Hands-On With World of Final Fantasy

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At PAX West, I had the chance to sit down and play the upcoming World of Final Fantasy.

Since it’s announcement, which featured chibi-style Final Fantasy characters, we haven’t heard too much about the game and so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

I ended up leaving quite impressed with what will be (after Final Fantasy XV’s delay) the next Final Fantasy game released.

The best way to explain World of Final Fantasy is that it’s a love letter to the entire franchise that will offer nostalgia to long-time fans while also being a great point of entry for younger audiences that want to experience the series.

Also Pokemon.

In the game, players are tasked with collecting over 200 monsters, known as “mirages”. Using the classic Libra skill, players will be able to examine the Mirages they face in battle to see what can be done to put them in a capturable state. This can be done simply by attacking and hoping that the state will trigger, or by exploiting the specific weakness of a Mirage. Once in this state, players can attempt to capture the Mirage in a prismarium which is totally not a Pokeball (totally is).

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Once obtained, you’ll be able to utilize Mirages in battle and on the field in a number of ways. On the field, certain mirages can walk around with you, discovering hidden items. Larger Mirages can also be used as a mount which I’ll use as a nice transition into the game’s stack system.

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In World of Final Fantasy the protagonists, the twins Reynn and Lann have the ability to be in their normal “Jiant” form, or in Lilikin form, which is that cute chibi-art style of the game. These two different forms have a size attributed to them and there are three different sizes which, as you may guess, are small, medium and large. These sizes also apply to the hundreds of Mirages in the game. What is probably the largest, most unique system in World of Final Fantasy, Stacking allows you to literally stack Mirages with the main characters. They’ll stand on your head, or if a larger Mirage, you can mount them in your Lilikin form. In battle, units that are stacked together will act as a single unit, combining important stats like HP while also giving access to new special, or transformed abilities. In combat, there is also a chance that you can get unstacked by being attacked, or if you so choose, you can unstack yourself by choice. This opens up some interesting battle tactics since being stacked counts as a single character, you only get a turn for the stack, but being unstacked means you have multiple characters now on the field and thus more turns during battle.

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Additionally, as you battle, you’ll earn points that you can use to unlock more abilities for each of your Mirages. Some Mirages can even transform after upgrading them to a certain point, which is in no way like evolution in Pokemon.

The UI offers a more active battle system style of menu where each action is assigned to a single button. Hitting L1 during battle however, will open up the basic menu which is very much a take on the classic UI menu from the battles in previous Final Fantasy games. From here you can choose to attack, defend, use items etc. Another great feature the game has is that by holding the R1 button during battle, you can fast forward, making the speed of the battle faster. Better yet, this fast forward button can also be used in cutscenes. Scenes can still be skipped entirely if you want, but it’s great having something else there so you can still experience the story, but get through it quicker if you wish. Lastly for battles, pushing down the touch pad on the PlayStation 4 controller will enable an auto-battle function that will repeat the last action each character took. These features may make more sense on a mobile title (the game is after all, available on PlayStation Vita) but I love that they’re present on the console version.

During my time with the game, I also got to experience a small portion of the story. For a game that’s catering to both new and old fans of Final Fantasy, I feel like it has the perfect mix of nods to previous Final Fantasy titles and cheesy dialogue. I lost track how many times I gave a slight grin at the dialogue, even laughing outright at some of the friendly banter between the protagonist twins of the title as they interacted with characters from previous games like Princess Sarah. This dialogue also happens on the field as well, where the characters will casually start talking as they explore a dungeon. The writing in World of Final Fantasy is also backed by a beautiful score that contains both new music, and arrangements of classic Final Fantasy songs that many will recognize.

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World of Final Fantasy releases on October 25th this year and after my time with the game, that date can’t come soon enough!

Make sure to check out our interview with the Director of World of Final Fantasy, Hiroki Chiba!