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'Final Fantasy XV' at E3, Hands On

The Tom's Community Team had an opportunity to experience Final Fantasy XV during E3 this week. For as ardently as we've enjoyed the Final Fantasy franchise--we may or may not have engaged in incoherent squealing and excited gesticulations at being able to get our pictures taken astride a giant life-size fat Chocobo, and we can discuss the finer points of Kefka vs. Golbez vs. Sephiroth in terms of villainy--we were underwhelmed by what was presented in the long-awaited sequel to the beloved franchise, Final Fantasy XV.

There's nothing in particular about the story that stands out as novel or game-changing. The main character is Noctis, a cookie-cutter protaganist that seems an amalgam of all the previous heroes along the lines of Tidus, albeit bedecked in the shiny black leather that slathered the Final Fantasy bad guys in Advent Children. The vague goal is to "Retake the World" from the evil forces who have threatened the capital city.

We spoke to several developers with Square Enix and learned that the length of the campaign is roughly a (disappointing) 50 hours. Contrast this to previous Final Fantasy titles that clocked in at an average of 70+ hours without considering completionist 120+ hour games.

Going into our demo, we expressed concern (shared by our readers) that this installment might suffer from the same "long hallway of monsters" syndrome of previous sequels, wherein games were drawn out, linear and with considerable filler. A Square Enix representative told us, "We heard those concerns, and FFXV will not have that problem. That was a consideration during development, and this game is as close to an apology for that as you'll get from Square Enix."

Though reassuring, our demo of Final Fantasy XV revealed other concerns. Richly detailed environments are marred by jerky camera angles and jarring shifts in perspective. The clumpy combat mechanics evoke a Devil May Cry style of movement and attack. Both Community Team members who played the game had immense trouble with the controls, with new mechanics introduced suddenly, easily confusing attacking and parry/block button mashing, and everyone's favorite: quick-time events. Half of the time, you don't know where you are in relation to the monsters and enemies.

Attack on FF Titan


The boss battle we experienced was a titan monster that attacked the city. Our characters, equipped with swords in a squad, were tasked with attacking the titan through quick-time events and a morass of somewhat choreographed tactical maneuvers that were more confusing and convoluted than impressive. The combat was reminiscent of Devil May Cry, and the literal Attack on Titan attack on a titan gave the impression of a derivative work rather than a deserved new installment for a long-beloved franchise.

The gameplay was disheartening, but with a release date scheduled for September 30, we're hopeful there's still time for refinements based on feedback. We did ask if the game was slated for eventual release on PC as well as console, but we have not heard back as of press time.

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  • problematiq
    This gives me great concern for the FFVII Remake.
    Reply
  • Brandon_29
    I get that they changed the combat system to appeal to a new market of younger players, but most FF loyalist are not too keen on this combat system. Personally I think the combat system in VII and X is vastly superior for an RPG. This is an ARPG no matter how you slice it. FF is supposed to be a relaxing story telling adventure with the occasional puzzle thrown in to make sure you are staying sharp. The gameplay while deep has never been super complex. The complexity is driven from the systems and ability to customize it. Not in the combat itself. There was nothing hard about stringing knights of the round and phoenix to beat emerald or ruby weapon. What was hard is figuring out you needed to get them in the first place and grinding your way to god mode. We still loved it and came away feeling pretty accomplished.
    Reply
  • sh4dow83
    "I get that they changed the combat system to appeal to a new market of younger players..."

    I've thought that ever since they went from turn-based to ATB. ;)
    Reply
  • Nakal
    I used to get so excited about final fantasy games.... I dunno, just not feeling it for this one :(
    Reply
  • Polyformist of Azeroth
    Brandon_29 Nailed it

    FF7 was fantastic, and built for Complex gaming with simple combat in the end.

    I hang my head low at all these Action RPG's as of late
    Reply
  • Tomclancy14
    Hmmm. Which ff requires you 70+ hours just to finish the story?? I can't think of one. 50+ hours of main story is more than most of the RPGs on the market nowadays. So I don't know what you are whining about on that one.

    And your cookie cutter comment, the "strong friendship bond" premise was never presented in any previous ffs before. Father and son was in ffx sure, but that was only one ff. You played for I assume an hour? Judging the story, saying nothing stands out as novels is entirely pointless.

    I can't judge the graphic yet cuz I haven't tried. But it seems like you have came to conclusion with that hour of trial. Mr. Tabata had confirmed the demo was actually at 30fps most of the time and ranged from 900 to 1080 in resolution while it stays at 1080 majority of the time. I can't imagine him lying about it when the demo of just out there for ppl to try

    I thot online journalist have to stay kinda neutral but from what I see in your article, you are biased against this game to begin with, which I am disappointed as well.
    Reply
  • clonazepam
    There comes a time when a developer realizes a name essentially prints money, but they want to make a different game. Does that sum this up, more or less?
    Reply
  • problematiq
    18138259 said:
    There comes a time when a developer realizes a name essentially prints money, but they want to make a different game. Does that sum this up, more or less?

    Unfortunately you are quite correct. And rarely does that make many people happy, but as you said due to the name will keep forking out cash in high hopes.
    Reply
  • jpishgar
    Which ff requires you 70+ hours just to finish the story?

    The previous Final Fantasies. FF1 for the Nintendo clocked in at average of 35-40 hours. X, XII, XIII clocked an average of 100+, depending on your side quests.

    Judging the story, saying nothing stands out as novels is entirely pointless.

    Within the first precious few minutes of Final Fantasy 1-7, X, and on, you know what's going on and you have the gist of a grand story arc about to take place. The demo we experienced was empty of story or narrative, so perhaps there's more to it than we saw.

    I thot online journalist have to stay kinda neutral but from what I see in your article, you are biased against this game to begin with, which I am disappointed as well.

    Couple of corrections here. 1. The Community Team aren't journalists. We went to E3 to cover games coming out that our forum members wanted info on. We're still held to a standard of ethics and integrity, but a slight differentiation here. 2. We aren't neutral. We are all rabid Final Fantasy fanbois. I have a cactaur hanging literally inches from my monitor on my office wall. We were super pumped to play FFXV, so much so that it was *the* very first thing we did at E3. We're still hopeful that they make some changes for the better, because we'd much like to play a FF deserving of the title.

    -JP
    Reply
  • wiimonkey9
    This is the most pessimistic view of FFXV that I've ever read.
    Reply