Warning: Spoilers for the latest FFXV demo ahead.
This past week has been big for Final Fantasy fans. Not only did we finally receive a release date for the long awaited Final Fantasy XV, but we also were shown an entire compilation of material related to the title, as well as given a free demo playing as a young Noctis. The demo, entitled Platinum Demo: Final Fantasy XV, sees young Noctis navigating through his dreams alongside classic Final Fantasy summon Carbuncle in order to wake up in the real world. During the journey, you’ll encounter some enemies and get your first taste of the combat system since Episode Duscae.
Damn, this combat has gotten way better.
When you begin the demo, you start unarmed until you encounter your first group of enemies. Once that occurs, your Carbuncle companion uses his classic “Ruby Light” ability to gift you two introductory weapons: a Toy Sword and a Squeaky Hammer. Equipping these is as simple as pressing the touchpad (I played on PS4) and assigning the weapons to the directional pad inputs. This enables you to switch weapons mid-combat, which is vastly different (and in my opinon, improved) from the combat in Duscae.
Now, Duscae didn’t have a terrible system. Merely a flawed one. There, you would set weapons to different sections of your attack chain. So a weapon would be assigned to your initial hit, followed by one assigned to the subsequent chain of attacks, and finally ending with one set for the killing strike. There were also slots available for counterattacks and for mid-air attacks. At first I thought this was clever, until I realized that the only weapon that was ever in use was the one assigned to the main attack-chain. But because of this there was almost no variety. You could switch weapons from slot to slot to get some variation, but the weapon selection provided didn’t allow for much experimentation, and most weapons were not suited for any other role other than the default one provided.
Platinum Demo has shown that this has all changed. The ability to change weapons mid-combo allows for players to switch things up frequently, making battles much more satisfying and less monotonous. It’s even better when you arrive in the final segment of the dream, where Noctis becomes his adult self momentarily in order to battle an Iron Giant. His toy weapons are replaced by a Broadsword and an Airstep Sword (with a ranged shuriken and shield/shortsword combo as obtainable secret weapons in the stage), and you are given access to his wide arsenal of special skills, such as warping and the Armiger (super speed and increased damage). Warping and Armiger haven’t changed much since Duscae, but also added to Platinum Demo was an introduction of the magic system in Final Fantasy XV.
While a child, Carbuncle gives Noctis a batch of Fireworks to use. These too are assigned to a D-pad input and are easily accessible in a combat situation. When equipped, the attack button is held and you are able to aim where they will be thrown. Other throwable items, such as Thunderbolt, Raindrop, and Meteorain, are obtainable and have varying degrees of effectiveness. However, once transformed into an adult, Noctis’ Fireworks are changed to be a Fire spell, and you are able to use this against the Iron Giant. While a powerful resource, I fear that aiming these spells has not been perfected, as they take time to be cast after aiming and the target may have already moved out of range. While this could be alleviated with more careful planning, the somewhat erratic behavior of the enemies (at least in this demo) makes that a moot point. I’m hoping that it gets more perfected, because magic will be effective and useful, especially given the environmental effects it will have in the final game.
If you played Duscae and were disappointed, you owe it to yourself to download Platinum Demo and try the combat now. It has been fixed in so many ways and actually allows for some variety in your attacks. The comparison has been made frequently, but this game is starting to feel a lot more like Kingdom Hearts, and I definitely don’t see that as a bad thing.
Final Fantasy XV will finally be released September 30, 2016.