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Final Fantasy XV: Platinum Demo Impressions
During Square Enix’s highly anticipated Uncovered Final Fantasy XV event on Wednesday, the company dropped a new demo for the upcoming game. Available to download on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 at no cost, Platinum Demo takes us into the world of Noctis’ childhood dream wherein a furry companion (Carbuncle, who will be familiar to Final Fantasy vets) guides him to the exit.
Trying to give this demo a proper rating and/or recommendation is difficult to do, primarily because the demo is free and, to be honest, is more of a glorified tech demo than anything else. Yes, it is a playable demo, but as young Noctis you’re limited to a few items (toy swords, squeaky hammers, and a couple of magic spells) and only a handful of enemies to test your skills on. The finalized combat that will appear in the finished game is showcased, but honestly the biggest showcase are the visuals.
I’m not one to harp on about graphics, but man, is Platinum Demo gorgeous. With varying weather conditions as well as day-night cycles, there is plenty for Square Enix to show off. The highlights undoubtedly are the brief but thrilling appearances of Titan and Leviathan, two staple summons in the Final Fantasy franchise. These teasers are great at building anticipation for the spectacles to come (if you acquired Ramuh in the Episode Duscae demo, you know exactly what’s in store).
The combat, sadly, is not as praiseworthy, and my reservations expressed after playing Episode Duscae 2.0 largely remain. The targeting system isn’t great; the right analog stick must be pushed down to initiate lock-on (where one of the triggers or shoulder buttons would be far more appropriate), and cycling between targeted enemies isn’t easy. Aside from that, you cannot rotate the camera when locked on to an enemy, meaning another enemy can still charge your backside without you knowing. These seem like obvious fixes, so the fact they remain is disappointing. Aside from that, holding down the attack button to perform combos is a bit trite and unintuitive. I kept trying to tap the O button on my Dualshock 4 where you’re required to hold it. Dodging attacks was frustrating during the end-game Iron Giant battle, as well.
All in all, Platinum Demo offers a very small sliver (the demo can be completed in about an hour, less so if you’re not exploring) of what we can expect from Final Fantasy XV—the good and the bad. Hopefully patches will be available to fix some of the combat issues after release (before would be ideal, but I think it’s too late in the game for that), but visually you couldn’t ask for a better-looking game. Obviously nothing was revealed about story, but Noctis’s relationship with his father was teased more, and seems to be reinforcing the theme of a father’s bond with his son that has permeated much of the promotional material. If you’re looking for a taste, this is a great start, but don’t expect a more enthralling experience than the Episode Duscae demo that dropped last year.
This preview is based on the PlayStation 4 version.