That's a fair question isn't it?
Whenever you think Final Fantasy began to take a downturn it's hard to get away from that conclusion, at least from the perspective of a lifelong fan. Maybe it was the MMO style battle system of FFXII , maybe it was the automatic battles of FFXIII , or maybe it was the loss of series staples like a world map, towns, full party control, lack of a coherent story, etc.
I could probably go on all day but for the purposes of this article I'm wondering just when these games that are coming out with the Final Fantasy name on them cease to be even remotely worthy of the name bestowed on their predecessors. Maybe it has already happened for you, or maybe it's about to.
This editorial comes hot on the heels of E3 and some new disturbing revelations about the future of the series that at one time could do no wrong. Before proceeding to that though I think we have to deal with the elephant in the room, the not so epic, not so RPG-like conclusion to the beleaguered Final Fantasy XIII series. While the first might have slipped by as a not so stellar entry in a beloved franchise (hey this happens in every series right?) Square-Enix decided to push the envelope right off the desk. They followed it up with a sort-of sequel that was plenty of fun but narratively challenged, disorganized, and repetitive. As if that wasn't enough the game was plagued with DLC that you had to buy in order to see the whole story.
And now Lightning Returns is in the pipe. I'm not seeing any news outlets raving about how great it is during their E3 floor demo, in fact the general consensus seems to be that it is a somewhat recognizable party-less experience with a couple of new tricks. So I must ask, what is Final Fantasy without a party?
Now we have the news that Final Fantasy Versus XIII has been unceremoniously renamed to Final Fantasy XV and I hope you can excuse me if I say that that is the ultimate cop out move. Let's face it, they knew that with all the resources put into the XIII saga and the XIV MMO that if they kept it up at this pace we wouldn't see a real Final Fantasy XV for a further five years or more after the release of Versus , which could place it into the PS5 generation.
I'm still looking forward to FFXV but with the full on action battle system inside a main entry I again must ask, is this really “Final Fantasy?” Even XIII could have been somewhat considered a command based game. Will FFXV even be an RPG in any sense of the term? Is it “Final Fantasy” if it isn't an RPG? Sure we've had Final Fantasy spinoffs like Dirge of Cerberus , but they were spinoffs for crying out loud and Versus was meant to be another of them.
Lastly, that disturbing news I mentioned above. Square-Enix has, in a moment of continued tone-deafness, come forward to say that they plan to continue the story of Final Fantasy XV with some type of sequel or sequels. The first FF sequel was of course FFX-2 , though many considered it a kind of spinoff. The fact of the matter was that FFX was a self-contained story that did not require you to play the next game to get everything out of it. That has always been the case with this series. Even as Square-Enix has gone back to add in bits and pieces to portable titles and such you never lost anything from those original experiences. Since the story of FFXIII-2 has almost nothing to do with the story of the original you can even say that XIII was self-contained to some extent. Now we are told long before the release of FFXV that that game won't even attempt to continue the old tradition of having a single epic tale encosed in one game.
No, we are faced with a game that does not have an ending and then some inevitable DLC or sequels that just keep on stretching things out. Is this right? How much can a series change before it ceases to even be the same series?
Perhaps the most terrifying thing about all this is that Final Fantasy was always able to reinvent itself with every new entry and long time fans will forever be left hoping that somewhere just around the corner there will be a reinvention that finally makes our fantasies come true.
Related Game(s): Final Fantasy XIII , Final Fantasy XIII-2 , Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII , Final Fantasy XV, Final Fantasy Versus XIII
Just because someone doesn't like it doesn't mean it's not "Final Fantasy."
If a band changes genres does that mean they have to change the name of the band?
You either like it or you don't. Ranting isn't going to change that.
It isn't about like or dislike, it's about whether or not it can be considered the same product. In this case the product has a long established history, you can actually point to things and say "THIS is Final Fantasy, and THAT is not."
