SPOILERS FFXV: The greatest FF story never told

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THERE WILL BE OPEN SPOILERS THROUGHOUT THIS THREAD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. DO NOT READ ANY OF THIS THREAD BEYOND THE IMAGE OF REGIS' GREEN TONGUE IF YOU HAVE NOT COMPLETED THE GAME OR IF YOU CARE ABOUT SPOILERS.





(I use this image because the version of the game that we get is a bit like the green soup on King Regis’ tongue: a small taste of something much larger, and on its own it might not taste very nice. It is also fitting because it is one of many scenes from a trailer which never made it into the finished game).

***



FFXV: The greatest FF story never told.

I like this game. Honestly, I do. I’ve enjoyed myself a lot playing through it. But there is no denying that as I played through the game disappointment was invading my thoughts and following me everywhere (a bit like dog tag Dave). Something (or more than one thing) was seriously wrong with the game. It’s easy to work out what.

People are criticising the story, but it isn’t that the story itself is bad. Far from it, in my opinion. The problem which hinders FFXV is the execution and delivery of the story. Square Enix simply forgot to tell it.

FFXV’s story is a beautiful tragedy with one of the most satisfying conclusions I’ve ever seen in a Final Fantasy game (albeit not a perfect conclusion). But it plays like an Ancient Greek tragedy in that too much of the story and action happens off stage and is later revealed to the player through dialogue (be it cutscenes, random conversations with NPCs, or even listening to the radio). This works for Greek theatre, but FFXV is a game. Players expect a visual experience, and need to see some of these events occurring. Players also need a gameplay experience and need to play particular moments of the story. Instead, players were denied any sort of access to many of these scenes.


Assuming prior familiarity:

From the very beginning of the game too much of the story is left untold. Players are expected to have watched Brotherhood and Kingsglaive already. If they haven’t then they’ll miss out on some of the particulars of the relationships between Noctis and his friends, and they might not understand the significance of what happened in Insomnia when it fell. You also need to have seen the trailers and played through the Platinum Demo in order to enhance your enjoyment of the main game, because these show scenes developing the relationship between Noctis and King Regis, and of Lunafreya, and the dogs, and… A lot of things, really. I did watch everything before playing the game, and so I felt better equipped to understand the story. I felt that I knew Insomnia and its importance pretty well already, and thank the Six that I did since it wasn’t communicated as well in the game itself as it could have been.

Square Enix attempted to assuage this issue by including flashes of scenes from Kingsglaive at the critical moment early on in the game. But it doesn’t work effectively because what you really need to do in order to receive the emotional impact is see the movie. The brief glimpses into the scenes with no context cheapen the event. Similarly, they use flashes of scenes from the (very excellent and beautifully composed) Omen trailer. The flashes are used as a nightmare of Noctis, but they lose their impact and relevance because the flashes are so fast that player never gets to absorb them, and the music used gives the impression that scene is very hurried. It may have been better if they had actually lifted the footage directly from the trailer, complete with music (or some other fitting music), and put it as a complete nightmare. Instead, they use flashes of it and the whole scene appears rushed.


The stories of characters:

There are some minor characters who we were supposed to care about, but we never really got to know them.

Jared is a most striking example. When Jared was killed (off screen, of course) I couldn’t even clearly remember ever meeting the guy. Thankfully the game had anticipated that players would have forgotten him, and so they flashed an image of his face from the only time the player ever saw him as a helpful aide-memoire... This scene loses its emotional impact because Jared isn’t really established as a character. He says hello, you go away, and then later you find out that he has been murdered. Noctis possibly had more interaction with the postman.

Even the main characters cannot escape this problem. Noctis’ brotherhood are all interesting and well-developed characters, but they too suffer from the storytelling.

Gladio temporarily leaves the party and goes off to… Erm… What does he do? We never find out! He gains a new scar, but we never find out what he was doing. I don’t mind that we didn’t find out what he was doing immediately after his return (a little mystery doesn’t hurt anybody), but they never go back to it and we never find out.

Ignis is injured and goes blind during the events in Altissia with Leviathan. But, of course, Ignis was off screen helping to evacuate the population of Altissia at the time and so we never see exactly what injured Ignis. Noctis is on his own fighting Leviathan (with Luna’s aid) and when he awakes he finds that Ignis is blind. To give the game credit, although they don’t handle the turning blind well, they handle Ignis being blind and dealing with such a traumatic life-altering disability brilliantly. There are some excellent scenes which the player is allowed to see where Ignis is seen to be struggling, but eventually stoically coming to terms with his new condition and making the best of a terrible situation.

