When you’ve waited for something for ten years, it can be difficult to behave like a normal human being would when you’re about to receive it. This is the case for Final Fantasy XV. After waiting since it was announced back in 2006 (as Final Fantasy Versus XIII no less), the game finally has a release date: September 30th, 2016. Not only that, but at this week’s Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV event we were treated to a cavalcade of announcements involving movies, anime, music, and much more. Now, to say I’ve been excited for this moment is putting it mildly. In fact, I’ve already pre-ordered a very expensive edition of the game (more on that later). However, despite the moments of fanboyish glee, I realize that I have to keep my expectations in check. Otherwise, I risk massive disappointment. After all, it’s huge disappointments that put Square Enix in this predicament with the Final Fantasy franchise after XIII’s missteps. That said, some of this week’s announcements both have me a little hesitant of some of their marketing decisions but mostly I’m eagerly awaiting for the end of September.
To get the things that make me not so giddy over with, we have first to take a step back to 2001. If you’re familiar with the history of Final Fantasy, then you’ll know that this was the year that Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was released and killed Square’s attempt at a separate film division. They have since proven that they can make good films about their primary series through titles such as Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children but a 50% success rate doesn’t scream confidence. Hence, I didn’t know how to react to the announcement that coming this year, probably around the same time as the game itself, is a film set in the FFXV universe. Kingsglaive is about the ongoing war between Kingdom of Lucis the Niflheim Empire. It features several key characters from the actual game, including Princess Luna and King Regis. Not only does it look incredible, but it also has some huge names attached to it. Lena Headey and Sean Bean of Game of Thrones fame, and Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad play leading roles.
On paper, it’s an exciting premise. But, a few things irk me the wrong way. First, none of these stars are playing their roles in the actual game itself. That seems slightly jarring if you play the game after watching the film. Plus, just because you have the star power doesn’t mean the title will be any good, so they’re potentially relying on name recognition to compensate for a potentially lackluster story. In any case, I’ll watch it for the animation, and I just hope that there is substance to support the stunning visuals.
In addition to a film, we’re also getting a prequel anime called Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV which follows the “Chocobros”, as they are unfortunately being referred to by Square Enix, as they adventure on the open road. The first episode is already out, and it isn’t that bad for an anime tie-in. Plus, the mini-game of this entry is a pinball-esque game called “Justice Monsters Five. It looks like it will be fun, and possibly seizure-inducing.
But aside from all the talk of movies and mobile games, the main thing to get excited about is the game itself. We were treated to some incredible game trailers that showed off not only the gameplay and visuals that we have been dying to get our hands on for the last decade, but we now have a playable tech demo. The Platinum Demo takes place in young Noctis’ dreamscape, and allows the player to not only experience part of the incredible world in a fun and adorable environment, but you also get to try out the combat system. As many didn’t get to play Episode Duscae, which came with FF Type-0, this is an excellent introduction. Plus, you get to interact with quite possibly the cutest of FF summons, Carbuncle. That and it’s the only way you get it in the main game, so all the more reason to play.
But perhaps the biggest and best surprise of the whole night was the reveal of the theme song for FFXV. Now, Final Fantasy has always had some pretty memorable theme songs, usually of the pop ballad variety. But as it was revealed in the main trailer of the event, it became apparent that this entry’s theme was unique for two reasons.
- It’s a cover of Ben E. King’s outstanding Stand by Me
- It’s performed by freaking Florence + The Machine.
Now if you’re familiar with this blog, then you know I love Florence + The Machine. From the moment her voice started to sing those iconic lyrics in the trailer, I may or may not have screamed in delight (again remember, rationality has been potentially thrown out the window). While some might argue that the game should have an original piece of music to go with the game, they really couldn’t have picked a better alternative in my book.
Finally, along with the release date, we were told about the various editions that the game will be available in for purchase. Now as I alluded to in my intro, I might have spent a lot of money on pre-ordering this game. To be specific, the Ultimate Collector’s Edition of the game that comes with DLC, the soundtrack, an art book, the Kingsglaive film, and a Play Arts Figurine, costs 27o dollars. Now usually I scoff at editions like that, but having waited for this title for a decade I have decided to say “fuck it.” While I haven’t been charged for it yet, I am one of the lucky few who has managed to pre-order this edition and not been put on a waiting list. Now, you might argue that I’m not being super-rational about all this, and you’re right. But quite frankly, I don’t think I need to be. Square Enix in the last few years has done a phenomenal job of realizing what gamers want and giving it to them. From the demos that I have played to the shift in company cultures, it’s clear that even with the extra films and merch, Square knows that it has something epic on its hands. Unfortunately for me, I still have to wait another six months.