Final Fantasy XV is great but that’s part of the problem


Final Fantasy XV was a better-than-good-video game when it was first released. More than a year removed from its Nov. 29, 2016 release,  it evolved into an excellent combination of content, mechanics and a more robust storytelling arch.

Oh, and that’s a pretty huge problem.

When XV was announced, the game’s developers tried to explain the outline; that, basically, it would ship in its most simple form, then be expanded upon as time went on. They have, without a doubt, lived up to that promise.

Again, while increasingly realizing I’m a grown man yelling at clouds, this is an issue.

Bluntly, the game released unfinished, which the developers plainly said would be the case. None of us cared.

Instead, now, many of us are celebrating it. The proposed “honesty” of the approach, the added layers to the story, and this con I’ve grown sick of becoming an accepted practice.

Let’s get a few important caveats out of the way first. As already noted, everyone was told “more” would be coming to the game after launch; the “more” has often been free DLC and has been excellent; this hasn’t been a total abuse of mircotransactions or anything.

The microtransactions part of this is important. Don’t confuse what I’m about to say with that. While Final Fantasy XV does offer those pesky — and mostly useless — 99 cent whatevers as does most every other game, you don’t need to purchase them to level-up or be better within the confines of the game.

This is not Metal Gear V: Phantom Pain forcing you to purchase more FOBs in order to compete in multiplayer non-actual-game-things.

However, to experience XV in all its glory, you do need to make purchases or have the season-pass and/or both.

That’s a legitimate problem. It is why it bothers me I love this game so much.

XV is the best game in the series since XII got lost in the PS2-to-PS3 shuffle. It is important to note this, as I admittedly feel like a man complaining he’s been given a dime instead of a quarter. That being said, this industry trend of selling a dime for 15 cents, then expecting customers to give conglomerates many more nickels to receive the quarter’s worth of value they were expecting at launch, has turned me from enthusiastic gamer to wayward old man.

This attempt of the industry to milk more dollars from consumers via supposed extra story isn’t new. It’s been over a decade since expansion packs that added to gameplay debuted.

But then, there’s a difference between extra story and omitted context central to the game.

This isn’t Skyrim releasing the impressive Dawnguard expansion pack, which just added slightly more action to a universe already rich in history, stories and an emotional connection you didn’t inherently need to enjoy the game.

This was Square Enix releasing a game knowing its main characters weren’t going to be properly fluffed into complexity upon launch, knowing many would buy DLC later to receive it.

Yes. Yes. Thanks to record-setting sales, Square has provided a TON of free DLC that has done that. And yet, bluh. Boo that model. Shove this model of shipping out literally incomplete, unfinished and knowingly flawed products to our doorsteps knowing that a developer can profit off it long after its debut by way of providing people things that should come with the stock game.

This “give it away for free” thing isn’t altruistic, either. That DLC, while great, is there to keep you around long enough to be convinced to send over your money for the non-free DLC. “If the free DLC is that good, the paid-DLC must be excellent,” us dopey AF consumers will trick ourselves into thinking.

It is a slight of hand, look over here while we take your loot, magical trick that shouldn’t be celebrated.

That last part, the celebration of XV for “still developing gamers with great content” is my largest issue with all of that. Why are we so excited that Square Enix released an Ignis story-arc that added levels to his character that the launch-version of the game needed so we could have been (more) fully invested in the character?

How did we get here, a place in space and time, when there’s standing ovations being had for a product not adding to its game following its storyline aftermath, but inserting key pieces to the puzzle that should have been there from the first place?

I mean, FFS with this guy’s touting of enduring success. Don’t continue to create “new” content for important aspects to the original game, then claim it to be an achievement.

That. Stuff. Should. Have. Been. There. At. Launch.

Alas, and by no means am I the first to realize this, it has become increasingly clear that there’s zero reason to buy any video game product when it initially launches. The aforementioned Skyrim V game, which is fantastic, was excellent when released, but had any of us waited a few years, we could gotten it for cheaper, with all its expansion packs, and remastered on the PS4 or XBox One.

In fact, I recently made that purchase for my PS4. Still, I didn’t win this war against developers, as all I allowed was for the Skyrim team to take even more of money, since I bought the original version on the 360. As it turns out, I just double-dipped in the content pond.

Boo, me, honestly.

I’m older-ish. 34, which is probably considered ancient in terms relative to what companies and their demographics consider acceptable practices when a game is released. I want you to understand that I understand that. That, sure, maybe I’m the dinosaur here and this world of gaming practices has passed me by.

At the same time, I won’t be apologetic for yearning for yesteryear. A time when a game launched as complete as humanly possible. And then, even if there were DLC coming down the pipe, it wasn’t so vital to the actual story of the game, it was OK to not keep hurling that company nickels in the hope of finally receiving that quarter’s worth of entertainment.

Final Fantasy XV is great. Make no bones about it. To enjoy it in full, though, despite all that supposed free DLC, you’re still going to be forced to spend nearly $3.50 for that 25 cent value you were initially hoping to have. But hey, it was good enough in launch form, so you’re hooked and already pot invested … what’s another nickel?

And that, my friends, is the problem.

Joseph Nardone has been covering college basketball for nearly 10 years. He is old. He also almost made it. Then he was laid off by the big bad industry that does not love him as much as he loves it. Follow him @JosephNardone. Oh, and Casey Hudson, if you need help with Mass Effect, I’ll write some unimportant to the main story arcs for cheap!