Tomorrow sees the release of Final Fantasy XV. The game is currently loaded to my PlayStation 4, along with a countdown timer to midnight when it will unlock and become playable. My brain has been yo-yoing over the last few days between, “I can’t wait for this game,” and “Why did I buy this?”

Final Fantasy XV was originally announced in 2006 as Final Fantasy Versus XIII and for years became nothing but a question from us; the question: “Where is that game?” We saw three entries in the XIII series, which were part of the larger Fabula Nova Crystallis, but never anything for Versus XIII. Finally, in 2013 Square Enix announced that the game had been retitled to Final Fantasy XV and was no longer in development for PlayStation 3, instead coming to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

I barely remember any of the promotion or marketing for the original game and it certainly wasn’t anything that I was paying much attention to. Even after it became XV, I still didn’t pay much attention to it other than understanding the fact that it was a video game that was going to release after a decade in development. I just kind of loosely looked at it as that game that everyone always brought up along with The Last Guardian that had a group of boys who were free-falling like that scene in Inception.

final-fantasy-versus-xiii-famitsuI’m still trying to remember the turning point for me, which eventually led me to watching Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, the movie that leads into the game. The same turning point that took me to the PlayStation Network to purchase and download the game. The same one still, that has me eagerly awaiting my day off this week so that I can spend the whole day wandering around as Noctis with his three friends on an adventure.

I think somewhere along the way this year, I wanted a big game. I’ve yet to play Uncharted 4, although I finally have a copy to play courtesy of @merpston, and I really haven’t had a huge AAA video game experience. I’ve spent most of my year on my handheld devices and with indie games. Something was craving that massive, expensive budget experience that I’ve really wanted from the PlayStation 4 but I haven’t really found this year. There’s been a lot of potential, but nothing that really said: “Hey, you need to play this.”

I revisited Final Fantasy VI a few months ago. I had started to play it sometime ago for a previous entry in our Game Club, but I never got very far and wanted to see it through. I think something about that cast of characters and its setting really started me down the path toward FFXV. I’ve had a riddled past when it comes to the franchise, never finishing a game in the series nor really playing one earnestly until 2012. Even after playing through a few of them, starting my way into a deeper appreciation for Japanese role-playing games, I still haven’t fallen in love with most of the settings for these games, nor many traditional RPGs. I have a weird distaste for high fantasy and stories set during the medieval times. There are games that can sometimes transcend this for me, but largely I find myself dismissing anything in that realm.

With Final Fantasy VI, I think there is a nice blend of the fantasy side of the world with the technology side of it. There’s a groundedness about the game and its story that makes it seem like some weird future reality rather than a boring one from the past. As I grew more fond of it, I think the attraction for XV began to set in as it does a really similar thing for me. Yes, there are kings and castles and a lot that I would typically roll my eyes at and move on from. But, there’s beautiful cities and cars and technology that mirrors our own. It’s also not without some of the series’ staples, making sure we can still ride Chocobos along the way.

After playing the Platinum Demo, which gives you a taste of what combat will be in the full game, I really can’t wait to get my hands on the game tonight. It doesn’t feel like something I’ve ever played. I know that a lot of what is here is not new at all, and had I played another 3D entry in the series, I’d likely not be so surprised by it but XV will be the first one I’ve played outside of a demo of Lightning Returns.

A decade after its first announcement and an entire console generation behind, Final Fantasy XV is just hours away. I still have those moments where I wonder why I’m so excited, but then I look at another screenshot and just want to fast travel to midnight.

Posted by Joe Dix

Joe is the creator of The Free Cheese. He eats a lot of pizza and takes thousands of pictures of his pugs Oswald and Earl every day.

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