Nope, it's always Final Fantasy. This is a new age. Wanting a PS4 game to play like a NES game makes no sense. It comes down to people saying 'This ids Final Fantasy because this came first'. Why every FF or any other game must be beholden to that confounds me. And people use the word 'fan' like it's a trump card. To me it boils down to company x makes game and you buy and enjoy it. They don't owe anyone anything after that transaction is completed. Why people think that simply buying a game bonds a company in some sort of blood oath equally confounds me. Very confounding…
It's not a matter of S-E 'owing' people things; it's a matter of people saying, "we want a game that does X and we want to give you money for that. Why won't you give us X so we can give you money."
I'd gladly buy new games from S-E if they made games im interested in. The fact that they once did with regularity and now just flat out refuse to do so is very frustrating.
Ricky: If a band changes genres, it doesn't mean they have to change the name of the band. It just MIGHT mean, however, that all their fans, who they worked so hard to earn, HATE them.
Kid: They don't owe the fans anything? They don't owe the consumers that made Final Fantasy what it IS? It's not about sentiment or loyalty. It's about meeting the demand that YOU created. Inexplicably and illogically taking it away to cater to a completely different group of consumers is confusing, and very frustrating to those who originally contributed.
Evolving and progression is part of the industry. Nobody will deny that. However, if Final Fantasy stops being role-playing, than that is a legitimate slap in the face to millions who supported that franchise. There's no reason to do that. Just call it something else. Give it a new name. How hard is that?
It's akin to being lied to.
Absolutely not. They definitely should have the freedom to 'redefine' what a RPG is even within the confines of the Final Fantasy series.
As I've read from the many editorials here regarding Final Fantasy and RPGs in general, there is a belief that a RPG that streamlines combat and customization in the slightest is a betrayal. 'Faster and dumber' is the prevailing mantra. But, in this gaming world, watching a battle unfold where 8 characters just stand there waiting their turn to fight, seems very out of place. A dynamic battlefield is necessary.
The battlefield becomes less dynamic the more choice and strategy you strip away from the player.
You're still not getting it. I repeat- They are not "redefining" an RPG. They're CHANGING GENRES. You can desperately try to label Lightning Returns an RPG all you want; nobody – no Final Fantasy fan, no general role-playing fan, nobody who knows that genre – will say it's an RPG. That's because it's not.
Faster and dumber is evident in all genres throughout the entire industry. It's evident in all entertainment. That's not the issue. Nor is the issue strictly about the battle mechanic. Look at FFXII: It was basically Dragon Age; you wandered around and encountered enemies in real-time. You could pause combat to issue commands and switch between characters, but you can do that in most RPGs. It was still an RPG. That's the point. People may not have liked the new system and style, but you couldn't claim it wasn't an RPG.
When you completely change what a game is, you're losing and betraying your target audience. It makes no business sense, either, as each FF is now starting to sell less than the one before it.
Kid and Ricky_P, would your logic apply to God of War if it became necessary to play on a rock band guitar to rhythm and riffs? Or maybe you haven't thought it out quite completely.
That last point you made is the real kicker for me. Even as the franchise has become more accessible to more consumers across multiple consoles, it fails to achieve the same sales numbers. In addition to that, look at the intense drop in sales between FFXIII and FFXIII-2. It went from nearly 3 million sales on XBOX360 to being almost completely irrelevant.
Facts are facts, boys.
Last edited by Underdog15 on 6/14/2013 11:32:57 AM
I agree with Ricky. See it doesn't matter if SE decide to turn Final Fantasy into a mobile phone game app where you do nothing but shoot donkeys, Final Fantasy is whatever they decide to change it to. In that case Final Fantasy is more of a Has Been; by its golden days were so untouchable that people just downright refuse to associate those days with what the title stands for now.
Instead of saying "that isn't Final Fantasy", which it would clearly be, what we should instead say is "that isn't the PRIME of Final Fantasy; when Sakaguchi was in charge."
Uh…can we not be so literal? Of course it's a Final Fantasy because the name is in the title. That's really not the question.
I say Lightning Strikes is a RPG. I'm a Final Fantasy fan. I'm a RPG fan. Just because Lightning can now traverse a 3D environment without being chained to the ground. That's awesome. Bringing it into the damn 21st century of gaming. And the fact that her attacks are contextual does not eliminate it from RPG status. Unless you are willing to take out the Tales games, Rogue Galaxy, and Kingdom Hearts, just to name a few.
