I'm going to go ahead and throw my opinion out there. FFXIII is "different". There's a specific kind of FF fan who has no tolerance for any FF that is different, and they can't look past that fact to see the well-crafted game, underneath.
This kind of fan generally hates FFXII and FFVIII, holds up VII or IX as the pinnacle of the series, and may have played any pre-VII Final Fantasy after the Playstation generation had begun, if at all. I'm not mentioning any of those points as a negative, because everyone has a right to their preferences. In a series as expansive as Final Fantasy, there are bound to be some games that connect or repulse each of us to different degrees. If someone tried to get me to play FFXI again, I'd try my hardest to smash their eyeballs into a paste in the back of their skulls.
But back to my main point. FFXIII is undeniably very different from the games that came before it. It IS linear. But being linear isn't automatically a negative thing. It's a feature, not a flaw, albeit a feature that won't appeal to everyone's personal taste. I personally am loving the game so far. The characters are wonderful (even Hope is beginning to make me want to murder him slightly less), the battle system is beyond addictive, and the music is top-notch. Would I like all the games to follow to be exactly like XIII? No. And they won't be. There are a lot of things you could accuse Square Enix of, but playing it safe with the FF-brand is not one of them. So if you hate FFXIII, that's perfectly ok. You're not wrong for your distaste. But I'm a pretty open-minded gamer, and other than FFXI, I've found a lot to love in every main FF release. Yes, even FFX-2 and FFII. It's a bit annoying to see people across the Internet who apparently believe that if a game doesn't hit every box on their checklist of what "X" game should be, it's automatically shit. There's a difference between a "bad" game and a game that's not for you. It's not a difficult distinction to make.
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