After being in development for almost a decade, Final Fantasy XV will finally arrive on September 30. For those who simply cannot wait that long, there’s the Platinum Demo, a free, bite-sized demo now available on PS4 and Xbox One. The short but sweet experience allows us to experience the dreams of Noctis, the lead protagonist. We can then explore a linear series of fun areas designed to show off the game’s combat, visuals and a multitude of fun mechanics.
The Platinum Demo is full of earl looks of what could be in-store for the full release, so we’ve put together a handy list showcasing some of the top features, and what they tell us about Final Fantasy XV.
1. It’s gorgeous
Square has spared no expense in making Final Fantasy XV one of the most graphically outstanding games around. Everything looks incredibly polished, down to the smallest detail. Noctis’ hair and clothing move with startling realism as you navigate the ponds and deep foliage of his childlike dreams.
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Lighting is particularly striking, and arguably some of the finest we’ve seen this generation. The way it spontaneously reflects off architecture and characters is beautifully done, and will have you stopping in your tracks purely to admire the scenery.
As you might expect from such extravagant effects, the game doesn’t perform too well. On both PS4 & Xbox One it often struggles to maintain 30fps within dense environments and hectic moments of combat. It isn’t a dealbreaker, but frequently distracts, deterring you from exploring beyond the beaten path.
2. Final Fantasy XV could have a dynamic weather system
Throughout the demo you can unlock interactive floor panels by collecting gems scattered across the environment. These can be used to play with the game world in some fun and unique ways, such as changing the weather or transforming yourself into a giraffe.
Final Fantasy XV will feature a variety of different weather patterns, influencing how the environment looks and the way in which you explore it. The demo gives you ample opportunity to play the weatherman, if you fancy trying it for yourself.
Weather will also change naturally as you explore, shifting as day turns to night in the strange world of Noct.
3. FFXV combat is simplified, but still challenging
Combat in the Final Fantasy XV demo feels eerily similar to the Kingdom Hearts series, with player attacks restricted to a single button. You also have a selection of accessible weapons and abilities.
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At first, this felt far too easy as smaller enemies perished without much effort. Thankfully, the demo consistently introduces new mechanics and spells to encourage experimentation. The sheer scale of certain monsters means dodging is essential too, as a single blow can be devastating.
The ability to warp is a godsend, letting you attack enemies from a distance and escape near-death situations. This can be achieved with a touch of the Triangle/Y button, but can only be used as adult Noctis. I’m curious how the combat system will develop over a longer period, and if it has enough depth to keep franchise veterans entertained.
4. Summons are back, and bigger than ever.
Final Fantasy is renowned for its legendary summon animations, bringing Eidolons such as Ifrit, Shiva and Ramuh to life in spectacular style. XV continues this tradition, and so far, it’s absolutely jaw dropping.
Platinum Demo only provides you with a few brief glimpses of Titan and Carbuncle, but each appearance fills the screen, teasing us with what awaits in the full game. It’s somewhat unclear how they will be used in battle, but they will need to be defeated before they fight alongside you.
5. There are plenty of vehicles
Ever since its first reveal, Final Fantasy XV has been utterly fascinated with cars, and fittingly, they play a big part in the game. By stepping on the aforementioned panels, you can transform into a van, beetle and more as young Noctis.
They’re fun and easy to control, complimented by the huge amount of space you have to explore. Judging from past trailers, the game will have you navigating the open world by foot, car and aircraft as you progress.
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I tried driving into the enemies multiple times, but they didn’t seem bothered by a giant truck hurtling towards them.