Written by Twisted Ideas
A home demo for Final Fantasy XV was released with the purchase of Final Fantasy Type-0 this week. I got my hands on the demo and played through it the other day. Is Final Fantasy XV something that fans should be worried about?
What do I think?
The demo revolves around the mono-colored team having to make enough gil to pay for the repair costs for their car. The fastest way to accomplish this is for the team to claim the bounty of Deadeye, a massive behemoth that lives in these lands. Not much information is learned about the team other than Noctis is a prince and several of the game’s countries has been attacked leaving many to believe that he and his friends are dead.
The demo features a single massive open world. It’s populated by a few small communities and the lands are filled with greenery, mountains and monsters. You’re encouraged to look for Deadeye early on. After a sequence of events to show off some gameplay mechanics you witness its power. You are clearly out matched and the demo start to guide you to the secondary quest. This quest rewards you with Ramuh on a scale we’ve never seen before. He’s clearly the fastest way to defeat Deadeye and anything else that might give you problems. After fixing the car you can choose to ride around the lands, exploring at your own leisure or to finish the demo.
The game is more action focused than Lightning Returns and even Final Fantasy XIV. You can only control Noctis and your party is AI controlled. Noctis’ main skill is the ability to summon several weapons to fight. You are not restricted by an ATB and your MP bar is mainly your only cooldown. Each weapon appears under different circumstances during combat but you don’t have to worry about them. Most weapons has a combat ability attached to them that costs MP to use. Each attack has its own uses and can either be incredibly effective or miss completely. Noctis’ final main attack is the warp strike. He throws his weapon and teleports towards it. It can be used for general movement, a ranged attack or to reach higher elevation. Warp attacks costs a fair amount of MP.
Defensively, by holding L1/LB Noctis prepares to evade attacks. This slowly drains MP and you cannot dodge while attacking. Some enemy attacks have an indicator meaning it can be parried. Evading against these attacks will parry the enemy and triggering a counter attack for big damage.
The battle system has a few quick strikes. If your HP drops to 0 you won’t be KO’ed. Noctis and any party member in critical condition is stumble, unable to fight. If they are hit in this state, their max HP will be reduced when recovered. You can recover from this by using a potion or having a party member help them up. If you spend all your MP then you will be in stasis. You will move slower and cannot perform any action that requires MP.
When enemies are near they will begin to sense your presence. If you’re too close or they sense you long enough they will engage you. The game doesn’t go into a dedicated battle screen and you can easily flee by moving far enough away.
Experience works differently. You can gain bonus experience based on your performance but you can only level up by resting. Resting at a campfire enables you to make a meal based on your items. These meals will give you buffs for the entirety of the next day.
The gameplay is simple but becomes challenging when battles throw several enemies at you at you at once. Some battles may start small but nearby enemies can and will join the fray. The quest in the caves is a great example of how tough the game might get. The goblins have a fair amount of health and can poison you. The overwhelming numbers can put you and your party into critical and attack you while you’re trying to heal. You may have to use most of your resources to keep your party in fighting condition. Even though it’s difficult to actually Game Over, the game feels more like a war of attrition, something Final Fantasy hasn’t felt like in a very long time.
Some technical issues with the game are that there isn’t a minimap or compass; Navigating without a waypoint difficult without either is tough. It’s easy to get rerouted by the environment and layout so you will be going into the menu frequently. There isn’t a brightness setting and the game seems very dark, even in daylight. The camera likes to snap onto an enemy if you aren’t manually locking on to one. I feel that the game does this because of who mobile enemies are but it’s annoying when you want to scope the battle for different enemies to fight.
Old school Final Fantasy fans who want the series to go back to what is was on the SNES or even PS1 era will be disappointed. Final Fantasy XV is an action RPG along the lines of Kingdom Hearts and really making the large scope of the world work. It’s not perfect. There are some technical issues and the game can feel sluggish at time but it does have potential. It feels like it’s catering to Dragon Age just with the Final Fantasy flare. Even though we saw a lot fair amount in the demo I feel that there is a lot more that we haven’t seen, like the range of equipment, techniques and magic. The game could use a couple of adjustments and options but what I want to see more of is the story or at least their ability to tell it.