Welcome To The Expansive World of Eos
Final Fantasy XV takes place on the world of Eos, an expansive world with arid deserts, lush forests, and coastal towns. The main setting for the game focuses on the war that’s been raging for many years between the Kingdom of Lucis and the Niflheim Empire. Nifhleim has been expanding their power for years by conquering the nations of the world, and expending the power of all the magic crystals they’ve come to possess.
Lucis now controls the last crystal in the world, and King Regis uses its power to hold up an impenetrable magic barrier around the crown city of Insomnia. Final Fantasy XV starts as Lucis and Niflheim are signing a peace treaty, with one of the agreements being the marriage of Noctis and Lady Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, former princess of Tenebrae.
As Noctis and his friends are starting their journey, they receive word that the peace treaty failed and Nifheim launched a surprise attack on Insomnia. The news reports Noctis, his father King Regis, and Lunafreya dead.
Meet the Party
Final Fantasy XV has a main party of four heroes, Noctis and his three closest friends. Noctis is the crown prince of the Kingdom of Lucis, and the heir apparent to the throne.
Ignis is his adviser, who’s been by his side for most of his life helping and taking care of him. He’s also the tactical brains of the group, with his specialty being cooking. Gladio, on the other hand, is Noctis’ bodyguard and his survival abilities help keep the group safe. He’s a brusque character who isn’t afraid to say what needs to be said.
Then finally you have Prompto, the only character of the group who doesn’t have some tie to the royal family. Prompto is a commoner, but has been Noctis’ best friend since they were teenagers. He feels a bit out of place at times, but does his best to carry his own weight and keep everyone’s spirits up. He functions a bit as the comic relief, and chronicles the journey by taking pictures.
It’s Open World, to a Degree
Final Fantasy XV boasts a more open world than any previous entry. The game is split up into different chapters, and will see your traveling across various wide open expanses. The Judgement Disc demo, which recently released in Japan, gave players access to much of the first chapter of the game.
There’s tons of exploring to do, finding collectibles and resources scattered across the world, on top of monsters to fight and hidden dungeons to find. Rest stops have restaurants where you can pick up Monster Hunts that give you various rewards, and according to Director Hajime Tabata, Final Fantasy XV has over 200 sidequests.
Of course, despite all this Final Fantasy XV still has a central, character driven story. As the narrative focuses, so too will the gameplay. Recently in an interview with Famitsu, Tabata talked about the structure of the game, with the first half being more open while the second is more linear.
A Virtual Road Trip, Car Radio and All
One of the big focuses in Final Fantasy XV is your car, the Regalia. The car serves a huge purpose in the game, as it helps the party quickly travel over large expanses of land. Tabata has talked repeatedly on the idea of a “road trip” as the theme of the game.
As you travel you’ll need to refill the Regailia’s tank with gas, and possibly repair the car if it gets too damaged. Most of the time Ignis will drive the car automatically, and you can choose from a number of camera angles, then hit the circle button to have him pull over on the side of the road. There will be points where you as Noctis will get to drive the car yourself, however, don’t expect intricate driving mechanics, as it’s mostly on rails.
Of course, you have a wealth of customization options for your car too, with the ability to change the exterior color, interior color, rims, and apply decals. On top of this, Final Fantasy XV has a fun feature in store with the Regalia’s car radio. You can turn the radio on while driving, and will have a huge selection of songs from across the Final Fantasy series. There over 200 songs from across the series available in Final Fantasy XV.
An Action-Focused Combat System
One of the biggest changes for Final Fantasy XV is its action-focused combat system. The game deviates away from the tactical or ATB systems we’ve seen in the past, putting battles into real time. You have an attack mapped to the circle button that lets Noctis unleash a flurry of attacks. Holding down the square button lets you dodge attacks, although it uses MP, and the triangle button is Noctis’ warp strike. This lets you instantly warp in to attack an enemy, creating a damage bonus, or warp up to a high point away from enemies.
