Its well known that Square Enix has now been actively developing Final Fantasy XV for over 10 years, having seen numerous changes and improvements since its initial announcement, the game has now officially ‘gone gold’ and is only a couple of weeks away from launch. Expected on the 29th Nov 2016 for PS4 and XBOX One it’s time to get excited!
The game is based on the planet of Eos, which is home to a huge and beautiful open world for players to explore with the games party of new and interesting characters. This isn’t a series of interconnected areas and hubs disguising itself as an open world, this is a fully traversable open-world environment where you can go absolutely anywhere you please. As is the norm for Final Fantasy games, you’ll embark on an epic quest to overthrow an evil antagonist in his attempt to destroy the world.
As you would expect, any massive open world of such a scale has to be populated with interesting things to see and do, otherwise things will get boring very quickly. To help exploration Noctis and his party have access to a car which can also transform into an airship enabling it to fly, meaning they can drive or fly their way across the world of Eos to Tenebrae, Niflheim, Lucis and anywhere in between, quickly and easily. There’s also hints of train travel being avaibale in the game with fully modelled interiors, a great way to take in the sights of Eos from the comfort of a train car.
Final Fantasy XV’s story starts after the failed signing of a peace treaty between the Kingdom of Lucis and the region of Niflheim. As part of a plan to unite the two nations in secret – and thus give the Kingdom of Lucis the upper hand – Prince Noctis, heir to the Lucian throne, believes that both his father and Lunafreya are dead, and embarks on a journey to take back his throne. He ultimately embarks on a journey to marry Lady Lunafreya from the imperial province of Tenebrae to formalise the union of states.
Final Fantasy XV, just like its predecessors, is an action oriented role-playing game, with unique strategic elements. However, unlike all previous Final Fantasy games, this latest release will utilise real-time combat gameplay which is named the ‘Active Cross Battle’ (AXB) System. This means there will be no loading or screen transitions when you enter combat keeping players on their toes while exploring the world. Skills and abilities can be swapped out and assigned on the fly whenever you need them via a new quick access system, its a simple system that requires regular access during combat encounters.
Its worth noting a big change over previous titles is that you only ever have direct control of Noctis, the main protagonist in the game. All your AI party members will act and fight intelligently along side you both in and out of combat, with actions limited to some tactical commands as well as combo and chain attacks with party members to help stagger and damage enemies.
Combat is reported to be relatively straightforward marking a significant change from the usual menu-driven battle system. Now, to attack, you simply hold the attack button, switching between weapons and approaches by selecting a sword from your loadout on the controller’s d-pad. Blocking and dodging is handled by tapping a dedicated block button and there’s an interact button to help you make use of your teammates and the general environment.
After many fans were perturbed by the hectic pace of battle in Final Fantasy XV, Square Enix decided it was time to introduce a more “tactical” mode known as Wait mode. Once activated, Wait works in a similar manner to Final Fantasy’s more traditional turn-based combat. You can queue up moves on specific targets and then let them play out, waiting for your Wait gauge to charge up so you can activate it once more.
Interestingly, casting magic or using a summon doesn’t use up MP. Instead, magic is linked to weapons and can actually be synthesised. There are also tactical implications for using magic in battle, as it has residual effects on the surrounding environment in real-time – along with being impacted by weather conditions in the world. For example, on a clear day Fire magic spreads further and sends fire-wary enemies running. On a wet day, a fire spell won’t last very long, possibly not even igniting at all – a Thunder spell, however, would fare far better in wet conditions.
Described by Square Enix as “JRPG fun for newbies and existing fans” left many fans a little concerned that the latest iteration may be a dumbed down version of the previous stat-heavy hardcore traditions. However, it seems from the latest gameplay reports that this is not the case and the core features that have made the series so successful are still intact and utilised well.
There are 12 main story characters in the game and each has a unique history and set of traits.
