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Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae 2.0 Preview

In an unprecedented move, Square Enix yesterday released a software patch for its demo for Final Fantasy XV, the ridiculously long-awaited installment in the company’s most popular franchise. Episode Duscae (the subtitle of the demo) was only made available to purchasers of the day-one edition of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The original demo was well-received, though criticisms were leveled against a poor targeting system and all-around crappy camera. Fan feedback in the form of a survey prompted Square Enix to give fans another go, instituting some key changes. The $64,000 question is whether those changes were worth the nearly 3.5 GB install.

Given it was a free patch, it’s hard to complain. Aside from that, I’m pleased to say updates made to the demo were largely welcome. Right off the bat, the targeting system was greatly improved; whereas the camera originally would not follow the enemy you were targeting, the update locks the camera onto the targeted enemy, following the enemy even if it tries to flee. And that happens frequently at higher levels, though Noctis’s teleportation ability allows you to quickly reach enemies near and far.

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My one gripe about the fixed camera is that you could not rotate it, using the targeted enemy as an axis. This meant that if there were enemies at my back, I could not swivel the camera to see if they were rushing toward me or if my trusty bros were keeping them occupied. This proved frustrating on several occasions, when an enemy I could not see would attack me from behind, disrupting my attack.

Another added combat feature was an improved evasion/parry system. Dodging no longer consumes MP, and Noctis now performs an evasive roll. You are given more notice when you are able to parry, with a warning appearing over an enemy’s head. A tap of L1 evades, with a follow-up strike that deals heavy damage.

Of course, the bulk of the patch was dedicated to the solo quests (tours) Noctis could undertake with each of his three companions. While camping, a scene will play asking you to complete some task with just one of your buddies. Gladiolus’s tour, in particular, is crucial, as he takes you off to teach you about Cross Chains—yet another combat mechanic Square Enix shows off in Episode Duscae.

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The tours with Prompto and Ignis (each character has one tour) don’t net you any cool attacks, but Prompto’s tour brings one of those huge, dinosaur-like creatures wading around in the water (Catoblepas, pictured above) to shore, allowing you to battle it. One thing I found jarring is that the tours with the latter party members are not fully voice-acted and instead rely on non-voiced subtitles. This will obviously be fixed in the final release, but it did stick out and was annoying considering the subtitles often flashed off the screen before I could get through the dialogue.

Other minor additions included new interactions between the party members. As I noted previously, the bonding these four characters share is truly amazing and conveys the feeling that these guys are great pals who care deeply for each other. It adds welcome charm to the game and thus far proves to be a major highlight of Final Fantasy XV.

While the game still doesn’t play perfectly, the patch offers some great improvements and restores a little faith that Square Enix is listening to their fanbase. If the original demo was at 60% completion as director Hajime Tabata claimed, I hope the software patch is reflective of 80% at most. New techniques still cannot be used and no graphical improvements were made, leaving more yet to be desired. And with no new areas to explore, fans will have to settle for slaying Deadeye over and over again while goofing around with Noctis and co. Thankfully, this update makes another trip to the plains of Duscae well worth your time.



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