Another vital aspect of combat is Link Strikes with your party members. There’s a gauge that fills up on the left side of your screen, and you can use it to prompt powerful combination attacks with each member. Additionally, there are a ton of weapons available in the game. Gladio, Prompto, and Ignis can only equip their main weapon, a sub weapon, and magic while Noctis can equip any weapon and magic.
There are even more aspects to combat that you’ll uncover down the line, like summons and the armature ability, but these are the core mechanics of the game’s fighting.
Cooking and Camping Is Important
Resting plays an even bigger role in Final Fantasy XV than in the games before it. All the experience you accumulate from battle and quests has to be distributed by camping out in the wild or staying at a hotel or trailer. Resting at any of these locations will allow your characters to level up, as well as gain AP to use on the Ascension system.
There a number of other bonuses to camping of course, like restoring your health and MP. You can also level up each of the characters’ respective specialties if you’ve been completing activities, like Noctis’ fishing or Prompto’s photography. Any photos that Prompto takes during the day can be viewed at camp and saved, even uploaded to social media once you download the day one Crown Update.
The final crucial benefit you get through camping is partaking in Ignis’ delicious-looking cooking. You’ll need ingredients and recipes, but Ignis can cook meals that will then give your party stat boosts. Each dish has different benefits, but they can be incredibly handy as you set off to explore the next day. Trying other food at restaurants and finding ingredients in the world might even make Ignis think of a new dish he can make.
One last note: you can only cook at camps that you find out in the wild, while hotels and trailers will give you experience boosts.
Summons and Magic
Two vital pieces of Final Fantasy, summons and magic, make a return in Final Fantasy XV, although they’re a bit different. Magic has a brand new system that lets you mix and create your own types of spells. There are draw points for fire, blizzard, and thunder that let you draw each of the elements into a stock. Then you can go to the magic option in the menu and combine different elements with items to create various magic spells. These could be things like triple fire, or a thunder spell that also debuffs enemies.
Summons also play a huge role in the game, featuring into the story itself. After you’ve beaten one of these powerful creatures in battle, you then obtain their summon, which can be used to devastating effects in combat. So far we’ve seen Ramuh, Titan, Shiva, and Leviathan as Final Fantasy XV summons.
The Ascension System
The Ascension system is Final Fantasy XV’s ability system, and it’s somewhat similar to the Sphere Grid from Final Fantasy X. As you gain experience in battle and complete quests, you’ll gain AP to use on Ascension. There are multiple tabs that focus on different pieces of combat, and each node costs AP to unlock. These may do things like give stat boosts to characters, or unlock new Link Attacks to use in battle.
Some nodes are specific to Noctis, while other focus on giving specific party members new abilities. Ascension is something you’ll want to be keeping an eye on and buying abilities from whenever you can.
The Final Fantasy XV Universe
Final Fantasy XV has a whole universe of content that Square Enix has created to accompany the game. The primary piece is the full-length CG movie called Kingsglaive. This film tells the story of what’s happening in the city of Insomnia while Noctis is starting his journey. Noctis’ father King Regis, Lunafreya, and a Kingsglaive member named Nyx are the central characters.
There’s also a free five-episode anime called Brotherhood, watchable on YouTube, that gives background on each of the party members’ relationships with Noctis. Then there’s the mobile game Justice Monsters V, a pinball-style minigame available on mobile that’s also playable in Final Fantasy XV.
On the horizon we have two more mobile games, another game playable in Final Fantasy XV itself called King’s Knight: Wrath of the Dark Dragon, and a new mobile MMO in development by Machine Zone.
Release Date and DLC
Final Fantasy XV releases on November 29 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. There is a season pass available, and we recently found out what the DLC for the game will include.
Three episodes will focus on Gladio, Prompto, and Ignis respectively and even let players take control of each character. The final expansion for the game will introduce co-op multiplayer, a first for the single player main series of Final Fantasy games. There’s no release date for any of the DLC as of yet, though.