Off The Backlog – Final Fantasy XV’s Lack of Story, But Not Heart


In all honesty, this was going to be a harsher post before things changed. I was convinced that nothing was going to stop the annoying anger that I had with Final Fantasy XV. That attitude changed a bit when I reached the end of the game. While I will still criticize my biggest issue with the game, things get a bit complex once the final scenes play out and credits roll. It is about time that I get this game off of my backlog since it has been here for the past six years. 

*Oh yeah. This counts as my #MaybeInMarch title since I actually finished the game and post in March!*

First things first, let’s open up the wound and pour hydrogen peroxide right on it. I find it insulting, scummy, and down right bonkers to release a game like this. Final Fantasy XV was released as an unfinished game, and in my world it was left unfinished. The developers clearly knew what the central theme to their story was, but forgot to add something critical to that; the story. If you were to ask me what the story of Final Fantasy XV was, I would sound like a madman who speaks in mad libs. 

Our princely king Noctis has to leave home to attend his royal wedding to the oracle Lunafreya. He is accompanied by his meaty shield Gladiolus, steward and chief Ignis, and photographer and definitely nothing wrong with him Prompto. Immediately after leaving the front gates, Noctis’ home Insomnia is attacked by the evil Niflheim empire and turning the current king into the former king. So now the story has shifted from attending a wedding to avoid being captured. That doesn’t last long since Noctis learns that he needs to travel his homeland to find the tombs of the old kings and receive their powers to defeat the empire. After finding three of them, the rest become optional when the focus then shifts to gaining the power of Final Fantasy summons to become the true king. 

This is when things just speed up. You meet up with Luna in Venice where she then gets killed by a man named Ardyn who reveals at this time that he was the main antagonist the whole time. He starts to troll Noctis into fighting him and then that becomes the main goal until the end. From there, we get on the literal trainwreck train to the end of the game where things are either left unanswered, explained on a random piece of paper found on the floor, or locked behind paid DLC (more on that later). You learn Ardyn wants to turn the lights off in the world and that Noctis has to sacrifice his life to pay the light bill. There is something there to make the story feel compelling, but the speed and cuts that the development took to get there feels haphazard. 

A lot of the story content is just missing from the main game. Things happen in the background and are never elaborated on in the main story. For some reason, Gladio leaves the group for a chapter and it is never explained why he left. After destroying Venice, Ignis loses his eyesight and it is never explained what happened to him. Prompto falls off a moving train and magically shows up locked up at the enemy stronghold and learns that he is a clone. Minus the group dealing with Ignis not being able to see, all of the other missing pieces to the story are just ignored. Prompto telling the group he was a result of humans playing God just turns into a “whatever” from his friends. This Ravus character looks interesting. I can’t wait to see what made him join the empire and get into conflict with his sister. Oh nevermind, I found him dead in a random place in the empire with no explanation on why or how he got here. There are just so many plot points that are missing to make anything matter.

Yes. There is a way to fill in all of the gaps. All you need to do is buy the episodic character episodes that fill in their gaps, watch a two hour movie, watch some videos on YouTube, and read a 384 page book to get the whole story of the game. That is a lot to ask someone to do if they found the base game mid. I find it very scummy that Square made people pay for missing story details that had distinct places for them in the base game. It was a bad call and Square knew it when they canceled the rest of the “story” and put it all instead into one book (which is pretty good from what I’ve heard).

It is safe to say that I was very disappointed with the story of FFXV. You would think that I would put it as one of my least favorite Final Fantasy games. While it may end up low on my list, something happened in the very last second right before I went into the final fight. I got emotional.

Emotions from this game? How? Just a moment ago I was bashing my head of how bad and complicated it was for me to follow anything that was going on in this game; and now suddenly I’m getting emotional! How? What the fuck happened between me fighting some of the hardest bosses in the game and preparing to go into one of the easiest fights in the game. 

Before the final fight, I had to reflect on the journey.

Some people say that it is never about the destination, but the journey you went on to get there. I hardly paid attention to my journey. At the beginning I was trying to do as many things as I could to experience what this world had in store. That ambition left real quick and then I started to focus on just finishing the main story. There were some things that I went out of my way to do; like obtaining all of the Royal Arms which was a pain in the neck to do. I did some things that I wasn’t keen on doing, but did it because I wanted the reward at the end. What I failed to realize at first was that even though my brain was half dead to remember any of the things that I did, someone was helping me retain all of that time. Prompto and his silly little camera was the plot device that I wasn’t ready for.

