Final Fantasy XV – Battle System Analysis
Final Fantasy XV’s battle system has changed somewhat from what was shown off in the E3 2013 trailers. So let’s take a closer look at how the game plays now based on the TGS 2014 trailers:
The UI seen in the TGS 2014 trailers is not final. But it’s still worth analysing as it has changed and now is no longer like a Kingdom Hearts command menu.
The menu to the lower right shows the active party members and their HP. The order of the names from the top are Noctis, Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto. The menu to the lower left is sort of a log of what actions these characters are performing. For example, in the image above, the first action shows Noctis’s actions, which is “Guard”. The second action shows Gladiolus’s actions; third is for Ignis and fourth is for Prompto. Apart from Noctis, everyone else is “Attacking”, and the enemy they are targeting is written on the right side of that action, which in this case, are “Goblins”.
When characters take damage, their names on the lower right menu flash red and the amount of damage is shown to the left of their names. Also, a bit harder to see, but there are some markers on the HP bars. It may have something to do with Gambits, like “when HP lower than this amount – do this”.
And on that note, let’s take a closer look at Gambits.
This game has a similar sort of system to Final Fantasy XII’s gambit system. According to the patent filed by Square Enix in 2012, Final Fantasy XV has an “Attack Method Setting Screen”, and it will look something like the following. (This screen can be opened before battle or mid battle by pressing a button)
These conditions/methods are separated in to two:
- Positional Condition
- Attack Method
The stuff on the left are positional conditions (eg – less than 3m from Player Character), while the stuff on the right are attack conditions (eg – close attack with Ax). When you want to change these conditions, you click on say “3m from Player Character”, and the list of Positional Conditions pop up. This list looks something like below. Same goes for an attack method list.
A suitable positional condition can then be selected, and same can be done for attack methods.
A few more notes on these conditions:
- New Positional and Attack Conditions may be unlocked as the the character levels, buys new equipment or the game progress
- The amount of Conditions may be increased as the character levels, buys new equipment or the game progress
- There are priorities for these set conditions, and top condition has the highest priority
- Manual targeting of enemies (with R1 or L1) can over-ride these priorities
- The conditions, along with being distance based, can also be directional, like attacking enemies from the front or back
- Some attacks methods will be greyed out for certain positional conditions. For eg, when close range, long range attack methods will be greyed out.
Guarding works by holding down the guard button and the character auto evades enemy attacks. But holding it down consumes MP.
This doesn’t necessarily mean invincibility, as you character can still get hit in the chaos. There are also unavoidable attacks, but those have other technical evasion methods. There are various evade animations that get used automatically depending on the context. For example, a dodge roll might be better when trying to get out of range of a quick behemoth swipe.
Attack works similarly to Guard as in you hold the Attack button and the character auto attacks and completes a standard combo. These actions can be changed by using it in coordination with the directional buttons. This combined with the gambits means that the strategy is more about positioning and movement in 3D space.
The weapon system in the game is treated like a deck. You set weapons on the deck in the menu, and during combat the most appropriate weapon in the deck gets used based on the situation. Note that this menu can be opened before or during combat, and the weapons can be adjusted at the player’s discretion.
You can only determine one weapon from the ones equipped to be your main one, but that weapon will come with techniques which can be invoked at your discretion in battle. Besides the basic assault button (attack), you can invoke techniques with the technique button.
The different weapons have different attack speeds, damage and range. For example, the heavier great sword does about double the damage compared to the smaller sword, but is slower. Spear on the other hand does double the damage compared to the great sword, isn’t that slow, and has a great range.
All these little nuances will certainly be a factor in how to set up the decks.
Magic also gets cast depending on the “gambits” set. For example, a “gambit” could be set like, “when 10m or more away from enemy – Cast Fire”.
Magic is a big deal in this game. As an example, when it’s clear out, casting fire on a monster will result in other things like the surrounding area being ignited and your party members becoming feverish. When you use magic, there is a risk that it affects Noctis himself as well.
Warp works by locking on to a point and then pressing the warp button. Warping is limited to certain points, which can either be terrain based points, or enemies themselves. A blue colored lock-on is used to signify the target point for warping. A couple of examples can be seen below. The first one shows Noctis warping to a terrain based point, while the second shows him warping to an enemy.
This is a special ability that Noctis can activate with a press of a button, and it allows Noctis to summon all his weapons at the same time. There are two aspects to this ability – Defence/Idle or Offense.
When defending or idling, the 8 phantom weapons start circling Noctis creating a barrier and reduce/negate enemy attacks. Notice below how the bullet disintegrates when it hits the weapon barrier.
When attacking, the barrier disappears and the swords start attacking the targeted enemy one by one from above. Each phantom sword falling on the enemy deals damage, even though it cannot be seen in this demonstration. It is most likely yet to be implemented, since the phantom swords were dealing damage in the E3 2013 trailer.
Another advantage of using this ability is that this allows Noctis to close in on enemies once the attack button is pressed by using short warps. It looks quite flashy with Noctis striking and teleporting every which way, but the execution is quite simple. Only the attack button needs to be held down after activating this special abililty, and Noctis will automatically add short warps between attacks. Directional input can be used as necessary for movement. You can also control where Noctis moves during this move by manually locking on to enemies via R1 or L1.
Another thing worth pointing out is that this special move will most definitely have a cost, restricting its use.
Cooperative Attacks & Assists
Noctis can also use cooperative attacks with the party members, and these attacks are executed automatically based on the “gambit” settings, but it is important for the player to aim their mark. These moves aren’t one off, and can be performed continuously. Also, to connect a co-op move while avoiding an enemy attack, you have to keep an eye out for an indication when to invoke it. And since parrying cannot be automated, It feels accomplishing to pull of a co-op attack from a parry.
Here is an example of a co-op attack, and a gambit could be set up like “When Noctis makes contact with Ignis – Execute Cross Slash”.
There are also other co-op moves that require more timed button presses for parrying etc. An example can be seen below, where Noctis ducks down to avoid the soldier’s hit, and then strikes the other soldier.
Some other notes on the gameplay:
- The party consists of 4 characters.
- Only Noctis can be controlled in the demo and full game.
- Characters gain the day’s earned experience when they sleep (camp). If they do not sleep, their performance in battle degrades.
- It is possible to Jump in this game, and it has a dedicated button.
- The world map can be traversed using Cars, Chocobos and other means of transport.
- The car can be controlled manually, or left to the AI to go from point A to point B.
- The game has a fully dynamic day night cycle, and a day is about 30 mins in real world time. (This may be tweaked in the final game however)
- Stronger monsters appear at night time.
- The game also has a weather system, and affects the gameplay and appearance of the characters. For example, characters’ clothes appear wet in the rain.
- When on low health, Noctis’s movements suffer.
In closing, there are still aspects in the battle system which we don’t know about yet. Like how will the summons work, character growth systems, Warp cost, etc? And with the game being still in development, it is quite possible that some of the above details might change.