Forbes Columnist Dave Thier published an article on ‘Final Fantasy XV’
We’re getting some new story DLC for Final Fantasy XV, Square Enix detailed today. All three of Prince Noctis’ buddies will be getting their own stories to tell in the coming months, but first up is muscle-bound, greatsword-swinging Gladio, whose episode comes out on March 28th, followed by chipper photographer Prompto in June. Ignis, for his sins, is still not dated. On the surface, this great news for a game I enjoyed immensely, at least for the most part. And yet I’m wary about returning to this title — something about this post-launch strategy, for me, only exacerbates some of the conflicts in the original game.
ADDING STORY BASED DLC TO A SINGLE PLAYER GAME IN ITSELF IS NOT WEIRD
Adding story based DLC to a single-player game in itself is not weird. Even adding in story-based DLC that takes place before the conclusion of the campaign isn’t all that weird, though I maintain that it’s usually a bad idea. But Final Fantasy XV was already two games awkwardly crammed together. The first was my favorite part: a glorious open world road trip where four best buds fought monsters, leveled up and traveled around eating delicious food, fishing, and performing menial tasks. Like you do. After doing this for a while, however, FFXV unexpectedly railroads you into a straightforward linear progression for the rest of the game, warning you only that you won’t be able to go back to the open world “for a while.” But it drives ahead for the rest of the game, never again returning to carefree camping adventures of the earlier portion.
THAT’S WHAT MAKES THE POST LAUNCH STRATEGY SOMEWHAT VEXING
And that’s what makes the post-launch strategy somewhat vexing. Earlier, we got an event straight out of an MMO: a “chocobo festival,” complete with funny costumes and oodles of yellow decorations, plopped down in a lavish portion of the game only used for a minute fraction of gameplay. Like the party member DLC (presumably), it requires that the player backtrack to take advantage of the new content, which I have a difficult time doing. The aggressive drive of the latter parts of the game put a sour taste in my mouth: at the point where I left things, right before the final boss, it was no longer the experience I had been enjoying so much only hours before.
IT SEEMS TO ME THAT FFXV WENT THROUGH SOME CHANGES DURING ITS TEN YEAR DEVELOPMENT
It seems to me that FFXV went through some changes during its ten year development cycle. Which is, I know, shocking. The post-launch strategy speaks to a version of the game that sought to build on FFXIV, incorporating elements of a single-player open world game with the continuous evolution of an MMO. At some point, the story driven side of things took over, which accounts for the second half of things. I don’t know if that’s the order that things actually went in, but this essential conflict makes it hard to return to.
The final chapter of the game is not pretty, and unlike some other open world games, the story does not continue after it finishes. You can sort of keep playing by returning to earlier “memories,” but it feels like an odd compromise. I don’t want to relive glory days, I want to keep adventuring. Any open world exploration in the rest of the game takes on a distinctly funereal tone as the player marches ever onward toward the bleak future that lies ahead. Every Gigantoad skewer you eat is numbered, at the end of the day, and it stands in stark contrast to the breezy fun that the open world seems to encourage. I can do my best to forget the end of the game as I return to Gladio’s story, but I know it’s still there.
This is a problem I have for a lot of DLC for single-player games, and it’s a problem that many developers have addressed. Naughty Dog has taken to releasing story DLC that tells a self-contained story unburdened by the emotional weight of the main experience, and Bethesda balances mid-game additions with large chunks of post-game story that give you a reason to return to a world you had already left behind. FFXV, however, doesn’t seem to be doing much to assuage my endgame ennui. Right now, it seems that this DLC will fall into a trap that a lot of add-on content experiences: it would have been great to have for the first play through, but it may not be enough to warrant a return.