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Final Fantasy XV Travel Diary, Final Day: Stray Thoughts and Observations

There's still plenty to see and do in Duscae, but it's time to close the book on this massive RPG (until November 29).

Preview by Jeremy Parish, .

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10. Prompto's selfie game levels up as you play

Prompto loves taking photos, and if you allow him he'll cheerfully snap shots of your journey as you travel. The more he does this, the better he gets at it. Well, sort of — his shutterbug A.I. could use a few pointers on composition and framing. As he shoots, though, his unique personal photography skill gains levels, and the higher the level you reach, the more filters you unlock for his work. You'll also gain additional options, like the ability to have him shoot random selfies, or to focus his efforts on capturing a particular team member.

Every once in a while you catch an angle that reminds you that, yes, riding around on giant yellow birds is completely ridiculous.

11. You can gain experience and AP by riding around on chocobo or in Regalia

One of the smartest things you can do to boost your team-building efforts is to take a cache of AP — job points, basically — and invest them into some of the support tiers of the Asension Grid. Sure, that's a given for RPGs like this, but you may be surprised by some of the things you can gain experience and AP for doing. My favorite is definitely just tooling around in your car or on a chocobo: With the right skill perk, you'll earn valuable experience just for taking a ride. Since you don't need to fight monsters while riding, this strikes a great balance between investing time (traveling the roads manually rather than using the fast-travel option) and saving time (you cover more ground more quickly while riding and don't have to fight every trash mob that pops up en route). In theory, you could rent a chocobo for a few in-game days and just zip back and forth across the map to grind for AP... though that would seem to miss the point. Better just to earn experience for making the journeys you need to undertake anyway; the AP adds up at a decent enough rate that the Ascension Grid investment more than pays for itself before long.

12. The more you ride your chocobo, the more awesome it becomes

Even if you don't opt for perks that boost AP or experience when you ride around the world, traveling via chocobo has its own intrinsic benefits (besides speeding up travel and helping you avoid monsters, that is). The longer you journey on the back of a gigantic bird, the better your rapport with the creature becomes. As you level up, you'll gain additional speed and stamina for sprinting on chocobo-back. You'll also acquire new combat skills.

No, you can't bring a chocobo into battle (your party's mounts will scurry back out of danger if you enter combat), but you can call a chocobo to perform a special attack for you. It begins with... the Chocobo Kick attack that served as Rydia's basic summon in Final Fantasy IV. It's the basic-level summon in FFXV, too. No, it's not presented as a capital-S-summon, but that's literally what it is — a nifty and subtle callback that emerges from the design of the game.

Occasionally characters other than your regular companions will join Noctis for combat, and for less hectic occasions as well.

13. You sometimes team up with guest characters

FFXV centers around the story of Noctis and his three companions. Not just in terms of the basic narrative premise, but also in terms of play mechanics. As I've mentioned before, the Ascension Grid features a number of skills for Noctis's friends spread across its various tiers in a way that would make it difficult to replace any or all of them without severely compromising the fundamental design of the game. That's "difficult," not necessarily impossible. Still, I don't see much likelihood of any party member being replaced midway through; an Aerith-style death would leave a huge gap in the play systems, and a Galuf-style replacement would be awkward since (unlike in FFV) this team's skills are innate rather than conferred by a magical crystal.

That said, there have been a few times already where the supporting cast steps aside and lets Noctis venture out with a different character. Early on, Noctis teams up with his father's advisor Cor in order to break through an imperial barricade while Prompt, Gladiolus, and Ignis create a diversion to draw the enemy's fire. You have some limited control over Cor — you can issue a battle command for a special attack that depletes the action gauge — but otherwise he's completely computer-controlled. It works out about the same, though, since your companion usually run on A.I. anyway.

Once you reach Lestallum, you go wandering with Iris through the city. This sequence offers no combat opportunities, just strolling and conversing. A few dialogue prompts pop up, and your choices don't seem to affect any morality system or anything... but they do yield different rewards, either experience or AP. Neither of these scenarios has any lasting impact on the game, but they do mix things up a bit.

Once you reach the city of Lestallum, FFXV sheds a bit of its American West vibe and feels more like a lived-in European city a la Milan or Prague.

14. The world is full of seemingly useless areas to explore, and that's fine

If you choose to slog your way around FFXV's world by going offroad, you'll spend a lot of time traveling through the scenery. As I've mentioned before, the lay of the land does not work like most other open-world games; rather than consisting of dense scenery packed with things to do and places to go, its settlements and dungeons require some effort to reach. Supposedly the Just Cause 3 team came in to help out with FFXV's world design, and it definitely shows — it's a convincing, natural-feeling environment that unfolds at its own pace.

Even so, the land contains plenty of unique sights. Even if they don't have any gameplay purpose, they lend some variety to the scenery. There's a farm far to the south of Lestallum, for example, that doesn't contain anything besides some cooking ingredients to forage and possibly some hostile semi-feral livestock to battle. You have no reason to venture there at all, unless some later quest takes place there. Honestly, it's fine. Not every square inch of a video game has to serve some essential gameplay purpose, and in FFXV in particular the pointless bits fit the rambling, road trip feel of the adventure. Part of the fun of the game is simply venturing forth to see what's out there, and to get a better sense of its lived-in world.

