I talked a bit about story, characters, themes, and settings two days ago, and the combat mechanics yesterday, so I wanted to take a moment to talk about what you can do in Final Fantasy XV when you’re not advancing the story or strictly in combat, even though a lot of what you’ll be doing is combat, of course.

Final Fantasy XV has a sandbox component. When you’re going from quest to quest or outpost to outpost, you can choose to get there however you please. In order from safest to least safest, you can fast travel assuming you’ve been there before and have a measly 10 Gil to get there, you can hop in the Regalia, the car, you can rent a Chocobo, Final Fantasy’s flagship bird/horses, or you can walk. Walking from location to location can cause you to stumble upon monsters, but running away is pretty easy, and not tied to chance or anything like that; you simply have to remove yourself from the combat area. Since it’s tied to the story that you’re being pursued, you can also get attacked while in the car, but it’s far less common, and Chocobos move quickly enough to escape before enemies can make their moves.

Since you’ve got a sandbox, you’re welcome to explore. Throughout the land you can discover treasures, ingredients for Ignis to cook with for the party for important (and sometimes necessary) stat boosts, campgrounds to rest at free of charge, dungeons containing powerful weapons for Noctis and his special ability: the Armiger, or simply shop and explore towns. There are a veritable TON of side quests, but only a handful of them are truly unique, and they’re all basically fetch quests: go here, get this, come back. Likewise are your main source of making money: Hunts. Hunts are bounties that you can go on to kill some trouble-making monsters for some money and an increase in your rank as a Hunter. The harder Hunts can only be taken on by higher ranked hunters, so you’ll need to rank up to take them on. Whenever you get into town, a restaurant can show nearby points of interest, offer you food to temporarily boost your stats (and it’s usually a pretty big boost, mind you), and offer you hunts. Restaurants are kind of like a base of operations. Though sidequests can get tedious, the rewards and experience gained from doing them makes them continue to feel important.

Nighttime is especially dangerous, especially for the low leveled, as daemons come out to skulk about, and they’re no pushovers. If you absolutely have to travel by night, keep moving. This makes the resting mechanic useful not only to spend your experience points (as EXP accrued is only added to characters after resting), but to advance the time.

There’s something about the world of Final Fantasy XV that draws you to it, and it might sound strange at first, but hear me out… The world of FFXV reminds me a bit of Hyrule and Termina, the worlds of the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, respectively. You kind of feel like you’re on this grand journey, but everyone is kind of going about their day in their own way. Locations feel not like they were specifically made for the player, but for the residents of the world. Riding a Chocobo takes me straight to excursions of riding with Epona, and the characters that have their own business go about it seemingly without a real care in the world. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the world of FFXV is it’s own living, breathing world, complete with tons of things to find and do. It has this sort of charming quality that the overworld of LoZ has about it, and seems to do it well.

I’m hoping to get some serious play time in this weekend so I can talk about it more.