There's a big problem with how Final Fantasy XV's reputation has been built. Take a look across much of the coverage surrounding the game and you'll be instantly awash in positive messages relating to its first half; the open world, the aesthetic design of the characters and monsters - almost everything, other than the one thing that makes a Final Fantasy timeless: Its story.
Simply because the game nails its opening hours so well, delivering a swathe of personable character archetypes, monster-hunting side missions and nostalgia-driven soundtrack easter eggs to get lost in, hides the fact that as a full picture - especially in retrospect when the credits have rolled - there are far more gaping plot holes, gameplay flaws and unfinished elements to ignore.
A 10 year development cycle and devoted fanbase who want everything to be great has resulted in a title that yes, has a lot to going for it, but falls apart once you look at the bigger picture.
Squenix have even admitted to such a thing, saying they'll patch in more story, more dialogue and more modes to make the game feel more cohesive, but they've already had 10 years to do so. It's maddening, and is only the beginning of the issues, providing you scratch away at the surface...
Note: Full spoilers for FF XV follow.
10. Story And Pacing Make Zero Sense
So... phew, alright, let's do this.
Nothing in Final Fantasy XV makes any sense at all, and even its most basic foundational elements (the war between Niflhem and Lucis, the rise of Magitek, King Regis' role and the backstories of our four main characters) are all relegated to ancillary in-game radio broadcasts or optional media like the Kingsglaive movie and/or Brotherhood anime.
Whilst the latter is purpose-built to delve into Noctis, Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto's personal histories, Kingsglaive's tie to the mythology is tenuous at best. There's nothing in there about Regis and Noctis' relationship, other than to surmise that the latter cries about hating his dad in the game (a scene that makes no sense without the wider context) because of a fleeting moment where Regis fled a Niflheim attack without using his own magic to save the citizens of Tenebrae.
Again, without this, we have no idea why Noctis has any beef with his otherwise charming father, a beat that opens the game, was the centre of a lot of the game's marketing and defines their final moments together. An entire plot point, wasted.
From there, Final Fantasy XV starts as a free-form road trip where our posse have all the time in the world to indulge in side quests and distractions (despite the fact there's a wedding to attend), then we take a boat trip to another part of Eos that gets abandoned after one cutscene, there's the 'moving' death of a character you've spent zero time with, numerous train journeys where you literally just run around on carriages, a broken stealth segment and a random leap forward in time by 10 years to force an emotional climax the game doesn't earn.
I'll break these components down as we go, but take a step back and analyse the narrative as a series of 'A to B to C' events. The pacing is way off, and not one of its biggest standout setpieces feel worthwhile.