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There's a lot in this game I won't defend and don't particularly enjoy myself.
The gameplay never really gets in the way of the experience but it’s also not great. Not difficult per se but a bit tedious. Some fights are great, usually with fewer larger enemies that aren’t so big as to introduce camera issues, but there are plenty of huge melees or cramped fights where things feel like more of a chore. Catoblepas, malboro, anak, samurai, behemoth — all examples of good fights. Jormungand, huge packs of goblins, iron giants, anything flying — all examples of bad fights.
There are some very odd UI/UX choices (map interface, interacting with objects in the environment) that feel peculiarly bad for any AAA game, much less one in a series with such famously pleasant menus.
The hunts are pretty dull compared to the hunts in FFXII or even FFXIII.
Despite all of that, I love the game. I love the vibe and rhythms of hanging out and driving around the open world, camping and looking through photos. And I emphatically love the back half of the game, where the car is replaced with a train and the open road vanishes in the rearview. The inverted structure of the game, starting with the open world and taking away what is essentially the party's airship halfway through the game, made it very easy to connect with Noctis and share his sense of lost youth and freedom as he finally accepts his duty. You understand the weight of the choice and responsibility, because you miss the open world and the campfires too.
Is the story a fragmented mess patched up in the edit? Yes. Does it have a lot of unsatisfactory story threads? Yes. Do the scant dungeons kind of underwhelm? They sure do. The game has a ton of issues. But it also has a deeply emotional, fully earned ending that hit me harder than anything else I've ever played. I'm not a crier in general, and have only really openly cried while playing games three times. Two of those times were (1) the end of my playthrough of FFXV, and (2) the end of my replay of FFXV.
A game so close to being truly great marred by an unfinished story. What is there of this game I really loved, but certain shortcomings of the story, and the fact that they left a lot of vital information exclusively to an anime and DLC really drags the experience down. If you can look past that though, game is pretty good, and very unique.
this was the first like... "serious" video game i ever played. i was red faced, teary eyed, and dry heaving at the ending. looking back there were some serious plot flaws, maybe if i played the game before the dlcs were out i'd be pissed about it but meh. the lack of explanation between luna and noct's relationship might've been square enix trying to make their feelings for each other up to character interpretation, but it made the duo fall flat imo.