Square Enix’s decade-long development hell nightmare appeared to be over when Final Fantasy XV arrived in November 2016 worldwide a hair over a year ago. The game was announced in what feels like a lifetime ago in May 2006 as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, before the PlayStation 3 launched, but was in development for so long that it was moved to succeeding consoles. The game’s reviews were mostly favorable from critics, but some among the general gaming audience were tougher on it, and said it felt unfinished. Given its sales, especially in western territories, Square Enix was satisfied with the team’s work.
But the release didn’t quite mark the end, as the team helmed by director Hajime Tabata clarified that plenty of post-game content would be released alongside a series of updates. Episodes featuring more background on the other main party members have been released since earlier this year; the Gladiolus and Prompto episodes arrived in March and June, respectively, while Ignis’ will release on December 13th. The team has also provided modifications for the main quest, which, for instance, have allowed for the player to drive the car off the road and a fix for Chapter 13 by providing the option to skip it entirely… after they finish it once. Apparently, they feel that everyone should at least experience it.
The Comrades multiplayer expansion also recently released, which lets players create characters and play with others to complete quests online. They can use all the fighting styles the main characters used in the main game.
Along with Episode Ignis, the December update will add the option to play the other characters in the party during the main game, and switch between them at any point they’re available. It was an option previewed in one of the last Versus XIII trailers, and was sorely missed in the main game despite Noctis having a dizzying array of skills. But now players will have the option to tinker with it and play through some sections in an alternative manner, especially if the other three characters inherit skills from their episodes. It’s a shame they won’t have sections in the game designed to make use of their skill sets, unless they have another surprise in store.
Tabata also wants to release three more episodes in 2018, including one about Ardyn. He read the complaints of players who said the game’s world felt underdeveloped and that its history went unexplained, so his episode will place larger focus on that. He’s also aware that fans want an episode focused on Luna, who didn’t receive much development in the game, though stopped short of confirming this. Along with meeting expectations of existing fans, Tabata also wants to betray their expectations though… some method. He didn’t elaborate on how he intends to do this, but it will likely happen through the content of an episode.
With how underdeveloped the entire game feels, perhaps it needed more time before it released. The episode releases are Square Enix’s way to make up for the undercooked story developments, though they won’t address how most of the game’s biggest events happen off-screen. Combine this with the updates regarding gameplay changes that would have been nice to have when the game released, like character switching, and it feels like it could have used another year of time at least.
However, I understand why they released it when they did. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, this game’s development was a long nightmare for Square Enix, and they were determined to end the embarrassment in as quick a fashion as possible. There was probably no “best” decision here, but the game sold well, and it’s possible the DLC is also selling to Square Enix’s expectations.
The constant stream of updates for FFXV should make the long wait for Final Fantasy VII Remake easier for anyone who enjoyed it, not to mention the potentially even longer wait for the next mainline Final Fantasy game. Considering the team behind the Final Fantasy XIII games is working on FFVII Remake and constant updates for Mobius Final Fantasy and what the FFXV team is doing, Final Fantasy XVI is either being handled by a new team or isn’t in development at all, but perhaps it will be in a showable state by the time FFXV is fully complete.