Ten years is a very long time to leave fans waiting for the next video game in a much-loved series, and the pressure on the Final Fantasy 15 team must have been immense. They can breathe a sigh of relief now – the game is out and it’s rather good. They stuck the landing.
I admit, FF15 isn’t without its flaws. Its story isn’t the best told – or even the best in the series – and its camera is rubbish. In many places, it barely resembles what was shown in even relatively recent trailers, proof Square Enix should stop revealing stuff before it’s truly ready. Far more important than all that, however, is that FF15 shows an exciting sense of vision, passion and heart.
For a game that began life a decade ago, many of the great things about FF15 seem smartly informed by the best role-playing games out right now. In its beautiful open world I see slices of The Witcher, of Skyrim, even of Mass Effect. I love some turn-based action, but it’s thrilling to see Final Fantasy hosting such accomplished real-time battles.
At FF15’s lavish unveiling event in Los Angeles, series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi took to the stage to support the game. This was a shock: Sakaguchi hasn’t worked at Square Enix for years and has openly criticised recent entries. He talked about the previous status of the series as a ‘challenger’ – a game series that isn’t afraid to try new things and upset the status quo.
FF lost that innovative spirit for many years, playing it relatively safe with clever tweaks of ideas that had worked in the past. Evolve or die, Square suddenly realised, and FF15 is the result. For the first time in well over a decade this is a true challenger FF, unafraid to throw out the old and drag in the interesting and new.
This is the most exciting thing about FF15 and the potential future of the series. The next FF doesn’t have to be an action-based game or feature a realistic art style, but what it must continue to do is channel this spirit: to be bold, brave and never, ever ordinary. That is what FF was founded on and where it flourishes.
This article originally appeared in Official PlayStation Magazine. For more great PlayStation coverage, you can subscribe here.