Prompto’s story suffers too. After Prompto is rescued in the Niflheim capital, we learn out of the blue that Prompto is an MT, and that he was ‘created’ or something. It’s not even clear what they were trying to tell us what he was. I thought that the MTs were Magiteks – robots or automatons. It turns out that there was more to them, and according the FF wikia Prompto was supposed to be the biological son of the scientist Verstael Besithia (this is the menacing old man who appears in one brief scene in FFXV, but is otherwise absent from the finished game). I don’t remember ever learning about the connection to Verstael during the game, unless I missed a note or an optional conversation somewhere – I’ll have to replay that segment. The player could have benefited from learning more about Prompto’s origins, so that it would appear less random. Instead I was left adapting that famous line from Alien in my head: “Prompto is a goddamn robot!” I don’t know if the creepy dark corridors and being chased by a hideous creature only moments earlier was deliberately intending our minds to go that way or not. Prompto can’t be a robot anyway since he is obese as a kid in Brotherhood

Almost all of Luna and Ravus’ stories happen off screen too. You see snippets of their lives (mostly post-mortem). They’re actually good stories, in my opinion, but the player never really accesses them. I think that Lunafreya could have been a strong character like Yuna and Aerith (her story and role is similar), but since we never meet her as a character we never get to know her as a person. We see her public persona as the Oracle (delivering speeches, healing the sick, performing sacred rites), and then we get a few personal scenes with her brother Ravus, and as a child with Noctis. I think we really needed more scenes with her to fully appreciate her. Her peculiar pen-pal relationship with Noctis, and her eventual death could have made a compelling and tragic story (her death scene and Noctis’ emotional reaction to it were phenomenal scenes). If you do mental gymnastics to fit Luna’s story into context then it still is a great story but, again, it is one that we don’t see delivered in an effective way all the way through.


The linear half of the game:

Later on in the story even the gameplay itself suffers. You lose access to the open world (unless you utilise the most bizarre method of time travel since the TARDIS: your dog). You end up on a train. The train stops. You get out and fight some monsters next to an already deceased Shiva. You board the train again and you continue. Why could we not have explored that area? Similarly, why could we not access Tenebrae a while earlier, the home of Lunafreya? We could have learned so much more about Luna there that could have gone a long way towards convincing people that she’s a good character. Instead we get to explore the train station at night.

Most of the critical moments of the story seem to happen in this second half (or less) of the game. That should be good, right? The downside is that it is far too rushed. The open world section can easily absorb about 40 hours or more before you enter the (literally) on-the-rails section of the game. Once you reach Altissia you are left hurtling towards the end.

We are rushed through the World of Ruin far too quickly. Unlike FFVI (which it is clearly drawing inspiration from by calling it ‘World of Ruin’) we do not get to explore much of the post-apocalyptic world. Noctis just about manages to leave Galdin Quay before he is rudely interrupted by a vehicle driven by an adult Talbot. The drive to Hammerhead is quite effective (seeing the monsters tear each other apart, etc). Seeing Hammerhead itself set out as a fortress for fighting off daemons is also quite interesting. But this is all we get to see.

Why can’t we see Iris the Vampire Slayer? Why can’t we see Lestallum used as the last safe(ish) haven for mankind? We hear about them, but we aren’t allowed to see them. Again!

If Square Enix had expanded these moments and given us more areas to explore then that could have greatly increased the quality of the finished game.


A good plot twist:

Now… There is one moment which happens off screen that I think really, really works. I’ve thought about this and I actually am satisfied with the way that it plays out. I’m referring to the big plot twist that the capital of the Niflheim Empire, Gralea, is now literally a ghost town. Ardyn had been manipulating the empire into experimenting with Magitek and daemons, and the end result was a capital engulfed in darkness where all of its inhabitants have vanished or transformed into daemons. It’s effectively creepy walking through the streets and corridors and seeing clothes strewn everywhere on the floor, and then eventually connecting the dots and realising that nobody is here anymore for a reason…

The Empire that the players believed were the antagonists and were stalking the player turns out to have been wiped out already, secretly. Even the Emperor himself (or rather, his clothes) can be found in the throne room. Nobody has survived. It was very Bioshock in that you learn about what happened by reading notes and hearing recordings and working out the mystery for yourself. For once in this game this style of storytelling works well and adds to the haunting atmosphere of the scenes. Yes, the gameplay in this section was a little irritating at times, but I really appreciated the story of this part of the game.

