Xenoblade is the New Final Fantasy

Now I have to be completely clear when I say this: Xenoblade Chronicles, as a series, has eclipsed modern Final Fantasy. That is what this article is about. I am not referring to retro Final Fantasy or anything before Final Fantasy XII. As a series though, Xenoblade’s quality has eclipsed Final Fantasy; there is no doubt about that. Nothing is more evident than comparing Final Fantasy XV, which masquerades as an “open world”, with Xenoblade Chronicles X or Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Even the first game, after a game-altering event, offered plenty of exploration and incredibly fun and challenging sidequests. Xenoblade is the new Final Fantasy of this generation.

While X was more character-driven (you could argue the characters weren’t interesting, though I disagree), 1 and 2 are plot-driven with some really awesome characters to boot. Even Noctis’ companions are great characters in Final Fantasy XV and Ardyn is a great villain (ohhh Keiji Fujiwara!), but Noctis himself is so bland. The game is hollow, almost a fraud.

Tetsuya Takahashi’s Beginnings

Xenoblade is the New Final Fantasy

Ironically, Tetsuya Takahashi, the brainchild behind all the Xeno games, originally worked for Squaresoft. His first game, Xenogears, was originally considered to be Final Fantasy VII. That would have altered history quite a bit! The heads of Square thought the game’s themes were too complex though. The religious overtones didn’t help matters. Takahashi and his team were still young though, and contrary belief about budget issues, the development team had trouble meeting the two-year development cycle. That’s why the second disc is gutted, but a cult classic was still born.

Takahashi was still young though. He went on to create Monolith Soft and left Square. He came up with the Xenosaga series, which was meant to span multiple episodes and be a spiritual successor to Xenogears, but in Takahashi’s eyes, the games were a failure.

We released three games in the Xenosaga series, but they weren’t very well received. It was really mortifying. All of the young team members felt that way, not just the leaders. So we all decided, ‘Next time we need to make a game that players will enjoy.’ So that made the atmosphere during the Xenoblade Chronicles development very different compared to other games.

We began Monolith Soft in 1999, with funding from Namco before they became Bandai Namco. The first game we made was Xenosaga, but because we were developing it while we were building the organization, we didn’t have enough people. The programmers and the planners were all rookies. At the time, the director of Xenoblade Chronicles and Xenoblade Chronicles X,  [Koh] Kojima, had just joined the company right after graduating college.”

Xenoblade is the New Final Fantasy


“And, it’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but the graphics engine was only completed six months before the development deadline. That’s the schedule we were on. So—and this is a bit of an excuse—but at the time, I felt that because no one on the team making Xenosaga had any experience, it might be a little too difficult for us to make our ideal game yet.

While the stories of the games were incredible, the execution was lacking and the third game was the only one that was enjoyable from a gameplay-standpoint. Sorya Saga, Takahashi’s wife, also claims that after the story was meddled with in production and Bandai Namco took her off the project in the middle of Xenosaga: Episode II. The saga was changed forever. She was the scenario writer of the series.

Xenosaga was canceled after its third game, which was actually pretty good and was a fitting conclusion to the saga. After this, Nintendo bought Monolith Soft, and a new era was born. Takahashi began work on Xenoblade Chronicles for the Wii.

Xenoblade versus Final Fantasy

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The Xenoblade games are all open-world. They lack the “illusion” Final Fantasy XV has, which claims to be open-world but in reality the world is barren and you spend most of your time in a car driving along a road. Sure, there is some exploration, but it was not as advertised. It pales in comparison to Xenoblade, and while not as linear as its predecessor, it is a rather linear game with few rewarding sidequests. Xenoblade puts Final Fantasy to shame in this respect, and reviewers even agree. While Final Fantasy XV received an 81 score on MetacriticXenoblade Chronicles received a 92. This is despite the fact that the graphics were atrocious (they were below PlayStation 2 standards, probably because of the massive world that was created on an underpowered system).

