What I Like (And Don’t Like) In Final Fantasy XV So Far

What I Like (And Don’t Like) In Final Fantasy XV So Far

It’s been three weeks since I first played through the demo for Final Fantasy XV, a video game about what will happen to One Direction now that Zayn’s gone. So I’ve had plenty of time to digest.

I first completed FFXV: Episode Duscae during a two-hour session at Square Enix’s PAX East media booth in Boston a few weeks ago. I beat it again last week on my home TV. I’ve fought hoards of goblins, tracked down wild chocobos, and tried to hijack strangers’ cars all across the lovely region of Duscae, where we’ll be trapped until we get our hands on the completed version of Final Fantasy XV (to be released… eventually).

So at this point I feel pretty comfortable offering something of a thorough assessment, some feedback on what we’ve seen so far from the fifteenth main Final Fantasy game. Let’s go with… bullet-points. Who doesn’t love bullet-points?

What I Like

  • Bros: Not only do Noctis and crew have lots of fun banter, they have all sorts of little scripted combat interactions where one bro might help the other bro get out of a sticky situation. Then they fist-bump. It’s adorable.
  • There’s so much to do. What we’ve seen so far is a game full of campgrounds, sidequests, and missions with evolving goals and tactics, which makes for a pleasant change of pace after so many recent linear JRPGs.
  • Combat in general: Sword swings have a satisfying and pleasant heft, the abilities add nice variety, and the “stasis” mechanic makes it clear that while Noctis might be powerful, he’s not overpowered. The battle system makes more and more sense once you learn how to properly use all of the skills and options at your disposal, which is top-notch.
  • Warp strike is brilliant. There’s something inexplicably wonderful about seeing an enemy 30 feet away and commanding Noctis to warp-stab it in the face.
  • THERE ARE SO MANY SPARKLES. I never thought I’d be so enticed by seeing particle effects everywhere, but hey, I love them, what can I say.
  • The music is wonderful. You probably already know this from the trailer.
  • Ramuh! You’re not a real Final Fantasy fan unless you’ve watched this video at least a hundred times.
  • It looks goddamn great. As expected, the production values are remarkable, from lakes and mountains to the minor animations on Noctis’s jacket.

What I Don’t Like

  • That damn framerate. If director Hajime Tabata and crew fix one thing in the final release, I sure hope it’s getting FFXV‘s performance under control, because the constant framerate drops in Episode Duscae are distracting, to say the least.
  • Having one button for defence doesn’t work — it forces you to relinquish too much control, and it ultimately doesn’t feel as useful as, say, dedicated buttons for rolling and blocking might be. Plus, parrying is essentially useless when you’re surrounded by multiple enemies (as you usually are).
  • Walking can feel a bit too sluggish — especially when Noctis walks into some brush or when one of your other party members gets in the way.
  • The camera needs a lot of revamping — and what’s the deal with all the different enemy target controls? I didn’t even realise that you could set a hard-lock target on an enemy by pressing R1 and R3 until I read it online somewhere.
  • Levelling up during camps is better in theory than it is in practice — while yes, the real game likely won’t give you experience as rapidly as Episode Duscae, it’s still disconcerting to watch your party skyrocket 5 or 10 levels every time you make camp after fighting through a few enemy groups. Better to feel that progression as you’re actually winning battles.
  • Not a whole lot of enemy variety. Though it’s safe to say the final game will have a lot more baddies to squash, it’s a bit strange that a region as big as Duscae only has three different types of monsters.
  • Jumping feels too heavy — considering how pivotal exploration is, and how nimble Noctis can be in combat, it makes no sense that using the jump button feels like entering high-gravity mode.
  • I want to be able to use warp-strike outside of combat. Please please please?
  • Let’s get some strong women up in here, shall we? Nothing wrong with a game about four bros, but I sure hope the estrogen contingent is larger than the mechanic Cindy and her ridiculously skimpy outfit. (We already know there’s an important female character named Luna — hopefully she’s awesome.)

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae is that no matter how many hours we spend with it, we have no idea what the final game will be like. We know very little about the world, the story, or the core rhythms of questing and sidequesting we’ll find when we finally get our hands on the real FFXV. For all we know they could kill off Noctis’s whole party halfway through and have you play as a chocobo for the rest of the game. (Now that would be a plot twist.) We just don’t know.

So it’s more than exciting to be two months away from E3, where we’ll likely see more and maybe even get a release date for this extraordinarily important video game. Not much longer now.

