Look at me, finishing two games in a single weekend. Woot! Woot!
So this was such a strange situation. Way back last summer, maybe even late spring, I played the Final Fantasy XVI demo and loved it. I loved it so much I pre-ordered the game at full price, something I very rarely do these days. And when the game launched I… found I didn’t like it. And the more I played, the less I liked it. By the time the credits rolled, I really hated it.
I’m not saying it’s a bad game, just that it was a bad game for me. MOST people seemed to really enjoy it. I’ll get to what I didn’t like, but let’s look at the positive stuff first.
1) It is a gorgeous game. The world, the characters, the effects…just amazing to look at.
2) The voice talent did a great job, given what they had to work with.
3) I think the story was pretty good, but I’m not 100% on that. There were definitely some great characters and the lore was really interesting.
4) The skill system was nice once you got the hang of it, and you could refund all your points to try new builds without any cost. I appreciated that.
5) You have a wolf companion throughout almost the entire game. He was my favorite character!
How long ya got? 🙂
The word that springs to mind over and over again is overwrought, in the sense of this definition:
(of a piece of writing or a work of art) too elaborate or complicated in design or construction
It you took the story and boiled it down to a 2 hour movie I think it’d be great. But FFXIV has 20 hours of cut scenes that it uses to tell this story and my god did it ever get SLOW. Twice I literally fell asleep during lengthy cut scenes when some villain slowly enunciated every word of some pretentious monologue (with no way to speed it up other than skipping it completely). Not only was the dialog delivered at a very sedate and deliberate pace, we got constant scenes of someone slowly stepping into frame (the intent, I suppose, was to generate a sense of drama), tons and tons of slow camera pans and dramatic pauses, and it was like I was living in some kind of distorted time pocket. I was constantly muttering “Let’s GO” at the screen. It frustrated the HELL out of me when I wanted to get back to PLAYING THE GAME. Sitting there for half an hour without touching the controller was common. (With the in-game cutscenes you could tap a button to skip to the next line, but not with completely hands-off scenes.) I don’t mind games with a lot of cut scenes but only if they’re interesting. This one made me think the art staff was getting paid by the minute of completed footage or something.
And the dialogue was so pretentious and ponderous. I don’t mind the style of it (similar to that in Final Fantasy XIV) but every time the villains spoke the prose got so purple; I’d get a headache from doing so much eye-rolling.
Then there was the combat, which I just didn’t enjoy. Fighting ‘trash mobs’ was fine and even fun but the boss battles tended to be extremely tough for me to ‘read.’ Maybe it’s just that my eyes are old and tired but frequently I couldn’t see either my character or the mob I was fighting for all the spell effects. Keep in mind that you’re supposed to be parrying and timing your attacks based on what the baddies are doing. Tough when you can’t actually see the baddies. I’ll scatter some screenshots throughout the post.
Other issues with the combat: a) Breaking it up for mini cut-scenes just as you had a flow going. b) Crazy-assed kaiju battles (actually eidolons or ichons or something) that the rest of the gaming community seemed to think very cool, but that I found infuriating and again, very hard to read. c) Characters having a discussion about something while I’m trying to focus on the combat. d) Melee weapons that did terrible damage unless you used a skill. d) Skills that require holding down a button (ie they take a second or two to fire) in a game where bosses frequently teleport away.
Again, fighting ordinary enemies was pretty fun; it was in the boss and mini-boss fights where most of the above sucked the enjoyment out of combat for me.
I didn’t like the way the world was structured in that it was very segmented so you had to fast travel from place to place. Conversely running back and forth through your base got super tedious. And there is no sprint button. The game decides when you should start running based on you holding down the walk button for a while. As soon as you let up, you’re back to a slow jog until the game decides it’ll let you run again.
As for the loot system… if they tried they couldn’t come up with a more boring loot system. Finding gear was very rare and most of your loot was “3 pinches of magic ash” or “5 bloody hides”. This would be fine if there was a robust crafting system but there wasn’t. There is a crafting system but it’s very basic and I ended the game with tons of crafting materials that I had no use for. Ditto money rewards. I was walking around will over 100,000 gil and being rewarded with “5 gil”. Thanks!
Anyway, like I said, I could go on and on. But this was one of the least fun gaming experiences I’ve had since back when I reviewed games for a living and had to play stuff I hated. I’m not sure why I forced myself to finish it. Just to say I did, I guess. Now I’m deleting it from my hard drive and will enjoy knowing I’ll never have to play it again!
Sorry if this seems extra-ranty. Ok, let’s rephrase that: sorry this IS extra-ranty. I’ve had this bottled up inside me since summer but I wanted to finish the game before I posted about it, just in case I had an epiphany. There was no epiphany; I just did not like Final Fantasy XVI.
Just because I hate being so negative (honest, I do) here’s what I’d love to see. Take this world and the lore and the art assets and a bunch of the side characters, and make an open world game or an MMO out of them. Give us an enhanced crafting system so all the bits and bobs we collect from monster fights can actually be useful, and make the world one big connected place so we can roam around and explore it. I think THAT would be a first rate title.