I'm glad this game made the list at all. That it topped it is a shock. I've spent years now considering Final Fantasy to be kind of a dead series, for me: I don't really have the time to dedicate myself to an MMO, much less one with a monthly subscription price, and the single player offerings haven't held my interest since X. The setting of XV caught my eye first, with the juxtaposition of modern technology and traditional Final Fantasy creatures. The thing that immediately made me want to give this a shot, despite my doubts, was a "Chocobo Crossing" road sign next to a camper trailer. Simple, intriguing, and enough to make me hesitate at writing the series off for good. I'm glad I'm so easy to win over.
Final Fantasy XV isn't just a good Final Fantasy game, it's one of my favorites. The story is fairly forgettable, in my opinion, and kind of poorly told- I'm not at the ending myself just yet, so I won't judge too harshly. It doesn't matter anways, because the heart of the game is in the four main characters; Noctis, Ignis, Prompto, and Gladiolus. While those four might seem out of place standing next to a character named "Dave", they feel incredibly real in the ways that count. On a long road trip that comes to involve constant battle, the fate of the world, and political upheavals, these four never miss a chance to take shots at one another, commenting on the scenery roughly as often as they toss out good-natured ribbing at their friends. And they ARE friends, in a way that feels genuine, recognizable, reassuring. Drama abounds and the world teeters on the edge of disaster, but everyone is still going to make fun of the chosen one when he reels in a tiny fish. It's what they're there for.
Even after all this time, after a ton of questionable decisions, a Final Fantasy game can still be good- great, even. It can grab me and keep me interested in a world, in characters, even get me to watch weird movie tie-ins to try and better understand the plot. I can spend ridiculous amounts of time hunting frogs in a swamp, or hunting for optional dungeons- not all of which are perfectly designed, mind you- to collect another optional super sword because some upjumped turkey demon ate the damn thing and ran away. I'm having a lot of fun with Final Fantasy XV. More than I ever expected to have, and maybe that's part of why I love this game so much- it feels nice to have my faith in a series restored. That's a bold statement, but after this, I think it's one I feel comfortable making. You've got me back on board for now, Square- let's see what XVI looks like, eh? I'm excited again.