While there should have been a stream to accompany this preview, I must apologize because there is not (Edit, now there is!). This was due to a live stream error on the Xbox One. I’ll see if we can’t get something up later. I wasn’t going to let that get me down though, this is Final Fantasy XV we’re talking about here, most of us have been waiting to see this game for nearly a decade, so what’s the verdict? Read on my friends, let us dissect this most recent fantasy.
Let’s get opinions out of the way out front. Do I love it? Yes. Is it a perfect demo? Far from it. The game is of course gorgeous, as you’ve probably seen from all of the footage. Reports coming out however claim that the PS4 demo is running at roughly 900p and the Xbox version at roughly 720p. I can confirm that the Xbox demo is a clear downgrade from what people were expecting graphically. It’s disappointing of course but the game still looks good. I must reiterate, not for the last time in this preview, that this is a demo and many things are likely going to change. To get other small gripes out of the way the demo area is certainly large, but maybe not as large as it was seemingly advertised. If the visible world is any indication you aren’t quite given then the entirety of the Duscae region, bordered on one side by an invisible wall (which is maddeningly between you and a piece of scenery you REALLY want to check out).
Combat in Duscae, once you figure it out, I’m happy to report is amazing. It’s got a solid flow to combat and once you really start going you just combo into groups of enemies like a vengeful god. Some things, like the combat camera, are still a little janky in the usefulness department. Some enemies, like wolves, in particular, have a bad habit of dashing about half a mile in one direction after you lock on, and your camera leaves you sitting there scratching your head instead of following. Same said wolves are on par with Dragon’s Dogma wolf packs in that cleaning them up quickly can be a chore when they’re dashing around. Plea to the developer, fewer wolves, please.
Do you know what is fun to fight? Imperial soldiers. I use the term loosely because as we have finally learned these stiff-looking soldiers aren’t even human, but magitech weapons. They aren’t designed to play nice either as a failure to parry them will result in them ripping out their literal heart which they then attach to you before it detonates, or worse shove a robot hand filled with knives and claws straight into your heart. I don’t know enough of the story to say too much but it’s a safe bet your continued existence isn’t high on the empire’s priority list. These mobs, along with the goblins you can encounter at night really drive home the old-fashioned aesthetic of combat in FFXV. You’re not fighting 1-3 enemies, you will likely be fighting rows of them simultaneously, and you have to approach combat in that mindset or get put on your ass waiting to potion.
The goal of the demo is simple, raise enough money to fix your ride, which your idiot friend Prompto wrecked. The easiest way to do this is to slay a wandering behemoth that you stalk and sell it’s horn for cash. There’s also a cave dungeon in the Duscae region filled with goblins to explore that contains a special sword and the Ramuh summon for you to use. The latter is important because it would take someone who is truly sadistic to try and down the behemoth at its current levels. Appearing when Noctis hits 0 hp the option to summon acts as an “I win” button in the demo. It’s likely that this sort of summoning method won’t survive its transition to the game proper, at least not at that strength, but the light show is definitely worth watching a time or two.
There’s so much of the demo I still haven’t even covered like side-quests and camping, but I’d be here all day talking about every little detail, and that’s the point. FFXV: Episode Duscae feels like a carefully constructed demo to give you only the smallest taste of the full game. If the promise of what is in here already bears fruit and delivers, then it will be a Final Fantasy that charts a new course towards a bright future for Square Enix.