A XII remaster, a XIV expansion, XV is still being updated
Final Fantasy is back.
Did it ever leave? Well it depends on who you ask.
Before I dig in it’s important to talk about the elephant in the room — Final Fantasy XIII. No, I don’t think it permanently tarnished the brand, nor do I believe that it’s one of the worst RPGs ever made. XIII-2 even improved upon that rocky foundation, and I loved Lightning Returns. But even the most ardent of XIII supporters will probably admit that there was a distinct lack of fanfare and excitement from the crowd at large. When a Final Fantasy hits it’s always a big deal. After picking up that pre-order and hearing the words “L’Cie and Fal’Cie” uttered in rapid succession, most of my hype was deflated. That’s before I really picked up on the “it takes 20 hours to get good/open world” shtick and the sheer lack of influence on my party.
XIII shouldn’t take all the blame for the momentary lapse of the series though. The original 1.0 edition of XIV (the long awaited MMO follow-up to XI) was horrendously bad, like, so bad that Square Enix had to openly apologize for it, kill off the game in glorious fashion, and re-open it as A Realm Reborn — you could practically taste the subtitle “Apology Edition.” It was clunky, uninspired, and as a rabid fan of XI it made me quit right at the E3 hands-on demo. If it wasn’t for my career obligations I wouldn’t have even touched the retail edition.
It was a bad time, but eventually Square did pull out of it. The launch for XIV, barring initial server issues, was a boon. There was finally another big budget subscription-based MMO in town, one that ushered in good meaningful content patches every few months and put that sub money to work. It’s still extremely competitive two expansions in (most recently with Stormblood), and as evidenced by the header image, it looks beautiful as hell. Producer Yoshi-P, the very lifeblood of the game, has said that “at least” two more expansions are planned, so XIV is going to be around for a long while.
More recently there’s XV and the XII remaster to consider. XII was a fan favorite at release but was fairly clunky/grindy at times. The new fast-forward feature and the ability to skip cutsenes makes up for that. XV has divided fans just like any series entry, but I found it to be pretty damn emotional, as it sold me on the idea of playing as a “party” more than any other Final Fantasy.
With Dissidia on the horizon for PS4, myriad updates for XV, the VII remake, and XIV going strong we’re far from seeing the closure of a series that was once almost “the end,” because creator Hironobu Sakaguchi didn’t know if it would take off. I hope XVI manages to take all of the lessons Square Enix has learned along the way and continue to right the ship, whenever it ends up launching in another universe along with Kingdom Hearts 3.