What you won’t like
A lot of open-world games have technical issues, and Final Fantasy XV isn’t an exception. Most of the time, the bugs are harmless. A character might get stuck or suddenly transport themselves for example.
I had at least three instances, however, where it straight up crashed on me. Now, on the bright side, Final Fantasy XV autosaves pretty regularly, so I never missed out on a lot of progress. But it was still annoying.
Toward the end, you leave the open world and begin a series of quests that eventually lead to the ending. Now, at any time during these, you can actually teleport to the “past” (an excuse to allow you to go back and explore more of the map and do side activities and missions when it would otherwise be impossible story-wise for you to be there).
A lot of these end-game missions feel flat. Up to that point, the adventure has something of a breezy, casual pace, with story advancement coming infrequently. These last chapters almost feel like they’re trying to play catch-up, suddenly racing toward an ending while not really giving you a lot to do. You spend more time just walking around and triggering cutscenes than fighting.
Sometimes, you will get into fights during this section that look cool but don’t actually offer any challenge. One battle was one of the most epic I had even seen in a game, but the tension disappeared when I realized I was basically invisible during the action.
One extended mission toward the end drove me crazy. It took away my friends, my weapons, and most of my abilities. I had to walk around a labyrinth looking for key cards while casting slow spells as the only means to defend myself. This would have been a fine distraction for a bit, but this part felt like it went on forever.
Thankfully — and without giving anything away — the last couple of hours of Final Fantasy XV are excellent and wash away the bad taste from that pace-breaking slog.
Final Fantasy XV has its problems, but it’s filled with enough special moments that you can forgive the issues. The combat is fluid, thoughtful, and cinematic while the open world gives you a ton to do. If you hated Final Fantasy XIII because of its linearity and lack of anything to do outside of the main story, you’ll dig just how much stuff Final Fantasy XV has to offer.
My favorite RPGs are the ones that give me moments that I remember forever — like the opera scene in Final Fantasy VI or the epic battle against Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII. I don’t want to ruin what those moments are in this game, but Final Fantasy XV has plenty of them. Sometimes, it’s an epic boss fight, and sometimes, it’s just admiring some dramatic scenery. But my favorite memory is how emotional I got when the music swelled at the end during a beautiful final cutscene. The title is worth playing for that moment alone.
Final Fantasy XV comes out for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 29. Square Enix sent us a copy of the PS4 version for this review.