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‘Final Fantasy XV’ Is Missing Some Old Friends

Today, gamers worldwide will finally get their hands on “Final Fantasy XV,” the latest installment in the nearly 30-year-old Japanese video game franchise. More than 10 years have passed since its developer, Square Enix, first showed a trailer for the game, and countless interviews, demos and videos have trickled out in the interim. The development has been so protracted that it has its own Wikipedia page. For fans of the series, it’s been a long wait.

What can they look forward to? Every Final Fantasy tells a new story, but they’re written in the same ink.1 In nearly any installment, players can use items called Phoenix Downs to revive fallen party members, or freeze a pack of Cactuars with elemental spells such as Blizzaga. Summons — devastating, god-like creatures that players call to their side in battle — were introduced in “Final Fantasy III” and have become one of the more anticipated hallmarks of each game. Fans first got a glimpse at their implementation in an early “Final Fantasy XV” demo, when lightning lord Ramuh picked up the game’s protagonist in his meaty hand and conjured a Judgment Bolt from 20 stories up.

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Ramuh has been in almost every major Final Fantasy, but he might not have brought all his friends this time. Square Enix hasn’t confirmed the final list of summons available at launch, but players who finagled a copy before launch have reported that there are seven summons from past games in this iteration.2 That’s fewer than any game in the series and would make “Final Fantasy XV” the first major installment not to introduce any new summons.3 (The table below may make it look like XII skimped, but the summons in that game were almost all first-timers that haven’t been used since, and the table only features summons that were more than one-hit wonders.)

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In a game with fully developed fishing, cooking, photography and pinball mechanics, it’s hard not to hope that someone will find a few more colossi hiding in a cave somewhere (or perhaps at the end of that fishing minigame). Discovering oddball one-offs such as Yojimbo and Cúchulainn are some of my fondest Final Fantasy memories. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to join hands and pray for the return of Doomtrain.

Footnotes

  1. I’ll spare you a “shards of the same crystal” metaphor.
  2. Ramuh, Titan, Leviathan, Ifrit, Shiva, Bahamut and Carbuncle.
  3. “Final Fantasy XIII” is in contention as well. Five of its eleven summons appear only in cutscenes.

Gus Wezerek is a design technologist for FiveThirtyEight.

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