Tag Archives: demo

Cute & Whimsy in Final Fantasy XV

After being burned with Final Fantasy XIII, I’ve been taking all the hype around xv with a grain of salt.  The slow trickle of information revealed caught my attention, but the same could be said for the last major release.  With XIII being my first experience with the long beloved franchise, I got excited when I learned Square Enix was actually going to release it on something without Sony’s name attached to it.  You can read my review for my full opinion, but in short, saying a game gets good 20 hours in isn’t a selling point.  And in XIII’s case I never got to a point where it got better.

However, I’ve always been a gamer with the mindset of evaluating each game on its own merits, regardless of any stupid decisions developers may have made in the past.  So I have been at least keeping an ear open on Square’s upcoming release.  And what I’ve heard about XV at least has me… reservedly optimistic.  I like the world they seem to be building, mixing classical, modern & futuristic aspects.  It makes Eos (the planet the game is set on) feel both familiar yet fantastical, which is something I can appreciate.

So when a Platinum Demo dropped last week, I quickly downloaded it & took some time to play through.

Based on some of the elements included in the demo, I believe this is more of a tech show-off than a level actually removed from the base game.  However, the brief story does tie into it, from what I can tell.

It begins with the hero of XV, Prince Noctis, for some reason falling into a coma.  Waking up in a dream, he finds himself being led by a sort of spirit guide.  An absolutely adorable fox-like creature that speaks to Noctis via text messages to help lead him back to the waking world.  The journey begins childishly enough, with the creature bestowing “kid-friendly” weapons to face the nightmares that become increasingly dangerous as you progress.  Toy swords, rubber hammers that squeak when you hit things, and “spells” that range from fireworks to raining meteors on your foes.  Based on my readings, I believe this functions as a backstory to how Noctis gains his magical abilities.

The demo’s pretty short, taking me a little less than an hour to complete, but I feel that that’s long enough to accomplish what it was meant to do.  That is, show off some of the game’s systems.  In particularly, the combat is on display.  Given that XV has a real-time combat system, I feel letting players get accustomed to it in a demo is a smart move, since previous titles had turn-based combat.  Turn-based combat has really fallen out of favor in recent years, particularly from Japanese developers looking for success in the Western market.  I personally have no problem with turn-based, but I can understand wanting to appeal to a broader market.  Plus, with XIII’s Paradigm system, this feels like part of a natural progression.

My general impression of the combat is that it’s going to take some getting used to, even for gamers use to such systems.  For one, depending on how quick the enemy is, casting magic can be tricky unless it’s an Area-of-Effect spell.  At least with the spells available in the demo, they don’t target enemies.  You have to actually hold the attack button & aim.  Plus, there seems to be “ammo” for the spells, like they’re being cast with a scroll or some other limited item rather than having some sort of Mana pool.  That’s not to say they don’t have their uses.  I was pretty successful at casting a spell in front of me & letting enemies run into it.  And, on a superficial note, the effects are great.

The second part that might take some adapting to is dodging.  I’m not entirely convinced having the dodge & defend mapped to the same button is a good idea.  Manually dodging didn’t seem to offer much invulnerability, unless it’s really finicky with the timing.  However, holding down defend allows Noctis to auto-dodge, blinking out right as an attack lands.  This was far more effective than manually rolling away.  But for some reason this didn’t happen in the beginning of the demo.  Defending with child-Noctis just blocked damage, while defending with adult-Noctis did the auto-dodge, so I’m not sure what’s up with that.

Overall, though, while I think the combat will take some learning, I think it has potential for being compelling.  Having the fights take place in real-time, in the open world, lends to interesting strategies.  For example, I noticed lots of hazardous barrels & targetable scenery, which could possibly be used to damage enemies.  Given the size of some of the enemies & the inherent difficulty in getting close to them, this could be useful.  I appreciated how holding the attack button made Noctis close the distance with enemies.  Assigning & switching between weapons was quick & easy, although shifting from attacking to dodging was a bit delayed.  And it would’ve been nice to see how combat will work with multiple NPCs.

So while my opinion hasn’t changed in that I’ll still wait until the reviews are out after the release in September this year before I decide if I should buy it, what I have seen makes me think it’s at least going in the right direction.  There was nothing that made me slam down on the confirm option when it asked if I wanted to preorder the game when the demo was over, but there was nothing that turned me off either.

