Final Fantasy XV may have a November 29 release date, but that hasn’t stopped copies from being available in a host of countries including Peru, the UAE, and India. Gadgets 360 managed to get an early copy of Final Fantasy XV for the PS4, and suffice to say, we’ve been playing Final Fantasy XV since. Here’s everything you need to know about the game.
Final Fantasy XV day one patch is necessary, but not for the reasons you think
On booting up the game on our PS4, we were prompted to update it to version 1.01. This patch is roughly 7GB and includes fixes for technical performance and various bugs. Playing through Final Fantasy XV's opening chapter before and after the patch didn’t show a perceptible performance difference on the PS4. But we still recommend you update the game.
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That's because the patch adds narrative context in the form of additional cutscenes. An early example is a title screen that shows up before the game’s opening section, which gives you a clear idea of the events leading up to it. Without spoiling much, you’ll want to patch Final Fantasy XV if you want absolute clarity on its many scenarios and events.
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Final Fantasy XV’s story seems interesting but you need to watch Kingsglaive
Compared to recent entries like Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XV not only has a strong introduction, but an interesting story too. It puts you in the role of Noctis — heir to the throne of to the kingdom of Lucis. The plot involves a crystal, dollops of magic, a seemingly infinite number of monsters, and disposable soldiers to defeat. Themes including politics, and arranged marriage, are up front and centre with the game’s initial quest sending you off to get married, in order to keep peace amongst Final Fantasy XV’s warring kingdoms. But even with the day one patch, you’ll need to watch the CGI movie Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV to understand its many nuances and references to characters.
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Final Fantasy XV technical performance is good but there are some issues
The Final Fantasy games have been technological showcases for the consoles they’ve been on, and Final Fantasy XV on PS4 and PS 4 Pro is no exception. From windswept deserts to rolling hills, it’s a visual feast. Characters have a good amount of detail including facial and hair animations, while each locale has its own distinct art style that manages to fit in with the game world. This is backed up by stellar animations. From the natural, almost nonchalant, way Noctis dodges enemy attacks at the last moment, to the deft swordsmanship on display, Final Fantasy XV is a game that looks every bit as good in motion, as it does otherwise.
However, look beyond the initial spectacle, and you’ll notice some minor concerns. There’s a perceptible, albeit small, amount of texture pop-in. Foliage magically apparates into a frame from time to time, and on one occasion, a pack of monsters did too, making for a surprising encounter. Shadows render themselves as you get closer to a location instead of just being there, as if there’s an invisible hand drawing them as you go along. And in some early instances, there were a few frame drops while panning the in-game camera.
This was the case on both the PS4 and PS4 Pro. The latter has some additional graphical options for you to choose from. These include choosing between high or lite — allowing you to trade-off between more visual details, or a higher frame rate and HDR.
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Final Fantasy XV starts strong
Nonetheless, these niggles ebbed away thanks to a strong opening that almost immediately put you in the action — by Final Fantasy standards. The series is known for its cut-scenes and elaborate storytelling, taking its time in setting up a situation before giving you the reins. Final Fantasy XV tones down the pre-game dramatics when compared to its predecessors. It’s nowhere close to the near instant opening of Watch Dogs 2, but it’s a welcome change.
Final Fantasy XV combat is different, in a good way
The combat is much improved from the game’s Duscae and Platinum Demo. It feels a lot more responsive, and is quite easy to get to grips with. In battle you’ll control Noctis, the game’s protagonist, and you’ll be backed up by your three friends, Ignis, Gladiolus, and Prompto, each with their own unique skills and abilities. As you hack and slash through Final Fantasy XV's many foes, you’ll be able to link up with your allies for crushing attacks that end up being visual spectacles. Purists might however frown at the lack of a proper turn-based system which was a mainstay of earlier games.
(Also see: Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae Impressions: No Fun, No Fantasy)
In order to rectify this, there’s a wait option in combat. What this does is bring the game to a halt when Noctis is not in motion, complete with a bar indicating how much time you have to make a move. The implementation is a tad clunky, what with most of the screen turning monochrome, but it does enough to allow you to plan your attacks. So far, Final Fantasy XV’s combat, while a drastic departure from some of the best games in the series, is one of its strongest suits. How it works when it comes to later, more demanding sections, will be a point of interest in days to come.
As per our initial impressions, Final Fantasy XV is a welcome surprise. Considering its prolonged development cycle, it appears to deliver on what Square Enix has promised. We’ll be examining other elements of the game in days to come including exploration, dialogue choices, quests, and progression systems. What would you like to know about Final Fantasy XV? Let us know via the comments.