Final Fantasy 15
Author: M.S.
System: PS4, Xbox One

This past week, Square Enix proudly revealed that Final Fantasy XV shipped 6 million units (including digital sales). With the critical and commercial success of the game, Square Enix’ flagship series delivered big for the company and proved that the franchise is still a big draw in the mainstream gaming community.

This can be looked at as a huge win after its well-documented tumultuous development cycle spanning over a decade, but for all of the game`s strengths (the combat, the open world, the four protagonists` relationships), the game was not without its faults. In most circles the major complaints levied against it were with its story, or lack thereof, and the fact that the game’s pacing felt very patchy in terms of how it was put together.

If you are unfamiliar, the game sheds its open world for a more linear experience in its back half to focus on story, but often rushes through it without explaining key character motivations or story beats. This was an especially hard pill to swallow for some after its ambitious story was deemed too big for the game itself and had the obligatory “required reading” companion pieces used to flesh out the narrative: the film Kingsglaive, which acted as a bridge into the main game’s story and the anime series Brotherhood which took a closer look into the relationships of the four protagonists. Even with this additional expanded media created to enrich the story, there are still glaring gaps that leave us wondering what exactly was cut from the game’s original vision. If we go back and watch trailers as recent as 2014, major characters or scenes are completely left out of the game. Without any spoilers, even story elements previously mentioned such as the narrative being focused around the bond of father and son, were seemingly dropped at the eleventh hour.3029002-caem

On the heels of games with similar issues such as 2015’s Metal Gear Solid 5 and last year’s Street Fighter V, the game while generally very good, feels painfully unfinished in many respects. It`s not a surprise that the game has had a very troubled development cycle over its 10 plus years, I mean, no game comes out of that unscathed, but recent information from those tied to the development of the game has documented the extent of these troubles.

One of the lead character designers, Roberto Ferrari, even recently talked candidly about the development struggles, posting on his Facebook page the following: “The development team is highly disorganized. Our staff had to work on FFXV while the story still had to be finalized. In 2013, the damn story changed every three months or so and the game’s release date had been scheduled for December 2014.” He further notes that due to the lack of a set story in place there was a lot of “waste”, detailing characters and designs he created that were completely scratched from the final product.

The fruits of the “waste” Ferrari was talking about can be clearly seen now in YouTube videos showing completely cut sections of the game, including a recent post by Reddit user Fotm Hero.

In the video we see full regions of the game that were only used as backdrops during the main game’s later half, but through the miracle of glitches, Hero was able to break through the game’s barriers and gives us an in depth look at these areas. What is even more interesting is the fact that after the 1.03 patch, previously unseen roads and bridges were added to these regions, signifying that the team is working hard on developing them for their future DLC plans.

And speaking of DLC plans, we know that on top of the side stories being developed for its previously non-playable protagonists as well as multiplayer functionality, the game’s Director Hajime Tabata is working on something with his team that is unprecedented for the mainline series (online entries excluded): he’s patching in story and gameplay elements to existing chapters, including the much maligned chapter 13.

It’s been a very strange and unusual path to the release of Final Fantasy XV and it seems that the story is not finished yet (in more ways than one). For more news on the game`s upcoming developments, including all DLC news and a full review, stay tuned on TSS in the coming weeks.

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