Final Fantasy XV‘s long-awaited release is mere days away (that’s if you haven’t managed to snag a copy already) so we thought we’d kick back and reminisce about the demos we’ve had up until launch. Believe it or not, there are three demos for the game that have spanned well over a year, starting with 2015’s Episode Duscae.
If you purchased a “Day One Edition” of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD for either PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, you got Episode Duscae free. This was our first real, actual, playable thing, and it served platter of ideas that we would see changed and refined as time went on. Sadly, Episode Duscae is no longer redeemable on PlayStation Network or Xbox Live, but it’ll live on in the hard-drives of our consoles and video footage.
To set things up, Noctis and company are on the road to find the “Archaean” Titan when Prompto manages some way to wreck the Regalia. Stranded, the boys need to find away to pony up enough gil for Cindy’s repair job, so they take on a behemoth-sized bounty. During their travels they can also happen upon a goblin-infested cave, where Noctis gains the ability to summon Ramuh by conjuring the power of the stars.
The demo concludes with a glance at the pantheon of gods referenced in Cosmogony (spiritual literature that references these beings like gods). Lady Lunafreya, carrying the Ring of the Lucii, escapes Insomnia on foot with a ruinous backdrop — the events of which are featured in the Kingsglaive Final Fantasy XV film.
Some fun things to point out: there’s quite a lot that’s changed in combat — you’ll notice that the control scheme is largely different than later demos and the final product. Rather than mapping weapons to the directional pad and manually swapping them, this early version is automatic and contextual based on where Noctis is standing in relation to an enemy.
Something that’s also drastically different are the “Link Attacks” (added in a Version 2.0 patch months later), in which Noctis can perform combos with the guys with button press. Abilities were also re-thought from Duscae — for example, Full Thrust can also be executed in Judgment Disc by holding back on the analog stick during a spear combo.
Platinum Demo is kind of an odd little entity, as it didn’t really give us a taste of the game proper, but more bits and pieces. It’s more of a tech demo really, but for those who missed out on Episode Duscae, this was your first playable taste of FFXV back on March 20th.
Young Prince Noctis is grievously injured and has fallen into deep sleep. In his dream, he comes across Carbuncle, who leads him through danger to the waking world. We’re taken through a few different environments including: a forest, a playroom, Altissia, and back to the Crown City’s Citadel for a battle against an Iron Giant.
Notable moments from the demo include the updated battle system, which features the ability to map weapons and magic to the four directional pad buttons. Speaking of magic, this was the first demo where it appears, and comes in the form special effects rather than spells. Still, it lets you become accustomed to overhand mortar-style way magic flasks are thrown in the final game.
Exclusive to the demo is the ability to collect crystals to progress or unlock various features. At the Citadel, you can unlock a Shuriken and Shield by defeating the Iron Giant and warping up the face of the building.
You can still download Platinum Demo for free on PlayStation Store and Xbox Live Marketplace.
Judgment Disc is a demo that just recently came out but is only available through the Japanese PlayStation Store. Thankfully, with a bit of Googling, it’s not hard to set up an account yourself and download it to your PS4. Chalk up another win for region-free gaming. While all of the demo text is in Japanese, it’s not to terribly hard to parse if you’re not fluent in the language.
The demo is, for all intents and purposes, Final Fantasy XV’s proper demo — featuring a slice of the game that’s very close to resembling the final product. It starts with a gameplay tutorial, followed by a cold open, prologue cinematic, and then dives into Chapter 1. Noctis is well on his way to Altissia to wed the Lady Lunafreya as part of a peace treaty between the Kingdom of Lucis and Niflheim. Arriving at Galdin Quay, the guys discover that not all is going according to plan. After another cinematic trailer with glimpses of the story to come, the demo ends.
Like Episode Duscae, Judgment Disc allows you to experience a typical gameplay loop of questing and fighting monsters, then returning to camp to tally experience points. It features the fully integrated and near-final user interface including the game menu, where you can unlock abilities, craft magic spells, and review your quest progress.
If you absolutely must try Final Fantasy XV in these waning days before release, Judgment Disc is the way to go — language barrier aside.
Final Fantasy XV will release on November 29th for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.