Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XV (Japanese: ファイナルファンタジーXV Hepburn: Fainaru Fantajī Fifutīn) is an upcoming action role-playing video game being developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and currently scheduled for a worldwide release on September 30, 2016. It is the fifteenth main installment in the Final Fantasy series, and holds a loose connection to Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy, a subseries of games linked by a common mythos which includes Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Type-0. Originally a PlayStation 3-exclusive spin-off titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII, it is a major departure from previous games, providing a darker atmosphere that focuses on more realistic human characters than previous entries.
XV takes place on Eos, a world similar to modern-day Earth. All the world’s countries—bar the kingdom of Lucis—are under the dominion of the empire of Niflheim. Noctis Lucis Caelum, heir to the Lucian throne, is driven from his home when Niflheim invades Lucis on the eve of peace negotiations between the two nations. Now on the run with his companions, Noctis begins to work towards defeating the forces of Niflheim and rescuing the crystal from their control. The game features an open-world environment and action-based battle system similar to the Kingdom Hearts series and Type-0, incorporating the ability to switch weapons and other elements such as vehicle travel and camping.
Final Fantasy XV is being developed by a team within Square Enix’s 2nd Business Division, and is the first to use the company’s Luminous Studio middleware engine. It was originally directed by Tetsuya Nomura, who also designed characters and conceived the concept and base story. In 2014, co-director Hajime Tabata took Nomura’s place as director, while Nomura moved on to finish work on Kingdom Hearts III. Final Fantasy XV started production shortly before its announcement in May 2006, under the name Final Fantasy Versus XIII. The game’s long development time and absence from the public eye gave rise to several rumors concerning its possible cancellation or shift to another platform. In June 2013, it was eventually revealed to have been renamed and to have switched systems from PlayStation 3 to eighth generation platforms.
Final Fantasy XV is an action role-playing game, with strategic elements. The characters have the ability to traverse environments in a free-running style, which also extends to battle with larger enemies. A dynamic weather system in effect across the world, with transient effects such as rain affecting things such as the characters’ clothing, magic also affect the environment according to it. Markers can be placed around the environment to help with navigation. The world is a large connected landmass that can be explored on foot, or by using the party’s car “Regalia” or chocobos, recurring galliform birds in the Final Fantasy series. Loading screens are only encountered when the party is entering a city or town. They can visit such locations to rest in hotels or buy equipment and ingredients for cooking during camping. The Regalia can be driven by Noctis, or Ignis can take control, enabling an auto-drive option. The Regalia is maintained by the mechanic character Cindy. Later in the game, the Regalia can be modified to become an airship, allowing the party to fly across the world map. To ride chocobos, the player must rent them.
A day-and-night time system affects the appearance of monsters on the world map. One in-game day equates to one hour real-time, and characters who do not sleep have decreased combat ability. Enemy types, numbers and strength change depending on the time of day. Camping during the night is necessary for characters to maintain combat performance and level up: experience points earned in battle during the day are converted into new levels during camping periods. Camps form a safe haven during exploration, and cooking in them using ingredients from both towns and the wilds grants character status buffs. The buffs become weaker as time passes, with further meals needed to renew them. Once a camp site has been activated, the player can return to it at any time. Minigames, such as fishing, are also available. Quests can be taken from non-playable characters and bulletin boards for experience and gil, the in-game currency. Items acquired in the world through gathering or combat can also be sold at areas called gathering points.
The game’s battle system, dubbed the Active Cross Battle system, is a similar spin on the real-time battle systems from the Kingdom Hearts series and Final Fantasy Type-0. Rather than the coursing of a menu interface, the player selects commands directly mapped to buttons on the controller, such as “Attack”, “Defend”, “Magic”, and “Item”; there are also other actions such as jumping. Upon pressing the desired button, the character will then perform the desired move. Key to winning battles is said to be found in maintaining a constant and adaptable flow of appropriate actions done by both tapping and holding down command buttons.The battle scenes are seamlessly integrated into the environments with no load screens or transitions, similarly to Final Fantasy XII. When approaching enemies, a gauge appears on-screen: if the player does not run away in a designated time, the battle is triggered and the enemy will pursue the party. A contextual cover system allows characters to shelter from attacks and recover health, or trigger actions with specific weapons. The main protagonist Noctis is the only controllable character in the party, but other than that party members are not fixed, with guest characters freely joining during certain periods of the story. Similar to the Gambit system of Final Fantasy XII, characters can move and act freely while assigned pre-determined action sets by the player. In mid-battle, the player can pull up a menu and change the character’s actions and the commands assigned to Noctis. They can also quickly switch position with a character during battle. Helpful actions by other party members such as healing are triggered contextually. In addition to this, Noctis can partner with one character or more to perform combo moves once an enemy or part of an enemy is targeted. Parrying and blocking can be performed, but blocking uses MP (magic points) and Noctis is unable to auto-parry, with each parry needing to be matched with the enemy’s attack. Noctis can also give specific commands to other party members.
Noctis’ weapons are arranged in a deck set by the player between battles, and can be switched out manually in real-time. The available weapons include swords, shields, axes, lances and guns, which offer various attacks and may be customized or used defensively. The weapons have multiple ranks based on their actions, such as “Crush”, “Ravage”, and “Counter”: Crush weapons are generally meant for opening attacks, while Ravage weapons are designed for multiple attacks during battle. The selected weapon is displayed on-screen, and can be freely swapped during battle. One weapon is set as Noctis’ default weapon, and special techniques associated with the weapon can be activated. In addition, special weapons known as “Phantom Swords” can be collected; a special gauge determines how long they can be used in battle, which can be replenished through various actions such as attacking or defending. Noctis is able to perform a warp, with the distance he can travel depending on his current level. The areas he can warp to are limited, but change depending on the combat situation. In addition to the regular offensive and defensive tactics, mechas and tanks can be stolen from enemies and used against them. Standard difficulty settings are replaced by the ability to alter the speed and tempo of battles: battles can either be paced for players who wish to progress with the story, or made more challenging. There is also a “Wait Mode” reminiscent of the turn-based system in previous entries, where the player can freeze time and select a target of their choosing, allowing for strategizing.
Magic is divided into two types: one type can only be used by Noctis, while the second type focuses on elemental energy that can be gathered and refined into spells. These spells are stored in the player’s inventory, and must be equipped in place of a weapon to be cast in battle. The spells can also be further enhanced to grant them additional effects. Unlike in previous titles in the series, using magic does not cost MP. The effects of magic are dependent on the environment; for example, when casting a Fire spell on a clear day, the flames will quickly spread to the surrounding area, meaning that it is possible to harm allies. However, if Fire is cast on a rainy day, the flames will be quickly extinguished. Some environmental effects can be used to scare enemy units. Noctis can also call summoned monsters into battle. These monsters are called Archaeans, and include recurring summons such as Ramuh, Leviathan and Titan. They are arranged by class and subdivided into a ranking system, with large summons like Leviathan being among the highest-ranking. Before they can be used by the player, summons must either be defeated in battle, such as Leviathan or Titan, or obtained in some other way.