Final Fantasy XV Review - Is It Good or Bad?

Final Fantasy XV Review
Be prepared for a road trip of a lifetime as Noctis and his friends take you on a journey throughout Eos.

The 15th main installment in the Final Fantasy franchise has a tagline of “A Final Fantasy for Fans and First-Timers.” In this article, I will talk about how much of a fan or a first-time you need to be to love this game. Five years since its original release, did the game level up enough to earn some playing time?

About Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy XV is an action role-playing game wherein you mainly take the role of Noctis Lucis Caelum, Prince of Lucis. You with your three best buds embark on a journey to save your kingdom and restore world order. 

FFXV was first released in 2016 for the PS4 and Xbox One. Square Enix initially announced the game as Final Fantasy Versus XII in 2006. 

A lot has happened in ten years. It was first supposed to be part of a subseries then it became Final Fantasy’s next main installment. The changes were not as polished as expected when the game was released.

Players and critics alike had mixed feelings about the game. But it did not stop FFXV from being a success. Five million units were sold worldwide on the first day, making FFXV have the biggest launch in the franchise’s history.

To appease the critics and to sate the hunger of fans, Square Enix expanded Final Fantasy XV. With three mobile subseries games, a novel, a movie, an anime series, a playable prequel, four playable DLCs, a multiplayer port, and a VR game, Final Fantasy XV’s universe comes full circle. 

You may even play Noctis and friends in a chibi-fied version of the main game on mobile.

Final Fantasy XV Story

Prompto (leftmost), Ignis (left center), Noctis (right center), and Gladiolus (rightmost) face the end of their journey.

Prince Noctis of Lucis, along with his friends, go on a road trip/bachelor party towards the kingdom of Altissia where his bride-to-be is waiting for him. In their absence, a rival country, Niflheim, destroys the capital. 

Plans have been changed and the bachelor party becomes a journey to collect all the Royal Arms – weapons of past Lucian kings, in order for Noctis to claim back the throne.

The plot continues throughout the story as one of self-redemption and friendship. The whole game is divided into fifteen chapters wherein the general goal of every chapter is to go from Point A to Point B. Whatever happens in between is up to you.

With that, the storyline of the game is pretty much straightforward. In an attempt to make the characters relatable, short snippets of their backstory are sprinkled here and there. Sprinkled in the sense that it is a feeble attempt to make the story more in-depth. 

If you are a fan of the franchise, this is a disappointment to installments past. If this is your first Final Fantasy, the story is fun yet forgettable.

Square Enix addressed this issue by releasing four DLCs called Episodes. We have Episode Gladiolus, Episode Ignis, Episode Prompto, and Episode Ardyn. 

All the DLCs are available for purchase separately or included in Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition. Each episode takes an in-depth look into the featured character, giving the much-needed oomph that the main story lacked. 

As for the story of friendship, it is quite spot-on in the main game. The boys act and talk to each other like real best buds from the teasing and the banter to their support when things get tough. 

If we are just talking about friendship goals, the bromance in the game wins first prize. I actually cried at the ending because of the feels that these four gave me.

To be honest, the story of Final Fantasy XV is pretty amazing. That is if you are willing to play all four DLCs, watch Kingsglaive (the movie which is currently available on Netflix), watch Brotherhood (the anime which is currently available on YouTube), and play A King’s Tale (the prequel which is free on the PlayStation and Xbox stores). 

If you only plan to play the main game, well, there are other redeeming factors.

Final Fantasy XV Gameplay

At the beginning of the game, you start with four characters. Unlike past installments wherein you get additional permanent characters along the way, you also end the game with these four characters.

This is great for first-timers of not only Final Fantasy but of RPGs in general as you get to not worry about under-leveling the ones that will come along later in the game.

Our four characters are…

  • Noctis - a blank slate. He can wield any weapon thus you can build him however you want.
  • Prompto – a gun-wielder, higher speed and accuracy
  • Ignis – a polearm and dagger user, best for magic
  • Gladiolus – claymore user, the tank of the group

You mainly control Noctis all throughout the game. In battle, the three friends automatically act based on how you set their abilities. You may unlock an ability that lets you control one of them in battle. In some of the chapters, a guest character tags along. 