15. 15 hours barely scratches the surface of the game

I could honestly go on for quite a while longer about FFXV. I haven't been this hooked on a game in years. Like everyone else who has played these first few chapters of the game, I have no idea how the final product will turn out, or if it will maintain my interest all the way through to the end. Still, that I've enjoyed it as much as I have for as long as I have already comes as a huge (and quite pleasant) surprise. This project has experience so much tumult over the past decade that I never really expected it to see the light of day — let alone to turn out so well.

It's hard to believe we're just four weeks away from its launch, but the proof is in the playing. There's a tough month ahead for me, waiting to get my hands on the final release of the game, but I'm happy to be going into this long-awaited RPG knowing that I'll enjoy what lies ahead for me.

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Comments 19

  • Avatar for VotesForCows #1 VotesForCows A year ago
    I'm looking forward to this so much I decided to cancel my NES-mini order to save cash. Cannot wait!

    Jeremy, will you have to start from scratch when you get the retail release?
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  • Avatar for tigergt33 #2 tigergt33 A year ago
    This sounds promising... Let FF be great again !
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #3 jeremy.parish A year ago
    @VotesForCows Yes, which is why I stopped here.
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  • Avatar for cldmstrsn #4 cldmstrsn A year ago
  • Avatar for VotesForCows #5 VotesForCows A year ago
    @cldmstrsn Its done. Now the only thing to distract me from FFXV is FFXIV...
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #6 VotesForCows A year ago
    @jeremy.parish That's a bummer, especially with an RPG. But I suppose there are worse fates!
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #7 jeremy.parish A year ago
    @VotesForCows It's cool, I have a better handle on the systems now. Sometime I restart games like this after a few hours to enjoy a smoother ride once I fully come to terms with their inner workings, so this isn't a huge inconvenience for me.
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  • Avatar for jeffcorry #8 jeffcorry A year ago
    I'm glad to hear that the hunts are back in full force. That is one of my favorite parts of Final Fantasy XII. (The "hunts" in Final Fantasy XIII were...okay, but it was weird picking them up from C'ieth (however you spell that...) stone...) I'm quite excited for this game. It seems to be turning into what I was hoping.
    Goodbye December...Edited 2 times. Last edited November 2016 by jeffcorry
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  • Avatar for touchofkiel #9 touchofkiel A year ago
    Seeing Parish sing the game's praises is about as surprising as... well, the fact that this game is actually seeing the light of day. Good news all around!
    @tigergt33 Hey now, FFXIV is great. Really great. Don't write it off just because it's an MMO! It's as much FF as any game in the series... and is loaded with even more fan service than all the spinoffs, to boot!
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  • Avatar for NateDizzy #10 NateDizzy A year ago
    "The final game does away with that and simply provides you with four weapon selections tied to the D-pad: Press the appropriate direction and you will swap to that weapon for use until you switch around again."

    I'm so glad they made this change. The Duscae version was clunky and frankly inhibited creativity with the combos. Now I can mix and match as much as I want!

    Oh, and it looks like Gladiolus' sister will be joining for a little bit. That's a nice touch.Edited 2 times. Last edited November 2016 by NateDizzy
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  • Avatar for Adrockski #11 Adrockski A year ago
    Dammit, Parish, you're getting me excited about this game. I wanted to maintain an attitude of casual indifference!
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  • Avatar for Kadrom #12 Kadrom A year ago
    @jeremy.parish I think virtually every person I know who enjoyed Vagrant Story (myself included) had to start over (but enjoyed it) once they figured out how damage types, affinities, buffs, etc. worked. They weren't common mechanics back then. Ahh Matsuno..Edited November 2016 by Kadrom
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  • Avatar for Jericho-GM #13 Jericho-GM A year ago
    So the Witcher III and GTA V but set in the Final Fantasy universe? They should put that in the box. :-)

    It all sounds great and really makes me excited not only for this game but for the future of the Final Fantasy franchise. Really looking forward to it.
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  • Avatar for himuradrew #14 himuradrew A year ago
    Sooo.. FFXV is a return to form for the series?

    Whoa. This just might be the first FF game I'll be buying in years. (WoFF is still kind of iffy for me since I'm not really keen on Pokemon)
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  • Avatar for Jeremiah-Jones #15 Jeremiah-Jones A year ago
    Not realizing Prompto was an actual character, his selfie skills almost remind me of a looser form of FFXII's gambits. You give him orders, and he then does them at random. I'm looking forward to messing around with it.
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  • Avatar for Dastuun #16 Dastuun A year ago
    Nicely done,@jeremy.parish. I always enjoy reading your thoughtful pieces. This one was particularly enjoyable and informative. Thank you!

    FFXV is now back on my "excited about" list.
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  • Avatar for docexe #17 docexe A year ago
    I really enjoyed these in-depth pieces Jeremy wrote, thanks. While I won’t be able to play the game when it launches, I really hope it turns out well. These previews make me more confident that it might indeed.
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  • Avatar for SCHMETE #18 SCHMETE A year ago
    I really enjoyed this whole series, Jeremy. Thanks for sharing so much! I'm excited to check out the game. I ended up pre-ordering, because all the things you've covered hit all the right notes for me. Plus, it's hard not to be excited about a new, big FF - especially when it has a 10-year waiting period!
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  • Avatar for Taylorshaw151 #19 Taylorshaw151 3 months ago
    I really like the game very much it’s really is a pretty addictive game. It is undoubtedly one of the best action RPG game developed with insane texture and detailing. While playing a game if you have a better idea of the story then the game play becomes more interesting and enjoyable. Small Prefab Home
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