I actually quite like that twist. It’s very dark for a Final Fantasy game. Yes, you would have expected to have to fight Emperor Iedolas Aldercapt and Verstael Besithia at some point in the game, but what we trade that for is quite phenomenal. Up until that point in the game I wasn’t sure about Ardyn. I didn’t understand his motivations. My eyes were opened by the scenes in Gralea and I truly began to appreciate him as a villain.


Concluding remarks:

So… I believe that the story of FFXV is actually very good. It’s a tragic tale about a young Prince (soon King) who is a lazy, reluctant hero. The safety of the entire world rests on his shoulders, for he is the Chosen One of the prophecy who can restore light to Eos. Noctis is the unfortunate victim of prophecy, as is Luna. Countless other people give their lives so that the Chosen One can fulfill a task which is far beyond any single person in its importance, and in the end Noctis himself sacrifices his own life. He has to - it's not at all about Noctis as an individual, but is instead about the bloodline that he represents. In a heart-breaking moment the spirit of his own father, King Regis, has to deliver the final blow to Noctis in order to grant him the full power of the Lucii within the afterlife/spirit plane in order to banish Ardyn for good and rid the world of darkness. Regis pauses and is reluctant to do it, but he has to. Nobody has a choice. It is tragic.

The story is good, but the emotional payoff would have been better if they had told more of the story within the game itself. Somewhere in production they forgot to do that, and that is itself a real tragedy. As it stands Final Fantasy XV is a good and enjoyable game… But it could have been among the best Final Fantasy games of all time if the plot had been executed differently.

-

So what do you think? Were you satisfied with the plot of FFXV? If not, do you think that it is the execution which lets it down, or is there something wrong with the plot itself? If you are completely satisfied with the plot and its execution then you can let your opinions be heard too!
 

FinalxxSin

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Since this is a story related thread, I will say that I do enjoy it. While some characters don't have enough screen time to fully develop (don't get that twisted for them being bad) such as the Fleuret siblings, a few other characters do manage to still shine in their own regard such as Aranea Highwind.

Imo, there were multiple things that lead to FFXV being in the end condition that it turned out. A super early reveal, SE obviously having some issues during the prior gen, prioritizing projects, Nomura constantly flip flopping on what he wanted to do, and a very powerful yet not so friendly engine. Even with all that in mind, FFXV did not turn into a train wreck like it could have with all of those factors playing against the title. While FFXV may not be the grandish mainline game with in your face moments, it does at least get balanced out with details to subtle things. Sometimes, important information is provided through a Tour Quest or the radio; both being things that can be skipped completely by the player. The core focus of the game imo, came down to the bromance between the 4 characters. It's understandable that most would find something to love about each of them, which resulted in a large wave of meme worthy material on the internet.

With all that being said, the story may still yet be told in due time with patches and DLC content. Some may argue that the upcoming content is cut content just in general, which is not completely true. For example, Gladio's future episode will pit him against Gilgamesh, a character from my interpretation originally had no plans of being in FFXV at all. Also gameplay mechanics will be altered to be in favor of each of the Chocobros, since the core FFXV experience obviously revolves around Noctis. There is also the argument that Kingsglaive and Brotherhood should have been in the game. The game had already reached its limit of 50 GB. Even if some side content was cut out to fit in both pieces in a fleshed out manor, Kingsglaive was estimated to add on 3 - 4 years of development.

