So FFXV - when’s it’s good, it’s very, very good and when it’s bad it’s horrid. The bigger problem is it can go from one to the other quickly due to two factors - the combat system and the camera.
Those two occasionally combine to wreak a whole lot of unholy hell on the player - the combat system is set up for moves to be made depending on enemy position. Now when the camera stays at a good distance and doesn’t decide to suddenly zoom in, around and up and down in a bid to be ‘dramatic’, it can work OK, assuming the enemy weaknesses are not to a crappy weapon or magic, for they really nerfed that here by deciding its effects extend to your party too! Realism? Screw realism, it’s a pain in the arse and it deters me from using magic unless I absolutely have to.
The game has these various moves but it explains them badly, so much so they remain incomprehensible to me 20 hours in. I’m pretty much instead relying on level superiority, good weaponry and enemy weakness coupled with dodging, but depending on how long it arbitrarily decides to give you on the ‘block’ prompt that can vary quite a bit too. IF you get enemies that are weak to rubbish weapons and you are near trees, it’s nigh-on guaranteed that the camera will place those trees right in your line of sight because button-mashing to kill enemies you can’t see is fun.
It also relies far too much on warping in enemies or even, quite a few cases, literally dropping them on top of you. At a time when other games are making their enemies visible, this marks out FFXV as being quite anachronistic, particularly as, in combat system terms, Xenoblade was doing similar seven years ago without that reliance and was far more dynamic. (Also the frequency of Imperial airships is too damn high, I know they are going for the plot point of the Empire hunting you but the size of the gameworld argues against the frequency with which I end up legging it from Imperials.)
When the combat works, you know what to use, you can tell what’s going on, you even pull off some blocks and parries - it can be absolutely superb, but it can always change to the opposite extreme on a knife-edge. It would be even better if you had greater control over your party like being able to coordinate attacks on one enemy or get Ignis out of battle before using hi Regroup ability. That and there’s times when enemies will be running around with zero health but no one’s killed them. Is it an ambitious system? Yes. Has it realised that fully? I don’t think it has.
So, what’s it’s like when not doing dumb shit like that without warning? It can be very good. Quest/hunt structure is uninspired ‘go here / get this / kill that’ for Quest Giver Captain Cardboard - yes, neither Witcher or HZD will be losing any sleep on this. The characters of the party work well, the world is unique and well designed. There are some quite impressive vistas when you get to Duscae. Town design is very good, save for the slow pace the game inflicts upon you. Manual driving remains rubbish, as does its tendency of giving you a list of controls on either left and right and, with your eyes on that side of the screen, it puts a button prompt dead centre. The car is too slow, it takes you hours to drive 3 mile! The auto-driving, to old FF soundtracks, is far better and allows you to appreciate the world design.
I’m only on Chapter 3 still, so loads still to do and go. I’ll probably stick with this, though it probably isn’t going to survive for my immediate attention once Yakuza: Kiwami arrives.