I want to take you back nearly ten years to E3 2006, where Square Enix announced Final Fantasy Versus XIII alongside Agito XIII and Final Fantasy XIII, all three games part of Fabula Nova Crystallis, which are all, based on and expands upon a common mythos focusing around important crystals tied to deities. The mythos can be freely interpreted by any of the games.
Now nearly 10 years on we have had three mediocre games based in FFXIII’s universe which starred the character Lightning, with only one other Fabula Nova Crystallis based games announced at E3 2006 coming out Agito XIII now known as Type-O, which if you’re lucky enough to live in Japan, had the opportunity to play on the PSP back in 2011, however, in the west, only now has it arrived as a HD release for the PS4 & ONE.
If you bought this HD release of Type-O you got a special gift of Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae, which you might be thinking what is that or what’s that got to do with all these XIII’s? Well, like Agito, Versus XIII has become a main line Final Fantasy and it is the fifteenth of those.
Episode Duscae was announced back in 2014 and is about 2-3 hour self-contained demo of what to expect from FFXV, yes even the demo took a rather time to get a release.
So after this entire wait we finally get our hands on something, but was it worth it? Well the short answer yes, but you might be asking the question why? Episode Duscae’s plot is a rather simple one; your car the Regalia has broken down and you have to get the money to fix it.
It starts off with the 4 main characters in the game, Noctis the main protagonist, along with Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto, who are all sleeping in a tent.
Once you’re up that’s when your mini adventure begins, with the goal to find the 25,000Gil needed to fix your car. At the start, one of your companions spots a poster for Deadeye the Behemoth wanted Dead or Alive, which has a 25,000Gil reward. However, you have to find Deadeye by tracking him down using your world map. You are given 6 locations to go check out, which include things like a giant paw print, but whilst doing this your companions’ will spot a side-quest on the fly, like looking for jewel by the river, which all add to the episode and what to expect from the final product.
Whilst wondering around doing any of the quests, you will come into a few combat situations and unlike most Final Fantasy games; the combat is in real time. Hajime Tabata, director of FFXV said that he wanted to shift the combat to be a more realistic battle system.
The combat is excellent; I played on the PS4 so I’m using the Dual Shock 4’s button layout. Square is a normal attack, Circle is Jump and Cross is your warp attack. If you are far away from an enemy, you can warp to them and attack them at the same time, but it’s just not on foot this can be used as if you look at a telegraph pole for instance, you can warp to the top of that then lock-on to an enemy using R1, then attack from the air. Triangle does your special technique from whatever weapon you have selected, using left or right on the D-Pad.
Noctis has six weapons, one you can be equip to Square and is used for normal attacks. The rest of the weapons can be accessed using the D-Pad by scrolling through them, to use their special technique if they have one. I myself used the weapon without a special as my default and the rest were set to the D-Pad. They all do various things, such as, one which does a spin attack which hit’s anything, even your friend’s around you, which is good if your surround by enemies. However, if you do use one of these specials, your MP will go down based on how much you’ve used. You can restore that by staying out for the fight, by taking cover by using L1, which is also the block button and if you time right you can do a parry attack.
The tactic I like to use is to go right into combat, use my entire MP warp out to telegraph pole, then build up my MP, followed by a warp attack from the air and go on a full attack again. Whilst battling you have no control over your teammates, they just do what they want, but they will heal you if you need it and restore your life if you are de, or vice-versa, they can revived by going over to them, very similar to being downed in Gears of War.
After the battle you gain EXP, but not at that very moment, as in previous games, when you go to bed as the game uses a day night/cycle. During the night you set up camp, have dinner cooked for you by Prompto, who is rather prompt with it, using any ingredients you picked up during the day and the meal will give you stat boost the next day. Whilst asleep you will gain any EXP you acquired over the course of the day and get to hear the classic victory tune.
The combat is great, as are the graphics, which utilise the Luminous Engine, looking fantastic with draw distance going on for what seems to be miles along with little details such as brushing past bushes or seeing the characters breath in a cold cave. There are frame rate issues with the game along with running at 900p on the PS4, but it is only a demo and hopefully people will look past that. If that were in the final game, then I would have issues with it, along with seeing the same enemies again & again.
Due to the length of the Episode you can save mid-game, which I did on my first play, which you can watch below:
On my second go and final play I saw a few cool things, like the Chocobo Ranch and experienced some stealth elements, as when you do find Deadeye you have to sneak into his lair to battle him. When you lose that, you have to go find a crystal, which gives Noctis a special power, which then can be used to take down Deadeye. When that is completed you go collect your reward and then pay the only other noticeable character in the game a visit Cidney who is female mechanic, carrying on the series long used character name of Cid.
Once your car is fixed, it’s a brief cut scene which is all in game and that’s it. It finishes with a little bit about what’s coming when the game does finally get a release.
In conclusion will Final Fantasy XV be worth the wait? Based on that 2-3hrs in this Episode, the answer is very much Yes! Yes! Yes!