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After 10 long years of stewing in development hell, Final Fantasy XV is about to transition from "the thing that will happen" to "the thing that happened." (If Square sticks to their November release date, that is.)
For fans of the series, Final Fantasy XV is a pretty big deal. Though Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is nothing to sneeze at, this next installment amounts to the first mainline, non-MMO FF sequel in over six years. But in order to understand why RPG fans are so excited, you'll need to dig a little deeper.
What is it?
Final Fantasy XV originally started development as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, an action-oriented Final Fantasy XIII spinoff (obviously) directed by Kingdom Hearts' Tetsuya Nomura. Since the Final Fantasy XIII project didn't exactly go according to plan, Versus remained in limbo before being officially rebranded "Final Fantasy XV," with Final Fantasy Type-0 and Crisis Core director Hajime Tabata taking over the project. And it's a pretty big departure from the norm as far as Final Fantasy games go: It's an open-world game that ditches the standard turn-based battle system, and the story goes for a much more down-to-earth approach with its focus on a road trip of sorts featuring four immaculately groomed K-Pop stars. (At least, that's what they look like.)
Square has also been much more transparent about the development of this latest Final Fantasy. Currently, two playable demos exist for the game: Episode Duscae comes packed with the HD remake of Final Fantasy Type-0, while Platinum Demo: Final Fantasy XV is free for all to download on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One. If you're interested in exploring XV's expanded universe before its November 29th release, you can always watch the anime series, or the full-length CGI movie. Needless to say, Square believes pretty strongly in this whole project.
Is it an annual franchise?
Well, not really. While you can find at least one Final Fantasy-related game per year, Square really hasn't been able to do annualized Final Fantasy releases since the PlayStation era. It's safe to say the HD era of gaming posed some new problems for Square, and they definitely bit off more than they could chew with XIII's multi-game undertaking. (And the less said about the fate of Kingdom Hearts 3, the better.) Final Fantasy will likely never be an annual franchise, but hopefully Square can get back to a less irregular release schedule following XV.
Are we excited?
At the very least, we should be. While Final Fantasy XV amounts to Square dealing with the last remnants of Final Fantasy XIII's baggage, their willingness to take the series in a bold new direction definitely inspires confidence. For more on Final Fantasy XV, but sure to check out the following USgamer articles on the game, listed below in chronological order.
My Half-Hour on the Road with Final Fantasy XV - Here's what happens when the phrase "You guys wanna see a dead body?" meets a JRPG.
Final Fantasy XV May Have More DLC Beyond Its Season Pass - The Season Pass revealed for Japan will include six episodes, but there's potentially more content waiting out there.
Platinum Demo is a Poor Entry into the World of Final Fantasy XV - This Kingdom Hearts-style tech demo is more about showing off than selling you on Final Fantasy XV.
Final Fantasy XV is a "Make or Break" Title for the Franchise - Square Enix has a lot riding on the success of the next Final Fantasy.
All of Tonight's Final Fantasy XV News: Release Date, New Movie, and More - Final Fantasy XV is finally coming out, and it's bringing tie-in media.
Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae Preview: Everything's Coming Up Open-World - Kingdom Hearts grows up, gets open, and changes its name.