If SE can take anything away from this, I certainly hope it would be not to announce games that are still going to be a good 5+ years away. Lots of things can change in that time span, and it's best not to present a product to the public until it's near completion e.g. less than 2 years.
 

peaceducer

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Totally agree!! You said what I wanted to share with everyone :)
 

sensei_mike

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I have all of the same problems with the plot. So glad I am not alone! Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy storytelling. (I also didn't play or watch any of the supplemental stuff; in the FFXV universe I only played FFXV)

2 things you didn't mention though is the game never clearly mentions:
-Why Noctis has to sacrifice himself to save the world
-Ardyn's backstory....It's definitely a compelling one but right after passing the game I still had no idea why he was the boss of the game. Then I read the wikipedia article and was like "ohhhhhhhh...." haha
 

Linnaete

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I cannot in good conscience praise a game's story if it forgets to do something as basic as tell it. If you're trying to regale anyone with an epic tale but you neglect to do something as basic as tell it, you've conveyed less a story to an audience and more a loose, barely coherent collection of minor events strung together with paper thin context. FFXV feels more like a small collection of little vignettes for the first half and someone's Cliffnotes interpretation of an actual story for its second half. It's a bundle of good ideas, and I personally cannot divorce a good story from its storytelling, especially when your audience has to actively go through extraneous materials, Wiki pages and even Ultimania guides to understand basic facts such as:

- Ifrit betrayed the Six, despised humanity for...reasons, and created the Starscourge.
- Ardyn was originally ordained by the rest of the Six to be the one to bring an end to the Starscourge and foil Ifrit for good, only to be denied godhood and screwed over from history. It is perhaps his newfound loathing of the legacy of the Six (the whole thing about Fleuret and Caelum families being the chosen ones) and its festering for millennia that drove him to attain kinship with Ifrit. But the game does not tell you this, and generates the impression that Ifrit obeys Ardyn.
- Before Episode Prompto came out, for over half a year many people did not even know that Verstael is Prompto's biological father (kind of)! This factoid was only discovered in the Ultimania guide of all places!

The above is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the game's poor attempt to tell a story. Let us go through each chapter and examine the story of each, just to highlight how bizarrely uneven it is:

Chapter 1 - Never let Prompto drive, and oh yeah, your home has just been destroyed.

Okay, there is technically a Chapter 0, but it's one of the worst instances of media res I have ever seen. To a player paying attention, it spoils Ignis's blindness and the fact that Noctis looks substantially older than what is depicted on the box and in advertisements. Your reasonable conclusion is that there is either a time skip, or he artificially ages. You also see what looks like a topless demigod on a throne of fire. You can easily surmise that your party will eventually be thrown into a brutally savage fight against a fiery entity later on, but you're playing a JRPG - you expect something like this to crop up eventually. The sequence is too short to be of any other worth. It does not impart anything profound and nor does it offer any real interactivity to be exciting. It only invokes mystery as to why Noctis looks older, by which you will have forgotten about this opening sequence 12 hours in.

I suppose Chapter 0 was shoehorned in to try and mitigate veterans' bewilderment at a startlingly slow opener to the game where this prized vehicle (which I am supposed to believe was not checked and maintained properly back in the Crown City before it departed???) has somehow broken down on Prompto's watch a mere couple of miles outside of the city. Most of the chapter is just to meet Cindy and do errands for various NPCs with stereotypical accents. All the while, the events of Kingsglaive (buy now for £10!) occur off-screen. Given that the cataclysmic events of the film are dramatic enough in terms of scale that it is like multiple 9/11s on top of each other, this has seemingly no impact on the Lucian frontiers. You don't see anything that would constitute a convincing aftermath of an event this apocalyptic. We are only told that Iris has left the city with refugees, but we see no evidence of chaos at the checkpoints and refugee vehicles hurriedly attempting to navigate the harsh deserts of Leide on the way to Lestallum.

The gang finds out about the events in a newspaper. Sure, the Lucian frontiers have been cut off from Insomnia for 30 years, stagnating as an underdeveloped and technological backwater for decades. However, people still have smartphones out here, have signal, can use them, plus there are copious radios in settlements. Why this revelation has to come from a newspaper is beyond me. Then again, Noctis and Luna have been exchanging trite one-liners using a book carried by a mystical Shiba dog for the last 12 years, so this newspaper business seems hardly worthy of ragging on about.

So in all, Chapter 1 isn't too bad. It's a stock introductory affair, giving us a first taste of these characters and a chance to hang around and explore the setting. It's just farcical that the Insomnia treaty and invasion events make no sense to you unless you've kept up with Versus and FFXV news or have paid money to watch a rubbish CG movie as homework before you purchased this game. Thus begins the problem with FFXV: major seminal events occur off-screen. You seem late to the party half the time.

