I am playing the PS4 version of the demo and there will be spoilers!!!
With the newly released Final Fantasy Type-0 HD for PS4 and Xbox One, a demo for Final Fantasy XV titled Episode Duscae came packaged with the first print copies as a thank you for waiting so patiently over the years.
In this demo you get to explore an area of the Duscae region and have a chance to play around with the battle system and summon system that is currently in place as a taster of what is in store for Final Fantasy XV! How magic works has to be implemented in the demo as the team are still finalizing the graphical touches on the effects. You do get to see how leveling works through the games camping system though.
You start off in a tent where the boys are sleeping to be awoken by Ignis’s alarm set on his phone before they wake up and go out of the tent to a sunny plain. The story of the demo is that thanks to Prompto, the car has broken down so the guys now need a way to gather up money so they can pay for the repairs. They quickly stumble across a wanted poster for a Behemoth that has been roaming around causing havoc which can net them the gil (money) required to pay for the repair job which is fixed by a mechanic called Cindy.
After the cutscene and you’re finally given control, Gladious will offer you a tutorial on how to play the game. To use your normal attack, you can either hold down the square button or press it each time to attack, which is how I played. Just holding it down didn’t really feel that great for me since I felt more involved in the action when fully controlling Noctis as each swing of his blade connects. You can also dodge by holding down L1 or pressing it at the correct time, however, using the dodge will eat some Magic Points (MP) up, so you can’t just hold the dodge button all the day but have to be conservative to avoid draining too much MP. I opted for just pressing the dodge button rather than holding it because of this. Thanks to one of Noctis’s phantom swords, you also can warp around by pressing R1 and X to do a warp strike which can pull you in close into an enemy quickly to get straight into the action or use it to run away to get a safe distance away from an enemy. You can also press L1 and O to you do a warp dodge and both of these warp abilities are tied to your MP gauge. When enemies preform certain attacks, a warning line shows up onscreen indicating you can parry their move. By pressing L1, then square in time, you’ll do a sequenced counterattack by yourself or with help with your buddies.
Pressing circle in FFXV will now allow you to jump at free will! I’m so glad they implemented this but they do need to change the weight of the jump as it feels as if Noctis is carrying a cannon ball since he drops back to the ground quickly. I think it needs to be a lot more fluid and not just making you drop straight back down so quickly.
When you press triangle it allows you to pull off a Technique that is set to one Noctis’ weapons, which he can summon at will. His heavy sword has an area move that damages enemies around you within 360 degrees called Tempest, or you can use your Lance to do a classic Final Fantasy attack a Dragoon Jump. You cycle through the techniques using the right and left d-pad and combat is focused on how you manage your MP as techniques also take up MP when you use them. If you’re not conservative or inefficient when using MP it could be depleted to 0, which will enter you into a stasis where you are unable to use any MP based maneuvers. If this happens, you’ll have to wait for your MP to restore automatically to a good amount. Speaking of MP hitting zero, if your HP hits zero you’ll go into a weakened state where your allies can give you a helping hand, literally, and help you get back on your feet. Although, if you take too much damage though in this weakened state you will see a game over screen.
I had no problems with the actual combat overall, I think it is really addictive and fun! When I have been in a battle for about 7 minutes or 10 minutes and I haven’t complained, I think that is a good sign, especially for an action game! I rarely hit 0MP or stasis either when fighting enemies so personally, I don’t think anything needs to really be adjusted in that sense. If you can learn to manage your MP properly and let it rise back up while you just deal a heavy offensive in the mean time you won’t ever feel like you are just standing there doing nothing. Finding and attacking weak points is rather satisfying and warp striking enemies is also a great deal of fun! I really cannot wait to get my hands on the full battle system as right now we are still waiting to see how magic works with the system currently in place.
You can also find the summon, Ramuh, in the demo when you go into a cave that is atmospherically perfect! But when you summon Ramuh for the first time, good lord!, the music and just the whole animation of the attack is just, wow! I have kinda missed the whole summon sequence in past games and I welcome its return back to the series. As in most recent entries you are usually controlling the summons directly, but the way you summon in this game is when your HP hits zero, you are able to call upon Ramuh by holding down the X button. I am guessing in the final release you can equip different summons at will when this happens. I cannot wait to see how Shiva and Bahamut performs their attacks in XV! Although, when it comes to locking onto a target you have to hold down R1 and this can cause a few problems in battle. Sometimes, locking on takes too long to actually lock on as enemies move fast so you may end up targeting another enemy instead just something further away for some reason or another. I really hope they better this as the lock on function does need some work.
