Hitting the Crystal Road

ffxv logo

Well, what do you know? A year after the E3 reveal of Final Fantasy XV and a long period of silence, SquareEnix showed a new trailer yesterday at the Tokyo Game Show. Needless to say, the Internet is filled with buzz and fans have their hopes high. Again.

Me? I was very (and gladly) surprised with what I saw. Supposedly part of the demo that’s coming together with the Type-0 remake (March 2015), the trailer shows footage of what is being called “Episode Duscae“. Take a look at the video, and my thoughts on it afterwards:

First of all, it looks amazing – but that is to be expected. The lightning looks fantastic. There’s some exploration, some combat, different times of day… kinda makes you wonder if this is all a big, real (in-game) time open world (a la GTA). If you look closely it may even seem some shots/scenes are from different angles of the same area (using the Astral Shard as reference):

astral shard

There’s a strong roadtrip feel from this trailer. From what little we know of the game it seems that after the invasion in the E3 2013 trailer Noctis escapes the city with his friends. This reminded me a bit of FFVIII, though I can’t seem to pinpoint exactly why.

ffxv cars

Interlude: I’ve seen some negativity about the fact these characters are driving a car, as if it’s out of place in the series. Apparently this people never played FFVII or FFVIII; both have cars and other technologically advanced vehicles. Not to mention previous FFs had things like suplexable trains (VI) or even futuristic space-worthy ships (IV).

ff vehicles

One thing that caught my attention is that, as good as this environment and areas look, some do look a bit… barren. However this and the repetitive enemies can be excused since this is probably a development build – which also explains the framerate drops (which could also be just Youtube being Youtube). Holding judgment.

The trailer ends with two important nods. First, Noctis talks about something being “a long time coming” and “almost there“. Whatever in-game event he’s talking about, we fans see it as an acknowledgement that this game is indeed taking way too long to come out. Hopefully this means a 2015 release isn’t out of the question.

a long time

The second nod is that around the 2:12 mark the music kicks up the unmistakable Prelude – the hymn of Final Fantasy  and a song that in many ways symbolizes the franchise. It brings a sense of familiarity that, coupled with the appearance of the logo, reminds us that despite the differences, YES: this is Final Fantasy.

And we can’t wait to get our hands on it.

ffxv key art

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6 thoughts on “Hitting the Crystal Road

  1. I’m big on Final Fantasy, and I’d love to see a Fantasy that could relate to modern day a little just for the fun of it. That said, it’s definitely weird to see a convertible on the road… then guys with swords fighting wooly mammoths. I know exactly what you mean about VIII. There is something distinct about that here. Maybe the young people camaraderie coupled with the “train train take me away” vibe the car gives off. Or how our main character apparently falls asleep on the road (coughLaguna). It could just be that there’s too much black that showed up in VII, stuck through VIII, then happily disappeared in IX to give us back color. I think getting this far away from the old traditions and going for raw modernness with dreary black tones for our characters… we’ve definitely gotten away from what I would expect a Final fantasy to look or feel like. At least, what I’d HOPE they’d look or feel like.

    Okay, admittedly. VI has black going on. That black represents something though. We still have the bright colors of the espers, and Terra turning all pink monster on us, and Gogo being… Gogo. The lack of color is in the world and the machines. It’s a statement. Figaro soldiers are still colorful. Tritoch is so colorful it’s hard to figure out where his freaking head is. Let’s not even get in to Kefka. VII balanced it out by actually leaving the blackness behind. Leaving Midgar and seeing the world and the colors. It is a different artist and style, and so lacks the distinct colors from previous games obviously, but I think it still nods that way. This feels more like VIII to me, where black was the color. It was your color. There’s just a lot more.

    I haven’t followed the game closely, but this isn’t terribly inspiring to me. This doesn’t tell me what’s going on. At all really. It’s royalty on a road trip fighting wooly mammoths with swords in open fields, then occasionally doing some magically cheated platforming. The combat looks… clunky here. As you said, it’s probably best to withhold judgment because builds and YouTube, but to have that be part of the trailer is a little meh for me. If we are going to have this open run around smacking people stuff, especially in such a beautiful environment, I’d kind like it to be fluid and nuanced.

