Final Fantasy XV: light of the crystal - Games Weekly

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Final Fantasy XV: light of the crystal

It’s been a pretty rough year for FF fans. Lightning Returns offered little to those who hated the XIII sub series, All The Bravest offered mobile players more in the way of microtransactions than actual gameplay and all the while, the stunning FFXV that was revealed at E3 2013 was now here to be seen. This year’s E3 came and went, as did gamescom, but the one Final Fantasy game that mattered was now here to be seen. Shattering our fears that the game had been dragged back into development
hell, the Tokyo Game Show delivered we got new gameplay,a new trailer and a new director, and it’s fair to say that FFXV is looking better than ever.

Final Fantasy has long had something of a sci-fi twist, airships and spaceships blending with magic and mystical creatures to create a unique metaverse for the series. XV draws inspiration from both ends of the spectrum, with fantasy beasties roam the land while the nation of Lucis boast tech far beyond anything we have today. But these are the extremes, for the most part, the setting is as close
to modern day Earth as any the series has presented to date. It's a curious blend and one that still doesn't quite sit right for us, since those crazy extremes are a little harder to believe in when you’ve just seen a group of similarly dressed lads cruising around in a fancy new convertible that looks like it could just have rolled off a 21st Century showroom floor.

We’re sure we’ll come to adapt over the course of the game, not least because the core combat looks outstanding. There’s no more holding up bottles to heal distant allies or waiting your turn to smack enemies around XV’s is a far more physical and dynamic battle system.

Injured characters limp around and can be helped up by allies, while direct control over your chosen party member of the three available means you'll be able to pull off flashy combos that wouldn't look out of place in a Devil May Cry game.

This is most evident with hero Noctis supporting characters each specialise in a single weapon but he is able to equip, use and switch between a number of different offensive tools on the fly, again not unlike systems in hardcore action games like DMC or Bayonetta. You needn't worry too much that Square doesn't have the know how to make this kind of technical combat work,either. Get on YouTube and look at some high level Lightning Returns gameplay and you'll be amazed by all the ridiculous cancels, feints, buffering and combos going on. While it’s not quite up there with a Platinum classic, it's remarkably refined for a studio so closely associated with turn-based combat.
 “There’s a precedent for solid action gameplay in Lightning Returns and even Kingdom Hearts”
Not this time, though. Noctis dances around the battlefield with his deadly rotation of armaments directly under player control,a teleport mechanic meaning you can pull off even flashier combos or quickly jump from one defeated enemy to shut down another in the blink of an eye. This system also
seems to extend to platforming, although hopefully this isn’t pushed too far while there's now a precedent for solid action in Lightning Return sand even Kingdom Hearts, we've seen nothing to suggest that this team can do decent platforming.

Kingdom Hearts is actually a pretty close reference point, especially with the game’s new director Hajime Tabata stating that he wants combat and action to be more accessible than the ATB system. That doesn't mean the depth won’t be there, but what he’s saying sounds closer to Bayonetta’s automated Easy modes than anything else button mashers will be able to bring the flair without
having a clue what they’re doing while tech players will be able to extend and improve upon these auto combos with the appropriate skill and timing.

So while 2014 doesn't look like it’s likely to pick up for FF fans (well, except those who love MMOs and rhythm action games those guys are set), we’ve finally seen reassurance that next year should be far, far better. Then again, with XV reportedly only around 55 per cent complete, can we really be so sure that the game will make it onto shelves in the next 12 months? We sure as hell hope so…

HOW’S IT LOOKING ?
Amazing, to be honest. The scale and spectacle is like no JRPG we've ever seen and if Square can avoid the road trip being too linear (the primary complaint about FFXIII), it'll likely be incredible.

PROMPTO ARGENTUM
A nobody / Plans to bring leg warmers back / Hair not all that spiky
Most of the cast come from storied backgrounds or noble families, making Prompto stand out as the classless, regular guy exception. Still, Noctis will come to rely on his old friend regardless of the class divide.

GLADIOLUS AMICITIA
Buff bodyguard / Can’t button a shirt / Hair not spiky at all
Gladiolus serves as a big brother figure to Noctis his line age has sworn to protect Noctis’ noble family and the two seem to have quite a bond. Expect to see him hitting things with large weapons rather than slinging spells.

NOCTIS LUCIS CAELUM
Main character / Lost a glove once / Hair is quite spiky
We’ve not really seen enough of hero Noctis to compare him to other FF protagonists yet, but he’s got some badass moves. This prince can teleport around using powers even he doesn't seem to fully understand.

IGNIS STUPEO SCIENTIA
Tactical genius / Somewhat overdressed / Hair is one big spike
His middle name might sound like ‘stupid’, but that’s just super-cool irony because he’s actually the smart one. A lifelong friend of Noctis, Ignis’ smarts on the battlefield will prove invaluable in defending the last crystal.

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