I've played my fair share of AAA video games, but have never felt all that compelled to dive into the Final Fantasy universe. Mostly, it felt completely overwhelming, having an ever-increasing amount of volumes to wade through. I also knew nothing about it, often conflating it with Final Destination, thinking it looked like Kingdom Hearts but that everyone would eventually die in brutal ways. However, on the recommendation of a friend, a dire need to stay in an anime-style world, and a desire for a new long-ass video game, I bought and downloaded Final Fantasy XV, the latest installment in the Square Enix series.
I'm really not all that far into the game, but I do really enjoy the central four protagonists (one of whom I play directly). They're interesting, they're funny, they're kind, they're loyal. They all seem like total stand-up dudes, which is nice since I have no choice in who I get to play as. There is no customization menu at the beginning of gameplay. I'm stuck as Noctis, Prince of Darkness (I honestly have no idea what he's Prince of, but he and his merry band of rabble-rousers dress only in black), who is probably the least interesting of the four characters, but he's innocuous enough to not turn me off of the game.
I love side quests. I love reveling in as much gameplay as possible before I have to move on with the actual storylines. Final Fantasy XV has side quests aplenty... but they're all insanely ridiculous. Shortly after the main plot has started, Noctis' father is murdered in an attack on the citadel. However, the NPCs waste no time giving Noctis inane errands to run, including chasing down frogs, searching for rare gemstones, buying a tomato and searching for car grease. I'm used to playing sidequests in other AAA games, and they can often be just as absurd, but they usually feel a little more connected to the main quest plot (i.e. if you do this favour for me, Inquisitor, I'll join your forces). The sidequests in Final Fantasy XV seem to completely stray from any main quest (or at least, that's how it seems), making the side comments that our four main characters eventually start spouting about why they're wasting time searching for lost dog tags feel totally welcome.
The Really, Really Bad
The first woman character we meet is a mechanic named Cindy, who also sends Noctis and the boys on bonkers sidequests. The above is what she wears. Always. As a mechanic. I can't even begin to talk about how much this whole thing is completely outrageous and downright offensive. Suffice it to say, had more women shown up wearing boob-busting bras and thongs sticking out of their jeans, ITEMS OF CLOTHING THAT WERE NOT NECESSARY FOR THE PLOT, I would have asked for a refund. It's bad enough that the central four characters are men, but to have the first woman that we are introduced to be dressed in a completely unrealistic, bullshit way, is sexist and wrong. There is absolutely no reason for her to be dressed in thigh-high leather boots, Daisy Dukes and a bra, AS A MECHANIC. When the male gaze is more important to cater to than your feminist audience, it makes it hard to want to continue to support the series. The story is good, and the characters compelling. With a couple of extra layers, both emotional and clothing-wise, this problem could have been completely avoided.