Let me start out by saying after the long, long road that Final Fantasy Versus XIII… I mean, Final Fantasy XV has been on since its announcement back in 2006, my expectations had all but evaporated for this title.
This past weekend at PAX East in Boston, I got some hands on time with the PlayStation 4 version of the Episode Duscae demo that will be arriving with Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. My expectations are back, and they’re high!
We start the demo with the characters camping out in a tent (which we’ll get to a bit later), the alarm on their phone goes off and all the characters gradually wake up. Save one- yes, that would be Noctis, the character that you’ll control during your adventures in the world of FFXV.
The first thing that I noticed when getting control of Noctis was the presence of momentum in his movement. Those that played Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 will know exactly what I’m talking about here. There’s that second of starting and stopping present when you start to run off. It adds a nice measure of realism to the movements of the characters. This also applies to larger weapons in combat, but we’ll touch on that in a minute.
As I began to explore the large area, frequently checking my map for quest markers, I got a better idea of how large the area was that I was in- very large. In older Final Fantasy titles with world maps, some of them would have the “tent’ item. You’d be able to stop anywhere on the map, and rest up. This idea has been expanded on greatly in Final Fantasy XV. When night approaches, your companions will mention that it might be a good idea to set up camp. Opening up the map will show you the possible camp sites in the area which you can then set up a way point for and make your way over to it.
Upon setting up your camp site, you’re EXP earned throughout the day will display, leveling your characters up if you’ve earned enough. Another interesting touch with the campsites is the meal. Each time you set up camp, one of the members will prepare a meal, which can bestow bonus stats to the entire party for the next day.
The demo gives you an opportunity to go through a tutorial for combat. Since I’ve never played the game (duh) I decided that this might be a good idea.
Holding down L1 will allow you to dodge any incoming attacks. the downside? A successful dodge will consume some of your MP. Additionally, holding down L1 before being attacked by an enemy will present you with an opportunity to parry the attack, slowing things down just enough to have time to react. If you need to get away from combat for whatever reason you can also take cover behind things like trees or rocks. This will give you a chance to catch your breath and re-evaluate a tough situation. That is assuming of course that the monsters don’t wise up to your location.
Another move that you can utilize to get out of harms way is the warp. Chances are you’ve seen this already, with Noctis appearing to throw his weapon to a distant tower, or building and then hang from it. Hanging here after a warp will allow Noctis to replenish his HP and MP at a faster rate than if he were on the ground. Coming down from a warp can be fun as well using the warp strike, which allows Noctis to warp to an enemy while also attacking them. Warp strike can be used on the ground as well and seems essential in guaranteeing that you can keep up with your target. Many times on the field I would be swarmed by a group of enemies, only to run up to them using a heavier weapon, and then miss them because the momentum of the weapon is slower and the monster had moved out of the way before it came down. Using a warp strike, I can get right into the creature’s face before unleashing my attacks. MP management is very important in FFXV. If Noctis runs out of MP he’ll be in Stasis mode which means that he won’t be able to warp or dodge until some MP is replenished.
Noctis has a whole arsenal to himself and you can tailor it to your play style. You can determine what weapon will start your attack in a fight, what weapon will appear during your barrage, or even what weapon you will parry attacks with. Being a huge fan of Dragoons from the series, I elected to throw a polearm in my first spot. This made combat a bit more difficult as the lance would move slower in combat than say a sword would. Later on I ended up going back and changing out a sword for my first slot, allowing me to dish out faster damage when starting my assault.
Tracking A Behemoth
After the party gets up, you’re introduced to your first story snippet. Your beloved car is currently in the shop, being worked on by Cindy and you have to find a way to come up with the gil to fund the repairs. The brilliant idea? Taking on a bounty to locate and kill Deadeye, a giant Behemoth that’s been spotted in the area.
As you start your quest, you have to find clues to pick up the trail of the Behemoth. The closest clue are some prints from the creature in a shallow body of water nearby. When the camera pans out to show you the few prints around you, a chill goes up your spine. This creature is going to be huge!
Afterwards, I opened up my map, where several other potential clues were marked for this quest. I was able to cycle through them and set one as a way point, which would then show up on the screen as I started towards that area. Way points certainly aren’t a new idea, but they work well in FFXV where you have a variety of locations that you can travel to within a single, large area.
After inspecting a few more areas with clues to the Behemoth’s whereabouts you finally discover its location. Your companions tell you that the best course of action is to carefully trail the behemoth to its resting place before striking. You slowly trail the behemoth in a dark, foggy area, taking cover behind rocks as you move, hoping not to draw the gaze of the monstrous creature.
Eventually the Behemoth lays down to rest, unaware of your presence and the party makes their plan of attack.
Sadly at this stage of my play through I ran out of time, but I had just enough time battling with the Behemoth to know that this could be a challenging fight for players who are looking to pick up the demo.
I came in with no expectations for this title. I wasn’t a huge fan of the previous FFXIII titles. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has been fantastic so far and shows no signs of slowing down. After playing Final Fantasy XV, I would say that the series is starting to make a great comeback and I can’t wait to play more of Episode Duscae when it releases with Type-0 HD.
You can check out the latest batch of screenshots for Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae below!