From the 50 minutes gameplay video released by Square Enix in August shortly after the delayed release date announcement, many noteworthy features can be seen here. Let’s take a look.
Starting from the game modes, 2 difficulty levels can be chosen in Final Fantasy XV: normal and easy. The new mode plus will be unlocked once a player beat the game. After that, the loading screen will pop up telling the game’s short introductory in a prophecy style.
“In a time unknown, only a prophecy keeps hope alive in people’s hearts: “When darkness veils the world, the King of Light shall come. Now, four brave warriors begin their journey, prepared to fight. What awaits the four, however, they do not know”
The prophecy is actually pretty similar to the one from the opening of Final Fantasy I. It means that FFXV is still using the similar setting to the Final Fantasy root.
In the opening scene, we can see a certain character that should be an older Noctis. Shortly after that, another important character appears, Ignis. He is fighting a creature sitting down in the throne in front of him.
The scene seems to be taking place in Insomnia, the capital of the kingdom of Lucis. However, we still haven’t known what this creature is. Since everything is on fire, it might be an aeon, Ifrit or chaos. Or it can be a new enemy in FFXV.
All main characters in the scene are older than what we have seen from trailers. Prompto, for example, has beard under his chin. Gladiolus and Ignis designs are slightly different than when they were young.
After that, the opening scene stops abruptly and goes straight into the actual start of the game where Noctis and his buddies are pushing down Regalia. It can be confusing to see what is actually going on since the 50-minute video skips the cutscene in between. We should see it when the game finally comes out.
The green line indicated in the map is a road for Regalia to drive on from places to places. The areas around are explorable by foot. A player can walk around, kill monsters, hunt, do a sidequest, and so on. When the map is zoomed out, we can guest that the size of the game is pretty huge. Starting area itself is still big. It is estimated that the world map size is even as big as 786.4 square mile (2,036.8 square km)
Map can be updated by asking for information from an NPC in the diner. Then, interesting locations in a nearby area such as outpost, parking areas, chocobo farms, and more will be added automatically.
This NPC also gives monster hunting missions with gils and items as rewards. Completing a hunting mission increases a monster hunting rank allowing a player to take on bigger hunts.
Choices of Conversation
The gameplay video also features choices of conversation. It, however, does not seem to impact the story but give some advantages instead. The full details are still unknown but some choices can buff party, give gils, or even make a deal with an NPC like having them helped in the journey.
AP and Character Skills
After the conversation, 4 APs are rewards. These ability points allow a player to get new skills in Ascension menu which looks similarly to Sphere Grid in Final Fantasy X. There are 4 giant circles here representing 4 characters in the party and their abilities.
From time to time, a player receives optional tasks to complete in battle. AP will be rewarded if succeed. The task can by anything such as blocking successfully 3 times, perform a link attack 3 times, and so on.
For what we have seen, these nodes do not increase stats but providing active and passive skills instead. 29 skill nodes can be found in Noctis’ circle. It means he is having 29 abilities. No further details about his skills have been available yet.
In a way, it does look like Final Fantasy X sphere grid but function differently. First, the character trees are separated from each other. Still, a player has freedom of choices in character progression. These nodes also do not provide raw stats boost as mentioned earlier.
Noctis’ circle starts with “Master of Arms” allowing him to conjure and wield weapons of all kinds. Then, 3 skills can be activated there: Libra, lock on to an enemy while in cover to scan for weaknesses, Accessary Slot, equip two accessories, and Phase, automatically evade attacks while holding down “Square” (costs MP). Without Phase, Noctis will block an attack instead while holding down the button.
Increasing an accessory slot is going to be important since it traditionally comes with stats boost and giving several status alignment protections by the end of the game.
From this, a player can get an idea of choosing which abilities to level up. It is very excited to learn more about skill progression and all available skills.
The first weapon vendor in the game found at Cindy’s garage sells 4 types of weapon: short swords, greatswords, daggers, and firearms. Noctis can equip up to four weapons at the same time while his 3 buddies can only equip two. In the video, Noctis already has some gils and is able to purchase gear right away. It might be different when the game releases.
Broadsword – “A robust and versatile one-handed weapon that makes it easier to land critical blows when attacking a succession.”
The more player attacks with this weapon, the critical chance increases resulting in crits more often.
Greatsword – “A greatsword forged for battling many foes at once. The blade inflicts greater damage when surrounded by foe”
It increases attack damage when a player is surrounded with a group of enemies.
War greatsword – “A greatsword with added heft, made to inflict stunning blows that deprive foes of their defense”
It seems like the war greatsword has an ability to stun enemies or to knock them over leaving them vulnerable, unable to attack and receive more damage.
Daggers – “A well balanced and lively dagger that inflicts extra harm on vulnerable foes”
After knocking an enemy with the war greatsword, it is recommended to swiftly change to daggers and enjoy extra amounts of damage.
Avengers daggers – “Daggers that unleash their full potentials in times of peril. When the wielder is in poor health, they deliver critical strikes against the foe.”
Handgun – “A gun made for tracking moving targets. Allows the wielder to destroy appendages with greater ease”
It sounds like a player can break parts of some enemy with a handgun.
Cocytus – “A gun with ice in barrel. Foes vulnerable to the cold best bewares”.
