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Broken Base / Final Fantasy XV

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XV is notable for being one of the most polarizing entries in the Final Fantasy series, based almost entirely on the subject of its development issues. There are arguments all over the place concerning the quality of the game and many others, that talking about it in a forum is grounds for a flame war.

  • Hajime Tabata replacing Tetsuya Nomura as director led to an interesting turn of this. He's quite well-loved as a director and many were happy about his enthusiasm to get the game released. However, just as many became very wary of him, as he has his detractors for The 3rd Birthday, a game considered to be Parasite Eve's Franchise Killer. Also, people have criticized him for simplifying the game's combat system from its original version (reportedly, he changed the well-received gameplay of Versus XIII because he felt he was personally getting too old to play a game like it). While this seems unwarranted for the most part, news of Stella's removal from the game due to not understanding how she fit in led many to decry him as a director and swear off the game for good.
    • Tabata's attempts to dull criticism concerning many of these changes did little to help. When trying to explain how they didn't want to offend Stella's fans by changing her, it only managed to make them even more irritated because it sounded like he was blaming them for being unwilling to accept change. The fact that he had previously implied that Stella was a weak character without explaining how she was such (while the public had seen little of Stella, she appeared to be a key antagonist and a rapier-wielding Lady of War, enough to endear her to fans) only worsened matters.
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    • To break the base further, for many fans it's a tie between who got the worse end of the deal, Stella or Luna. With Stella, many lament that her story as an anti-villain counterpart to Noctis was lost and felt that she had greater chemistry with Noctis in the one released scene of the two of them together (which was basically a prototype scene) than Luna does. Meanwhile Luna's time in development had her in the shadow of her predecessor, with many feeling that she was an unfortunate victim of an impossible situation with unreal expectations. Even after the release of the game, she remains a divisive character, but now has many equally lament at how underutilized she is.
  • Overlapping with Fandom Rivalry, fans of the lore for Versus XIII and what was known about it vs. fans of the lore for XV as it is now. The former are very bitter that many of the original ideas for Versus were changed or dropped in XV, consider the replacements far inferior (see the Stella vs. Luna debate above), and point to the incomplete nature of the game as proof XV is a mismanaged bastardization of what Versus XIII could've been. The latter argues that XV introduced a lot of good ideas in its own right, and point out that given the game's Troubled Production and Nomura's infamy for Attention Deficit Creator Disorder it was likely Versus XIII never would've even come out, and that even if it did, it probably wouldn't have lived up to their expectations anyway, and that a lot of their anger is sour grapes.
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  • After Chapter 9's Wham Episode, opinions are split on Noctis and Gladio's argument on the train. Was Noctis justified in mourning over Luna or was Gladio right to call him out on seemingly moping around? Was Noctis making waste of Ignis and Luna's sacrifices or was Gladio's outburst unjustified and unfair? Some people who were getting tired of Wangsty protagonists, particularly from this franchise, saw Gladio's talk as a breath of fresh air. Others, however, saw Gladio's comments and his nasty treatment following it as being out of line and cruel to a man who's meant to be one of his closest friends. The game itself tries to strike a middle ground: Ignis stands up and says that Gladio is being too aggressive with pushing Noctis forward, saying that Noctis will do so but when he's ready. Noctis follows by saying they're going to proceed on their journey but not at Ignis's expense to show that he's not thinking only of his own loss. Nevertheless fans are sharply divided over who was more "right", to the point it's often the deciding factor in what one thinks of Gladio.
  • Post-Chapter 9. Chapter 10 not only marks the transition from open world to linear gameplay progression but also the tonal shift from a mostly light-hearted roadtrip to a much darker journey. A lot of fans hate it for feeling rushed since it's the most visibly disjointed part of the story, thanks to many events happening off-screen or being underdeveloped. However, quite a lot of others feel that the story finally finds its feet and delivers some of the most emotional parts of the game, and wish the earlier parts of the game were more like it, believing that the open-world nature of the first half came at the expense of the game's ability to focus on the story and characters.
