Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition Review: A flawed yet fixed masterpiece

Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition Review: A flawed yet fixed masterpiece

Dive into the fantastical realm of Final Fantasy XV, where sprawling landscapes, epic battles, and intricate storytelling await. In this review, we'll embark on a journey through the highs and lows of one of the most polarizing entries in the renowned Final Fantasy series. From its captivating combat system to its expansive lore and unforgettable characters, Final Fantasy XV promises an experience like no other. So grab your sword, summon your comrades, and join us as we delve deep into the world of Eos and uncover the secrets that lie within in today's article: a Final Fantasy XV Review: A flawed yet fixed masterpiece.

Battle System - 9.5

Final Fantasy XV - Killing Adamantoise in 4 minutes or less. (3minutes  50seconds)

This game's combat is certainly polarizing—some argue it is mindless button-mashing, whereas some call it some of the most satisfying and cinematic combat in a video game. I'm sure you can guess which side I align with! This game's combat is beautiful and engaging to watch, of course, but it has more depth than many would like to admit! Noctis has access to a variety of unique weapons that vary drastically from one another, meaning that switching weapons on the fly can be used to execute some epic combos! For example, you can warp to a flying enemy with Ragnarok to execute an insanely powerful Warp Strike and then dish out huge aerial damage with your best spear. Or you can clear out weak groups of enemies with daggers or magic before warping in with a great sword to take down more beefy targets. Speaking of, Warp Strikes are one of the most satisfying things ever put in a video game! They make combat so satisfying! Also, techniques and link strikes allow for an extra layer of pizzazz to combat. However, Noctis isn't the only playable party member—the bodacious bros are playable too! Gladiolus plays similar to a game like Dark Souls or a Star Wars Jedi game, focused on parries and hitting with strong melee strikes. Prompto plays like a character in a third-person shooter, carrying a pistol, a machine gun, a rocket launcher, and grenades. Ignis plays like a hack-n'-slash with three different types of elemental attacks and swift dodging. Ice attacks hit for medium AoE damage, fire attacks hit for heavy single-target damage, and lightning attacks zip from enemy to enemy for weaker but faster damage. Ultimately, this combat may not be the most strategic combat in the world, but it is very fun and cinematic, so I believe it deserves to have such a high score.

Story - 7.5

Leviathan (Final Fantasy XV) | Final Fantasy Wiki | Fandom

I'm going to be honest; I have the exact opposite opinion of most people in regard to this game. Many say Final Fantasy XV has a great story but is told in a less-than-good way. On the contrary, I actually loved the whole multimedia tale, but not as much the narrative itself. Books, short DLC episodes, anime, and movies all tell stories in different ways. While I could've done with, well, the whole shtick accessible under the bonus content tab, I actually loved the Final Fantasy XV expanded universe. However, my biggest complaint is that the story is a tad too simple. When all is said and done, the narrative here can be boiled down to something more superficial than the original Final Fantasy. Granted, the emotional gravitas and brilliant characters elevate the story to be great, but more complexity could've been great. If the whole game had the immaculate storytelling of Episode Ignis and Episode Ardyn? This could be a top-tier Final Fantasy story. However, as-is, it's still great but not sensational.

Customization System - 7.5

How To Make Limit Break Spells Flare, Freeze, and Electon Easily In Final  Fantasy XV

As much as I adore this game's combat, this game's progression is some of the weakest in the series. Ascension is my least favorite progression system in the series (apart from maybe the original Final Fantasy's super-simple job system). There are some fun techniques to learn from it and, of course, the ability to play as the bros, but, in the end, there are few things that actually mix up how battle feels. So, if this is a bottom-tier Final Fantasy progression system, why does it not have a super low score? Because the highlights here aren't the progression itself but the sheer variety of unique weapons, armor, and magic available in the game; this game has the best equipment selection in the series! Noctis has access to swords, daggers, polearms, greatswords, shields, guns, machinery, magic, the Ring of Lucii, and, best of all, the Royal Arms! Swords are well-rounded and typically boast particular affinities; daggers hit extremely fast and weak but keep the user swiftly chaining between enemies; polearms excel at hitting for aerial damage and finishing combos; greatswords hit for massive yet slow damage; shields are weak at attacking but protect the user while using them; guns are weak, but keep Noctis out of harm's way; and machinery, which is primarily for show, as they simply can't compare tot he other weapons. Next is magic, which is actually single-use—and not in the way, say, Final Fantasy VIII is single-use. I'm talking about collecting tons of shards and some rare items to create a couple of spells. But, as much as this seemed stupid at first, it grew on me!

