Final Fantasy XV is quite the experience, packed to the brim with plenty of beautiful sights to see, loads of interesting people to speak with, colorful chocobos to photograph, and gigantic monsters to hunt with your bros. Nearly every location you’ll come across is filled with character regardless of those who inhabit it, and honestly, you’ll be doing yourself a big disservice if you skip all the side stuff in favor of just pursing the main story.
When you first get started in Final Fantasy XV, you’ll be tempted to dive straight into the story the second it puts you out in the world — which is completely understandable. You’ll have all your friends prompting you to push forward to see your bride, and plenty of hint reminders kicking up telling you how to go about business. But, by looking around and spending some time speaking with the NPCs scattered about the Outposts available to you, you’ll start to uncover some of the fantastic things the open world has to offer.
The most obvious distractions are the side quests, of which Final Fantasy XV has around 200 to offer. There’s larger side quests specific to different areas of the map, which are usually marked by large orange question marks, and some smaller ones such as aiding a fellow traveler that randomly pop up as you’re exploring the open world. Regardless of the size, they’ll often reward you with a decent amount of experience points and a good reward in the form of an accessory or weapon for your party. You’ll also run into the occasional boss fight or mini-boss, which bring out the best in FFXV’s combat system. Just make sure you’ve always got a healthy amount of supplies to keep your party alive.
The side quests are further supplemented by monster hunting quests, which can be found by talking to local tipsters who run the various restaurants and food joints around the map. Like in The Witcher 3 or Monster Hunter, you’ll be tasked to head out and deal with packs of wild beasts in exchange for a monetary reward and ranking. The higher your rank, the higher hunts you can undertake, which means bigger monsters and epic boss battles provided you’ve got the skills for it. It’s a jolly good time to take down massive beasts in FFXV, so be sure to participate when you’re appropriately leveled to make the most of the encounters.
While you’re out tackling side quests and monster hunts, you’ll also come across random collectibles, treasures, dungeons, ingredients, and beasts who you won’t see otherwise. While sometimes it may not be the most entertaining thing to do, heading to these markers and seeing what they offer can help you drastically boost your party’s abilities and equipment without having to pay a single gil. Many treasures include weapons you’d usually purchase from shops for free, while cooking ingredients allow Ignis to conjure up new recipes that further boost your stats in combat for free. Dungeons, while they may be limited in number, also provide some of the best loot available in the entire game just be sure you can handle the bosses at the end of each. Keep in mind that many of them aren’t openly marked on your map either, so be sure to explore every inch of territory you find.
These diversions are some of the best that Final Fantasy XV offers, and they all seem to lie off the beaten path. For exploring the world you’ll not only be rewarded with lovely personal experiences, but it also works towards building the strength of Noctis and his band of compatriots through various item drops and weapon upgrades. Sure, these activities may not be as glamorous as the main quest, but they help to truly immerse you in the wonderful world of Eos — one which shouldn’t be missed for the sake of plowing through to witness the grand finale of Noctis’s journey.