Xenoblade X and Xenoblade 2 are sitting at an 84 on Metacritic, and there’s a chance Xenoblade Chronicles 2 could still rise, as not all reviews are in. Xenoblade Chronicles X has a user score of an 8.9, which is close to Xenoblade Chronicles’ 9.0. The games are rife with exploration, especially Xenoblade Chronicles X. It’s sad that IGN claims one of the faults of the game is that “Getting from place to place can be confusing” and that the minimap is junk. The last part is debatable, but it’s called exploration I don’t want a game that holds my hand. Xenoblade 2‘s world is incredible. The exploration and secrets about are so rewarding. Also, there was no problem with lack of direction in Breath of the Wild.

Xenoblade is the New Final Fantasy

Takahashi has gone back to a story-driven game with Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but that doesn’t mean the world isn’t massive. There are plenty of secrets and unlockables to discover that are actually fun. The combat in the series is top-class as well. While the combat system in Final Fantasy XIII is enjoyable, the game is so linear that it’s laughable. It stops being fun. It is not an enjoyable game and the story is incredibly pretentious. Takahashi learned from previous mistakes and his religious and philosophical overtones are much more subtle.

The Bottom Line

Final Fantasy XII had some story problems and many complained about the gameplay. Final Fantasy XIII was a linear mess with an over-pretentious story no one understood with unlikeable characters. Its sequels were not that much better. Final Fantasy XV was better but not nearly as good as advertised. And it was the kind of open-world game that was promised, although it had a great villain in Ardyn.

Xenoblade is the New Final Fantasy

Xenoblade (all three) are superior in every facet: gameplay, exploration, story, combat (XV’s attempt at live-action combat was sad), and the series is filled with endearing characters. Tetsuya Takahashi has crafted some amazing worlds and has finally surpassed the company he left so many years ago. Nintendo is actually incredibly supportive, as opposed to Square and Namco Bandai before them.

Maybe the sales aren’t there yet for the series, but the Xenoblade games are masterpieces. The original had a limited North American release and Xenoblade X came out on a dying system. Both sold over 900,000 (Xenoblade Chronicles sold over one million if you count 3DS sales) copies. The potential is there. It’s not the 6.5 million units that Final Fantasy XV has sold thus far, but Xenoblade is still in its infancy. It doesn’t hurt that this latest game is coming out on the Nintendo Switch, which could eventually eclipse the PlayStation 4 in sales.

Xenoblade is the new Final Fantasy

Tetsuya Takahashi is a genius. As long as Nintendo continues to guide the series, there are no heights that it can’t reach. And that includes surpassing Final Fantasy in quality, which it clearly has from a quality standpoint. The next step is competing with sales numbers, which may be possible on the Nintendo Switch.

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Final Fantasy XIII-2 is Better Than Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy XV has been a massive disappointment. While people thought it would be the series’ saving grace, it plunged the series into an even deeper hole. While the Final Fantasy XIII series has been blasted by critics, XIII and XIII-2 have comparable metacritic scores compared to XV. Final Fantasy XIII-2 has a 79 metacritic score, while Final Fantasy XV has an 81 score. What’s even more amusing is Final Fantasy XIII, which is criticized so heavily, has an 83 score. Yes, different times, different reviewers, but it’s still relevant. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is better than Final Fantasy XV because the characters are more engaging, the story is superior and well told, the combat is better, and it’s just more enjoyable.

Where Final Fantasy XV really falters is the narrative. The story has an interesting premise, but the story is so poorly told. Parts of the story are not even told in-game, which is an absolute joke. I should not have to watch a film and an anime series to get the full story. Put it in the game. On the other hand, Final Fantasy XIII-2’s story is fantastic. Yes, it does use a lot of the set pieces from XIII, but the time travel aspect of the game really makes the narrative shine. Final Fantasy is all about story and is one of the paramount reasons why Final Fantasy XIII-2 is better than Final Fantasy XV. The narrative isn’t sloppily put together like XV and it’s a very enjoyable tale.

Final Fantasy XV is a story about a boy band gone wrong. At least that’s what it feels like. The brotherhood aspect is understandable, but the characters are so underdeveloped and really boring. Noctis is a horrible lead character and the only member of the cast I even cared about was Ardyn; he was a fantastic villain. Final Fantasy XIII-2’s story was fantastic. It always kept you guessing what was coming next. The Historia Crux was a great way to navigate the world and keep the game from being linear. One of the major problems with XV is that it gives the illusion of an open world. Yes, you can go around and explore, but it’s nothing like Xenoblade X where you can go and explore each continent from the get go. This is what many Final Fantasy fans were hoping for and were let down. Driving the car is a total pain and the game’s story was a major let down, especially chapter 13.

