Though I have only finished a few of the Final Fantasy games I love what they do. If I had to choose a favourite Final Fantasy IV would be it, followed closely by the much-loved Final Fantasy VII. I’m also one of those crazy people who finished Final Fantasy XIII and I have to say I didn’t hate the time I spent playing it.
And as most should know Final Fantasy XIII is where Final Fantasy XV’s journey begins. When Square-Enix announced XIII they also announced two other games in their Fabula Nova Crystalis series, which was supposed to be a shared universe that connected all three of these games together.
The initial announcement was Final Fantasy XIII for the PS3 and Xbox, a PSP game called of Agito-XIII, and another Xbox/PS3 game called FF Versus-XII. Then in famous Square-Enix fashion we heard almost to nothing about Agito-XIII and Versus-XIII for the next few years, even though it was one of the games that the makers of Final Fantasy would always be asked about in interviews
Personally I was more exited for the PSP game of the series, as I had played a number of RPGs on my PSP already and I was exited to have a new one to play. I also didn’t have a PS3 or Xbox 360 at the time so those parts of the series weren’t even on my radar, but I have a friend who was loosing his mind over XIII and especially Versus-XIII and couldn’t wait for them to come out.
When Agito-XIII next appeared it was as Final Fantasy Type-0, which was still a PSP game, though it was only released on PSP in Japan. It wasn’t until early 2015 that the west got access to Type-0 as a next generation HD port to Xbox One and PS4. Type-0 HD also brought with it the publics first taste of what Versus XIII had become.
In 2013 it was announced that Versus-XII had grown to become the next numbered installment, as Final Fantasy XV. With Type-0’s release Square-Enix included a demo titled Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae, which was designed to give the fans a taste of what the final version of XV would be. The setting of the demo was a valley somewhere in the world of XV where the main character Noctis’ car breaks down and he and his friends have to hunt down a behemoth to earn the repair money for their car. Duscae gave people a look at the game’s systems and let them spend a couple of hours fighting and running around this new world.
I was super exited to finally get my hands on Type-0 as it was the game from the Fabula Nova Crystalis series that I had been looking forward to the most. So for me it was a bonus that Type-0’s HD release was going to come with a little something extra, even if at the time that part of the series wasn’t really on my radar.
When I had the chance to play through this demo I played it on my Xbox One as that was the only one of the new consoles that I owned at the time and therefore the console that I had bought Type-0 for.
My first impressions with this demo weren’t very good, I didn’t think that the game looked good enough or ran good enough for a game that had been in development for almost 10 years. It also didn’t help that the combat system felt punishing to me. This is because it felt like all your special abilities depleted your MP gauge which when empty would stun your character for a short period, and it felt like I was being stunned constantly. As such I began to avoid using any special abilities and simply beat monsters down with basic attacks, as you can imagine this takes a great deal of the fun out of the gameplay, as you are supposed to be warping to a monster killing it then immediately warping to the next monster that shows up. So for me Episode Duscae managed to make me even less interested in Final Fantasy XV than I already was.
However in the recent Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV event, which was hosted by Greg Miller and Tim Gettys of Kinda Funny. Square-Enix has announced a number of properties that have succeeded in finally making me exited for the release of FFXV. In fact it was the Platinum demo which showcases the updated combat system that has made me the most excited, but we will get to that later.
Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV announced the release date of September 30 2016 for the game, but alongside this Square-Enix announced Kingsglaive a fully CG animated film set parallel to the events of FFXV, and a 6 part anime called Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV that leads up to the events of the main game, the first five episodes of which will be free to watch on YouTube and other streaming sites, while the sixth episode is included with the limited edition version of the game.
Announced alongside Kingsglaive was the inclusion of three big name actors, Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings) as King Regis, Lena Headey, (Game of Thrones, Dredd) as Lunafreya, and Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad) as Nyx.
Although Square-Enix doesn’t have a great history when it comes to releasing animated films, as Final Fantasy Spirits Within almost bankrupted the company. I am excited to see that Square-Enix is willing to put this much money and effort into Final Fantasy XV. Hopefully this means they are confident that Final Fantasy XV is going to be a good enough game to warrant such spending, especially as the only other Final Fantasy game to be given a similar treatment was Final Fantasy VII, which many fans see as the best game in the series
Though as I mentioned before the thing that has me excited for FFXV was the Platinum Demo that was made available shortly after the reveal event. It is a short demo but it fulfils the purpose of showing people how the game will work when it releases later this year. In fact it is almost more of a tech demo, as in the demo you have the opportunity to play with the weather and time of day to see how the game will look at release.
The thing makes me happiest is the new combat system, it reminds me of the fast paced combat of Kingdom Hearts, which is another Square-Enix series that I love. The best thing for me to see is that the combat from Episode Duscae that I hated has been altered so it works well now. You can still warp around which uses MP, your special abilities still use MP, and you still get stunned if you use it all up, but the numbers have been adjusted enough so that it doesn’t feel like you are being punished all the time.
They have also adjusted weapon selection and made it far more user-friendly. In Episode Duscae you could tell the game when to use certain weapons, and which order weapons would be used in a combo, such as starting with a fast dagger strike, following up with a medium speed spear thrust and finishing with a slow smash with a two-handed sword, and you could adjust this order to suit your play style.
However the new system in the Platinum demo allows you to set weapons and magic to the directional buttons on a controllers D-pad, which allows you to switch between different weapons and magic at will. For example you can start of with a series of fast sword strikes that take half a monsters health and slightly staggers them, then finish the monster of with a powerful hammer smash. Or cast a massive meteor spell that kills all monsters in the area, in the demo this looks gorgeous as it is a rain of orange orbs that damage anything they touch as they bounce around the map.
Above everything, it is this new demo that has sold me on Final Fantasy XV. I love how the game plays now; it feels fast and fluid, while not losing the quirks that make it a final fantasy game. It stays true to the trailers and visuals that we have seen over the years since FFXV was announced as Versus-XIII. All in all I now can’t wait for this game to finally come out. I hope that this iteration will be the game that brings the Final Fantasy series back into the limelight.