Random Encounters is a weekly column dedicated to all things JRPG.


  • Final Fantasy XV, a video game about what will happen to One Direction now that Zayn’s gone.

    Spat out my coke after that line! Classic.

  • You forgot about the fucking jaggies in the game. SQUEENIX needs to get a better AA filter. I kind of anticipated jaggies in Type 0(the game has used up my whole week) being a PSP port, but dear god I’ll scream if I see jaggies in the final product.

  • I can’t agree with the combat, I found that pretty dull. Holding Square pretty much got me through everything other than DeadEye, unless I got ambused by like 20 mobs at once and had no chance of surviving. The demo perhaps just didn’t dedicate enough time to explain all the intricacies of combat (eg I pretty much got through the whole demo before I discovered I could lock onto enemies without holding R1).

    I’d like to skip the compulsory scene of Noctis dusting off his hands saying “That’s all she wrote” after every fight, too. Like being able to walk away and not have to wait for him to finish.

    Would be cool if there were more scripted conversations between the boys when you hold down the walk button, maybe something akin to the Tales of Games skits. And yes, more sword warping outside of fights. That seemed pretty gimmicky to me.

    All that said, I’m still cautiously optimistic.

      • Nope, as I already said, I don’t think the demo explained it all. I knew you could hold a button to target something but don’t remember being told you could press another button (which seems silly, seeing as that button controls the camera) in order to lock onto that target

          • Maybe I missed it, half the time the mobs moved so fast I couldn’t tell if I was locked on or not anyway

          • You’ll know you’re locked on, because the camera turns & faces the enemy automatically. Also, big blue parentheses around.

            Just a thought: when you first lock on , seems you have to hold down the button, but after the first attack it stays locked. Unless you press again & it unlocks.
            that’s different, maybe that’s the problem??

          • See there’s been times when I have been locked on but the camera didn’t turn, perhaps because it was just too fast. I put this down to it being a demo than the final build. I also didn’t know it locked on after the first hit, was that mentioned in the tutorial? I’ll have to give it another crack after I’ve exhausted bloodborne

  • I have no issues, was great fun.

    The only thing they could fix is the subtitles, sometimes the banter wasn’t subbed.

  • I guess I kind of enjoyed the demo. I really dislike the battle system though. Final Fantasy battles used to be about using your brain, assessing a situation and deciding on tactics from a distance. This new system is just messy and scrappy. Couldn’t even tell what I was targeting half the time. I really hope it gets a lot of fine-tuning before the proper release…

    • Yeah things moved around so fast I couldn’t tell if I was still targeting it or not

  • Agree with most of the ‘cons’ listed.

    Camping just felt like a clunky gate which stopped me from exploring. Not sure why side quests are dropped every time you camp either.
    Collision control was awful – my team members just wouldn’t get out of the way sometimes either. Walking/jogging did feel tediously slow and sprinting for very short bursts was nice but it felt a little slow as well.

    Sound volume seemed off in some places – like the Chocobo ranch. The theme music was blaring and overpowered most conversation in the area.

    I really didn’t enjoy the combat or the combat controls personally.

    I found it too chaotic, non-intuitive and the camera made it a pain in the backside to see what was happening where. Additionally, some of the enemies moved around so quickly that regardless of weapon type, I still missed a bunch.

    I’d much rather have seen a Dynasty Warriors / Hyrule Warriors combat system – it’s frantic, but it’s significantly more fun that what FFXV offers. Even God of War or Devil May Cry style combat would have been better. I appreciate they’re trying something new here but it just feels like it misses the mark. I felt FFXII struck a nice balance between engaging combat and strategy and I think that could have fit in nicely here as well. Simply put, disliked the combat.

    The (initial) DeadEye fight was frustrating and difficult to get away from when you had to escape. I did forget I could spring but even when I did, it took a couple of attempts.

  • For the first time in nearly 10 years im going back to console just to play this. I really, really, want to believe it will be the revival of the FF series – hell, JRPGS in general.
    I’m willing to be lenient on it too – It may have been years in dev, but dear god the amount of pressure they must be under to try and get this out – and as close to perfect as possible must be immense.

    • Check out FF Type 0.

      I just finished last night, looks a bit poo, being a psp port, but plays great & has the best ending since Crisis Core.

      I ended up loving it a lot more than I thought possible after the bad taste the13s left in my mouth.

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