Unlikeable characters, a dumbed-down Crystarium, stupid puzzles, and general nonsense combine to make this FF less appealing than FFXIII.
First we have Caius, some oversworded pretty-boy who looks like some retard's OC. Seriously, he has all of the flaws of particularly bad original characters: a big purple sword with big purple powers for no good reason, inexplicable summons, strange emo motivations, and he feels like a cheap ripoff of FF 7's and 9's main villains. The FFXIII universe has plenty of potential Big Bad
candidates in the fal'Cie. Instead, we get this loser.
About five seconds after Noel dropped in out of nowhere, I silently prayed that please, please, please not let me see too much more of him. He's one of the main characters. Why, God, why? He's like FF 9's Zidane, but without any of the wit or whimsy. At least he doesn't go full-bird emo. Serah is the girliest girl who ever girled girl, and why she's running around with this crackhead instead of, well, Snow
There are handfuls of intelligent dialogue in this game as someone had the wisdom to project common sense upon the cipher that is Noel (if the player has the brains to select the right dialogue choices), but they're overshadowed by the nonsensical plot, which is hopefully just an artifact of strange translation and cultural misunderstandings. You go forward into the future to solve "paradoxes" (they do not think this word means what I think it means), which, in turn, alter the past. Why couldn't they have just gone with something more like Chrono Trigger
? No, instead we get FF 8's Time Compression and FF 10's world map (or lack thereof)...
Basically, Square Enix said "We're sorry for FFXIII, so here, have a combination of every 3D FF game we've ever made."
Yes, FFXIII was linear, but at least it had a plot that was at least somewhat logical in FF terms and its characters were reasonable. There's a part in this game where we get an incoherent lecture on how changing the future is bad from the main boss, who stops to fight you and then runs away (what was the point of that?), and he's trying to do what again? This is after we put a familiar place back together again, with "puzzles" that wouldn't challenge a five year old with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.
Sorry, Square Enix. You fixed the problems with FFXIII, but you added plenty of new ones.