    • In particular, the 10-year timeskip is especially contentious. Most fans can agree on it being a huge wasted opportunity since Noctis is inside the Crystal for most of it, therefore missing out on 10 whole years of character interaction, and players don't get to explore the World of Ruin much afterwards. However the base is broken between the fans who despise it and/or the changes to the character designs, wishing it never happened, and the fans who, while acknowledging the problems with the execution, love the idea and the new designs, and consider it a bold and innovative departure from Square Enix's usual formula, as well as a great Shout-Out to Final Fantasy VI, an entry particularly beloved in the West.
  • The various DLC Episodes and other planned post-release updates announced for the game. Many were happy that they could finally do things such as play as Gladio, Prompto, and Ignis and were looking forward to the story and world being fleshed out, while just as many were disgruntled over the fact that they'd have to pay for something they feel should have been in the game in the first place, a fact not helped by the main story seemingly having deliberate gaps meant to incentivize purchasing the DLC.
    • The playable party case is particularly bad. After Tabata defended with his own life having only Noctis playable, and the fact this patch took two years to come, you won't be surprised at seeing people saying it is too late for him to start fixing his mistakes. Then again, Yoshinori Ono did the same with Street Fighter V and the Arcade Mode... And got praised for owning up to the game's flaws.
    • On that matter, the future updates that promised a Golden Ending... by 2019. On top of the arguments over whether the effort is well spent on this Golden Ending or if it should've gone towards filling in the story gaps left behind by the original storyline (itself related to the below argument over the quality of the ending itself), there were people questioning if Tabata's work on this game would actually survive that much time, and quipping that the game would be pretty much dead by the time they come, if they come, becoming new updates for a game that nobody would be playing by then. Those fears were later confirmed as it was announced in November 2018 that Square Enix had dropped three out of the four DLC, leaving only Episode Ardyn in the plans, and Hajime Tabata had officially left Square Enix. While Square promised to tell the Golden Ending via other media, this left a very sour taste in players' mouths, as Final Fantasy XV is essentially left as an incomplete game in comparison to Tabata's original plan.
  • The announcement that XV would be completely removed from the Fabula Nova Crystallis universe. On one side were those who disliked the FNC, and were happy that the mythos would not be used in the game; on the other, fans of the mythos (or who thought it was interesting in general) who were looking forward to seeing how this game did it note  were not amused at all. Tabata later clarified that the mythos' thematic base and design elements were retained for XV, but with original lore being built from the ground up and terminology specific to the FNC being removed. Once the game came out, the side that disliked the FNC was divided into those who felt the game successfully created an engaging mythos of its own or reworked FNC concepts into something more enjoyable, and those who believe its background as a former FNC game placed a stranglehold on the game's ability to develop a more original setting. Reignited with the release of the Dawn of the Future novel, since it does a lot to flesh out the setting and backstory of the XV universe, but lifts quite a few plot elements from the FNC after all, including Bahamut being a Bhunivelze Expy.
  • Prompto's backstory in Brotherhood is the most controversial of the five episodes. While it did contribute significantly to Rescuing Prompto From The Scrappy Heap, the way it plays out tends to invite accusations of fat-shaming. On the one hand, for people who believe the episode is guilty of this, Prompto decides to lose weight because he doesn't feel like he's cool enough to talk to someone like Noctis, and they don't become friends until after he's lost a drastic amount of weight. On the other hand, for people who believe it isn't, Prompto is the only person shown to think his being fat is even an issue in the first place, and some of his dialogue makes it clear that being thin hasn't actually done anything for his underlying insecurity.
  • The Final Boss. Some love it for being a Duel Boss because of the atmosphere and how the story builds it up — a battle of Kings, the progenitor of the Lucian bloodline, and its last surviving member, dueling in the streets and skies of Insomnia to bring back the dawn. In gameplay terms, it means you're facing an enemey with powers exactly like your own, a challenge you've never had to deal with elsewhere in the game. Others dislike it precisely because its a Duel Boss — Noctis fighting the boss alone goes against the game's core themes of brotherhood and friendship, when you've spent the rest of the game fighting alongside his friends. In gameplay, depriving Noctis of the aid of his friends cuts off a lot of the strategic variety in combat — no Link Strikes, no Techniques, no Cross Chains — making the combat feel dumbed down, and the time you've spent powering up the others with equipment and abilities can feel wasted because they aren't here for the final battle.
