Monday, 20 April 2015

Premptive Previews: Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae

Wow. This demo looks good. A staple of the franchise is their ability to put amazing graphical quality in their games, but still, it looks amazing-Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae is essentially Square Enix's needlessly long way of saying this is a demo of their newest installation in the JRPG franchise. It is a small section of the main game taking place in the area called Duscae, hence the name. Doesn't show much in terms of story, but it gives us a ton (by ton, I mean around 1-3 hours) of gameplay for a demo, a throwback to the 'days of old', when free demo disks would last as long as a full game, as well as introducing us to the characters.

Your in-game squad is made up of Noctis and his entourage: his friend Prompto, advisor Ignis and bodyguard Gladiolus. Their personalities are clearly shown in the cinematics and in-game dialogue, which in the real game will allow the player to connect more and have more attachment to them. Their lines and the way they interact with each other are evident of large amounts of chemistry, sometimes even humorous and don't have the voice-acting cheesiness of some previous games (looking at you, Final Fantasy X laughing scene).

The gameplay looks like a version of previously reviewed Type-0, i.e. it takes place in real time, although it feels significantly more different once you've got your hands on them. There are two modes in mid combat: Defending and Attacking, the latter of which is more focused on. You have the standard MP and HP bars, with standard attacks, abilities and signature moves all assigned to different abilities. Noctis, the playable character in the demo, is able to summon swords and weapons which can be put in different parts of the standard attack combo for different effects, such as draining life or ignoring defence, which adds another layer of depth to the combat. There is also a summon, although it is used rarely here.

As for defensive mode, you need to time holding down a button to dodge attacks, some of which you are able to parry for huge damage. This is actually integral to your character's survival as he is quite fragile, and just attacking and attacking is not a good idea, which I learnt the hard way, often taking lots of damage because I entered defensive mode so rarely. That also makes combat interesting too- there's a rhythm of attacking, defending and parrying. As for the standard RPG fare of levelling up, for that you save and rest at camps (You also save after key points in the story) and then learn new skills, which is sadly unavailable in the demo. You also use certain items from monsters to make meals for the night for buffs like status immunity, or increased XP gain.

There's quite a lot of content in this for a demo nowadays: lengthy missions and quests putting the characters in a few different environments. There are some side quests to do as well, although I would have liked to see riding chocobos, as that was not present, but that was a small complaint. The value of the demo is good (although not enough to warrant $60 on eBay), and it leaves me more and more anticipated for the release of XV.

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