Final Fantasy XV: First Impressions

This past week, Square Enix finally gave a release date for its next installment in the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XV. The game is due to release on September 30, 2016. Along with the release date, Square Enix also released a new free demo to both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 users. The demo, called Final Fantasy XV: Platinum, is out now and is the only way to obtain the Carbuncle summon for the main game. For the first time in nearly seven years, I decided to return to the Final Fantasy universe and see if this could be the game that lures me back to the series.Unlike the main game, this demo finds you playing as the main character, Noctis, during his childhood, specifically during his childhood dreams. Carbuncle leads you through various dream worlds ranging from a beautiful forest, to a classical city that could belong in any of the classic Final Fantasy games from the SNES era. You collect orbs of light which in turn unlock pedestals that have a variety of effects ranging from gaining new weapons, to changing the time of day and weather of the level, and to transforming into vehicles and animals. If anything, it almost feels like Super Mario Galaxy in this aspect as you want to collect as many orbs as possible to unlock all options in a given level.The combat for the vast majority of the demo is best described as Kingdom Hearts based. Unlike classic Final Fantasy games, there are no random enemy encounters, you simply see enemies in the distance and make the decision whether or not to engage them. Instead of a complex turn based battle system, the combat becomes a simple hack and slash game, where you use the direction d-pad to select various weapons ranging from swords to bombs.While it was refreshing to see Final Fantasy move away from the more JRPG type elements in terms of combat, the majority of the demo felt a little bit of letdown coming off last year’s Witcher III: The Wild Hunt. There felt like there was virtually no need to switch between weapons as you could get by with the sword alone. Final Fantasy seemed like they had the right idea, but just needed to build it out. But then I was thrown for unexpected surprise in the final battle of the demo that completely changed my outlook on the upcoming game.Unlike the rest of the demo, the final battle has you playing as the adult version of Noctis. Not only does Noctis come with some awesome weapons, but he also comes with a new teleport/warp ability. The boss you face, an Iron Giant, requires the player to think about his attacks, as unlike the rest of the demo, just doing one thing doesn’t work. I found myself switching between my bombs, my small quick attack sword and my slow heavy hitting sword depending on my current situation. It felt refreshing, smooth, and challenging. Most importantly, for the first time in a long time it felt like something I wanted to play.Did you check out the demo or do you plan on getting Final Fantasy XV this fall? Let us know in the comments!  If you want to hear more about the demo and the upcoming game, check out this week’s episode of Geek Versus Games. Game On!

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