At EGX 2016, many games caught my eye. My most anticipated title of this year is Final Fantasy XV. It has been for a while, actually, but the Episode Duscae demo sealed the deal for me initially. Watching as Ramuh hoisted Noctis up seamlessly from the world before dropping hot, electric death on some tin soldiers was a joy to behold. Upon seeing the sealed-off demonstration area at the Sony booth, I decided to line up. Thirty minutes later, I stood side-by-side with other gamers as we soaked in this gorgeous world. Then something hit me: it doesn’t feel right. This led me to the title of the article: Final Fantasy XV Fails To Impress at EGX.

It’s Not What You Think

I imagine our readers might feel as if they can predict my complaints. “It’s not turn-based!”. “Give me back that classic Final Fantasy gameplay!”. “They look like a boy band!”. Yeah; we’ve heard it all already. Firstly, please pack up your nostalgia and throw a tantrum elsewhere. Final Fantasy VII in its original form is available on Playstation 4 as we speak, so there’s your classic experience. Go wild.

Secondly, the boy band look? Go for it. If these characters connect on an emotional level then I’m all in for whatever the hell they look like. I’ve no reason to think they won’t. Hajime Tabata (the director of FFXV) also directed Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core and Final Fantasy Type 0; both of which delivered satisfying narrative experiences well beyond what main-line Final Fantasy games have done for some time. I’d argue that Crisis Core’s story exceeds that of Final Fantasy VII’s itself, though it does owe its existence to it.

The many reasons that Final Fantasy purists seem to dislike XV’s direction don’t apply to me. I understand some people want some great turn-based experiences. To that, I recommend Persona 4 Golden or the upcoming Persona 5.

The Pace is Out of Place

On to what rubbed me the wrong way in my brief time: the combat. Rather than talking to Cindy (or Sydney? I don’t remember. Cleavage Mechanic, we’ll call her for now), I ventured off in to the world. It took me a good 5 minutes to find something to fight, but that’s understandable: I was leaving a residential area, after all. It makes sense the monsters would be further out.

Upon encountering a pack of wolf-dog-animal-dudes, I began to test out the warp functions and the weapon switching. It just didn’t feel fluid to me. It looks fantastic, but in practice, it felt too quick to be methodical and too slow to be adrenaline pumping. The pace of the combat seems to be stuck in this peculiar middle-ground, as if they couldn’t quite commit to the action-based gameplay.

It’s worth noting that steps are being taken to appease lapsed fans of the franchise. The Wait Mode, in the video above, showcases the ability to stop time and make decisions in the heat of battle. My concerns aren’t in regards to that, but it’s a nice addition.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

I understand that these games need to be shown at events. People crave a hands on. Final Fantasy XV just doesn’t suit that kind of experience. I didn’t get a chance to swing by the Square Enix booth, but I do believe they had headphones at their demo. It’s possible that this would have helped. Final Fantasy XV is appealing to me for its massive, immersive world and sweeping compositions that accompany the gameplay. The inability to hear the impact of my hits, enemy advancements and dodge maneuvers had a serious impact on my enjoyment.

But I’m Still Hopeful

I feel my concerns are valid, but outside of the questionable gameplay pacing, it’s circumstantial. Once I’m sat in front of my nice television with a decent sound system, I’m certain I’ll be immersed in world of Eos. It’s entirely possible within that focused environment that the combat pacing will make sense, taking note of the visual and audio-based cues. EGX, and any other loud, overwhelming gaming convention, may not be the best place to show off a game, and if you do, maybe have headphones at the Sony booth next time.

In truth, I’m still very excited to get my hands on Final Fantasy XV. However, I worry that it’s impossible for it to live up to expectations. This game cannot be good. It needs to be great to even register as “good” in the minds of the people. If Final Fantasy XV releases on 29th November to a resounding 7/10 on IGN, it might as well be a 2. I hate to portray scores as a meaningful metric, but they’re useful to illustrate a point: anything short of amazing for Final Fantasy XV is going to be viewed as a disappointment, but I hold on to my hope.

It’s not just our opinions we’re concerned with here at MGL. What do you think of Final Fantasy XV? Are you excited? Do you feel let down? Let it out down south in the comments.

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