Oh, Luna has managed to escape Insomnia after the harrowing events of Kingsglaive with the Ring of the Lucii. She has found time to not only make the treacherous escape from the city, have a bath, make herself look immaculate once again, AND put on a new dress within this short space of time.

Chapter 2 - Hi, I'm Cor. Here's your tomb. Bye now!

Cor's bit of exposition is fine, but you can tell his character is the first visible victim of major rewrites. "Cor the Immortal" invokes an interesting backstory, coupled with what you briefly learn of him being there in the old war of 30 years ago, and was a feared Lucian corporal. This is not explored. If you want to learn a bit more about Cor, cough up a few quid for Episode Gladiolus.

He tells you what you must do: collect these weapons from tombs dotted around the world. Then he...vanishes. He gets up and leaves, claiming he will be keeping an eye on what Niflheim is doing, as if that's a major mystery. He briefly returns to team up with the crew against Loqi (yeah, I had to Google the name) and disappears for good this time, because he has business with the hunters or something. Considering later on he appears in Cape Caem to expound on his regret for not having been there or had the strength to protect King Regis, he is perfectly fine with staying behind in Lucis while the current king and his retinue are off to dangerous foreign lands...

Oh, and the Niflheim villains gather together for a short scene. It is the first and only time this happens. Verstael gets two lines.

Chapter 3 - Let's face it, you're just spending 25 hours here just exploring and completing sidequests

The crew reaches Lestallum to meet Iris, Jared and Talcott. The latter is precocious for an eight year old and tells you this fable of a sword behind a waterfall. Well that's convenient, considering the fact that you've all lived in the Crown City all your lives, cut off from the outside world, let alone these backward frontier provinces. So you go find this cave, smash up some goons and claim another weapon. Wooo.

It also says a lot about how slow you guys are DESPITE HAVING A CAR when Luna has managed to travel across the continent seemingly on her own and on foot to awaken deities while you're all running banal errands for any lazy bastard around the corner. Hell, Luna even has time to return to Tenebrae for some reason to argue with Ravus before crossing to Altissia!

Chapter 4 - Yeah, this gentleman does not seem too suspicious at all. Let's not question him too much.

A suspicious man dressed like a weirdo with a fedora has conveniently crossed roads with you lot again and recites something from a fairytale related to the Archaean in the middle of Duscae. Naturally, while the crew briefly discusses how dodgy the guy appears to be, and ponder as to who he is, they ultimately shrug and go along with him, not pausing to scratch their heads when Ardyn allows them access past the imperial blockade at the meteor site.

And off they go to fight Titan, with Gladiolus being belligerent from out of nowhere. Turns out Luna was here. How she got past I have no clue, unless the imperials allowed her to awaken Titan to slay him themselves. But that's not important. Let's now enjoy the sight of Ardyn swooping down to announce to them that he's the Imperial Chancellor, i.e. one of the most powerful men in Niflheim, and almost certainly responsible for the destruction of Insomnia, the deaths of many tens of thousands, the deaths of their family, their king, and the death of their kingdom. But let's not get too mad at him or condemn him outside or anything. Just be grateful that he's oddly generous enough to give them a hand out of there.

Chapter 5 - Hahahaha, I hope you unlocked the Chocobos, you gormless goon.

You meet Gentiana and Ignis nonchalantly explains to Prompto that she's a messenger of the gods. This is apparently normal enough that no one raises any additional questions as to what she actually is and why she graces House Fleuret. Gentiana with pretentious cryptic wording tells Noctis to gain Ramuh's blessing.

Good, we have Ramuh now.

Oh no, it seems the imperials have decided to snatch the car of all things and is holding it in an imperial facility. Let's infiltrate it and take the car back. Ohai, Ravus. He's not too fond at the moment of Noctis, believing him unworthy to be the True King (you only learn later that this grudge is primarily because of the fact that Luna has chosen to sacrifice herself gradually for Noctis's sake) and makes a point with his sword, only for Ardyn to show up, cease hostilities and announce that he is taking the army away. The gang seems grateful and still refuse to ask any questions...or to do so much as grab Ardyn by the collars and demand to know what he, the Imperial bloody Chancellor, is playing at.

Chapter 6 - What is the sodding point of this?

