Hands on with the Final Fantasy XV "Platinum Demo" (Mild-Spoilers)
Square Enix's "Final Fantasy: Uncovered" event revealed a whole slew of new content in the realm of Final Fantasy XV. Not only will the world be getting the newest installment of the Final Fantasy franchise, but Square Enix has also announced a 5-episode animated mini-series and a new movie (with some big name actors lending their voices to the characters). While both the mini-series and the movie are bound to be breathtaking, Final Fantasy XV's hands-on demo, titled "Platinum Demo", is what caught the eye of the everyday gamer.
(WARNING: Mild spoilers ahead)
Though not explicitly stated, the demo itself was more of a way to showcase the game's aesthetics and new, action-oriented combat system. It has the player entering the dreams of young Noctis, the story's protagonist. In this dream state, you travel through four different "dreams" or environments, each exhibiting something unique in its own regard. In the first, you find yourself in a wooded area, navigating over branches and boulders, surrounded by beautiful greenery and pools of water. Here Square Enix gets a chance to show off the lush wilds they have put so much time and effort into. The water physics and lighting have improved greatly, reacting fluidly to weather effects and camera angle. By steering Noctis onto interactive buttons or plates on the ground, we also get a chance to see the changing of night and day, as well as different weather options. While the first dream is relatively short, the attention to detail in the creation of the environment is truly astounding.
The second dream puts the player into an Alice in Wonderland sort of situation. You are transported into a large room and shrunk down to the size of a mouse. While the room itself is quite elegant, books and blocks are scattered about as if placed by a child, forming little caves, ramps, and mini-buildings. The blocks are capable of being knocked down, which acts as an example of what to expect from the new physics engine. New plates are found on the hardwood floors of the area as well, transforming Noctis into toy cars, undoubtedly foreshadowing the controls of big-boy Noctis' own method of transportation. This environment is creatively whimsical, and perhaps will add to the depth of the story line in the actual game.
The third dream state places Noctis (still as a child) in a city-like environment. There are no towering skyscrapers and sprawling avenues. Instead, the developers created a maze-like area, layering plazas and narrow lanes for the player to explore. We find more platforms in this area as well, two of which transform Noctis into different creatures capable of dealing damage to the "nightmare goblin" enemies. How these transformations will translate later in the game is open to speculation, but one could hope for some sort of controllable summon (like a GF or Aeon).
The fourth and final dream state puts Noctis in a sort of open plaza/square in a larger cityscape. After the appearance of a large enemy and a bit of dialogue, Noctis goes from child to adult, giving the player the use of actual weapons and magic. Teleportation is introduced as well, one of the more unique additions to the newest Final Fantasy installment. This is done by throwing one of Noctis' weapons, to which he teleports to directly after. This skill is MP based, so it will only be available given your status, and allows the player to both flash to points in the environment and directly toward enemies.
Teleporting is possible regardless of which weapon Noctis is holding. Both child and adult Noctis have a light weapon and a heavy weapon that are capable of being switched out for one another mid-combo. This makes for a very unique play style, maximizing combo attack effectiveness by switching from speed to power and back quite effortlessly. What's more, certain combat functions appear for the bigger fights. While battling the Armiger in the final dream state, mid-fight "prompts" would appear from time to time. So, pushing a button at just the right time could block a strong attack or give Noctis a chance to teleport from a the enemy's grasp.
Final Fantasy XV has a more action-oriented gameplay style, drifting away from their classical turn-based strategy battle systems. While previous titles were geared in that direction, FFXV looks to be the successful result of trial and error. The Platinum Demo gives Square Enix a chance to showcase the effort and detail put into the gorgeous environment, as well as demonstrate the new way in which players will be crushing enemies for hours on end. While the demo was short, the open world and fast paced gameplay of FFXV has the potential to be one of the most enjoyable titles to date.