Final Fantasy XV May be Doomed to Fail, Unless Square Enix Reacts
Final Fantasy XIII began the descent of the once-great franchise, and many would argue it hit rock bottom with the lackluster Lightning Returns, which sold a mere fraction of FFXIII.
Sales have been declining steeply and so have review scores. That is undeniable. Long-time fans of the legendary IP are baffled because for whatever reason, Square Enix has opted to abandon the millions of loyal followers in an effort to attain new followers. This hasn't worked.
Now, however, the company may have seen the light. If that's true, they might have a chance to revamp FFXV and make it something veteran fans will actually want to play.
Bravely Default did great...wonder of wonders
As evidenced in this VentureBeat article, Square Enix may reconsider their approach to the esteemed FF series due to the success of Bravely Default. Not coincidentally, the latter DS title is reminiscent of what Final Fantasy used to be and the traditional RPG fans responded. Bravely Default ended up selling around 1 million copies (600,000 in North America), which is extremely impressive. All the more impressive when you consider that Lightning Returns, an official FF installment with a much bigger budget, had a similar performance.
This is the statement from Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda that gives us all hope:
“In the past, when we developed console games with a worldwide premise, and we lost our focus. And not only did [those releases] end up being games that weren’t for the Japanese, but they ended up being incomplete titles that weren’t even fit for a global audience.”
100 percent true. Why it took a decade for the company to figure this out, we don't know. Fans have been screaming about this for years and for some reason, the company in question simply turned a deaf ear. Now that they've finally acknowledged the problem, it's time to fix Final Fantasy XV before it's too late.
Final Fantasy XV cannot be an action game. It just can't
Here's a description of this title from a Japanese publication, as earlier reported by DualShockers:
"The battles featured in Final Fantasy XV have evolved greatly from the previous games of the series, as it’s created as an action game. The game switches seamlessly from the field to battle and the combat situation evolves rapidly. It goes on quickly with a sense of full realism.
Also, it’s possible to fight not only with the hero Noctis, but also to switch with other characters. Furthermore, it’s also possible to perform a combination attack with a companion while enjoying the dynamic effect. ...Noctis can fight by making use of a variety of weapons and can move quickly within the areas by attacking enemies with stylish action!"
This is utterly ridiculous. This shows the company has learned nothing from the downward spiral of the FFXIII trilogy, and they're going to simply drive the franchise into the ground. Role-playing fans don't want a "stylish action" game. They don't want a more complex version of Devil May Cry. They want a role-playing game. Now, nobody is saying it has to be turn-based like Bravely Default or Child of Light or other recently released "old-fashioned" RPGs that have done exceedingly well. Such titles prove that turn-based doesn't need to die and that in fact, it's not inferior at all.
However, that's not necessary for FFXV. I know that in the world of high-profile, big-budget AAA productions for console, you have to make things somewhat flashy. The attention spans of most people these days can't handle turn-based, plain and simple.
But you can still make it a true RPG. It's not hard
That doesn't mean Square Enix can't just make FFXV a true-blue RPG that doesn't have an emphasis on fast action. There are plenty of real-time RPGs out there (basically all of them, these days) that do very well. Dragon Age, The Elder Scrolls, Mass Effect, Fallout, etc. You don't have to copy any of them; you just take a cue from them. Then, add your distinct Japanese flair and a unique combat mechanic FF fans always loved. From Espers to Materia to Junction to the Sphere Grid; no advancement system was ever the same in the series. It showed innovation and creativity.
Just do that again. Take the emphasis off the action. You are a role-playing series. Now that you've supposedly seen the light with Bravely Default, apply that recent revelation to FFXV. Do it, or expect a game that somehow performs even worse than Lightning Returns.