Jan 11, 2017

5 World-building Issues That Ruined Final Fantasy XV For Me

I've been a fan of the Final Fantasy series for years and played most of the games (I gave up on the abysmally boring FFXIII though), my favourites multiple times. FFXV is deeply flawed; I could talk about the nonsensical bachelors-on-a-roadtrip plot or the flat main characters, but the thing that ruins the game for me is the sloppy world-building. Ten years, and this is what they came up with? Really? REALLY?

So here's my list. This, dear writer pals, is an example of what NOT to do.

1) Good world-building gives your fantasy world a sense of believability, of cohesion. If you decide to set your game in a '50s Americana environment, you have to go all the way. You just can't have the gas stations selling potions, phoenix downs, and elixirs and the people wearing armour and using swords and other medieval weapons. In my opinion, the real world doesn't belong in Final Fantasy. It's a fantasy world, that's part of the charm. This kind of thing seriously strains the player's suspension of disbelief.

2) Product placement. You can't convince me that a Vivienne Westwood wedding dress belongs in a Final Fantasy game environment where people are hunting monsters and riding chocobos. You just can't.

3) The stereotypical and unfunny dialogue. The minor characters speak in an exaggerated southern accent and in 90 percent clichés. It's bordering on offensive. If writing a setting which comes with a specific dialect, do your research and find a beta reader who can help you with the dialect/slang.

4) Know your target audience. Fans of Final Fantasy have been pretty happy with the steampunk/medieval aesthetic. Sometimes a departure from the familiar is needed, but if the result is something so different that it's no longer recognisable as part of the franchise, you should probably rethink what you're doing.

5) Welcome to 2017. I know the game has been in the works for ten years, but the world has changed since then. The previous FF games certainly don't lack pretty girls in skimpy clothing, but usually the female characters have had some kind of agency and interesting backstories. You really cared about them. Now, for some reason, the developers decided to have four male main characters who are almost indistinguishable from each other ("likes to cook" isn't a defining character trait, guys, but more of a quirk.). The only women we are introduced to in the first hours of the game are Noctis' fiancé, who seems pretty passive, and Cindy the sexy mechanic, whose only real reason for existing seems to be flashing her cleavage at the boys while she gasses up the car and wipes the windshield. You need to do better.

So that's my list. What did you think of the game?

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