The characters in Final Fantasy XIII-2 have a lot more depth than the characters in Final Fantasy XV. It’s what makes the game and is one of the reasons why Final Fantasy XIII-2 is better than Final Fantasy XV. One of the major problems with Final Fantasy XV is that there are no strong female characters. This is a huge problem; there’s no diversity. It’s just four guys traveling around in a car. XIII-2’s Serah may appear weak in the beginning of the game, but as the game goes on she shows her inner strength. There is so much character development in the game and it’s really powerful that the lead character in the game is a young woman. Noel is also a great character and and develops throughout the game and is the perfect companion for Serah. It’s also helpful that there are just two main characters compared to four in XV. Even the villain Caius has a complex motivation and while Ardyn is a great villain, I would put him on par with Caius.

The combat in Final Fantasy XV is weak. It’s full of button mashing and simply put, it’s not enjoyable. Just attempt to cast magic spells. Your party members will get caught up in the blast. Have your party members cast spells and you are most certainly to get caught up in the blast. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is better than Final Fantasy XV because the combat is better, in part. While Final Fantasy XV’s combat is more button mashing and action-adventure, Final Fantasy XIII-2 utilizes paradigms and is actually quite fun. You can either attack manually or have your characters attack automatically once you figure out the enemies’ weaknesses. Real time turn-based combat in JRPGs are almost always superior to action-type button mashing, proving once again Final Fantasy XIII-2 is better than Final Fantasy XV.

Final Fantasy XV can be an enjoyable game, but it is a huge letdown. Final Fantasy XIII-2 is superior in almost every facet, it just gets a lukewarm rap because it’s associated with the XIII series, which is actually quite good. It just has a group of vocal fans who dislike it intensely. XIII-2 is the best Final Fantasy game to come out since X, and I would argue it’s better than that game. From the characters, combat, and narrative, Final Fantasy XV is just weak. There are so many reasons why Final Fantasy XIII-2 is better than Final Fantasy XV. Come a year from now after the hype has subsided, people will rip into Final Fantasy XV like they did XIII.

The Most Disappointing Games of 2016

2016 was filled with some wonderful games. Finally, exclusives made its way towards consoles published by Microsoft and Sony. E3 was a blast and showed off some amazing content. Despite this though, there were a number of games that were disappointing. We at VG Culture HQ are going to list the most disappointing games of 2016, in no particular order. While these games may not be bad per se, they never reached the heights that were promised. This is why we name them the the most disappointing games of 2016.

The Most Disappointing Games of 2016 — No Man’s Sky

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No Man’s Sky was the second PlayStation-exclusive game to release this year after Uncharted 4. There was tremendous hype around the game. The final result? A complete disaster. There were a number of features promised by the developer that were not in the final game. The developer even received death threats, which was completely uncalled for. Even so though, the game never reached the heights promised. It was a PR nightmare and is easily the most disappointing game of the year.

The Most Disappointing Games of 2016 — The Division

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I was really excited for The Division. In fact, when I was with another outlet, I wrote about how it would be a Destiny killer. Man, I was completely wrong! The game was a complete mess and the Dark Zone was not enjoyable at all. The gameplay was okay, but nothing spectacular. After Ubisoft invested so much money into the game, it was a severe disappointment, considering the end result. Most of my friends own a PlayStation 4 and I played the game on the Xbox One. Many missions were almost impossible to solo. The game was full of glitches on release and even with some patches, I completely wasted roughly $100 on the game and season pass. The MMO aspects don’t really work and Destiny is far superior.

The Most Disappointing Games of 2016 — The Last Guardian

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The Last Guardian was one of the most anticipated Sony PlayStation 4 exclusives in years. It went through development hell and eventually landed on the PS4 after years of development, and the end result was a mixed bag. Simply put, it feels like a last generation game. Your companion, Trico, doesn’t always listen to directions which makes puzzle solving very difficult. The controls are awkward and there are some frame rate issues, even on the PlayStation Pro. After so many years of development you would think these issues would be fixed.

