Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae 2.0 Thoughts

2006. The first time that this Final Fantasy game had been announced. For nearly a decade, fans of the franchise eagerly awaited any news about this modern-looking installment. As the decade mark approached, Square Enix finally released more information about the game when they changed the title from Final Fantasy Versus XIII, to Final Fantasy XV and began to develop the game on gen 8 consoles. In March of 2015, a demo with voice acting was released with the purchase of Final Fantasy Type-0. After the original demo, Episode Duscae 2.0 was released in June with some significant changes. Let's take a look at some of the aspects of the demo.

The classic Final Fantasy boss, the Behemoth.

The Combat

This is probably the most important feature, especially since the recent main installments have been straying away from the classic turn-based system of the series. Although it could be challenging at times, once I figured out the controls it reminded me of a more sophisticated Kingdom Hearts. I also loved the variety of combos that Noctis could implement with his different weapon selections and warp attacks. I had to be strategic in how I used his magic, or I risked getting into stasis and not being able to move or use any abilities, becoming more prone to attacks from enemies.

Noctis gaining the power of the summon, Ramuh.

The only critique I have of the combat is how it interacted with the camera, in both versions. I found myself getting extremely dizzy sometimes while trying to move Noctis around and experimenting with his combinations. Changing the angles and using the left direction stick to change his attack directions could be a bit overwhelming to look at on the screen. This fact was especially true while targeting the fast moving enemies like the sabertusks. Even though this stuff made me dizzy, it was still significantly smoother than the first demo and was much easier to follow my locked on targets. Overall, the combat is very good.

The World and Design

It's not only beautiful, but it's very modern. There have been previous Final Fantasy games that have had modern and futuristic touches, but this is almost realistic. Everything from the clothing, to the transportation reminds me of something I'd see in real life today, but has the detailed, minor differences to remind me that I'm playing a fantasy game. The Duscae plains are beautiful, but a good chunk of the area was just woods and some paths. There was not much to look for other than little trinkets that could be sold for money, scattered across the plains. I’m hoping that in the final version the wilderness is a lot more variable and interesting to look at, and I would love more cities. I like the idea of the rest-areas and camping spots. It's a great way to entice the player to explore the entire map, and it's a good way to incorporate the leveling up and buffing systems. I will admit that I got somewhat annoyed with some of the enemies generating constatly, especially the soldiers dropping in while I'm fighting some sabertusks, goblins, or other monsters. Sometimes it felt like I could barely move two feet without a battle triggering. Hopefully the final version will keep the battles frequent, but not constant.

Noctis and Gladiolus hanging out at the Chocobo Post

The Characters and the Story

One of my favorite parts of the demo was some of the character banter between the party members. From the very first cutscene with the alarm clock and their attempts to wake up a sleepy Noctis, I knew I would love all of these characters. I'm excited to see their involvement and how they connect to the main storyline. A new feature in the 2.0 version was the separate tours with Gladiolus and Prompto. I hope this questing feature is in the final version because individual companion quests can give room for a lot of character development and fun side missions. In the most recent update of the demo, they introduced a new "linking" feature with Noctis's companions. This allowed for some exciting new combos and interactions with the party members, sometimes with just one and sometimes with all four joining in. I'm excited to see how this is built upon.

The faces of Noctis, his companions, and others

Final Thoughts

While the demo was an amazing thing to keep fans temporarily satisfied, I was disappointed to learn that the creators said the game had only been about 70% done. This makes my biggest concern, how much of the game is going to change? Tetsuya Nomura's departure also raised concerns among the fans about the completion of this game. But for now I'm going to remain optimistic. The fact that they made some major updates to Episode Duscae based off of player feedback lets me know that they are listening to their fans and giving them what they want. Hopefully, everyone can look forward to major announcements for this game, and preferably a release date, at Gamescom in August!


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