The rebranding, the hype, the all-time high expectations. After waiting for almost 9 years we are given a taste of what Final Fantasy XV is all about. What can we say about Final Fantasy XV now that the demo is finally out? Is Square Enix on top of their game when it comes to direction they want the series to take?
As with all good JRPG, the game starts with you waking up. Surprisingly, this time his highness Noctis wakes up in a tent with all of his party in it. Apparently his car broke down so he and his buddies have a bit of time to roam around the countryside and explore. They are out of cash so the first thing to do in order to get their car fixed is to earn some.
Around the countryside and gas station there are wanted posters of Deadeye, a fearsome behemoth that everyone in the area wants dead or captured. Get ready to act as a hunter of sorts as you investigate of this beast’s whereabouts. There is a bit of stealth involved as well and it’s done right considering this is an action JRPG. Some of the mystery of this monster is done quite well and builds enough suspense where when you do get to meet him it succeeds in feeling memorable.
Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae certainly knows how to wow us with its graphics. Lighting and level of detail makes it one of the most graphically impressive games we’ve seen to date. Objects in the environment cast real time shadows. The lake showcases game’s beautiful reflections. Scenery at night looks really beautiful and screenshots can’t capture its full beauty. Particle effects while using Noctis’s weapons and abilities look quite stunning. As drop ships approach your party in the valley, the grass and bushes along with character clothing will sway in the wind. Even hair has its own physics and will move along with the characters, and quite realistically. Sometimes roaming around the world you’ll stop to marvel at the scenery. Yet, there are times when its 900p resolution and framerate drops can feel a bit disappointing. Square Enix has acknowledged some of these issues and the target resolution for the full game is still 1080p so I hope they have enough time to really work on these issues and deliver on these promises.
The Final Fantasy series is known for its soundtrack, and rightfully so as over the years it has featured some wonderful tracks. This game’s orchestral tracks are quite fitting for a story about a prince amidst a conflict of epic proportions. Sound effects and voice acting are quite good as well. Some of the Japanese voice actors here are some of the most famous in their field of work. And the demo comes with both Japanese and English voice tracks included.
This is not the first time that combat in the series is in real time, considering that both Crisis Core and Final Fantasy Typo – 0 feature it. Still, this is the first game in the main series to feature it and it is a welcome change from Final Fantasy XIII. Noctis has some unique abilities like warping to high places and in front of enemies. This comes in handy when Noctis is hurt so he can wait to regenerate his health and mana, as when his HP gets to zero points every attack will take a chunk out of maximum health which won’t replenish on its own until the party rests. He can also duck behind rocks and walls to recover.
At the start Noctis already has an arsenal of different swards that each goes into a different slot: Crush, Ravage, Vanquish, Counter and Descend. Each of these determine which sword will be used in a particular situation, for example a sword equipped in a Crush slot is used during initial attack, Descend sword is used when warping to enemies from above etc. This is an interesting mechanic that will probably have more use in a full game.
Noctis will do a dodge move when you hold down L1 button. There is also a possibility to do a parrying move after dodging the enemy attack. Sometimes targeting enemies can be a bit tricky so you can lock on an enemy by holding down the R1 button and then performing the warp strike move, which warps Noctis in front of the enemy doing an initial strike in the process. Noctis can also preform techniques with his swords that cost MP to use. Dodging and warping also depletes MP. When Noctis is out of MP he falls into Stasis, a state in which he cannot perform these operations, so mana management is quite important.
Roaming around the open world style map there are many wild animals you will encounter. When the encounter starts you will see a red line across the screen, but if you run you can easily avoid the encounter and the line will disappear. This is quite useful as you will know when you are safe. The difficulty spike went a bit crazy in the cave filled with goblins. If you don’t obtain certain phantom sword which gives you an ability that makes a game much easier, you are in for some grinding. Also make sure you bring a lot of antidote with you.
While refreshing at first combat does have its issues. I had a bit of a problem with controls as locking on some enemies or dodging doesn’t always work. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the always moving camera as enemies jump around all over the place. Still, there is plenty of time for Square Enix to fine tune things and I hope that in the final game issues like that will be non-existent.
The aspects I liked the most about Final Fantasy XV demo is its combat and graphics. Considering this is just a demo of the things to come it is expected of the full game to be more polished, so I hope when the full game comes out we’re in for a treat. If you can’t wait for the full game to get out I think this demo which gives you about 3 to 4 hours of play is worth checking out. Don’t forget that Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae comes alongside first prints of Final Fantasy Type – 0, which we will look into next time.