A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Final Fantasy XV is a role-playing game (RPG) that's the latest installment in a wildly popular franchise. Combat is a main feature of the game, which involves a group of four friends frequently facing off against humanoid and monstrous creatures. Players use swords, guns, and magic spells to defeat enemies, who cry out in pain and collapse when defeated and can have body parts targeted, although there's little blood shown during battle. Some cutscenes show more blood than regular gameplay. "S--t" and "ass" are uttered occasionally in dialogue. Some female outfits leave little to the imagination, and one summoned character is essentially topless and her clothing exposes much of her buttocks, but genitalia isn't graphically shown. A tie-in movie, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, fills in many story details. Cup of Noodles, Coleman camping gear, and American Express also have prominent logo placement throughout the game. Downloadable content (DLC) has been made available since its release, further expanding missions, game content, and features.
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What's it about?
FINAL FANTASY XV is set in the land of Eos, which is split between the militaristic state of Niflheim and the magically inclined state of Lucis. While both countries have been actively in a state of conflict, a temporary truce between the two factions is brokered by the impending marriage of Lucis' Prince Noctis to the Oracle of Tenebrae, Lady Lunafreya. Unfortunately, as Noctis travels with his friends Gladiolus, Ignis, and Prompto to the wedding, Niflheim decides to launch an all-out attack on their unsuspecting rivals, killing the king and declaring both Noctis and Lunafreya dead. As Prince Noctis, it's up to you and your friends to avenge your father's death, repel the invaders, and acquire the power of his ancestors to prove his birthright as king of Lucis. Players will cross the land, defeating monsters and Niflheim soldiers, while also acquiring items and strengthening skills that will help the foursome restore peace to the land. Noctis will also eventually acquire the ability to unleash powerful Summons, calling upon godlike beings to cause significant destruction to their opponents. The latest downloadable content (DLC), the Royal Pack, adds a first-person mode to the gameplay, a revamped ending in the city of Insomnia complete with new final battles, a souped-up combat mode, and new side missions. It also comes with a new fishing vessel that opens up new areas to explore, along with new places to fish and recipes to cook from your hunting excursions.
Is it any good?
This long-awaited RPG provides an epic adventure that fantasy and adventure fans simply have to play, even if they've never tried a game in this franchise. Final Fantasy XV may have taken a decade of production, but it manages to deliver an adventure that clearly builds upon the legacy of the series by merging several genres together successfully. Without spoiling anything (because you really should discover this game for yourself), the lands of Eos are open and fully explorable, completely embracing open-world gameplay. Whether you travel only through the plot, explore side quests, or fight through hidden dungeons -- the option is yours at any time. The quest structure, along with the management of each squadmate, feels like it's taken directly from a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, even though this is completely a single-player title. What's more, the game manages to make the four main characters seem like real people instead of simply robots driven by AI. Plus, while you can opt to give strategic individual commands, it's designed to play more like a hack-and-slash action title. You wouldn't think these elements would work together, but they fit like pieces to make a larger, immersive puzzle of this world. Even the addition of newer gameplay elements, such as the photography, cooking, and survival traits of Noctis' friends, compliment classic series elements such as racing Chocobos (bird-like creatures) and using a skill tree to boost abilities.
There are a few issues that arise during play: You may see the occasional glitch here and there as characters get stuck in the ground or perform other odd behaviors that break the world. Some tutorials should go into more depth to explain what you can do, particularly related to creating magic or locking onto some targets. Another curious decision was to leave out additional plot points and background information in the game, keeping much of it in the separately released Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV movie (which players should definitely watch to fully understand everything happening before and during the earliest segments of the plot). It's an odd admission for such a large story. Finally, there are some pacing issues as you move toward the end of the main quest. Things feel very rushed as chapters are suddenly completed with significant battles near the end of the story. But these are very minor complaints about a game that has a ton of gameplay, especially since Square Enix has spent more than two years regularly releasing content for the game. Its latest set of DLC, the Royal Pack, expands gameplay with items like new dungeons and areas to explore, a first-person view to bring you farther into the game, and a revamped section of Insomnia City, which adds new boss fights and scenes to the end of the game. While the fishing additions may not intrigue some players, the other content is easily more than enough to bring back players that haven't jumped into the land of Eos for a while. If you're a Final Fantasy, adventure, or role-playing fan, you owe it to yourself to dive into this game. You may even find some of your new favorite characters waiting to adventure with you.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is it a problem that combat is the main point of gameplay, or is the violence in this game acceptable because it's mainly shown against monsters and unrealistic beings?
Talk about teamwork. Noctis and his friends face some scary situations, but who would you want by your side if you had large, scary problems to solve? How would you approach these issues as a group?
Discuss heroism. What does it mean to be a hero? Can you make heroic actions without meaning to be a hero? How or why do people decide which deeds are heroic?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Square Enix
- Release date: November 29, 2016
- Genre: Role Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires, Robots
- ESRB rating: T for Language, Mild Blood, Partial Nudity, Violence
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.