Jared has been killed by imperials in Lestallum. Normally when you kill off characters no matter how minor they are, it is to prove a point or generally convey something of relative importance. In this incident, this senseless murder of a character we have barely ever seen shows us that Niflheim is...villainous? Is that supposed to be a revelation? That Niflheim cares not for civilians' lives and wellbeing despite purporting to through transparent propaganda? I am shocked.

Perhaps this death is a seminal moment for young Talcott here. And I suppose it is. It would be a harrowing moment for any eight year old, enough to permanently change them and their lives. But we naturally don't see any of that, because Talcott appears to get over the death of his grandfather as quickly as it takes to drive to Caem. The only significant impact of Jared's death is an excuse to get everyone together in the point of departure for Noctis and his crew when they set sail to Altissia.

Oh, they infiltrate another imperial fortress in the meantime to get revenge for Jared or something. I don't know why this is the event that induces the crew to consider taking revenge action for the first time. You can't simply say that the loss of this kid's grandfather is a particularly personal atrocity when the empire has committed atrocities of a far grander scale back in Insomnia, which led to practically every member of the bros losing their family, their home and everything they have loved and cherished. Perhaps you can say this murder was just senseless from the outset, the impact on a humble young kid and watching Iris break down over what has transpired being enough to be the straw that breaks the camel's back, but the whole premise of this chapter feels flimsy and drawn out. The commander they're after even escapes (good work, guys) and it is primarily an opportunity to have an Aranea boss encounter.

Oh, Gladiolus decides to up and leave temporarily. And by temporarily I mean it's at least a few days, going by what the game tells you. This is in spite of how much pride and fervour he attaches to his role as the King's Sworn Shield, there to protect the king at all costs. Never mind that, he has his own mysterious adventures to attend to, which you will need to pay a few quid for to explore at your own pace. 10/10. Fastidious protector. Wonderful storytelling and writing.

Chapter 7 - The legendary Mythril for your boat, even though I have been casually collecting Mythril cranks

So the premise of this chapter is that a rare metal called Mythril, which you can only find by digging in old underwater (at least I think it's sort of underwater?) ruins now, is essential for the boat. In previous games, handling Mythril usually means forging formidable new weapons and armour from the ore. In this game, it's needed to make a boat seaworthy or something, which is humorously underwhelming a purpose for something that requires a considerable venture into a dungeon for. It's just a step above FFXIV's decision to have you run a multitude of banal errands and a whole dungeon that requires slaying a dragon for some cheese for a banquet just to appease a group of people before they allow you to defeat Titan.

The real highlight of this chapter is the opportunity to spend time with Aranea, i.e. the game's true heroine character. It's short, but you garner a comfortable idea of her personality, her beliefs, her goals, and she even provides necessary exposition and foreshadowing about the erratic mindset and activities of Niflheim of late.

Once again, no questions are asked when Ardyn once again mysteriously shows up and seemingly attempts to aid the group. Sure, they seem aware that he is not motivated by altruism, but rather by self-interest, but they remain stubbornly myopic and uncritically accept his aid anyway.

Chapter 8 - We wasted a whole chapter on THIS?

Okay, I originally presumed that FFXV's script is ultimately a hyper-Cliffnotes version of Nomura's original novel-sized book of ideas for Versus, with some fundamental tweaks here and there, such as the termination of Stella from the story in favour of an entirely different character just in a new wig called Luna. I was expecting this game to be plagued with pacing issues where the plot is consistently too dense and it feels conspiciously like trying to cram a whole novel into a 2-hr film adaptation or the equivalent.

But no. FFXV has chapters that feel utterly redundant like Chapter 6, or baffling needless additions like this one that add nothing to the overall scheme of things.

Chapter 8 suddenly lands you outside the Lestallum power plant because daemons have manifested in there for reasons and...somehow. Lestallum is always lit up and is touted as one of the only safe havens left with light once the Starscourge fully takes hold, so it's beyond me how daemons suddenly set up shop right inside the power plant.

You reunite with Gladio and you board the ship, but not without Cid pontifying about how the bros are not just Noctis's bodyguards, but his brothers (which would have been a good time for him to explore his own adventures and relationships with Regis, Weskham, Cor and Clarus back in the day, y'know), and Cor glumly regretfully apologising for how he failed Regis. Yes, Cor. Now you can potentially fail Regis's son by sitting your arse back here in Lucis and palling around with hunters instead of joining the crew in Altissia and their mission to the imperial capital. Dumbass.