Synthesizing potent spells with different spell catalysts was excellent and became a highlight of the game for me. The Ring of Lucii is a special endgame weapon made available to Noctis in Chapter 13, and it is brilliant! It has three moves: Death, Holy, and Alterna. Death deals damage over a period of time, instantly killing any enemy susceptible to its effects (and healing Noctis's HP in the process!); Holy triggers upon successful counterattacks and dishes out extreme damage in a burst around Noctis; and Alterna instantly kills all nearby enemies at the cost of Noctis's whole MP pool. And above all? There are thirteen entirely unique weapons in the form of the Royal Arms! There's the Sword of the Tall, a high-attack chainsaw sword that charges Noctis forward to do damage; the Sword of the Wise, which has long-distance melee attacks that promote a hit-and-run playstyle; the Sword of the Father, a sword that leaves after-images upon attacking; the Axe of the COnquerer, which does heavy damage and stuns enemies; the Trident of the Oracle hits for unrelenting damage at high speeds; the Blade of the Mystic has interesting warp strikes; the Katana of the Warrior has even more exciting warp strikes; the Scepter of the Pious has directional flexibility and does increased damage based on Noctis's magic stat; the Mace of the Fierce has upgraded parries; the Star of the Rogue (my favorite of the thirteen) does powerful mid-range ranged damage; the Swords of the Wanderer are, well, pretty much typical daggers; the Shield of the Just blocks practically all damage; and the Bow of the Clever does severe long-range damage. And every cosmetic skin also affects stats. Ultimately, while the progression is seriously lacking here, the equipment system is so brilliant I don't mind.

Characters - 10

Download The Iconic Final Fantasy Characters in Action Wallpaper |  Wallpapers.com

While the game's supporting characters are weak (outside of a select few, namely, Cindy, Cor, and Takka), the main characters and villains here (Ardyn, Somnus, Bahamut, and Ravus) are all fantastic and, in my opinion, some of the series' absolute finest. The bros are my favorite cast of the whole series, Ardyn is my third favorite Final Fantasy villain after Kefka and the Emperor of Palamecia, Somnus is a brilliant villain that sent Ardyn into his state of madness, Bahamut is mysterious in which we never know his true motive, and Ravus is an excellent anti-hero that flourishes to his full in Episode Ignis. In the end, with a great assortment of villains and the best bros ever with their brilliant banter, the characters here are terrific.

Art & Graphics - 9.5

The Art of Final Fantasy XV. Fusing Magic and Realism. | Cook and Becker

While I reserve perfect scores for very artistic games, this game has beautiful and somewhat realistic graphics that make it a joy to look at. While I wish the UI was better (and that the bros kept the UI from their respective episodes) and the skin tones looked less odd, this is a beautiful and brilliant game all around.

Sidequests - 7

Quest (Final Fantasy XV)/Sidequests | Final Fantasy Wiki | Fandom

This game has multiple wonderful sidequests! Upgrading the Regalia, collecting the Royal Arms, invading imperial arms, killing giant monsters, fishing, participating in hunts, cooking, doing collaboration events, and more! However, with so many absolutely mediocre quests as well? I can't give this all too high of a score. I mean, I could've used more lore and character-based sidequests. In the end, the sidequests here are solid but not superb.

Locations - 7

Only the First Half of Final Fantasy XV Is Open World, Apparently | Push  Square

The open world is stunning and fun to explore! Insomnia is a beyond-brilliant final dungeon, and every locale present in the DLC episodes is totally terrific. However, the dungeons aren't particularly special, and the world doesn't quite live up to its overwhelming potential. I like the locations here, but they are certainly below average for the series.

Music - 10

FINAL FANTASY XV Original Soundtrack - Album by Yoko Shimomura | Spotify

This game has, hands-down, the best soundtrack of the Final Fantasy series. Yoko Shimamura is one of the few people who can truly live up to or, in this case, surpass the works of the legendary Nobuo Uematsu. This game's soundtrack is comprehensive and never has a song I don't instantly fall in love with. This game stands as one of my favorite video game soundtracks of all time, with masterpieces like Nobuo Uematsu's Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon, Joe Hisaishi's Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, and Yasunori Nishiki's Octopath Traveler soundtracks the only ones holding a candle. This soundtrack is a testament to how inhumanely extraordinary Shimamura is as a composer.

Quality of Life - 8

Final Fantasy 15 Regalia Type F and Type D: how to take to the skies and go  off road by upgrading your car | VG247

If the fast travel weren't so unpredictable, there were some FFXIII-esque datalogs to actually explain the story more (or, you know, just actually integrate it into the game), the Regalia-F was a little easier to land, I could walk around outside of battle with the bros, the item system was fixed, and a couple other things were fixed, this game would be perfectly optimized. Luckily, most things were fixed in the Royal Edition, so there's nothing too wrong here.

The Verdict

Original Title Screen Logo - Final Fantasy XV Mods - ModWorkshop

Fun Factor: 8
Overall Score: 85%
Letter Rating: S

I absolutely adore Final Fantasy XV! It isn't perfect, but even as a long-time fan who started with the very first game, this game took a lot of risks that paid off brilliantly, making this one of my favorite games of the series. While I wouldn't believe this if I played it before the Royal Edition, in the end, the Royal Edition is a flawed yet fixed masterpiece. I'd recommend this game to fans and first-timers who are looking for a brilliant, experimental RPG like no other! If you haven't tried it because of its polarizing nature, I suggest you give it a try... you may just love it as much as I did! And, if it helps, I was super skeptical about playing it for the first time, too, and I fell in love with it nonetheless!

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