The Most Disappointing Games of 2016 — Final Fantasy XV

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There were so many high hopes for Final Fantasy XV. The series has been on a downward slope ever since X and many hoped XV would help rectify the series. Well, it didn’t. Many weren’t a fan of Final Fantasy XIII. I was, although I recognized its flaws. XIII-2 rectified these and is the best Final Fantasy game in recent memory. The final installment in the trilogy was just okay, but it wrapped the series up nicely. Final Fantasy XV feels like a boy band expedition gone wrong. It has the illusion of an open world and the narrative is executed so poorly. The characters are uninteresting and considering how it started as Final Fantasy XIII versus and was in development for 10 years, there is no excuse. This is why it is one of the most disappointing games of 2016.

The Most Disappointing Games of 2016 — Uncharted 4

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I will be lambasted for this. Many view Uncharted 4 as the holy grail of gaming. I respect Naughty Dog a great deal and have even talked to several developers at the studio. I went into the game with an open mind. I wanted to enjoy it. That being said, Uncharted 4 was a massive disappointment. It started out like a bad soap opera and while the narrative was not terrible by any means, the gameplay was incredibly rudimentary. I quickly tired of simply climbing rocks, finding cover and shooting enemies, and rinsing and repeating. It grew old quick and this is by far the most disappointing game of the year, regardless of what critics might say.

While many may disagree, these are our most disappointing games of 2016. It was by no means easy to put together this list, and some may lambast it, but as always we are brutally honest here and do not compromise. These games had so much promise but simply didn’t live up to them, which is they they are the most disappointing games of 2016.

Final Fantasy XV Street Date Has Been Broken

The Final Fantasy XV street date has been broken in Peru and possibly elsewhere. An image of the unboxing of the Limited Edition version of the title was posted on Twitter, while the unboxing of the Deluxe Edition was posted on Facebook. The Deluxe Edition posting has since been taken down.

This is highly unfortunate, especially since the game doesn’t release for another week and a half. Spoilers are now bound to leak on to the internet. As Final Fantasy is such a story-driven franchise, people will have the story spoiled for them. This is highly unfortunate. Final Fantasy XV is one of our most highly anticipated games of 2016. We actually named it as our number two must-have game of this fall season.

Beware of spoilers, as Final Fantasy XV will be the best Final Fantasy game in at least 10 years.

5 Must-Have Games This Fall

Admittedly, this console generation has been somewhat lackluster. It’s taken a while to get off the ground and for special exclusives to be released. This fall and winter season sees a slew of fantastic games that are being released right in time for the holidays. Finally, this console generation is coming into its own and games are no longer being marketed for both last-gen and current-gen: it’s all about now and it’s all about exclusives (mostly.) These are 5 must have-games this fall encompassing almost every gaming system with mostly exclusives sprinkled with some multi-platform games.

5 Must-Have Games This Fall — 5. Mafia III

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We had the chance to go hands-off with Mafia III this June at E3 and the experience did not disappoint. The game is not only an open-world sandbox game full of revenge, but a game where choice matters. This is not something that is common at all in the Gangster/GTA-style genre. Giving territories to lieutenants, who you trust, changes the game experience. The game also has a killer soundtrack and what better place for the game to take place in than an inspired New Orleans? Mafia III was one of the top games we saw at E3 and we are thrilled for its release in October.

5 Must-Have Games This Fall — 4. The Last Guardian

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The Last Guardian is the highly anticipated follow-up to the classic Shadow of the Colossus, an action-adventure and puzzle game. You take on the main character who befriends a feathered animal named Trico and evade capture, explore, and solve puzzles together. The game was originally supposed to come out for the PlayStation 3, but it was plagued by development hell. When it was announced at E3 2015 the industry was shocked, but in a good way. Sony desperately needs an exclusive for their console, with Horizon Zero Dawn being delayed until February and No Man’s Sky having such a severe backlash from fans, as well as not delivering on promises. At this point, the nod as far as exclusives go has to go to Microsoft.

