Final Fantasy 15 Episode Duscae Preview
Introductions first, the game was announced 10 years ago, first as Final Fantasy 13 Versus and now recently renamed as Final Fantasy 15. After long, extended periods of time, Square Enix finally released a last minute demo with the day one release of Final Fantasy Type-0. Sadly, a lot was cut from the demo due to prevention of spoilers of the story, but here are my thoughts on the demo.
The demo begins with a cut scene vaguely explaining why the party is stuck in this particular region of the game. Although there have been plenty of complaints to the lack of female party members, I found some relief from the announcement. Anyone who has ever played a Final Fantasy game with a strong female lead or character directly related to the story plot has often not gone over well. Although the party could use some outfits that didn't make them look like a boyband.
First impression of this game was that Nomura had almost too much influence on the art style and character design of this game. The amount of black clothing one party wears was almost over the top. Cidney, the female mechanic, got a lot of negative feedback from fans on both her thick country accent and her over sexualized mechanic outfit. Over sexualized females isn't exactly a new issue, just an exhausting one. Not a lot of female mechanics would tell you they find it practical and safe to work on motor vehicles in a bikini top and booty shorts, but on the upside from many of the Final Fantasy trailers, more female cast, like Stella and Luna are more on the classy edge of dress. One over sexualized side female character that most likely doesn't have a whole lot to do with the main story plot won't kill anyone. It's just annoying, but thankfully it looks like the rest of the female cast in the game won't get put down to quite that level, fingers crossed.
The music is nothing short of phenomenal as is the signature for all Final Fantasy games. While overlooking a lot of responses to the demo, a lot of people were not impressed with the graphics for numerous reasons. Texturing, while largely complete on the character designs, lacked slightly in the environment. Keep in mind that the game is barely 60 percent done, and the directors and leading producers for the game are likely spending more of the funding for texturing in places like the cities, shown in Japan conferences with cat and dog cams touring some parts of the city, not to mention the game was previously made for the Xbox360 and the PlayStation 3, and there has been a large issue with the size of the game and adding more texture and rendering would not only create killer loading screens, but also explode the data storage on the new gen consoles. If many people have ever been to the country side, lived or visited, there's a whole bunch of nothing in real life. Why not apply that to a video game in a singular area to make a wildly creative game like Final Fantasy more relatable?
Graphic argument aside, the loading screens were long, but thankfully once loaded, nothing was still loading afterwards, even for the large scale area the demo presented.
The largest issue that was reported was the combat, and more specifically, the targeting system. I had issues with this as well, and once I got accustomed to how it worked, is was easy to work around, but more likely than not, instead of actually fighting enemies, players were fighting the camera instead. Props to Square Enix for finally attempting to make a Final Fantasy game that isn't turn based (Final Fantasy 7 Dirge of Cerberus and partially Final Fantasy Type-0 aside), although the combat is nostalgic, it is extremely outdated. Final Fantasy 15 is a hack and slash, which is more fun, but with only one button to attack, gets dull very quickly.
The enemies are unique in combat style as well. The oversized mammoth half boar animals had a great number stampede format. However, the Imperial dropships were almost too frequent and too numerous to be enjoyable, but given the demo was short; it gave the player something to do while farming experience. The cave goblins were more obnoxious than anything in numbers with constant poison attacks that made combat more tedious than anything else, not necessarily difficult if you know how to use the environment to your advantage. The four legged small predators resembling wolves have a fantastic pack attack style, where one will attack you and run off, while another of the pack will attack while the first one circles back around. Unfortunately, it was hard not to abuse the warp attack on these predators, which brings me to the next point. Parrying is ridiculously hard (unless A is pressed first followed by X on the One Controller), and the MP gauge needs to be larger. MP works like the stamina bar in Dark Souls. It lets you attack, use special combos, parry, dodge, and warp. For all those abilities in one MP bar, that's a lot to think about and coordinate in a hack and slash. I was extremely thankfully party members could rescue each other and it wasn't just me saving them every four seconds they took a hit that drained all their HP.
Experience only applied when the party made camp, which personally, I didn't have an issue with, but like any classical Final Fantasy game, grinding is required. Monster materials to cook foods for certain status bonuses was an interesting concept, and from what I could tell, made a huge difference in combat. It would be helpful to have an in game menu for items required for certain meals. Also the food graphics were almost stupid realistic to the point where my mouth was watering every time I made camp, which caused me to get up and snack quite frequently. Well played Square Enix.
Commentary between party members was annoying to listen to since there wasn't a whole lot of variety in conversation of in combat. Not to mention, these gentlemen are supposed to be a tight knit group however there are some awkward flaws. Tracking down the behemoth, Dead Eye, introduced a fascinating stealth mechanic which is practically unheard of in any Final Fantasy game and in several cut scenes, the party, especially Gladiolus, made sure to establish himself as a personal body guard, but when push came to shove in the initial fight with the behemoth Dead Eye, the party members abandoned their leader and ran, even while screaming to save you, their crown prince, in which case most players died on the first try. Way to go guys.
Last point is abilities and summons. Abilities were not largely stressed in the demo yet, especially magic casting, but I did somehow manage to get a tag team combo with Prompto and still to this day, have no idea how I did it. Returning to the battle with Dead Eye after the tedious cave battles with the goblin creatures and several levels higher, which made and impressive difference in battle, I summoned Ramuh, which never made a great impression in previous games, but made a startling comeback with every bit of oversize and overpowered appearance possible and one shot Dead Eye several times over. While I am curious is size and power of summons will affect certain gameplay environments, or if the summons require separate levelling up or we inherit them at their full strength (which is much less likely).
So far, Final Fantasy 15 has a long ways to go with many improvements awaiting it, but with plenty of potential and a mysterious story line many people are probably curious about. While Final Fantasy 15 is rumored to be a "love" story, there aren't many times in the Final Fantasy overall history when a love story ended well, so it leaves me curious on what to expect from the game overall.