We tested the game before its release and see what are the changes and improvements.
After a decade of delays and development changes, Final Fantasy XV is finally hitting stores next week. While the whole world may still have to wait for a couple of more days (except some who managed to grab a copy way ahead from the original street date), the RF team was invited by PlayStation PH to do a playtest of the game and see our impressions about Final Fantasy XV. So read on to find out we have to say about the game, don’t worry as we won’t discuss any spoilers and we will only talk about the improvements of the system and content.
Last year, we played the Episode Duscae demo that was included in the early copies of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD that gave us a glimpse on what can be expected for Final Fantasy XV. We ended the discussion as a promising demo that made some changes to the whole concept of the game franchise but has some issues that need to be addressed. A year after, a new demo called Platinum Demo was released and it was available for download. Though the demo was shorter and not relatively focused on the main game, it gave some preview on the changes on the system that was recently featured in Episode Duscae.
Now comparing Episode Duscae with the recent game build that we playtested, we saw a lot of improvements. Take note that the build that we tested is not the final game build and there will be some minor adjustments on the game.[Note: Due to restrictions, we have to use camera photos for the gameplay screenshots]
The first thing we saw on the improvement was the combat, there were cases of framerate drops on Episode Duscae (around 20 to 25 FPS), now we don’t experience any low framerates in combat more often as before, and it can managed to maintain a steady 30 FPS in most cases. As for the combat system, we saw some changes and tweaks. Phasing and evading attacks seems to consume less MP as before and parrying attacks can occur more frequent. A new roll move was added on the same button when evading, allowing more options in avoiding attacks when evading has to be done at the precise moment.
The attack patterns of your weapons were also changed. Previously you can use a certain weapon as your primary and the other weapons as some special attacks, this allows for experimenting on your combos and special attacks that consumes MP. Now on the final build of FFXV, you can now use multiple weapons that have their own move sets which you can combo your attacks with different weapons.
Another new feature is the cooperative attacks that you can execute by a command, this allows you to perform devastating assist skills that can leave an opening to an enemy. More part assist attacks were added to the final build as well, the Cross Chain attacks lets your party members perform cooperative attacks to an enemy when it gets staggered, Link Strike can be done when you parry an attack and Blindside Link is when you managed to perform a Blindside attack (attacking from behind or at a weak spot). This allows you and your party to perform link attacks that deals a lot of bonus damage.
Monster encounters is still the same as most of them are visible in the map, hostile monsters can be detected on screen just as before, while some can land a surprise attack on you out of nowhere in certain areas. The day night cycle still has some effects on the monsters, as you may encounter tougher ones during the night.
Now moving outside the combat, we now go on to the exploration part. At the start of the game, you can take a series of side quests if you want to grind a bit for your characters. Talking to the NPC at a café can lead you to some clues of treasure and other interesting spots that will be marked on your map, and you can take on bounty hunts of powerful monsters which can reward you with large amount of Gil and items. Roaming around the area can also be rewarding as you can spot items and treasures while you explore, these can be for crafting items or maybe spare Potions to add in your inventory.
Traveling around the area can be either on foot or from a mode of transport, specifically on your Regalia. You can pinpoint to any destination either to a town or a landmark as long there is a parking slot for the Regalia, it can also be set to manual or auto when plotting your destination. However your travel will still occur in real time, so if your journey will take you 10 minutes to reach your destination, you will have to wait for 10 minutes. You can do fast travels when teleporting to your last camp location or to your car, which can be convenient when you are exploring to grind.
The camping system was still the same, but it added a new photo feature where you can pick any shots taken by Prompto and save it as a file where you can supposedly share it on social media (the sharing feature was not available on the tested build but will be available on the retail version). There are inns that you can use similar that from camping and they can provide higher EXP rate though you may have to pay a fee. There are several mini games that you can try out in FFXV, one involves in fishing. Catching fish can land you additional ingredient for your food or can be sold to NPCs, you can also purchase fishing gear to improve your fishing skills and catch bigger fishes. Another mini game is the Justice Monsters Five where it is a pinball game with a blend of RPG elements that adds an interesting twist to its gameplay. A mobile game version can be downloaded if players still can’t get enough of the game.
We finally get to tinker at the game menu where you can sort your items, equip better gear and outfits and also allocate APs on the Ascension System that grants new skills or bonus perks for the entire party. As we check the game options, we saw options for changing the voice language, the tested build show four languages (English, Japanese, French and German), selecting and saving a new language will result in restarting the game to take effect. Also, saving can be done anywhere, though there will be scenes that will disable any manual saves for a time being.
And now in terms of the overall performance of the game, it is good to see that there are some improvements in terms of combat, you finally get a hang of the combos and assist attacks are more frequent than ever. As for loading times, you will only experience this when traversing to farther areas when using fast travels or when booting up the game. When we started a new game, it took several minutes for the it to load the entire level right after the cinematic scene, it is rather understandable for the load time as once you are inside the game, there were no major slowdowns when exploring farther areas, making it feel seamless.
For those who are concerned that Final Fantasy XV might have poor performance on a standard PlayStation 4 console compared to the PlayStation 4 Pro, the build was played on a PS4 fat and there were no signs of major slowdowns on the game. There are some cases of framerate drops, but it is unnoticeable and not enough that would affect your overall game experience.
In the end, we were thrilled with the experience in our first few hours of playing the game, and we are more optimistic that Final Fantasy XV will make it big once it is out. The recent game build showed us some of the major changes from the last time we tried Episode Duscae, and most of the changes are for the good. We will playing Final Fantasy XV’s retail version and in the coming days, we will releasing our review.
Final Fantasy XV will be available on November 29 for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.