Sales are NO indication of quality. So I don't see how an anyone can say it proves anything. Plenty of superior sequels sell less. Of the top of my head r Motorstorm Pacific Rift and Metal Gear Solid 3. Two VASTLY superior sequels that sold less than their predecessors. It can be argued that FFXIII-2 it's a superior sequel.
Last edited by n/a on 6/14/2013 4:51:00 PM
This has nothing to do with quality. No doubt FF15 will an incredible game.
To say that the drastic drop in sales from Final Fantasy XII to XII-2 has no signifigance leads me to believe you're in denial on the premise that most Final Fantasy fans want something different than what SE has been giving us.
One thing that I have confidence in is that the old school FF fans are in higher number than the demographic that Square-Enix seems to want to cater to instead. SE's financial losses are no coincidence.
"An apple is half eaten. You didn't need to see it first hand to know someone or something took a bite".
Last edited by shadowscorpio on 6/14/2013 6:12:28 PM
I understand that old school Final Fantasy fans didn't like 13 may have passed on 13-2. But, by your logic, 15 should sell less than 13-3 since it seems heavily action focused. As far as being targeted at a different audience, since 7 Final Fantasy has been a RPG for casual gamers. That's a fact. People who don't regularly buy RPGs will buy a new hyped FF. I remember when I was assistant managing an EB when FF7 was released, we got returns buy the truckload because people bought the game just for the ads that Square ran that just showed summons and CGI. Square, even then I think, thought that they gameplay could be a bit more flashy.
I love the FF games because each one is unique, even though most adhered to RPG cliches. I'm on board with whatever they release, slow and methodical or fast and dumb.
So basically, kid, you're just saying you'll blindly buy anything called Final Fantasy. That's exactly what your last sentence says. And that's just…stupid.
This crap about all FFs only being for "casual" players is nonsense. Only the elitist PCers said that because they erroneously thought the Forgotten Realms RPGs (Baldurs Gate, Icewindale) were somehow deeper when in fact, they weren't HALF as deep in a variety of ways. If it was for the casuals, you wouldn't have seen any returns at the store, now would you?
And if you actually believe changing a game's entire genre is the same as true progression, like "bringing it into the 21st century" or some such nonsense, we have nothing left to discuss.
Oh, and dismissing the declining sales is absurd. Lightning Returns will sell like sh** because nobody wants it. Has it ever struck you as odd that there doesn't appear to be a single solitary Final Fantasy fan who actually wants that game?
Last edited by Ben Dutka PSXE on 6/14/2013 9:10:01 PM
I was a little reluctant to comment but I feel I should. I see where both sides are coming from.
If I try to sell a Shakespeare book under the title of "Twilight" to Twilight fans, they will be very mad and the sales will be poor. Does this mean the book is worse? No (and in this case I would like to think it is a great improvement actually), it just isn't what the target audience expects. The same goes for Final Fantasy. FF fans assume they are receiving a certain kind of product.
Final Fantasy has been changing genres. I don't think one can entirely dismiss FFXV or Lightning Returns as RPG but they are clearly not the same FF RPGs we have seen in the past. They (at least Lightning Returns) skirt the space between RPG and Action. I would classify Kingdom Hearts in the same respects.
While these new titles are, in the literal sense, a Final Fantasy, they are not in the abstract "spirit" of which we hold dear. Are they a worse game because of it? Not necessarily. However, they are different from what traditionalists would expect.
In the end, it is up to Square Enix to decide what is "Final Fantasy" and what is not. Their definition just might not align with a smart business model viewed from a consumer's standpoint.
I could also argue (more to be devil's advocate than anything) that SQEEX is putting out "new" Final Fantasy titles on purpose to spike sales on "traditional" Final Fantasy titles in the future. I don't believe they would actually do this, but it has been known to work in the past.
