjoy. I’m mostly focused on leveling my characters high enough to get through difficult boss fights. My main purpose is to experience the story with a targeted goal of finishing the game. FFXV has somehow made me enjoy the level grinds. Most sidequests aren’t always fun. They’re usually your standard fetch quests, whether it’s recovering produce from an abandoned truck or going through potentially dangerous areas to defeat monsters just to get a coveted gem for a reporter who’s running a jewelry business on the side. Yet these don’t bother me as much as they should. Maybe it’s the mentality of Noctis and his friends being on a road trip that makes it easy to overlook the tedium of these quests. Despite the gravity of what has been going on in the Kingdom of Lucis, Noctis and company somehow pushes players to slow down and enjoy the moment with them. They find fun and adventure in every task they take on and it somehow rubs off on you. For me, anyway. Where level grinding was a chore in Final Fantasy XIII, I don’t feel it in FFXV. I want to spend as much time as I can with the guys before reality becomes unavoidable for all of them.
The bit of story I have progressed has led me up to Chapter 8. One of the best moments of the story’s game I’ve enjoyed up until this point is the Trial of the Titan. The encounter is intimidating, especially when Noctis has to fight this hulking giant to prove his worth to gain the Mark of the Archaean. The cutscenes you get in this part of the game are breathtaking to watch and I’m pretty sure my mouth hung agape as the entire scene played out. With cutscenes like these waiting to be experienced, I’m okay with savoring each part of FFXV at my own pace.
Discovering dungeons in FFXV has been a huge thing for me, especially when there are a total of 13 royal arms Noctis can gain in the game. Some are unlocked through story progression and others are found by going into the optional dungeons scattered throughout the world. Doing the dungeons are also a great way of earning a ton of EXP for leveling up, but the different monsters you encounter in these dungeons can be tough. In a way, I welcome the challenge because I’m determined to push Noctis, Gladiolus, Ignis, and Prompto to be their very best. While going through the fights, I often find myself getting really into them and weirdly shouting words of encouragement at my TV, as if the guys can hear me. I get mad easily when a hoard of monsters try to overtake my guys, but I refuse to let them fall where they stand. Noctis and the bros will prevail! See, way too involved with these characters and game that’s bordering on a one-way trip to crazy town.
One of the most frustrating and annoying dungeons of this game is Crestholm Channels. These underground sewers are one long torturous maze of confusion with twists and turns that isn’t any fun navigating. Add in the necessity to activate four switches to open a bunch of locked doors to get to the main dungeon boss Jormungand, well, you wonder if it’s worth bothering to do at all. I’ve gotten lost several times in this dungeon or ended right back where I started. I simply no longer had the patience to figure out this dungeon in the same way I’ve figured out the other optional dungeons on my own. With Google as my best friend and savior, I looked up guides and YouTube videos to help me through this dungeon. I’m not sure if any of the other dungeons I have yet to find will top Crestholm Channels as one of the worst dungeons of the game, but I’m hoping this will be the last one I’ll have the urge to nearly rage quit on.
The end of the month is almost here, which means I’ll be resuming my video game challenge for Phoenix Wright soon. I may have to set aside FFXV temporarily to stick to my commitment of tackling my backlog, but Noctis and his friends will be there when I return. This is one journey that isn’t over. Not by a long shot.
What are your impressions of Final Fantasy XV?