Even after a decade in development, Final Fantasy XV is seemingly still unfinished. Square Enix recently announced their intention to patch additional story content into Final Fantasy XV (FFXV) in a blog post by game director Hajime Tabata. While it can be easy to feel cynical about the idea of a videogame company meddling with what is supposed to be a completed narrative, I can only see positives with what Square is attempting in creating an extended edition of the game.
I unabashedly love the story of FFXV. As I stated in my review, I see it as a mature tale told with a wonderful level of restraint. It lacks the heavy-handed exposition that bogs down so many contemporary stories, and allows for different conclusions to be drawn by individual players. The game’s core group of protagonists all have fully realised personalities, making the bond between them and the game’s conclusion something incredibly special.
With that being said, there are undoubtedly some shortcomings that left many fans wanting more. While main characters are developed incredibly well, this comes at the expense of many secondary characters who unfortunately get shortchanged.This is the case for the vast majority of antagonists in the game, as well as a number of the supporting cast.
Tabata specifically mentions Ravus as a character whose motivations need to be explored in greater depth. He also makes mention of adding content to the now infamous Chapter 13, which many fans have expressed their displeasure with. These candid remarks from Tabata mark a refreshing moment of honesty in contrast to the industry norm, and display the dedication the team at Square have to addressing fan complaints in a positive way.
Of course, this is not the first time a developer has been empathetic to fan grievances to the extent that they release brand new content. Bioware famously made a similar move in 2012 in seeking to satiate fan displeasure in the ending to Mass Effect 3 (ME3). While negative fan reactions to ME3 were far more heated,the positive reaction to criticism by working on a remedy is something I look back on fondly and can see the same intent in Square’s decision.
While the addition to ME3 was isolated to changing the ending, Square Enix intends something of a larger scale with extra scenes spread throughout FFXV’s already lengthy story. So what could be the overall effect of these additional scenes be? While I can only speculate, film studios have been producing revised versions of films for decades to varying degrees of success.
While many are of little consequence, those that make substantive changes can dramatically improve the quality of the story being told. Some, like The Lord of the Rings Extended Editions, take an already great theatrical release and restore cut scenes to their rightful place. Others like Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner Final Cut rearrange a flawed film into one of the best films of all time.
Another Scott film, Kingdom of Heaven, is one with which I see parallels to FFXV. The theatrical cut of this film was significantly truncated by the studio, with many crucial story moments and pieces of character development hitting the cutting room floor. While the original version is a decent film in it’s own right, the restoration of a number of crucial scenes leaves no doubt that Scott’s version tells an immensely superior story.
This isn’t to suggest that FFXV is as flawed as Kingdom of Heaven. I do believe, however, that the potential benefit of exploring certain elements in greater depth will similarly yield great benefits where the wider cast of characters and a number of story moments are concerned. Ultimately, releasing additional content at no extra cost and continuing to support the game is a wonderful piece of fan appreciation that I would love to see more developers adopt going forward.
There is also a feeling inherent in this move that Square is attempting to rebuild the trust of consumers who felt betrayed by the lacking quality of recent entries in the fabled series, particularly Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels. For years Square could do no wrong with the Final Fantasy series, only to take numerous hits over the better part of the last decade. This free DLC is also reminiscent of the significant upgrades the company made to FFXIV in response to it’s critically panned original version, offering evidence of the lengths to which the company will go to in order to deliver a quality product.
Provided that this move is a success, there is great potential for this kind of DLC. The idea of completing a game and being able to replay it with new (and crucially, free) content months later is an incredibly intriguing one. It is, however, an idea that needs to retain an overall positive intention.
The idea that the company will be diverting staff away from producing paid DLC to work on free story and gameplay improvements, shows that Square Enix truly are going the distance to ensure fan satisfaction. There is inherent good in how Square Enix are working at present, with a positive approach taken to making an already great story better. While we don’t yet know what exactly we will be getting (or even when it will be available), at the very least the intention is deserving of commendation.