It's hard to believe, but gamers are finally about to get their hands on Final Fantasy 15 - or its demo, at least. While the next installment in Square Enix's venerable franchise has been in development since May 2006, when it was called Final Fantasy Versus XIII, very few people have gotten a chance to play it. That changes on March 17, 2015. On that date, anyone buys Final Fantasy Type-0 HD will receive a download code that can be redeemed for a copy of the highly anticipated demo.
According to Square Enix, the Final Fantasy 15 demo (officially known as Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ducsae) should last around three hours. Progress made in the demo won't carry over to the final game, but Square Enix promises that the demo contains a little bit of everything: lots of combat, a few quests, and a small helping of Final Fantasy 15's story.
To prove it, Square-Enix recently hosted an Active Time Report livestream in which developers discussed the demo and showed off 40 minutes of live gameplay footage. While the stream itself was in Japanese, the visuals speak for themselves: Final Fantasy 15 is only about 60% finished, but it's currently looking great. Mechanically, it looks like the game plays like a mix between Final Fantasy XII and western RPGs like Skyrim and Dragon Age: Inquisition. However, the music, the monsters, and the character designs are classic Final Fantasy through and through.
Most of the video focuses on combat, which eschews the series' traditional menu-based gameplay for something more action-packed. As previously revealed, players control a young prince named Noctis, who runs between enemies and bashes them with swords and magic. Other characters are controlled by the computer. The video shows off some of Noctis' unique skills, including a short-distance teleport and stealth abilities, all of which draw points from a regenerating stamina pool. It looks like Noctis and his teammates can also heal each other when their hit points get low.
The video also features Final Fantasy 15's dynamic day and night system, which changes the enemies that Noctis and his team fight. During the day, Noctis takes on monstrous wolves, as well as a furry creature that looks like a mix between a mammoth and a cow; by night, he faces down goblins and demonic soldiers.
Besides fighting, players can also set up camp and cook meals. The objective-filled mini map and glowing waypoints, meanwhile, evoke western-developed open world titles like Dragon Age and Grand Theft Auto. This isn't Final Fantasy 13, with narrow corridors and a restrictive, linear design. In Final Fantasy 15, exploration isn't just a welcome option. It's required.
Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ducsae also sports a few notable absences. Savvy gamers know that Final Fantasy 15 is structured like a fantasy road trip, but the title's iconic car won't be featured in the demo, for fear of alienating long-time fans. The demo also isn't running at peak performance, and the final game will reportedly run at 60 frames-per-second with a dazzling 1080p resolution. That's right: Episode Ducsae might seem great as-is, but when Final Fantasy XV finally reaches store shelves, it'll look even better.
Final Fantasy 15 is in development for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Source: Square Enix