– GamerDame

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Leaked Dragon Age: Inquisition Footage Gives Insight

BioWare has been showing off footage from their upcoming Dragon Age: Inquisition at various gaming conventions, but for some reason hasn’t felt the need to share this footage with gamers in general.  Developers seem to love doing this.  I get not wanting to give stuff away, but showing some footage can get gamers excited.  But thankfully for us gamers, someone decided to disobey the rules at Digiexpo 2013 in Finland by using their phone to record some gameplay footage showing off various aspects of the upcoming game.  After watching this new footage, I wanted to give a general rundown of what I noticed & what the developers talked about.

Just an important note: all of this is from the pre-alpha build of the game, so things can change at any time between now & when the game releases in Fall next year.

So let’s talk about the good aspects I saw from the footage (& there’s a lot of good).  First of all, the game is supposed to be much larger & more open-world.  While not to the extent of something like Skyrim, each area is supposed to be much larger than in any of the previous Dragon Age games.  Exploration is supposed to be more open & organic, with seamless areas to explore.  For example, during the footage they came across several caves which the player is able to enter & explore without having to go to a new section like in the previous games.

The presenter talked a lot about the game being more dynamic in general.  They want to give the player a greater feeling of control in the game, both over their own characters & the way the world evolves.  It seems like, instead of characters directly handing you quests, you can come across them & make decisions on the fly.  In the demo, they showed the Inquisitor coming across the town of Crestwood being attacked by Templars & instead of getting a dialogue option of what to do you could just decide by either going down & engaging the Templars or walking away.  And it was obvious a choice had been made because the other party members responded to the action.  The game also appears to take place through basically the whole of Thedas, as the map shows Fereldan, the Free Marshes & Orlais.

Most of the changes that I could see are more tweaks to existing elements.  For one, you now have control over all of your party’s inventory, including armor & weapons.  I know a lot of people were upset that they got rid of this in the second game.  I also noticed then in the dialogue screen, hovering over a selection will give a description of what that option means.  It was only in one scene where the Inquisitor can choose to have their soldiers leave wounded comrades behind, stay with the wounded or return to the Keep.  It would appear that this only happens during decision options because these descriptions didn’t show up later in a general conversation.

Control seems to be the name of the game this time around, with making the player feel like they’re really making a difference in the world of Thedas.  It seems you can choose which race you play as, as a saved game during the demo showed a race section.  The presenter talked a lot about combat being both in real-time & a tactical view, which they’d already mentioned bringing back before.  During the demo they showed that you can control your party in the traditional over-the-shoulder view, but you can also pull back into a tactical view to issue various orders to your party & essentially plan a strategy.  What they showed during combat was pretty impressive, in my opinion.  At one point they used their mage to create a wall of ice, blocking the enemies from a frontal assault & allowing the party to take on the rival mage by himself.  There also appears to be environmental damage, as at one point they destroyed a bridge.

The presenter talked at length about the importance of taking Keeps, which give you a stronger presence in different areas & can open up new sections of the land.  After taking a Keep for the Inquisition, you gain agents that can be used to do various things in that area.  For example, in the demo they could clear out a section that was previously blocked off by poison gas, rebuild a monument to increase troop morale in the area, or open up a gate to a new land.  You can also have different Keeps have different purposes, such as military strength, commerce, etc.  Of course with this just being a short demo, it’s impossible to say what sort of long-term consequences this will have on the game.  But I suspect it may be like in Awakening where you’ll have to make choices to either protect your stronghold or local villages.  The definitely emphasized that you’ll be making choices that may cut off or open new paths.

The only thing I didn’t like that they talked about was that enemies aren’t always scaled to your level, so it’s possible you’ll come across enemies too strong for you & have to come back later.  I personally don’t like when games do this.  I talked about it a lot during my Dragon’s Dogma review.  I just think it defeats the whole purpose of having open exploration if you’re going to block off areas until a character reaches a certain level.  It silently implies there’s a right order to play the game.

You can check out the footage for yourself here.

Overall, while the demo didn’t show anything new about the story itself, I thought it was an interesting peek into where BioWare is taking the game.  Unfortunately, the general response I’ve seen to this game is that people are still burned about how EA & BioWare handed Mass Effect 3.  Personally, I think it’s always best to adopt a wait & see attitude rather than just writing something off before it’s even out.  Yeah, the game could always fall flat & BioWare could fail to live up to their promises about Inquisition.  But so far I haven’t seen anything that made me think, “Oh that’s just terrible.”  At the very least BioWare has shown they’ve listened to the problems fans had with the previous games.  Hence bringing back race options, tactical view & more open areas.  I’m personally looking forward to at least seeing where this is going.

– GamerDame


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