Final Fantasy XV | Platinum Demo Overview

Friday, 1 April 2016

It finally feels more real. After 10 years, 10 whole years, Final Fantasy XV is finally edging closer and closer to being released. Originally introduced as Final Fantasy Versus XIII in 2006, a change meant that the game was reintroduced to the public as Final Fantasy XV, the next main installment in the series. Many were unhappy with the decision to make it it's own standalone game along with an entire switch of console (7th Gen to 8th Gen), but I personally felt the change was a beneficial one to the game. Instead of it simply being a sub game in a trilogy, it gets it's own time to shine. It also allowed Square to bring the series into the new Gen of games.

Last year, with the release of Final Fantasy Type-0, owners of the game were given exclusive access to a demo for Final Fantasy XV, Episode Duscae. This played out an episode from the game and I would say on average played about 5-6 hours (unless you're me and dragged it out to over 10 hours). This gave fans an idea of some of the story, the relationship between the party members, the battle system, graphics and the like. 

On the 30th/31st (depending on where you are in the world), there was a Final Fantasy XV: Uncovered conference that promised to reveal the release date of the game along with several other aspects of the game. We were given the announcement that the game would be released on the 30th of September 2016 and that that day, a free to play demo would be available to download on the PS4 and Xbox One. This demo, Platinum Demo is what I am going to be giving a general overview of.

You play as young Noctis in a dream world accompanied by Carbuncle, a summon (recurrent in the Final Fantasy series!). One aspect I enjoy about this demo is that this is standalone to the main game. What you are playing will not feature in the end game and is simply purposed to showcase the game's graphics and battle system (which had been upgraded a little since ED). You are taken through 3/4 different terrains: desert/woodlands, indoor (palace) and a rural style city. You leave each area via a portal that Carbuncle shows the way to. There are round plates dotted around on the ground in each location that stepping on triggers a variety of things. Either: weather change, speeding up of time (changes from night to dauy etc), obtaining items, summoning enemies, shapeshifting (Noctis can turn in a vehicle or a creature) and replenishing MP/Elements etc. 

Your buddy Carbuncle communicates with you via messages received on a smart phone (the cute little guy can't talk properly!) and even sends adorable emojis to you (my favourite is the Chocobo with the hearts surrounding it!). You are guided through each area and throughout, you collect yellow/gold crystals. This aspect of it reminded me of a platformer game and confused me ever so slightly when I began the demo! 

The entirety of this demo is based in a dream that Noctis is having as a child and the storyline involved in this short demo, reveals some of Noctis' backstory to us. However, you do briefly get to control adult Noctis towards the end of the demo. The battle system differs slightly between the two of them. For instance, Noctis can use his warping ability only as an adult, weapons and magic differ too. Young Noctis' magic is inoffensive and is there simply for visual input.

After giving a vague idea of what you can expect from the demo. I feel it's only fair for me to share my views on it. Visually, it is stunning and gives a lovely impression of the final game's graphics. Having the plates making various changes was a smart move to be able to fit in all of the different aspects in regards to lighting and weather and their effect on the particular terrain. Simple yet effective! 

The music, composed by Yoko Shimomura, is just gorgeous. She is most well known for her work as composer for the Kingdom Hearts series and the music in what we have seen in FFXV so far is reminiscent of that. Albeit, there is a darker feel to it. The game's main theme, Somnus received a rearrangement and if you're going to listen to any piece of music from this game, listen to this. Seriously beautiful. 

The overall feel the demo gives genuinely made me make relations to Kingdom Hearts. Not only the music, but the choice of weapons they give you as young Noctis add towards this. You are given a toy sword, squeaky hammer (later upgraded to a shining hammer!) and it reminds me ever so slightly of the beginning of the first Kingdom Hearts game where Sora is using a wooden sword while on Destiny Island. It also just made the demo that little bit more fun!

Speaking of weapons, differing from the previous demo, you are able to equip the weapons and switch using the D-pad. In these four slots you can also choose to equip magic instead. This allows for you to pick your own fighting style and work out different tactics for different types of battles. We were shown the difference between quick action weapons and more "tank" style weapons that were slower to use. The obvious difference would be the damage amount per hit, fast took of less at a time but offered quicker action while the heavier weapons inflicted a lot more damage but left a waiting time after each hit. So really, it leaves it up to you which style you prefer to play. 

I personally really enjoyed the demo. It was fun to play and gave an idea of how the end result is going to be in terms of gameplay. It took me about 45 minutes to complete it (that's with some mild dragging it out to explore the whole area). Playing it has made me only more excited about the final release in September. I have seen a lot of people complaining it's not a real demo or it's "too easy" to be a demo, but I think they seem to forget that demo is short for demonstration and that's exactly what this is: a demonstration of the graphics and battle system. It was just a free to play, moderately lighthearted demo. Another Episode Duscae would feel redundant as it would be giving too much of the game away as a demo. Having something that will not feature in the game works better for me in my opinion.

Playing this demo, you will unlock the Carbuncle summon in the final game, so little bits of extra DLC is something I won't complain about! I have pre-ordered my copy of the Deluxe Edition. In this edition you are given the game, a steelbook case (with art from Yoshitaka Amano), the Kingsglaive film on Blu-Ray and some bonus DLC . I wanted the Ultimate Edition, but of course with anything that's limited, people mass purchased and are selling them for nearly 3x the price (don't be that person) and they're sold out.

If you want to check out the demo yourself, you will find it on the Playstation Store and Xbox Store and as said previously, it is free. It's a moderately small file (PS4: 3.5GB | Xbox One: 4.5GB). 
Are you excited for Final Fantasy XV? Have you given both demos given to us a go? What's your views on everything so far?

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