In Final Fantasy 15, I’ve been running for four miles now. The sight of Noctis, Prompto, Ignis, and Gladio jogging down the road has become all too familiar to me, but still I persevere. As I make slow progress across Lucis, I long for the days when I traveled through the map in the backseat of the Regalia. So just why is it that, upon returning to the adventure after several years, I’m endlessly running a marathon of my own making? Especially when Final Fantasy 15 outfits you with the ultimate road trip experience? Well, it’s all in the pursuit of becoming a survival expert.
I first picked up Final Fantasy 15 in 2016 and getting the platinum trophy had always been a goal of mine. I’d gotten pretty far to securing it after completing the main story and too many side quests to count. Fast forward to 2022 and I thought the colossal, mountain-sized boss known as Adamantoise would be the toughest challenge I’d need to face. But oh, how wrong I was. Thanks to a great strategy I discovered on YouTube (opens in new tab), conquering the mighty beast turned out to be rather simple. To my surprise, I got the Tortoise Toppler achievement after battling it for around 10 minutes when I thought it was going to take several hours. Now, one last trophy stands between me and completion, and it’s proving to be way tougher than the level 99 foe I’d spent so many years avoiding.
I ran (so far away)
Revisiting Dragon Age and Mass Effect reminds me that you never really move on from the games you love
As you may already know, each member of the core party in Final Fantasy 15 has a particular skill that relates to one of their hobbies. For Prompto, it’s photography, while Noctis enjoys fishing, and Ignis is the team’s cook. As you go about your adventures, these skills will level up more naturally than others, with a max cap of 10. Prompto, for example, is constantly taking photos as you go from one point to the next, and stopping at campsites to cook up a meal will increase Ignis’ culinary prowess. As fishing is one of my favorite pastimes in games, I was happy to dedicate a lot of time maxing it out. The only skill I have yet to reach level 10 in is Gladio’s skill – survival.
In order to increase your survival skill, you have to head out on foot and run through the world. Making your way through dungeons will also help you gain some experience towards Gladios’ area of expertise. As someone who adored hopping into the Regalia, it made complete sense to me that this is the last skill I still need to check off. I always enjoyed setting it on autopilot while I listened to music from the Final Fantasy soundtracks on the car radio. Since I’d rather indulge in the road trip feel of the adventure, I seldom hit the pavement for extended periods of time, and I’m kicking myself now. Trying to get this final trophy is becoming a real chore. Why oh why didn’t I travel on foot more?
After returning to Noctis’ side to take on the Adamantoise, I was relieved to see that I was already close to level nine in survival. Surely this wouldn’t take that long, right? How was I to know that after several hours, I would still be nowhere near the finish line? The first stretch of my marathon began by going on a long run from Hammerhead to Cape Caem. As I jogged my way across miles and miles of road, the marker I’d set on the map gradually got closer and closer.
At first, I rather enjoyed the simplicity of the whole thing. I was just running along with four characters I’ve actually missed spending time with, and genuinely appreciating any little remarks they made to one another along the way. It was also rather funny. I mean, for a game that gives you a shiny car to cruise around in, I’m instead choosing to make the four heroes run along the highway and occasionally cause traffic. Not to mention the fact that every time I got to see Prompto’s photos at the close of a running session, each and every one showed the gang charging forwards on foot in the middle of the road like the mad lads they are.
Each time you want to level up a skill you need to visit a rest stop and take a breather in order to see the fruits of your labor. The experience you’ve accumulated is displayed as the four fellows recover, and after that extensive trek across a sizable portion of the map, I couldn’t wait to see my efforts pay off. Sadly, it wasn’t quite as satisfying as I’d hoped. I was met with the sight of the survival meter only moving up ever so slightly. I felt like I’d run all that way only to make very little progress… It wasn’t long before the novelty of what I was doing soon wore off.
Still, I felt more encouraged once I made it past the level nine mark. Now, the platinum trophy was actually in sight… albeit at a distance. I even read about techniques from other players who tied an elastic band on the controller to make Noctis run in circles, but after putting in so much effort, I decided to commit to doing it myself. In a bid to spice up the rather humdrum affair of running across the landscape, I took to listening to songs with a running theme, or tunes that had run in the title. Sprinting across a field is certainly a lot more fun when you’re listening to A Flock of Seagulls’ ‘I ran (so far away)’ (opens in new tab) or the meme-tastic ‘Run’ by Awolnation (opens in new tab).
Eventually, I moved on to podcasts as I mindlessly jogged from one location to the next, making pit stops in motels and caravans. This really was a grind. The literal lengths I was and am still going to get this trophy has made me question why I’m spending my precious free time doing this. But I’m all in now. I’ve come too far to turn back. If after five years, running is the last thing I need to do to get that platinum, you better believe I’ll do it.
I like to think that my dedication to the cause speaks to my love for Final Fantasy 15. I had such a blast playing it back in the day, even when it was a bit messy and rough around the edges. Nothing quite beats hitting the road with Noctis and the gang… even if hitting the road has taken on a whole new meaning as of right now. Some day, when I eventually see that trophy pop, it really will feel like the biggest achievement.
Here’s our pick of the best Final Fantasy games.