I was one of the first people in the UK to play the beginning of Final Fantasy XV. I’m not bragging, it’s not exactly a special achievement or anything, it just happened that way. It was the first game I made my way towards, utilising the Horizon: Zero Dawn stand as a lure as I bypassed it to make my way towards Playstation’s empty FFXV area.
We got 30 minutes with the game at EGX, though some of that was eaten up by the beginning. After a quick in media res that shows us things looking pretty bad for protagonist Noctis and his friends, we see them all being sent away on the road trip that will form the main part of the game. After making damn sure that Noctis’ friends will take care of him, his father bids them farewell.
And considering my first piece of actual gameplay involved pushing the broken down car along a stretch of highway, I’d say they were doing a pretty great job. Cue title screen.
After being introduced to mechanic Cindy I made a run into the desert surrounding the garage. Cindy wanted me for a quest, probably a tutorial of some kind, but I had a handy map of the controls in front of me and I didn’t want to use any more of my limited time up on cutscenes or conversations. So I belted out into the desert to see what was up.
And just like that I’m running around and getting into all sorts of trouble. Which isn’t all that much. It turns out there’s not all that many monsters in the starting area of a JRPG after all. I ran into a few packs of smaller creatures that didn’t put up much of a fight.
The combat mechanics work the same way they do in the Platinum Demo, except here I had three other characters fighting alongside me. When fighting these smaller enemies that simply meant that I wasn’t fighting all of them at once. As I was playing FFXV did its best to tell me how to play, reminding me of how different the games combat actually is.
Not having any magic or special abilities yet I was mostly constrained to normal attacks and the unusual defence mechanics in the game, which revolve around holding L1 to dodge or parrying an attack when prompted. I had a couple of different weapons for light or heavy attacks, with the usual pro/con system in place for such moves. And the warp ability, which lets you throw your sword at something and teleport to it, or throw it at an enemy and perform a warp attack, is still a cool way to get around.
It was when I ran across a level 12 Bullhorn that things got interesting. My characters were, of course, level 1. I normally wouldn’t mess with an enemy when our level disparity is so high, but this being a demo and all I thought I’d give it a shot. It definitely put up a tougher fight than the smaller enemies and did a ton more damage, but in the end I was able to take it down pretty easily.
This was thanks to using the link attacks, which I was activating by circling around behind the beast and joining one of the other four characters. They were pretty cool too – quite flashy, well animated and looked nice.
I also feel like I was abusing the revival system somehow, although I must have been using it as intended. Basically, because of the extra damage output of the Bullhorn, I was got taken down several times (as did the others). Whenever I lost my health, however, one of Noctis’ friends was on hand to quickly run across and pick me back up, refilling my health and letting me get back into the fight.
It became a battle of attrition. I, or one of the others, got knocked down and they were revived and sent back into the fight. I had assumed that there would be a limit to how many times this could happen, but never reached one. I know I was revived three times, and I needed to do the same for my companions the same amount. It made the Bullhorn fight rather easy, despite the massive difference in level.
Final Fantasy XV is due for launch on Playstation 4 and Xbox One on November 29, 2016.