Plus, it's not like JRPGs really offer much deviance from the main story; open worlds are really just illusions of freedom with one or two side dungeons for loot.
Yeah, but they at least try to make it interesting linearity. Which would you rather have in a story dungeon, a massive phallic skyscraper building full of incompetent employees, horrifying experimental abominations and evil executives, or a fucking 5-mile highway through some glowing forest? In older FFs there's puzzles to solve, actual levels that you have to consciously navigate, sidequests that aren't just "go here and kill this thing," etc. I think 13 had exactly one puzzle, and the solution was to turn around and go back the way you came.
I went out of my way to unlock Chocobos and the Titan boss-rush arena just to add some variety to how fucking empty and monotonous Pulse is, and I did both of these things by grabbing the next statue's tit then going and killing the thing it told me to for about 4 hours. Granted, Chocobos in this game are awesomely useful... because they let you move to the next thing you need to kill twice as fast.
I mean, fuck, we've gone from the second half of FF6 to "here, run down this hallway and kill things. Now there is a big open field, but all you can do is run around and kill things. We only included this part so we could say the game 'opens up after a while.'"
I was willing to forgive all of that and an abomination of a plot because 13 actually had great, challenging, strategic combat, but now that the ideal way to kill the final boss seems to be "slap on the 30% death resistance amulet and sacrifice a virgin to the RNG," I guess rewarding strategy and skill are out the window as well. What you're supposed to do with enemies that use insta-kills is have a Sentinel draw their fire away from the party leader, but Orphan can't be provoked, so a class with a niche use at best before is now completely pointless.
You mean nothing to me now.