FFXV is an open-world RPG. You may do mini-games and side quests along the way that will gain you items, equipment, and experience points. These include bounty hunting, chocobo racing, fishing, dungeon crawling, and cooking. You may even play a video game within the game!

Figure 3 Ignis cooks a stat-boosting meal as you camp out. Yes, your gear is sponsored by Coleman.

For an open-world game, the world map is pretty bare. You get more than enough pit stops, a couple of ruins and dungeons, and two cities. Besides that, it’s all road and bare terrain. Talk about checking out the scenery.

I guess the world map was created to highlight the Regalia, the main vehicle being used in the story. When you wish to go to a destination for the first time, you drive (yes, drive) as Noctis in the Regalia. Do not worry about your non-existent driving skills, there is an auto mode wherein Ignis takes the wheel.

 You may revisit every destination on the map using Fast Travel wherein you pay 10 Gil and you get teleported to your destination.

The Regalia may be transformed into a 4x4 monster truck for rough terrain. It may also be customized with paints and decals. In addition to that, you may transform the Regalia into a flying car at the end of the game. 

I wish they added the flying car thing in the middle of the game instead. By the time you get the flying car, you have completed most of the quests except for one dungeon that is accessible only by the flying car. 

The premise is promising but control is difficult and there are no indicators like how you would imagine in a flying simulator. One tiny mishap and game over as you fly by trial-and-error. Exploration is the same as on land as there are invisible walls and you automatically turn around.

After leaving the optional dungeon, I never used the flying car option again. Fast travel is much easier. Shame.

When you finish the game, New Game+ is unlocked at the opening screen. In this option, you start a new game with all of your levels, abilities, weapons, etcetera intact. The only things locked are the Chocobo riding access and the flying Regalia. 

Change of difficulty is available on your first playthrough so I see no point in doing New Game+ unless you are a completist.

Final Fantasy XV Combat

Final Fantasy XV - Bandersnatch Boss Fight Gameplay [1080p HD] PS4 PRO

The combat style is hack-and-slash wherein everything happens in real-time. There is no character turn waiting. You may attack all at once and you may also get attacked all at once. 

If this is your first hack-and-slash game, like me, then you are in luck. The controls are very easy. Just button smash one button to attack. Press a different button to dodge. Press another to do a fancy move. That’s it. If that is too much for you, there is a Wait Mode option.

The screen freezes when you access the item menu to give you time to decide. When you are feeling overwhelmed, just move away and watch your pals do the work. If you wanna escape, just keep on running away and your friends will eventually realize that you’re gone and follow you.

Maximum level for each character is 120. To be honest, you may already beat the final boss at level 50 to 60. As with most RPGs, the optional bosses are the ones you need leveling up for. 

Besides XP (experience points), you also gain Ability Points (AP) that you may spend in the Ascension Menu to unlock different abilities and character boosts. The Ascension Menu helps you customize how the boys react during battle and personalize their stats. Eventually, you may also unlock the ability to control the other boys besides Noctis in battle.

Weapons are either purchased in shops or won as loot or quest prizes. Noctis can use every weapon available and may equip four weapons at a time. These four weapons are interchangeable at the press of a button.

During combat when the gauge is full, Noctis signals one of his friends to use techniques (like super moves). Techniques range from damage-dealers to stat-boosters. Noctis also has his own gauge called Armiger. When full, he uses the Royal Arms in a battle frenzy until the gauge goes to zero. 

Magic, unlike in previous installments, is crafted and not learned. Magic is basically three tiers of Fire, Ice, and Lighting. 

Later on in the game, Noctis acquires a special kind of magic that allows him to cast sudden death, drain HP, and banish enemies. Unlike the elemental magic, this one is equipped.

When certain conditions are met, Noctis can summon Astrals. The downside is that you do not choose which Astral comes in and the conditions are not absolute. I was only able to summon each Astral at least once during the whole game.

Final Fantasy XV Quest/Mission System

As mentioned earlier, the main plot of the game is straightforward. What gives the game depth is the side quests. 

There are numerous things to do but only so much. There are a lot of fetch quests in the game which is generally talking to an NPC - NPC asks for something - give the NPC the item - get the prize - the end. The number of people in the game whom you have to give a repair kit to because their car broke down is unbelievable. You would not mind if you are a first-timer but if you are a fan like me, this is an insult.

