Just The Beginning
Yesterday, Patrick Lee kicked off our ongoing Game In Progress review of Final Fantasy XV with a look at its first 10 hours. Down in the comments (and over in the comments of this week’s What Are You Playing This Weekend? Thread), readers have started weighing in with their experiences as well. Shinigami Apple Merchant laid out some pros and cons in a monster post. Here are a few choice cuts:
Things I love so far:
The open-ended narrative that takes place during action—I’m not talking about the main plot at all, just the narrative you create for yourself, the unique mini-story you of what you did that day/those days as you progress. Bravo to whoever came up with the idea that one of your friends would take pictures of your exploits and shows them to the group at the end of the day. It works for me on every level and I love it. It works for the character doing it, it works for the game and getting you even more involved in the sights.
Just driving around because you can—I’m just driving around, looking at all the sights, chatting about how I want photos taken, fishing at any new spot I see, and it’s glorious. It’s not the most engrossing in terms of character development or story, but it’s not trying to be. I get the core motivations of everyone involved, I get the main flow/tick of the plot in the foreground, and for now, I’m just enjoying this unique semi-sandbox opportunity.
Thing(s) I dislike so far
Cindy, Cindy, Cindy.
I didn’t like the way she was represented in the first demo at all, and I still don’t like that she’s depicted as she is here. “But Gladiolus is there for male eye candy!” Yeah, well, when it’s just Noctis refueling the car, he’s standing there with a nozzle straightforwardly while Cindy goes full Cool Hand Luke on your car (with Prompto standing in for the gawking George Kennedy). And even if Gladiolus were utilized in such a fashion at some point, I don’t like this pandering in any way, shape, or form at all. I want character development quests, not “let’s go stalk…err…totally NOT stalk the mechanic” endeavors.
I originally thought Cindy was going be a new approach to Cid, as in “Maybe if we need to talk to her so much to mod our weapons and car, they’ll flesh her out as a character.” Nope. There’s an actual Cid anyway, and his backstory is getting covered while Cindy’s backstory so far is simply, “Wow! Cid’s grandkid is so hot, and she loves cars, and she loves to talk about cars! I wonder if she’s single!” Bleh.
Cindy was a sore spot for some other commenters as well. In his article, Patrick mentioned the game’s opening promise of being a Final Fantasy for veterans and newcomers alike. But Cnightwing points out the game’s dude-centric premise creates some inherent borders:
I find it hard to believe that this is Final Fantasy for beginners. It’s four boys-will-be-boys literally fighting to get one of them back their privilege of being the monarch. The first adult woman you encounter is absurdly sexualized. How on Earth is this supposed to appeal to everyone?
And Chashi proved this can affect longtime fans as well:
That’s why I have trouble believing it’s a Final Fantasy for lifetime fans, honestly. One of my earliest memories is watching my brother playing Final Fantasy IV and being psyched that there was a cool little girl with green hair that he named after me. Seeing the ads for FF15 on TV hit me with a 2x4 of nostalgia every time, but I’m so incredibly disappointed by the four-dude party that I’m having trouble wanting to pick it up.
Lots of commenters mentioned that the game’s story, at least in the early goings, was pretty threadbare. Passe_Partout decided to flesh it out a little:
For my non-gaming friend who was watching me play, I decided to spice up the story by telling her it was about a boy band trying to get to their final concert, but the Prince’s father (The King Of Boybands: Regis De Goodlooking XV, long may he reign) was murdered by their rivals, The Beachside Bad Boys. Now the Prince has to find his 10 mystical UberFans so they can save their city of Sextopia and get revenge.
Let’s Get Into It
Earlier this week, Danette Chavez and Nick Wanserski got to talking about Volo’s Guide To Monsters, the latest Dungeons & Dragons rulebook released for the game’s 5th Edition ruleset. In the comments, Doctaur wanted (for a friend) some tips on how to get into tabletop role-playing games. Unexpected Dave thinks the latest D&D is a good place to start:
I highly recommend starting with D&D 5th Edition. The core rulebook (the Player’s Handbook) is usually available in regular bookstores. There’s also the 5th Edition Starter Set Box, which includes an introductory adventure (along with an abridged version of the Player’s Handbook and some dice). It’s only $20, and it’s available pretty much anywhere you can buy board games (e.g. books stores, toy stores, pop-up holiday gift stores, etc.).
The Starter Set has everything you need to play the game up to level five, which is about 20 to 30 hours’ worth of gaming. It only contains rules for the four basic D&D classes (fighter, mage, cleric, thief) up to level five, but the introductory adventure is fully compatible with the full slate of class and race options in the Player’s Handbook.
Once your friend is finished with that introductory adventure, he can either buy a more advanced pre-made adventure (there are five so far) or he can use the Dungeon Master’s Guide to help him create his own. If you have a local comic/games/hobby shop, they may host something called the “Adventurer’s League.” This is an organized D&D group that meets for regular games every week. If your friend doesn’t know anyone else who’s interested in RPGs, this is a great way to get into a group.
Speaking of getting into a group, cappadocius advised checking out the game that’s most popular with your local players:
I would recommend getting the game system that is most popular in his area. In some places, 5th Edition D&D is on top, and with a vengeance, but in other areas, you may find out it’s Shadowrun or Pathfinder or (I’ve never seen it be the dominant game in an area, but there are stories) Runequest.
5th Edition is probably the safest bet if you’re new to the area and to gaming. Most game shops are going to have weekly pick-up games, and having a player’s handbook is a good, solid investment for someone who is serious about getting into RPGs.
Merlin The Tuna had a few more recommendations:
Going to echo cappadocius here—if you’re relying on randos at the local gaming store to fill up your group, hop on whatever bandwagon they’re on. Odds are that that’s either D&D 5E or Pathfinder.
If you’ve got a group of friends that you intend to play with, then you’ve got a lot more options. For heroic fantasy, Dungeon World is my number one recommendation, and its anything-goes structure works even better if you don’t come in with D&D/Pathfinder expectations of how RPGs are “supposed” to play. For the more regimented, board game-y style, I’d suggest either 13th Age, if you’re up for mechanical complexity, or D&D 5E, if you’re looking for something only moderately heavy.
Outside of heroic fantasy, the new Star Wars RPG is supposedly solid, if that’s your jam, Fate Core is an interesting one for more grounded character-driven storytelling, and I will never, ever stop pushing Dread for horror games.
One More Thing
Next Thursday is December 8, which means it’ll be the night for the Gameological community’s monthly Mario Kart 8 competition. Your perennial host DL has all the details over in What Are You Playing This Weekend?, but here are the basics: Festivities begin at 8 p.m. Central time, and the code for the tournament is 0699-6646-7941.
That’ll do it for this week, folks. As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting. We’ll see you all next week!