Final Fantasy XV - Episode Duscae Impressions
Nine years on from its first appearance at E3 in 2006, as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, a demo for Final Fantasy XV (as it is currently named) has finally arrived - bundled with an HD remaster of a three year old PSP title, Final Fantasy Type-0. It's certainly been a tortuous - torturous for some - journey to the hands of the fans, but has it been worth the wait?
The demo opens with Noctis and his entourage waking up in a tent. Given that their car is in need of repairs, they make plans to raise the cash required. Their proposed method of money-raising? Hunting down the Behemoth that's been bothering the locals. Once the group has come to this conclusion the area of Duscae is yours to explore.
So what's on display in this slice of Final Fantasy? The next-gen graphical sheen, the open-world approach, the real-time combat and the party dynamic. These appear to be the main takeaways. It's a great looking game, there can be no argument, although the framerate can get a little choppy when battles get crowded. Duscae is a large expanse, for sure, but still felt a little hemmed in. The open-world aspect is difficult to demonstrate adequately outside of the context of the finished game - demos, by their very nature, are closed systems.
Battling with the boys felt like a significant departure from traditional Final Fantasy combat systems. Switching up weapons whilst attacking was interesting, and appeared to contain some depth. However, since magic was absent in the demo, there was nothing else to bolster it, and with only a single button press required to attack, it did get a little stale. Though only Noctis was controllable, each member of the group felt like an individual. Their back and forth chatter gave them a likable cohesion not found in other games. In spite of that though, the English voiceover did begin to grate.
All this demo has succeeded in doing is to confirm that Square Enix are indeed making Final Fantasy XV. Good on them. Beyond that confirmation, all that remains is a feeling of dissatisfied concern. The potential problems noted from time with the demo are now issues that will be amplified if they remain unresolved or unchanged in the finished game. Hopefully the player survey is an indication that Square Enix are listening to their fans and desperately don't want to screw this up. Let's just hope we don't have to wait another nine years to find out.
Eoin has been gaming for twenty-five years, worries he might be getting a little too old for it all, but hopes that he isn't. In the midst of an effort to find a future doing something he loves, he has taken to writing about his one enduring passion - video games.
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