Throughout your journey, every time you rest at an inn or set camp you can view some of the photos that Prompto takes. These range from group shots, photos taken during combat scenes, and lots and lots of selfies. Some of the photos can turn out hilarious or the curse of nightmares. You are encouraged to save your favorite photos out of the bunch with only being able to save 200 photos. I normally used the screenshot option on the PS5, but there were some I was like “no you guys will remember this photo when the time comes.” My silly little joke of saving my funniest pictures would come back to haunt me at the end of the game.

Right before the fight, Noctis tells his bros that he has come to terms with what is about to happen next. He then asks Prompto if he can take a look at his camera and choose one photo to take with him into his final hours. This event turned into a walk down memory lane and unlocked some feelings that would not have come out if I had simply ignored this mechanic.

At the beginning of Chapter 13, the gang says goodbye to the best character in the game, their car the Regalia. I got super emotional at that point since the Regalia had been with us since the beginning and now we were leaving her in some random street. It didn’t help that I could relate to saying goodbye to a vehicle that you wished you could save. My first car was given to me by one of my family members. It was special since we made a lot of memories in that car. When it was given to me, I could tell it was getting old, and due to it not being serviced properly, it was a matter of time before something bad would happen. Due to circumstances with not being able to afford repairs and a landlord who wasn’t understanding, I made the difficult choice to have her towed away to the scrapyard. The guilt of being powerless stayed with me for a long time.

When looking at the photos, the guys came across a picture with the four of them in front of the Regalia. They all said it was fitting to have this since it was at the beginning of their journey and included all of them. That punched me right in the gut since it reminded me of the Regalia’s fate and how important it was to the gang; and even myself. I had decided that this photo was going to be the one that I was going to take, but I decided to see what else I had saved along the way.

This sweet, tender moment was quickly ruined by the other photos that I had saved. Here are a few:

Practicing victory poses
Disney’s live action Timon and Pumbaa
“Hey Noct, let’s go and moon those Imperial solders over there.”
Ignis embracing his Sonic persona
You tell me what’s going on in this picture.

Looks familiar
What did you do to his neck Prompto?
“Day 139 on the open road with my buds!”

I started to burst out laughing. Everything about this game, and this moment, and this entire story just felt like one big joke that I could elevate with one of the stupid photos that I took. I laughed so much that I finally made myself cry when I couldn’t when thinking about the sad car stuff. My absolute favorite is Crackhead Prompto. I was so tempted to take this photo with me instead and envision the last thing that Noctis sees is this goofy, drug addicted pic of his friend. 

For a moment, all the negative gunk that was festering in my heart suddenly vanished and I was able to take in what I just played. I sympathize with how Noctis must have felt to do what he had to do and finally grow up to get the job done. I felt silent with everyone when it flashed back to the final campfire scene. I cracked when the other characters finally broke down. I started to think about my own brothers (by blood and by bond) and what if we went on this difficulty yet spotty journey. The theming and ending of FFXV will not work for everyone, but for me it took a small hit to crack the surface before hitting me deep.

I will still not excuse the disaster of the story structure or Square’s “fix” to sell the missing pieces. If you are the type that enjoys road trips and family bonding, then you will find the most enjoyment out of this game. I thought I was going to hate Noctis, but I quickly learned that he is just a kid with a lot of weight on his shoulders and just wants to fish. Prompto, Gladio, and Ignis were great characters as well, but at this time I don’t have the urge to play through their episodes. I wish they were in the main game for me to enjoy then and there and not an afterthought after pulling myself to finish the game. I’m still debating if I want to get the last few achievements since I’m close, but then I think about the mindlessness of it and it dissuade me. 

I waited six years to finish this game. I thought that waiting for the story DLC would be worth it, but the unfocused nature of it just made me lose interest (especially when much better stories have been told from the same series). I’m happy that I finally got this off my backlog and another game done in the series.

….Final Fantasy XVI you better be worth the time I swear……. 

2 thoughts on “Off The Backlog – Final Fantasy XV’s Lack of Story, But Not Heart

  1. Trailing Sleeves April 29, 2023 / 2:23 pm

    Despite the narrative problems, FF XV is one of my favorite games.

    Liked by 1 person

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