The four main party characters are as follows (the 5th is a temporary guest):
- Noctis Lucis Caelum (Main Protagonist)
- Gladiolus Amicitia
- Ignis Scientia
- Prompto Argentum
- Cor Leonis (Guest)
The remaining seven main story characters are:
- Lunafreya Nox Fleuret (Oracle)
- Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII (King)
- Cindy Aurum
- Aranea Highwind
- Ledolas Aldercapt
- Ardyn Izunia
- Cid Sophiar
Information on the five main party characters and two of the more important story characters are detailed below:
Noctis Lucis Caelum (Main Protagonist)
Noctis is a svelte young man standing at 176cm (5’9) with spiky black hair and blue eyes that can glow red. He is the Crown Prince and heir to the Lucian throne, Noctis is reserved, less expressive and distant to his friends and close ones, struggling to articulate his feelings. This is because he lost his mother at an early age from which he was very traumatised. His father King Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII was obviously a very stressed man seeing over the kingdom, and for Noctis this just added to the feeling of being alone. Despite this Noctis has a lot of respect for his father and still wants to impress him. He ventures out to go wed his childhood friend, the Lady Luna (Lunafreya Nox Fleuret), and to find out who he really is and what his true role in this world is supposed to be. Due to an accident in his childhood, Noctis can see the “light,” and has the power to foresee a person’s death.
Gladiolus Amicitia (Party member)
Being the oldest son in his family, Gladiolus is the strong confident member of the group and not afraid to speak his mind. His family is actually a bloodline of protectors for the Lucis royal family. Although his job is to protect the prince, this does not affect his friendship with the prince himself since early childhood, and he considers Noctis a brother. Since he was young Gladiolus loves the great outdoors and despite his large imposing physique, is a cheerful and high spirited character.
Ignis Scientia (Party member)
Ignis is a composed serious character who was raised alongside Noctis since childhood to be a strategy advisor for the family. He received a high level of education resulting in exceptional tactical skills. Ignis is willing to do anything to help his friend and protect him in battle. Since Noctis’s mother died Ignis became a chef making sure his friend receives a healthy well balanced diet. He is a true team player making sure everyone is focused on the right thing thanks to his high intelligence. He is also the driver of the party’s car when the player is not manually driving it. Although very loyal he has a few flaws, like not being able to take a joke, and getting annoyed if things dont go his way due to being a perfectionist.
Prompto Argentum (Party member)
Generally regarded as a bad influence with a chip on his shoulder, Prompto is a playful long term friend of Noctis since his schooldays, with a light hearted spirit he helps raise the mood of the party when things are looking down. Part of the reason for this is, even though its not evident on the outside, Prompto himself has had a really sad and lonely childhood when he was also overweight. His exaggerated behaviour means he also overreacts to things going on around him, his outward mannerisms concealing a deep thinker. His good knowledge about machines and technology makes him a valued part of the team. He also wields firearms during combat.
Cor Leonis (Guest party member)
Known as the ‘Immortal Shogun’ by many and known as ‘Marshal’ by Noctis and his group, Cor Leonis joins as a guest party companion early in the game. He is one of the best three fighters known in the Kingdom of Lucis. Cor is a stubborn, stern, no-nonsense military man who has sworn loyalty to King Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII and his country. He is strict with Noctis and his friends, and while he does not always see eye-to-eye with them, he is duty-bound to watch over them.
Lunafreya Nox Fleuret (Main heroine story character)
Luna is known as a courageous strong-willed woman and is the main heroine of Final Fantasy XV, representing the bond between the heroine and the people of the world. Having spent her childhood with Noctis, fun times ended when Luna’s home of Tenebrae was attacked and taken over by the empire. Her romantic relationship with Noctis is depicted as complicated as they are being made to marry to bring their kingdoms together, although love in the relationship does exist. Through adversity, Luna has become the youngest Oracle in history who prevents the “Plague of the Stars” from advancing and plunging the world of Eos into darkness. She is said to have the power to commune with the gods and is adored and respected the world over, she now travels to aid Noctis on his journey.
King Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII (Main story character)
The King of Lucis is the father of Prince Noctis and also the guardian of the crystal. Regis is around 50 years old, but has aged well beyond that due to maintaining the protective magical barrier around Lucis. The rapid aging is the fate of the king, though knowing he needed to prepare Noctis once he comes of age, Regis expresses a profound sadness for the fate his son must endure. Noctis seeks the love of his father, but also understands his fate and duty. Regis wishes to protect his son from the dangers of the world, but also shows him how to be a good and just king. King Regis has been by far the most impactful person on Noctis’s life.
We’re really looking forward to exploring the world of Eos and jumping into the beautiful open world Square Enix has spent the last 10+ years nurturing for us.