What I love about Final Fantasy XV is how they paced the missions in the game. The world map completely opens up by Chapter Three. With that, you may explore the whole world and do every quest accessible by Chapter Three.

I did this by mistake in my first playthrough and I became over-leveled for the game’s plot. Yet, I did not mind because in every chapter up to the last, there is still some challenge waiting in the open world even if the game plot did not give me that much. 

My personal favorite is bounty hunting. You get to go search and fight these stronger-than-usual encounters. In these battles, you really get a challenge of strength and strategy. The prizes are also not bad.

End-game content consists of eight dungeons, one harder than the next. The hardest one is a 99-floor dungeon wherein you are not allowed to leave or use items. One dungeon is rage-quit-worthy. There are no random encounters. Instead, there are traps and spikes in every turn. One mistake sends you to the start of the stage, forcing you to do it all again.

Final Fantasy XV Graphics

Final Fantasy XV Highest Settings 4K,HD Textures | RTX 3090 | Ryzen 3950X OC

The graphics in this game are beautiful. The world map may be bare but the landscaping and design of the terrain are breathtaking. The world follows day and night. The transition of dusk and dawn is quite beautiful.

Textures are also great. The scales and feathers of random encounters look realistic. The detailing is amazing as well. When you fight larger-than-life encounters, their size really gives you that added anxiety of “How can I kill something this big?”

The drawback for me is the texturing of the skin and the hair. Hair is too wispy for my liking and black hair becomes an uneven gray when hit by light. Skin looks a bit rubbery during cutscenes.

Everything is smooth as it can be but you can really see that the game was made for a console more powerful than the PS4. 

Loading screen time ranges from 12 to 30 seconds long. Controls are not as real-time as you may want it to be. The camera sensitivity is wonky to the point that the screen shows grass when I should be looking at the monster killing me. 

Since the release of the Windows Version in 2018 with all its graphic enhancements, I do not think these will be a problem now.

In combat, Noctis uses the Royal Arms on a horde of mech soldiers.

Final Fantasy XV Developer

Square Enix is the brains behind the 15th Final Fantasy game. They are also the developer behind the Dragon Quest series and Kingdom Hearts.

The DLCs and other media content was an answer to the community’s critics about the storyline with the last one, Episode: Ardyn, released in 2019. 

Unfortunately, three more DLCs dedicated to Noctis, Aranea, and Lunafreya were canceled due to a “directional change” on Square Enix’s part. During this time, the game’s director Hajime Tabata left Square Enix. Ultimately, the canceled DLCs were novelized as The Dawn of the Future - which was globally released in 2020.

Final Fantasy XV Price

Final Fantasy Royal Edition (Base Game + all DLCs and bonuses except Episode: Ardyn) is available for purchase on Steam, PlayStation, and Microsoft stores starting at $34.99. Keep in mind that Royal Edition was released in 2018 while Episode: Ardyn is in 2019. Episode: Ardyn costs an additional $4.99.

You may also opt to purchase the Complete Edition on Steam (Royal Edition + Episode: Ardyn).  Also, you may purchase limited-edition character and Regalia skins and weapons in all stores.

Final Verdict

8 out of 10 stars


  • It is a game perfect for Final Fantasy first-timers and even first-timers of RPGs in general.
  • Graphics are top-notch.
  • Gameplay is easy-to-follow
  • After five years, consuming all the DLCs and content does not leave a hole in your wallet.
  • Noctis is overpowered and a combat god.
  • Combat is exciting and visually stunning.
  • Play on PC for maximum enjoyment.


  • Fans might find the game lacking and just a weak summary of Final Fantasy's past.
  • Camera sensitivity is less than desired.
  • Story immersion and full enjoyment come with a price.
  • Noctis is overpowered and a combat god.
  • World map is a bit bare.

If you decide that Final Fantasy XV deserves some playtime, check out our in-depth guides. I will be discussing the best weapons and accessories in the game. Also, squeal with me as we rank the best and worst characters in the game!


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A real-life explorer. If she is not venturing the continents for new adventures, Mary Roseann is exploring virtual dungeons for one-of-a-kind treasures and tougher-than-life boss encounters.
Gamer Since: 1998
Favorite Genre: RPG
Currently Playing: Genshin Impact, Ragnarok X: Next Generation, Warframe
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