5 Must-Have Games This Fall — 3. Pokemon Sun and Moon

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Nintendo’s only game(s) on this list (hey, Zelda was delayed!) Pokemon Sun and Moon very well may be the most revolutionary entries in the entire series. The Aloha region is rife with some incredibly exotic Pokemon, new gameplay mechanics, and some really cool alternate versions of the Pokemon we all know and love. Pikachu even has his very own Z-moves, brand new to the series. The real question is whether or not to get Pokemon Sun and Moon, but which one to get. I’m more of a Moon person, and as this may be Pokemon’s last hurrah on the Nintendo 3DS, it may be better than we could possibly imagine when it releases this November.

5 Must-Have Games This Fall — 2. Final Fantasy XV

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Final Fantasy XV started out as Final Fantasy XIII Versus, but smartly, Square made it its own game entirely. Although the Final Fantasy XIII series is underrated, it is a far cry from the glory days of the franchise. Final Fantasy XV has the chance to change the franchise’s status as a disappointing RPG franchise and could revitalize the JRPG genre once again. The gameplay looks stellar, the story incredibly intriguing, and the characters seem endearing. It’s a shame that the game was delayed a few months, but it’s still coming out in November and is a must-have for console owners. Western RPGs may have taken over the market, but if Xenoblade Chronicles X showed us one thing, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily better.

5 Must-Have Games This Fall — 1. Gears of War 4

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Gears of War is the face of Xbox. Halo has lost that title for a while. From all accounts, Gears of War 4 is the Gears game we have all been waiting for since Gears of War 3. Viewing a demo of the campaign at E3, I was enamored by the dynamics of the environments and how beautiful the game looked, not to mention how well it played. The framerate was steady. There were no issues. The story drew the audience in and while it seemed somewhat familiar comparative to the previous games, a great game developer once told me this: to make a successful game, you have to incorporate something familiar yet something new. The Gears team has done this perfectly and with Horde 3.0 mode, Gears 4 is poised to be the best game to come out this year not only because of its quality of content but shear amount of it.

Final Fantasy XV Ultimate Collector’s Edition Doesn’t Come With Season Pass

Square Enix has confirmed that the season pass will not be included with the Final Fantasy XV Ultimate Collector’s Edition. Ironically this makes the “Ultimate” part in ‘Ultimate Collector’s Edition’ quite silly. The season pass was only recently revealed, although no details were given as to what will be included. The pass can be purchased online by way of pre-ordering the Final Fantasy XV Digital Premium Edition for $85. It is surmised that the base game will cost $60, pricing the season pass at $25 USD.

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The Final Fantasy XV Ultimate Collector’s Edition costs a whopping $270 and sold out very quickly. Even though the season pass for the game was just unveiled, there’s absolutely no excuse as to why the Digital Premium Edition would get the season pass but the Final Fantasy XV Ultimate Collector’s Edition wouldn’t. Only the most hardcore fans would pay almost $300 for this impressive set, and simply put, there’s no excuse why they shouldn’t be rewarded and have it included in one of the most elaborate collector’s editions of all time. While Final Fantasy XV looks incredible, it’s decisions like this that have been ruining Square Enix’s reputation for years. They need to rectify this situation or they will be alienating their most loyal fanbase.

Final Fantasy XV Has Been Delayed

Final Fantasy XV has been delayed, if the rumorville is is to be believed. Supposedly, corporate members of Square Enix are approaching the gaming retail goliath GameStop to instruct them to change the release date to November 29, two months after the original release date.

Allegedly, this image gives GameStop employees instruction if they need to adjust their displays for the new release date.

finalfantastydelaySource: Kotaku

While a two month delay isn’t horrible, fans have been avidly looking forward to the next installment in the Final Fantasy series. It is not confirmed that Final Fantasy XV has been delayed, but evidence is mounting up in favor of the fact. The title is the most highly-anticipated in the series in years, and from what has been seen at various events such as E3 validates the hopes people have for the game. Hopefully the developers can use this time to polish the game up and make it into the best Final Fantasy outing since XII, considering all games in the series since have been rather lackluster.

Final Fantasy XV will release for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and given the new release date, will be prime for the holidays and holiday shoppers.