publisher: Square-Enix / Eidos
Game mode: single player
Final Fantasy XV for PS4 and XONE is another installment in the legendary jRPG series launched back in 1987. Produced by Square Enix, the title was initially announced in 2006 as a PlayStation 3 exclusive; it was then called Final Fantasy Versus XIII and advertised as a part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy XIII compilation. Initially, Tetsuya Nomura, a genre veteran who worked as a creative producer and designer on the Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy series, as well as such productions as Parasite Eve and The World Ends with You, was appointed as the game’s director. For many years, the development process of Final Fantasy Versus XIII was incredibly slow and the production team managed to create only a skeleton of gameplay mechanics and a brief outline of the story. In 2013, the game was renamed to Final Fantasy XV and announced for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Hajime Tabata, who previously worked on Final Fantasy Type-0 and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, was chosen as the new director.
Despite the fact that the developers changed the game’s title, its story is still thematically connected to the productions of Fabula Nova Crystallis. It shares its mythology, including the deities that look after the in-game world along with their servant entities called l’cie.
The main protagonist is a young prince, Noctis Lucis Caelum, whose family has been ruling a small and technologically advanced city-state, Lucis, for generations. As the only country in the world, it possesses a powerful magical crystal that provides protection and prosperous life to its inhabitants. For many years, Lucis was isolating itself from the outside world to defend from its neighbors that wished to take over the source of wealth. The biggest opponent is the militarized Empire of Niflheim, which controls almost the entire continent. The mutual animosities and the cold war between the two sides were supposed to be put to an end by a special treaty, signed by both Noctis’ father and the emperor himself. As it turned out, the proposition was but a bluff and on the day of the ratification, Lucis was unexpectedly invaded by the forces of Niflheim, which destroyed the country’s capital, Insomnia, and killed its ruler.
When Noctis' home was being razed to the ground, he was on the way to the city of Altissia, accompanied by Gladiolus Amicitia (his personal guard), Ignis Stupeo Scientia (a royal counselor), and Prompto Argentum (his childhood friend), where he was supposed to meet with his future wife, Lunafreya “Luna” Nox Fleuret. The marriage with Luna — a young and incredibly talented Oracle able to communicate with the gods — was to seal the treaty between Niflheim and Lucis. When the heroes find out what happened to their homeland, they are faced with a huge dilemma and have to carefully plan their next steps, while hiding from the Imperial soldiers hunting them.
The gameplay mechanics of the PS4 and XONE version resembles that of the Kingdom Hearts series. The action is observed from the third-person perspective and the exploration of vast, open locations is carried out in real-time. Contrary to the previous games in the series, the combat system focuses on action, therefore we will not experience any classical turn-based battles and duels on separate arenas. Another difference is the fact that the players can control only the main protagonist. In his travels, he is constantly accompanied by his three friends and occasionally and temporarily joined by additional companions.
Noctis can use magic, special abilities, as well as one of his many magical swords that also fill in for his shield, when necessary. The protagonist can instantly teleport on short distances, as well, surprising his enemies and reaching places which would be otherwise inaccessible. Most of the time, we can make use of our companions’ help with whom we are able to perform coordinated attacks and combos. Combat is further enhanced by the option to drive vehicles and mechs as well as control all kinds of turrets. As the story progresses, we gain the assistance of Archaeans, which are powerful creatures that play the role of classical summons known from the other Final Fantasy games.
World exploration is an important aspect of the game. We travel the map in a car that automatically follows designated roads. We can exit the vehicle at any point, though, and walk off the beaten path, undertaking side quests and looking for various secrets. The title features a day and night cycle that influences the behavior of wildlife. The player’s party sometimes has to camp in the wilds, because only while resting can they advance their levels. Our health is regenerated by eating meals. Depending on used ingredients, the heroes may receive additional offensive or defensive bonuses that prove important especially while fighting the most powerful opponents.
Final Fantasy XV for PS4 and XONE is powered by both proprietary Square Enix technologies as well as the Unreal Engine 4. The game’s graphics utilize the capabilities of DirectX 11. As far as world and character designs are concerned, the developers drew inspirations from classical fantasy iconography and contemporary landscapes of places like Tokyo, Venice, the United States, or the Caribbean. The soundtrack was composed by Yoko Shimomura, known for creating music for the Kingdom Hearts series, among other titles.