I beat it. Final play time was 75 hours, and my party is level 92-93. My play time is now 92 hours after spending lots of time doing side quests that I ignored. I’m no where near doing everything. There are many optional dungeons hidden throughout the world. That’s not including all of the hunts that can be done as well.
All things considered, I enjoyed it, but I have strong reservations about the pacing, story elements, and unclear character motivations. It’s funny because what the FFXV team did with this game was swapping the linear and open world structures. In FFXIII, it is linear during the first half, and open world in the second half. In FFXV, the open world is in the first half, and it is linear in the second half; however, you can definitely do a lot more in FFXV’s open world, in comparison to FFXIII’s open world.
Still, the substance of the content in the open world is largely boring. Most of the collectibles end up being healing items, the side quests are fetch quests for the most part, and even the hunts get old after doing so many of them. All of the dungeons have been great, though. I was impressed by them. The best thing about doing dungeons is listening to the banter that the party says to each other as they’re exploring. Arguably, that is the best aspect of the game.
Aside for the camera behaving erratically at times during combat, I liked the battle system. It takes some getting used to for the first couple hours, but over time, you will become proficient at fighting, and developing your own strategies at tackling enemies. Warp strikes still feel so satisfying, and the further you execute it from an enemy, the better. I didn’t use the Armiger weapons very much because they sapped away at your HP as you used them, but I believe it becomes a less of an issue much later on when you have enough HP to deplete. The magic system, too, I didn’t mess around with a whole lot. The particle effects look wonderful.
The criticism involving chapter 13 is valid. It dragged for too long, and while I understood what it was trying to invoke to the player, it overstayed its welcome. It took me more than an hour to get out of that research complex. I liked that it felt like playing through a survival horror game because Noctis was by himself, only brandishing the Ring of Lucii, and fending off the ghoulish test subjects. You were given the option to hide from them as well, but it was easier to use the Death spell on them. And, holy shit, the Alterna spell had the best particle effects in the game. Whichever people were responsible for that need to be promoted. Throughout this entire ordeal, Ardyn was mocking you throughout your trek in the building. That was a nice touch.
Chapter 9 was another section of the game that completely floored me. I’m conflicted about that part because, while it’s an extraordinary spectacle to watch unfold, it also looks really fucking silly when you consider that Noctis is flying around like a DBZ character, and I believe that you can’t actually lose the fight against Leviathan. Unfortunately, I already knew that Lunafreya was going to die, but I didn’t know how, so it still came as a surprise to me to find out how it was going to be carried out.
The final boss was unlike how FF games concluded. To start with, it was odd to be fighting Ifrit as the boss before the final boss. That fight was fucking wicked. It was a traditional boss fight, with the party fighting him, and it was pretty challenging depending on what your levels were. The final fight with Ardyn was where it deviated from the other final boss fights in FF games. It was a one-on-one battle between Noctis and Ardyn, and it was simple, with some quick time events sprinkled in.
I thought the last campfire scene was beautifully done, and Noctis’ English voice actor did a phenomenal job conveying his emotions in Noct’s speech. Yet another strange conclusion to an FF game is that the whole party dies. That is perhaps the strangest decision to make as the development team. I feel like they’ve wanted to do that at the end of an FF game for a long time.
I’m satisfied with FFXV. I eagerly await the character DLC episodes because I’m curious as to which directions they decide to go with them. They are context-sensitive in certain scenes of the main game. You can obviously tell what each of the DLC episodes will be about. They spell it out for you. I would have rather wanted a comprehensive expansion instead, but given the ending of the game, I’m not sure how they would approach that. Perhaps they could make it a prequel expansion about a younger King Regis and his companions when they want on their road trip.