Final Fantasy ceases to be Final Fantasy when it is no longer titled Final Fantasy. If you're looking for a specific genre for the game to fit into, well, SE has the luxury that they can make THEIR game however they want. Whether you specifically LIKE that game is not the same, unfortunately.
However, regardless, of the genre the game is in, Nomura lead this. It's going to be amazing. Far better so than 13 was I can only assume. Now if this is the precedent for all future FF games, well, that's just the way the cookie crumbles. PS1/2 was the RPG era. The way everything has advanced it's too much about multiplayer and action currently. Maybe on the PS4 there will be more real RPG games since the price of the system is cheaper, maybe developers will have the luxury to make game for the 'niche' genre now.
Your thought process here is flawed. Final Fantasy was more than just a name. The games defined a whole genre for a generation. To say that because the name is the same then the game is the same is wrong. The rubbish that they are putting out today demeans the series greatness, IMO.
What is stopping them from defining a whole new genre with action-defined rpg's? When someone says Final Fantasy, I wholeheartedly agree that people imagine the rpg's of yesteryear, but that doesn't mean things don't innovate and change to fit the needs of the current audience. As much as we love the old style, it is a niche genre at this time. We're all older now, they need to attract new people and the only way they can do that is to keep up with their ADD ridden minds. Doesn't mean they can't be great games just because it's action. Though 13…was terrible 🙁
LegendaryWolfeh: I agree that innovation doesn't mean the series is suddenly bad. But flat-out changing genres isn't "innovation" or evolving in my eyes.
Furthermore, let's also not forget that beyond battle systems, the recent FF games simply weren't up to par in terms of story and character development in the opinions of many. There were also obvious gameplay and balancing flaws that we'd never seen before, either.
The overall quality has dropped. It's not just the type of battle mechanic that's in question.
I definitely can agree with most of what you're saying, Ben. The current game have for the most part definitely been lackluster, with more flaws than pros. It's sad, but not much can be done about it unless SE just has like a whole make-over in their company.
And I guess I wouldn't call it innovation or evolving but, more of just adapting as well as they can.
Evolution isn't a quick process.
I would probably complain about the changes even if it resulted in more sales for them simply because it's not a product I particularly care for. So I admit I'm biased.
But lets look at facts. It's not like their changes are garnering more and more sales and popularity. Despite becomming more accessible across multiple consoles, it is not more popular. Look at the sharp decline in sales between FFXIII and FFXIII-2. How much less will Lightning Returns be? I suppose it could sell better, but really, we'll have no way of knowing until it hits.
What's the conclusion if it sells even worse? We can argue our definitions all we want. And we can argue what we wish to see until we're blue in the face. But what will the bottom lines say?
I know what the discussions are in the FFXIV Beta forums in the general discussion sections on other FF's. The long-time FF fans seem to be in agreement for the most part. It isn't just this site.
So again, I ask… what happens if Lightning Returns is a huge flop? Will there finally be a reason to re-examine the departure from the world of RPG's?
And lastly, I refuse to believe you cannot innovate a complex RPG system with a party. Even a turn-based one. I was actually ok with the direction of FFXII because it was still an RPG that I had full control over with a million different ways of organizing my party. And every member could be used. (No bench players) Why can't they build off that? Why the need to make things more automatic or reaction based?
I guess my question, Wolfeh, is at what point will they need to get back to basics? If it continues to trend downwards in popularity, does that mean it was always doomed? Or does it imply a need to get back to what made it popular to begin with?
Last edited by Underdog15 on 6/14/2013 11:41:26 AM
I just wanted to add that I'm happy a good game is finally coming.
But there's nothing wrong, and it is completely fair, in saying that I'm sad my favorite type of game will never come again.
Yeah I get ya underdog. The true RPG classics of FF will always be their highlight and people really want to only see that. Perhaps after 15 they will actually make a 'true' FF game then. I do miss some great RPG's as well after all.
But in the mean time. I'll definitely enjoy 15 as it looks like a masterpiece only Nomura could cook up, and then KH3 behind that would be great.
