The realm of the possible and impossible seem to grey when you ride the escalator up and enter the doors of E3. Taking a quick glimpse back, all you can see are smiles as fellow gamers slowly make their way up. As I walked through the glass doors strewn with advertisements of games I love, my eyes became fixed on what laid before me.
Square Enix’s booth shined bright. Music from Afrojack blared as I moved closer to the game I was waiting to see. My fear from the previous day’s conference slowly faded and I finally decided to take the dive. First up I had to play Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age. To you Final Fantasy fans, you understand. I had to get a taste of that time-based but active feel before I attempted to try the new action platform Final Fantasy XV was using.
FFXII was incredible. Apart from a few small facial shading issues when the game went to HD, it played perfectly. It is what every FFXII fan would love and appreciate when seeing it revived for the current generation.
Next up was a media event celebrating what Final Fantasy XV had to offer the public ran by the game’s director Hajime Tabata. We were welcomed to the briefing and told to expect a bit of a bonus during each of the day’s live streams. “All right already,” I thought to myself – still worried about whether I should be excited or disappointed. At that point I still had no idea what to expect.
He began the presentation with the catchphrase: Final Fantasy XV is Leading Edge. My immediate thought was, “What the hell does that mean?” But as he spoke, it became clear. Not only is FFXV the first major attempt at bringing the series we know and love to a new medium, but the battle system has been changed to more of an action-style feel along with open-world sensibilities. It’s the latter point that caused my fears to subside – granted I know this might not be the best game in the series based on what was shown but there’s still hope.
After Tabata finished I decided it was time to finally dive into the demo proper. I’ll be honest – I decided to pass on the demo they provided last year out of fear it wouldn’t live up to my expectations. I was also hesitant about the E3 demo, after they attempted to show it off during the Microsoft conference.
Getting into the booth to play was easy enough. Picking up the controller, the demo brought me through some quick basics and then into the fray. My opponent was Titan – and part of build much further along than what we saw on display the day before, according to director Tabata. Not only did it run smoother but actually playing it felt a lot more intuitive than we were lead to believe.
The Titan Challenge starts out somewhat subdued – lead character Noctis has to take out a few smaller enemies as both Gladiolus and he work their way up to the massive boss arena. After some story bits with Titan speaking to our irritated protagonist, he brings out his sword ready for battle. It’s up to you to stay alive until Noctis’ other friends can make their way through.
As this goes on, Noctis takes on Titan’s assault – a massive arm thrown his way as I hit a command prompt to defend. The demo made use of several Quick Time Event button prompts in order to parry and subsequently attack the beast. Going back and forth, it was all very overwhelming for our heroes. You’re forced to run further and Titan begins his counterattack as Noctis is allowed to warp around, evading damage.
Overall, Final Fantasy XV’s showing at E3 left me feeling fairly positive. It became extremely clear Square Enix is trying to make the most out of a difficult situation.
Eventually Ignis and Prompto join in, with Titan at the ready once more. It’s here the demo triggered me to cast Blizzara – the efforts of all my team members working together to shatter Titan’s arm and finally defeat him.
The demo was interesting, to say the least. The new battle system took some time to master with Noctis warping everywhere around the map. Once I got the hang of it, however, my gripes remaining boiled down to camera and image quality. I can only hope these issues will be fixed prior to release since they ultimately detracted from an otherwise positive experience during my play.
Overall, Final Fantasy XV‘s showing at E3 left me feeling fairly positive. It became extremely clear Square Enix is trying to make the most out of a difficult situation, which is not an easy task by any means. As more demonstrations become available following the batch of news we received throughout the week, I hope my fears continue to subside. As I said, I want to love this game and it’s getting there. They just have a bit to go before I’d consider it a home-run.