By now, many of us have seen the near-hour of gameplay footage that was released for Final Fantasy XV. Seeing can be different than playing for yourself however and this week at PAX West I had a chance to sit down with the game to see for myself how much has changed since my time with Episode Duscae and the Platinum Demo.
The biggest thing that I noticed was that the frame rate seems to be better than it was previously. The game still isn’t going to offer a silky smooth 60 FPS, but it does move noticeably better than it did previously.
Sadly, my biggest issue with the game – the anti-aliasing lacking, pixelated hair – is seemingly here to stay as I haven’t noticed any improvements.
I had a chance to play around with the game’s Ascension system, which lets you spend AP to have characters learn new actions or traits. The interesting part of this was that instead of each character in the group having their own allotment of AP, the entire group shared the AP pool.
I also had a chance to play around with the magic system. The Final Fantasy XV Panel at PAX West did a much better job of showing how cool the magic system can be compared to my tiny bit of experimentation during my hands-on time. The short of it is, you can draw elements found in nature (Blizzard, Fire, Lightning) and use them to make spells. If you want to get creative, you can combine different amounts of different spells to further enhance them (Fire into Fira for example) or even make a Unicast spell that can cast any three of the elemental spells. During the panel, we were shown that in addition to the elements, you can also mix an item into the crafting of your magic, making a spell that casts both high tier Fire and Lightning magic while also curing the party at the same time. I can’t wait to see the different combinations that are possible with this system.
I enjoyed my time battling the various enemies scattered around the beginning part of the game, though I feel I still need a little more time with the game before I feel like I have the combat down. The system lets you warp around and use multiple weapons to attack enemies, all while building up a meter that lets Noctis’ companions execute a special attack.
As my time was coming to an end, I managed to repair my car and have just enough time to take it for a spin. I took some time to check out a few things on the radio as well.
Before I had a chance to play this build of the game, my largest complaints, or dislikes, were the frame rate issues and the hair. Now those issues are the hair, and the driving.
During today’s panel, there was a mention of the car not being “on rails” in the latest build as you drive it around, but what I experienced during my time was exactly that. I suppose it’s possible that the playable version at the event is not the newest build. In what I experienced however, if you move into the other lane and there’s an oncoming car, the game forces you back into the correct lane. Tabata-san has mentioned that letting players have Noctis driving around and running over people or hitting cars may not seem very Final Fantasy and I can certainly understand that, however, being able to “drive” the Regalia was definitely the most underwhelming part of my hands-on experience with the game and it felt quite stiff to control.
At the end of my time with Final Fantasy XV, I walked away more optimistic about the game than I’ve ever been and with the polish that will come over the next two months until the games release I’m confident that (bad hair or not) the game will be an enjoyable addition to the franchise.
Final Fantasy XV is set to release on November 29th for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.