Yeah, we’ve all heard the news by now, Final Fantasy XV is getting a delay until November 29th. While we’ll have to wait two more agonizing months until the next numbered title is in our hands, it’s encouraging to know that director Hajime Tabata and the team are taking the time they need to release a game they feel meets the quality standards expected by fans.
Speaking of the team, they were out at this year’s Gamescom, but did not leave empty-handed after the delay announcement. To make amends, a new 50 minute gameplay video of the first three chapters has been released. There’s quite a lot to unpack here in one go, so I thought I’d highlight some of my favorite moments below.
In no particular order:
Warp Strike is as cool as ever
Even back in Ye Olde Versus Days, Noctis’ ability to teleport wherever he throws a weapon has been his most interesting combat characteristic. Here we see the Prince use a combination of his Warp Strike ability and Wait Mode. The latter is a feature revealed back at E3 that will slow things down to allow you time to assess a frantic situation. If there’s a ton of enemies around, it’s useful to slow down and manually select an important target. It’s all completely optional — a setting in the game’s configuration menu.
Monsters are properly monstrous
You wouldn’t be the only one unnerved at the prospect of fighting a monster as huge as the one above. If size wasn’t enough to intimidate you — the chunk taken out of your party’s health when the beast lifts off might. There’s another scene where Noctis and company are exploring a dungeon when suddenly a grotesque Arachne boss drops down suddenly from the ceiling — and it’s no pushover. Don’t forget that huge Adamantoise in previous trailers. I really dig the sense of fear imbued into these segments. I mean, after all, these are monsters. Well, “daemons” is the game’s specific nomenclature.
Head back to the chocobo races
Chocobo racing returns in Final Fantasy XV, and it looks pretty fun. In the short clip we see, Noctis races Prompto head-to-head or in a time attack mode. The minigame’s been an on-and-off staple since Final Fantasy VII‘s iteration in the Gold Saucer. It’s cool that the game’s got a place for bit of non-combat activities. Count me out if we have to dodge seagulls and chase balloons. Once in a lifetime is enough.
Blink and you’ll miss the ability upgrade system
While it’s not shown for very long, we do get our first look at the ability upgrade system Noctis and company will use on their travels. By levelling up, completing quests, participating in “strategic ops”, or “impressing your friends” in conversation, you’ll earn AP (Ability Points) to spend on upgrades. While this system looks pretty simple — similar to Final Fantasy X‘s Sphere Grid or Final Fantasy XIII‘s Crystarium, I’m anxious to learn more or play around with it myself.
When you select Ascension in the party menu, you’ll be greeted with the Astralsphere shown above. Here you’ll be able to purchase new skills by activating nexuses when the required amount of AP has been obtained. We see new upgrades such as Phase, which allows Noctis to evade attacks by holding down the Square button, Libra, which allows you to see enemy information, as well as the ability to equip two accessories.
Draw points are back and magic crafting looks cool
Final Fantasy XV‘s magic system shares a few fun characteristics with Final Fantasy VIII. In the image above, Noctis draws fire-based magical energy from a point on the map — a skill called Elemancy. This is similar to Final Fantasy VIII’s draw points, which allowed you to absorb specific magic spells into your inventory. It’s also interesting that magic in Final Fantasy XV is stored in flasks and is treated similarly to consumable items.
In the party menu, you can craft magic spells that have different effects in battle. You can do this by using your stockpile of absorbed magic and items you collect on your travels. Such effects include the ability to dualcast a spell or to heal the user’s HP when cast. I’m pretty interested to play around with this myself — particularly to play around with what modifiers are the most effective.
Hey, Final Fantasy’s about those chill moments too…
One lamentation many fans had with Final Fantasy XIII was its lack of “towns.” Well, it had towns, but not in the conventional sense. For a cast of characters labeled as fugitives and cursed with an impossible task, towns were probably the least chill place to spend your time. Personally, I thought it wasn’t so much that towns weren’t towns, or the game’s tubular level design, but that it lacked variety in what you were actually doing. We’ve seen the team go on about fun places to grab local food or getting your portrait drawn in Altissia for example. Giving the road a little more personality can go miles. I’m curious to see what other distractions await.
It’s been a long time coming…
In the image above we see Iris invite Noctis out for a leisurely stroll through Lestallum to see the sights. If you’re curious about this character, we get a brief introduction in the third episode of Brotherhood Final Fantasy XV. You can watch all of the episodes released (as of this post) here. I could take or leave the cold open, the scene we see of “Chapter 0”, but the opening to Chapter 1 seen above is perfect. There’s something poetic about the guys struggling to push their car down the road towards a distant goal while Florence + the Machine‘s cover of “Stand By Me” plays in the background. Something, something, ten years. It’s a little tongue-in-cheek, but it got an big, endearing smile out of me. The dialogue and its delivery is a teeny bit awkward, but for some reason, it kinda fits in a quirky, charming way. I like it.
How about you? What are your favorite moments from the near hour-long gameplay video? Chime in by leaving us a comment below.
Final Fantasy XV releases on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on November 29th, 2016.