And then after this is when the game finally remembers it has to tell a story and the next short few hours is when it dumps everything at you in rapid succession. There's no sense of even pacing; it's a troubled game in development made manifestly obvious before our very eyes. You can clearly see that this needed at least another year in development, but prematurely snatched out of the oven because Square Enix's top bean counters realised they had to release this before 2017 as promised.

I can list a good number of offending factors. Everything about Luna. Gentiana amounting to barely anything. Ravus's development all happening off-screen. Everything to do with the empire happening off-screen, meaning we have no real connection with the game's primary antagonists for much of its run - they amount to just an invisible generic, faceless enemy. Deliberately keeping events in the dark to sell as story DLC down the line. Prompto's revelation having absolutely no impact if you haven't played Episode Prompto before Chapter 13. The fact that they had to patch in extra cutscenes for Chapter 13 later, because Ravus's development was not clearly portrayed and many people did not even realise that they were fighting Emperor Iedolas at one point. I could go into detail about all of these.

But instead I'll just tut at what a mess this whole story is from a holistic perspective. The storytelling is just some of the worst I've seen and it intrinsically ruins what could have been a decent story overall. I say "intrinsically" because to repeat what I said earlier, I cannot in good conscience say this game has a good story but terrible storytelling. The latter's effect cannot be divorced from the former in my opinion. That's not to say storytelling must always adhere to the rule of "show, don't tell". You can still craft something interesting with a style of storytelling that is fragmented across the game, requiring a player to find and piece together the epic tale on their own. The Souls games and Bloodborne deliberately opt for this style. You are usually a character who is late to the party, happening upon a world that had already experienced these events that you are reading about and piecing together. But I don't believe that works for Final Fantasy, and FFXV was clearly not conceived with this style of storytelling in mind. You can tell they did not have a clear vision when Tabata once came out and claimed the story was intentionally told only from Noctis's perspective, ignoring key moments such as those flashbacks later in the game depicting Luna and Ravus (that's not how flashbacks work, dammit!), and when the Niflheim League of Villains had a dour meeting in a poorly lit room.

Who do I blame? The circumstances of the project? Tabata's ability as a director in this department? One glance at Type-0 is revelatory. That game also suffers with a confusing story that requires probably more than one playthrough to even fully understand, given how easy it is to miss crucial details and cutscenes entirely. I don't know who or what to blame. I imagine it is the culmination of all potential factors. I cannot solely pin the blame on Tabata, even if he likely was the guy who signed off on everything along with his producer. Credit where credit is due, I'd be like Tabata too and look perpetually aged and tired when I've had to take someone else's mess of a project, have corporate breathe down my neck with strict deadlines, and expect to work miracles with a game that has had intense fan expectations and desires since 2006...
 

sensei_mike

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Hey guys,

Out of curiosity, where in the game do you actually learn all of that Ardyn backstory?? I passed it and saw none of that. Maybe I missed something??
 

Dionysos

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Hey guys,

Out of curiosity, where in the game do you actually learn all of that Ardyn backstory?? I passed it and saw none of that. Maybe I missed something??
It was easy to miss. Very easy, in fact.

They’ve also improved the game since with additional scenes inserted via updates (and also via the expanded Royal Edition). So with some of the story gaps I mentioned in my original post, some of these details have since been explained in DLC and patched scenes.

But in the core game there are several cryptic lines from Ardyn which explain his story. There's the scene on the train with Shiva, there's the scene when Noctis is sucked into the crystal, and then all of the final Insomnia scenes put together hint at the rest. But a lot of people really learned his story from lore posted on the internet. Only after reading about his story and thinking about it for a while do many people fully appreciate it. And it is a great story, in my opinion, but I wish they had taken their time to show us more of it.

The upcoming Ardyn DLC (and the recently released Ardyn Prologue anime) helps to explain some of it as well. Ardyn's story is pretty much as the lore had suggested, but it wasn't explained very effectively in the core game.
 

sensei_mike

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Agreed- after I read your post I was like "damn!! That's pretty intense" (in a good way) Could have made for an awesome narrative in the game. Of course, the fact that you have to read all this stuff online instead of it actually being weaved into the game doesn't surprise me given how sloppy I felt the core FFXV experience was :p (excluding any DLC or anything like that)

Anyways, thanks for the scoop dude!
 
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