This past week on a warm Fall day in Toronto, Square Enix invited us and other journalists and bloggers to the Delta Hotel to see what the publisher was releasing in the future. The good news is that you as a game won’t run out of games to play for some time. The bad news is, well, your wallets will hate you because from what I got to sit down and play; the entire catalog was stellar and worth every penny.
We spent the morning (and afternoon!) sitting down and got much needed one on one time with an assortment of games. What we were shown was Final Fantasy XV, Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue, including Birth by Sleep 0.2!
Starting off with Final Fantasy XV, I was eager to try a more recent build of the game after only playing the Episode Duscae demo and the Platinum Demo, I was somewhat put off by the combat and camera. We were given a full 90 minutes with the demo, and am I glad that I spent that time with what is now a hotly anticipated title for the Japanese developer.
There was much to do in my demo, and doing my best to avoid spoilers for myself, skipped as much dialogue as I could to savor the game when it launches on November 29th. What I did notice was how well the voice works fit and how well each character sounded. There was no mistake here, Noctis and his attaché were solid. These guys are old friends and bickering and get along with any group of guys. Learning about this group of guys and their relationship makes the game feel more intimate and personal, I like it.
Combat has improved when compared to both demos, feeling entirely like a new system with new ways to beat down enemies. I was in awe of how different this system felt, and I loved it! There is a rhythm to combat feel at ease seeing the improvements made from the previous two builds.
I did some sidequests which ranged from tedious fetch quests to some nifty mission to take photos. I even went fishing with Noctis to get some food for a cat. I also completed a couple bounty missions and then was demolished by a stronger enemy. It wasn’t fun losing so, so bad.
Magic is not like older traditional games and feels like a mix of previous game Final Fantasy VIII draw system, allowing you absorb elements in the game world and equipping them to deal elemental damage. You craft spells from these reserves as well.
I began the demo with the Regalia, Noct and friends’ sweet ride, broken down and in need of a tune up, after completing the mission to get my car back up and on the road, I was ecstatic to get behind the wheel and cruise to older Final Fantasy title soundtracks as I made my way around the region, stopping at pit stops, cruising with my friends, and just being buddies.
I can’t wait to get my hands on a retail copy with both the PlayStation 4 Pro and 4K. Final Fantasy XV is gorgeous as is, but with added bump I’m eager to drool all over myself while I play.
After ending my time with Final Fantasy XV, I was eager to begin Birth by Sleep 0.2. I was eager to play the Aqua demo after seeing it no less than ten times since being unveiled at Tokyo Game Show.
This chapter is meant to bridge the gap between Kingdom Hearts 2 and Kingdom Hearts 3 and follows Aqua after what transpired in Birth by Sleep.
I played a short and sweet demo in a world frozen in time, Aqua is alone and the Heartless are invading. Immediately I am attacked as Aqua is tasked with restoring time to the area. This is when I notice how different combat feels from even the last game, Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, there is much more speed involved in a battle and everything reacts faster to your inputs. The amount of Heartless on screen has improved greatly and it makes sense for Aqua’s abilities to keep pace. Returning are also styles from Birth by Sleep, and I believe Spell Weaver was the only one available here. These are like overclocks for Aqua and allow her to move and fight in a different style. I love the improvements made to combat. Unfortunately, we have to wait a little longer for this title to come out as it was recently pushed to January 2017.
Next up was Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance from the same collection of games. I decided, to begin with, the Tron level for Riku, starting with the light cycle battle and then through the Grid as I follow Sam Flynn to find his father who is lost on the Grid. We need to stop Clu and Riku is willing to help out here.
Now, coming off Birth by Sleep 0.2, I was thrown off how different Dream Drop Distance felt. Riku was slower to use and harder to battle with. I also struggled with camera controls as they were inverted and now like Aqua’s chapter which was easily the best in regards to controlling the camera. There is also a benefit to getting the collection on a console and Dream Drop Distance is one that feels at home on a big screen instead of a tiny handheld screen.
I ended my time with a brief demo of Final Fantasy XII which allowed me to control Vaan, Penelo, and Balthier as they made through the Salikawoods. The remaster brings changes to the 2006 title including reconstructed battle design, a revamped job system, trophies, improved visuals, and sounds, it is easily the one remaster I’ve been hoping to see since I haven’t played this game in ten years.
The new Zodiac job system allows for more freedom to the player when unlocking abilities, we get a speed mode which makes you move much faster and a trial mode where you may test your skill.
I ended up exploring the Salikawoods and stumbling upon the Bomb King, and I nearly died many times after not touching the game in so long. The Bomb King can summon Bombs to aid in the fight against you. I forgot how tough enemies can be in Final Fantasy XII – nearly losing to the monster a handful of times because I was ill-prepared to face the Bomb King. I eventually got the upper hand on him as I unleashed my Quickenings to bring down these monsters.
All in all, each game I got to spend time with impressed me. Final Fantasy XV, however, put a big smile on my face and left me eager to jump back in as soon as possible. Square Enix has a solid lineup coming to gamers all over the world. There’s something here for everyone to enjoy.