This tripe is no longer the Final Fantasy that I knew and loved. Square Enix has taken the franchise that Squaresoft built and run it into the ground. Have they bastardized their own Dragonquest title in the same manor? I think not. Air Ships, World Maps, Sidequests, stories that drew you in, True Summons i.e. Shiva, Bahamut, Ifrit, Have they ever done anything close to the majesty of Knight of the Round?
Van Halen with Sammy Hagar had the same name but was not the same band as it was with David Lee Roth. Journey without Steve Perry was not the same even though the name stayed the same. Some time ago the name Final Fantasy told you all you needed to know about why you should get the game, now it tell you all the reasons not to.
R.I.P. Final Fantasy.
This is the first Final Fantasy game I've been super excited for since X. Plus I get an FFVIII feel from this game, from the setting to character design. I cant wait!
So just because it is an action rpg it isn't allowed to hold the final fantasy name? That's a bunch of bs. I believe in Nomura to bring an awesome game and I am excited as you are sayword. Going to be purchasing ffxhd on my vita and patiently wait for this game on the ps4. Those graphics and the battle system looked amazing. Can't wait!
Again, there's nothing wrong with acknowledging a good game if it's a good game. I will do that as well. But you -REALLY- can't fault people for being sad their favorite type of game will probably never be played again.
I think it's completely fair to acknowledge when a game is good and still be sad your favorite genre is gone. In fact, it's unfair to tell us we cant.
What Underdog said .
Would Gran Tursimo still be "Gran Turismo" without realistic simulation? My question is one of concept, not name.
For me, it's hard to nail down exactly where it ceases to be what it was but FFXIII-2 introducing an insulting story in place of a sweeping emotional epic is a good place to start drawing the line.
In all aspects yes, it would just be "Gran Turismo: The Forza Experience", haha.
That would be like asking if Final Fantasy's concept has always been turn-based. A lot of people have different view on this, and personally I don't know where I really stand.
I always loved Final Fantasy for it's story and game mechanics first – gameplay was actually a secondary thing. If we're talking about story, all FF games have always been FF. It's typically about crystals, saving the world, young teens, summonings,side quests, and what not.
… But gameplay is a subjective matter. If it is solid fact that FF was all about turn-based as Gran Turismo has always been about realistic simulation, then I will agree on the matter. I'm just not sure if turn-based was really the staple that made FF, as simulation was to GT. It's a tough one.
😉 To be fair, it's older teens typically. lol But I know what you mean. :p
As for the rest, I had no problem with FFXII's gameplay because I still felt like I was in full control and it still felt like an RPG. So turn based isn't absolutely necessary. It's my favorite, sure, but I don't find it a necessary staple.
I take issue when I lose control, it becomes purely or predominately reaction based, or it starts to change genres entirely. FF is the reason I started RPG's. I branched into other RPGs, including western RPGs, because of FF.
Last edited by Underdog15 on 6/14/2013 11:51:26 AM
Seems like your focus is to pinpoint with laser-like precision the aspects of the title that you could personally have problems with. Does it matter that Tetsuya Nomura stated the game will have a defined conclusion and future titles will only expand the saga (similar to the Final Fantasy VII compilation titles)? Would it also matter that executive producer Shinji Mikami stated that command-based systems are not exiled from the series but that FFXV is an action-rpg?
The game (that you swore didn't even exist) is stunning. It pushes the boundaries of graphical expectations and what is possible from an action title. All this from our very first glimpse at the game! It's going to be a masterpiece, but you hate being wrong about something so I imagine it will get nothing but turbulence from this site.
Agree 100%. This site complains about SE and FF more than any other gaming site. It seems like every other week we get another article complaining about them. How about taking all that energy and do a retro column highlighting a PS1/PS2 jrpg game new gamers should check out. You could write about a different game every week. Now that's a column I would look forward to reading. 🙂
I wrote this article so please direct your ire at me and not Ben. Secondly this is not any kind of indictment against Final Fantasy, I use my opinions on the series to illustrate things but at the core I am simply asking the question: At what point do the changes cause the series to cease to be in the spirit of what it has always been intended? That is not a partisan question and I invite all opinions on the matter.
