If the finished product is going to be anything like the Final Fantasy XV playable demo we checked out at E3, I’d be worried about how this game turns out. While the Titan gameplay demo we saw at Microsoft’s conference didn’t really look all that impressive, I figured getting some actual hands-on time with it would provide better insight into how it actually plays and feels.
It’s not good.
The vanilla version of Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae gave us a nice taste of what the open world exploration was like, but the combat and controls felt far too imprecise and clunky. The camera wasn’t fast enough to follow your target lock, the dodges and rolls felt too slow and unwieldy, and the combat simply didn’t feel smooth overall. While I didn’t get a chance to check out the updated version of Episode Duscae, there were reports that the combat had been straightened out and was a lot smoother. However, when the Platinum demo rolled around a couple months ago, the combat and controls didn’t feel like they’d improved that much at all.
With the Titan demo, things were even more hectic. We checked out the game on both PS4 and Xbox One, and the game chopped up at certain points of the demo. When the Titan showed up, I was then treated to a series of quick-time events where I had to push buttons to block the Titan’s hand sweep and parry it. The problem was, the game seemed to accept your inputs whether you tried to push the button precisely or mashed it instead. In fact, it was often safer to mash because it’s just not clear exactly when the game intends for you to hit the button, and Noctis would end up getting knocked back rather ungracefully.
The camera itself was almost impossible to control each time the Titan’s hand slammed down. It clipped into the hand a lot of times, and it was difficult to see where Noctis was and what he was hitting. When your comrades join you in the fight, it quickly became unclear exactly what you were supposed to do. It turned into a rinse-and-repeat process of trying to mash buttons to block the Titan’s hand, hitting it as much as possible while the camera clips everywhere, watch the hand get drawn back again, and then wait for the next QTE. This continued until the game finally told me that I was apparently supposed to know to use my Blizzard spell to freeze the Titan and hit it until he dies. And then the demo ended.
You can still swap weapons on the fly when playing as Noctis, but there didn’t seem to be a point to using the heavier weapons since your enemies all have such a large health pool anyway. It’s much better to just use a faster weapon so you can drift in and out of danger.
Final Fantasy XV still has an unwieldy camera, and stiff and clunky combat controls, and it feels like an underperforming action RPG right now.