This is where an elemental damage comes into play. It is basically an ice pistol dealing at least 1.5x more damage against fire enemies.
Overall, we can see how the weapon dynamic works. The broadsword is for killing a single target. The greatsword and daggers can create a good combo. The firearms have ability to breaking enemy parts.
Noctis equips an engine blade as a starting weapon. It is actually the sword we have seen in the first 2006 FFXV trailer which back then it was called Final Fantasy XIII Versus. The description of this sword is “A blade Noctis received from Regis for his sixteenth birthday. It absorbs the elemental powers of defeated foes.”
Square Enix put an extra detail into the game by giving the sound of the engine when Noctis uses this sword in the game. It is actually the same sound we heard from the FFXIII Versus trailer.
One of the machinery weapons, a circular saw, is also seen in the video when the party is on the quest hunting the deadeye behemoth. It is also the same one as in Episode Duscae.
Weapons are upgradable by Cid who lives in Cindy’s garage. As stated by Hajime Tabata, each weapon is unique and can be useful when upgraded. It means that if a player like a particular weapon, he can use it for the entire game.
Magic system in FFXV
Basically, a player will find magic sources throughout the game containing elemental energies: fire, ice, and lightning. Magic spells can be crafted from them. Another magic type “Wind magic” can be crafted by combining two elemental energies together but we still haven’t seen it in action yet.
While magic is being crafted, a player can either increase or decrease the amount of the elemental energies. Damage output varies on how much energies were used. In addition, a player can mix consumable items such as potions, phoenix down, and even food to create additional buff to the spell such as healing cast, fire cast, dual cast, and more.
Camping, Food, and Fishing
When a player settles down at a camp at the end of the day, it sums up exp gained. Camping is the only place a player can level up. When level up, AP will be earned. SP, which are skill points for each character personal skills: Ignis’ cooking, Noctis’ fishing, Prompto’s photographing, and Gladiolus’ survival, also increased if they are used on that day. If Noctis does not fish, his fishing ability level will not go up.
Noctis’ fishing equipment such as line, lure, rod, and reel has their own stats and can be upgraded.
A player can enjoy Ignis’s cooking during the camp that provides stats buff from an entire next day. He will learn a new recipe as soon as all required cooking materials are obtained. Food can also be bought from the Diner’s NPC.
Changes in Combat
Magic also works slightly different. Right now there is a cooldown after casting any spell. This to prevent spell spamming making the game too easy. Magic in Final Fantasy XV deals a significant damage even in an early game.
A major change in the warping from the Episode Duscase is that a player is unable to warp to a high location and stay there until HP and MP are fully recovered anymore. There is an endurance bar in the final game that quickly depletes when Noctis is hanging to any place after warping. When the bar runs out, Noctis falls down immediately.
A distant bar showing distance between a starting location and a destination appears when the crew is driving Regalia. In addition, notifications like “Treasure Spot”, “Mining Deposit”, and even a mark of a small chest with a keyhole can be seen from the map when a player passes these locations.
Only Noctis can drive Regalia at night because of demons such as an iron giant roaming around the street at that time. It is recommended to avoid them at all cost in an early game since they are almost next to impossible to be beaten.
Because of the cooperation between Nissen and Square Enix, Nissen ads and even their food trucks can be seen in some locations as well.
One of the main goals in the Final Fantasy XV story progression is to obtain all thirteen royal arms from the past kings of Lucis hidden in royal tombs all over the EOS. These arms do no only give Noctis an access to multiple weapons, they also increases his combat power. They can be equipped as a normal weapon with MP consumption yet dealing more damage.
As a plus, each royal arms have their own unique powers and abilities. Some increases warp strike damage to the next level.
Later in the game, an armiger mode, the ultimate royal arms mode, can be unlocked. Upon executing, all royal arms Noctis currently has will be circling around him, attacking and defending incoming projectiles at the same time.
Guest Party Member
Final Fantasy XV features a guest party member who stays in the party temporary. This sometimes makes the numbers of party member to be more than four. Cor will join after the first royal arm, the sword of the wise, is acquired. He is generally stronger than other characters at that time with a unique set of attacks from his katana.
Cor has a powerful ability called “Lion’s Roar” dealing significant damage to an enemy but consuming all 3 charges.
Iris, Gladiolus little sister and Noctis’ friend, is another guest party member. It is still unsure whether she can fight or not. However, Noctis has a chance to take her out for a date.
At the end of the demo, there is a cutscene of the party speaking to Ardyn Izunia, one of the main villains. He said that he wants to help a party to see a certain Archaean. It suggests that he might be a guest party member like the old Final Fantasy series such as Sephiroth in FFVII and Seymour in FFX.
Chocobo is also included in Final Fantasy XV. In order to access, a player needs to clear an area by defeating the deadeye behemoth. It is the similar quest in Episode Duscae with minor attribute changes. For example, the behemoth’s HP is higher.
Chocobo color can be changed eg from yellow to white. It can wear a medal that does nothing but making it looks cool. Chocobos have their own stamina bar. They can walk, run, glide, and even swim. In addition, they can attack enemies as well. There is also a chocobo race as a side quest under only-for-fun category.
Chocobos can be called by using a special item “a chocobo whistle”. It seems like a player needs to buy it regularly since it only lasts for a few days.