To level up, you accumulate experience points throughout the day, or days, as I believe you can go up to three days without camping before you stop earning experience points through either battling or doing quests then camping or going to a caravan. The total experience points you gained over the time will then be totaled and applied to the experience to allow Noctis and the crew to level up. You can also buy and battle monsters for ingredients to make food although, you can only make food by camping, which is a major plus as they can add buffs like attack, exp boosts and more! It is an okay system I found myself at times getting a little annoyed in that I was only 100xp away from a level up so that would mean I would have to go battle something then go camp again. I would rather just getting that level up from the battle but it is okay still when I ain’t that close to leveling up. I thought this system would be bad as I was worried about it when I first heard about it but after using it I don’t mind it as I actually understand the mechanics of it now. The accumulated points are pretty nice too but just a pain though when you are so close to the next level though and then you have to re-camp.
There is a “weapon deck” system in place as well in which you can set out a weapon order for when Noctis summons his weapons. They will summon on certain conditions and there are 5 slots that each have their unique conditions. So, the 1st slot is called ‘Crush’ and this is what you will use on your first strike in combat, then the second slot, ‘Ravage’ will follow after that first hit for a combo. When an enemy is about to die, the 3rd weapon in the order will come into play to deal the final strike (this slot is called ‘Vanquish’) The 4th slot is Counter which is used when you parry and the last 5th slot, ‘Descend’ is used when you jump and slash downwards. I like the deck system very simple and easy to use I have no real quarrels with this system.
The Duscae region is a large area that is full of life with lush greens, lakes and wildlife that inhabit this section of the world. It really is nice to just run around getting from one end to the other, and since even though you’re on foot, it doesn’t take too long to get to the other side of the map, probably about 5 minutes I would say. In this region, you have two outposts to visit, a cave and the field itself. It can be quite confusing when you are running around the field for the first time as you don’t know where is what exactly, and you just have this freedom to go about and do whatever for the most part. You can open up a map of the region by pressing the options/start button on your controller; the one thing I hope they implement is the ability to place your own markers. Being able to do this and not have just pre-set markers for locations and quest locations would help kinda keep a sense of direction through a marker than always having to open up the map.
Now, onto the actual content within the demo: you have a fair few things to do in the demo, like experience the day and night cycle and I got to say the night cycle is my favorite time in FFXV’s world. Just the sense of danger is there as enemies at are relentless and strong but in a way it is worth it just to listen to an amazing night battle track the score for this demo is truly incredible! It is just all in the right spots to create an amazing atmosphere!
I haven’t mentioned the graphics or frame-rate for that matter exactly as this is a demo that is not optimized. It’s likely the team was hoping to release an optimized demo but didn’t get the time to do so? Or maybe it just fell on the back burner to add stuff to the demo. But at the end of day it is just a demo for a game with no release date yet, so when it comes to the graphics and frame-rate of the demo I feel no real need to really say anything about it other than it does look great for how it does despite the jagged edges and the frame-rate drops when there was a fair few amount of enemies on the screen. But not too concerned about this happening in the final game as I’m sure this will be sorted by the time of the actual release.
As it stands right now I am really happy with what Final Fantasy XV had to offer in this demo, although there would be a few changes I could suggest. Looking back at the combat in the game, the other guys can get in the way as they are physical objects so they just block your path standing there. In the cave this also happens, so you can’t move on until you somehow double back on yourself so they shift apart. Sometimes they’ll even stand in your way on the battle field so you get caught in them or they’ll stand still when you’re trying to run away. Square-Enix really need to somehow sort that out by either allowing you to pass through them or maybe nudging them so they move aside. This could be an AI problem for all I know so hoping this get fixed in the final release. Another fix I am hoping for is maybe a toggle on and off the animation for winning a battle as Noctis will wipe his hands after each battle when you just want to run straight on after. I rather them just not have a little victory animation myself and just allow me to run straight on than seeing that animation after every battle.
Other than the few stated problems I have with the demo, I really enjoy playing the demo and cannot wait to see the final release! The terrain you traverse is really well designed as are the caves! I cannot praise the music enough either! But more importantly as you will be battling most of your time playing through the game as aforementioned it is fun, I didn’t at any point feel bored and I have put 10 hours into the demo so far and still enjoying my time fighting monsters and just running around really just messing about. If you can be sure to get this demo it is really worth checking out what is in store for the fifteenth installment of the Final Fantasy series.