The reason I posted it is because it is highly relevant in light of E3, I would be remiss not to address what is in the news regarding something I have been a part of since 1990. If I knew more about Metal Gear Solid maybe you'd be getting an article on that.
Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 6/14/2013 10:39:17 AM
"It pushes the boundaries of graphical expectations and what is possible from an action title."
Who gives a sh**?
It's an ACTION game and not a ROLE-PLAYING GAME. Why is this so difficult to understand that "action" shouldn't have anything to do with Final Fantasy?
FFversusXIII went silent so long that myself included thought it was vapourware. Turns out, they truly were hoping to delete the title. Now, FFvsXIII is dead and is reborn in a different generation as FFXV. They promised versus would be exclusive. It probably would have been, too! But this is FFXV… so all previous promises can be ignored.
Im sorry Ben but how can an action game not be an RPG? Are the secret of mana games not rpgs? Is vagrant story not an rpg? Is kingdom hearts not an rpg? Tales of games? Star Ocean?
There are clearly health bars and level stats. That is what makes an RPG to me among great character designs and story. To be honest its not turn based that makes final fantasy for me. I just want a great story that XIII lacked. This game will be amazing!
Last edited by SayWord on 6/14/2013 2:26:03 PM
With the exception of maybe KH, those other games you just listed aren't exactly action/adventure genre. That's clearly what Ben means. And he's right.
An action/adventure game doesn't magically become an RPG just because you can level up. You level up in COD multiplayer, and as you do, you get access to better weapons, secondaries, perks, etc. It isn't an RPG just because leveling up makes you stronger.
Last edited by Underdog15 on 6/14/2013 3:22:17 PM
Those are all RPGs for very clear reasons.
Devil May Cry is not. And if future FFs have more in common with flat-out action games than anything else, then they're action games. Vagrant Story had nothing in common with God of War, now did it?
Why not just call it what it is people. It is a action rpg just like kingdom hearts. Referring to lightning returns and versus13/15. There is this obsession of just considering it in either rpg or action genre… and not just simply both.
Although I liked XII, I think that's when Final Fantasy started it's turn for the worse. It didn't seem to occur gradually.
XV looks like it could be way better than XIII, but they should've left the name Versus. Changing the name to XV, to me, is an indication we'll never see another Final Fantasy like we had in the past.
Last edited by tes37 on 6/14/2013 1:12:14 AM
I'm reminded of Bioshock Infinite, still a young series but it stayed Bioshocky. In the ending Elizabeth literally told us what Bioshock is. The challenge for creative people continuing a franchise is always to be both new and the same. I think that's important to remember.
Having a battle system that isnt turn based does not make the game any less final fantasy. Its the story, characters and huge worlds that make final fantasy. This game seems to check all those boxes.
I like that. "New and the same". Something that many developers have done successfully. Being introduced to FF in th late 80's I can say that they used to do this.
I'm having trouble making that claim now. As Ben at one point, it's not just the gameplay that became warped.
I'm holding on to FF15 having exploration, character development and a well executed story that is worthy of a Jrpg. Again, this NOT an issue of whether a game is good or bad.
Did I say ANYthing about turn-based? I'm looking forward to FFXV as much as you are.
Last edited by WorldEndsWithMe on 6/14/2013 2:37:05 PM
From what I can gather from these comments it seems clear most people are hating due to the battle system being more action based so I assumed and I apologize! While XIII did not feel like a Final Fantasy game to me poor characters, a world that I did not find fun exploring etc. From the start Versus seemed to be heading in the proper Final Fantasy direction. The fact alone that Airships are going to be in the game should get any hardcore FF player excited.
Last edited by SayWord on 6/14/2013 2:41:41 PM
SayWord, I'm actually reading a lot of people say they liked FF12 battle system fine or Kingdom Hearts, and even a mention or two about Dragon Age. No one has problems with those because they are RPG's.
Same with Tales of. you said before that it's action, but it isn't. It's real time battles, but it isn't an action game in the slightest.
The issue is with it becoming less of an RPG and more of an action/adventure.
FYI, you level up your powers in inFamous too. It's not an RPG.