  • Hell, the very ending is a matter of massive contention. For some, the Esoteric Happy Ending is one of the most emotionally powerful in the series and quite well deserved after all the crap Noctis is put through, and a show about how the story is about accepting your fate, but for others, it shows how rushed the story was. Some people go the extra mile and feel like Tabata basically slapped them on the face with that ending, making the player feel like the whole ordeal is a massive waste of their efforts and time applied to the game, and Noctis lost nearly everything, had his friendship bonds basically broken, sacrificed his life and defeated the Big Bad for basically nothing, as the world and humanity is ruined beyond recognition, and in a state even Kefka couldn't dare to leave it, and to top it off, all that in order for him to fulfill a "destiny" that many a player see as utter bullshit.
  • While many were glad that Square is finally moving on from Final Fantasy XV, many, many people were more than upset at the abrupt cancellation of Episodes Aranea, Lunafreya, and Noctis, as mentioned above. For starters, these DLC Episodes would've been the first — and only — chance to get playable female heroes in the game, not to mention it would've considerably fleshed out both Aranea and Luna, ESPECIALLY Luna. To really add insult to injury, these cancellations were announced during the second anniversary event. A stream that was hyped for weeks. It's like waiting on telling someone they have cancer until their birthday. But what really makes the situation suck is Hajime Tabata's abrupt "resignation" — just seven months after he was given the reigns for their most expensive development studio yet, and this was right after Square Enix lost 33 million dollars on an unreported investment within the studio. Keep in mind that Tabata agreed to head Luminous Productions specifically so he can see his own visions come to life, and yet in his resignation letter, he specifically cited leaving to see these visions come to life. The entire situation feels like a Square Enix mismanagement shitshow where Tabata was the convenient Fall Guy, while Final Fantasy XV and the rest of its staff all suffered as a result. At least we're still getting Episode Ardyn...
  • Each of the three endings (the main game's canonical Bittersweet Ending, the alternate Earn Your Happy Ending of Episode Ignis, and the Golden Ending of the Dawn of the Future novel) split the fandom neatly into three camps, each coming with its own set of vehement defenses and corresponding vitriol towards the other two:
    • Fans of the main ending consider it one of the most effective Tear Jerkers in the entire Final Fantasy franchise, bringing the themes of friendship to a heartwrenching close. They also believe that it does an excellent job of showcasing Noctis's character growth and revealing Ardyn's depth as a sadistic yet sympathetic antagonist. Those who hate it believe it's needlessly depressing due to relying on a Diabolus ex Machina that is poorly led up to and the the source of the problem (Bahamut) getting away scot-free, and that the way the events of the finale unfold end up undermining the game's theme of the close bond between Noctis and his friends.
    • Fans of the Episode Ignis alternate ending love it for being a fanservicey happy ending where Ignis is able to save Noctis and avoid losing his vision by defying fate through The Power of Love, while remaining bittersweet due to Luna's death, without resorting to Fan Disliked Explanations to get there. They also prefer it for displaying the theme of brotherhood the strongest and fixing the original ending's perceived thematic issues, such as by giving Noctis agency in his Crystal sleep, having his friends remain together throughout the timeskip, and letting the four fight Ardyn as a group. Meanwhile its detractors hate it for betraying the tragic tone of the original ending, for Luna remaining dead, for relying on a shamelessly blatant case of Deus ex Machina (Ignis's secret plan is never elaborated on), or because they find Ignis's characterization unsavory.
    • The ending of Dawn of the Future is loved for being an unambiguously happy ending that finally provides Luna with some much-needed depth and agency, as well as providing even more fanservice than Episode Ignis's in the form of things such as allowing Ardyn to be redeemed, all the heroes surviving and defying fate to take revenge on Bahamut, the ultimate source of the story's tragedy. At the same time it's also hated for these same reasons making it come off as overly saccharine and pandering and accused of reading like officially licensed fanfic, for still not doing much to make Noctis and Luna's romance any more believable than it already was, and for several controversial storytelling decisions such as Fan Disliked Explanations, shamelessly rehashing Fabula Nova Crystallis plot beats, and reducing all of Noctis's friends to footnotes at Luna and Ardyn's expense, which detractors see as flying against the story's brotherhood theme and much of what endeared the game to them in the first place.

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