    Not to rain on the parade! I’m still very excited and want to see VX succeed after the kinda crappy time I had with XIII ^^0 I’m just not impressed by this trailed except in the graphics department an wanted to share with someone who might be able to cheer me up?

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    1. Thanks for the insightful (and very well written) comment! I agree with you: I’m excited for XV yet the trailer – for all its awesomeness – lacks something. Makes me wonder how far along the game truly is.

      The open world (or impression I get from this trailer) slightly reminds me of the journeys of VII and VIII: leaving “home” (Garden/Midgar) and seeing a world that is, for the most part, unknown to us (the player). Let us hope the information gates don’t close for months again – that we start getting small tidbits of information, tantalizing morsels of digital pixels to keep our appetites ready for the main course. Just don’t starve us again, Square Enix!

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      1. Actually, that does give me hope! One of the things that I got over with X, but absolutely could not stand with XIII, was that it was literally a hallway. The illusion of expansiveness and open terrain is just as (possibly more so in some cases) important as a map that actually is expansive. The video feels very open, like the fields in VII and VIII, or really anything from before X. No, we are not discussing XII. Ever.

        It gives me hope that the actual design is going to be from earlier days, even if the aesthetic I miss is all but absent right now. As a random thought: is that open world combat, or have random encounters gotten much, much cooler?

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        1. I had never given it that much thought until now… but I’m betting on open world combat. It has been done before (XIIDON’T KILL ME).

          I do miss the days of the expansive world map. Not a fan of “menu maps” or whatever it is XIII had. The joy of walking in a new world, explore that tiny cave entrance you see in the corner – the one that contains a small chest with 10 gil… but it’s the sense of exploration and discovery! Of a horizon right beyond that hill!

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      2. Aside: Is there a level limit to these comments?

        Open world combat has been done, but so has the hit something random encounter. XIII had the hit something random encounter, which, correct me if I’m wrong, was a brilliant idea we hadn’t seen since Chrono Trigger. Because Square had no clue what they were doing after that. Regardless, I honestly think that action combat is a strong move forward be it random encounter or open world. I’m not against the old ATB model, but I think the bulk of the gaming crowd has reached a point where engagement is paramount. Personally, I also just LIKE being able to WHACK things. Secret of Mana did it in its glorious SNES simplicity, and it was absolutely brilliant. The text notices that [enemy] got WHACKED were so delicious that it was worth doing it more for that reason alone. And to pick up boxes containing 10g.

        You can’t put a value on that 10g. Apart from 10g.

        Honestly, I think the height of the world map was actually the V and VI days. V gets a mention for being able to be traversed via chocobo without all the nonsense breeding. I liked the breeding, but I had an airship long before then, and in my day (cue grandpa voice) we didn’t need gold-plated chocobos in order to get ’round the world. We did just fine with normal ones. Then, of course, we have VI. I’ll admit openly that I find VI to be, contrary to many VII enthusiasts, the absolute best of the Final Fantasy experience. It was the definition of character-driven. It also was highly driven by the map. MILD SPOILERS TO FOLLOW: Once you get to the World of Ruin in the second half of the game, you are driving by character AND MAP. The two are inextricably linked. If you want the full story of what happens to who, you MUST go about exploring and engaging in the plight of that area. Everything after VI was a detractor from that experience. It stopped mattering to a large extent. Getting back to that concept would be a huge move for XV. I’d love to see not just nods to its own process, but nods in game to the rest of the series.

        There is so much heritage here, it would be almost criminal not to carry any of it along. We have somehow reached a point where we can actually carry none of it with us. I don’t know how this has come to be, but I can only hope that after… is it almost 30 years now? Give it a few Christmases, and yes. After almost 30 years, I should hope that the full experience is something that we the players are not alone in carrying. XIV was actually quite good (not perfect, but…) at giving that feeling of nostalgia and reminding the world of the great things that Final Fantasy brought us. With so long in development and so much history, I should hope that we can look at XV and see the best of all we hold dear.

        …I seem to be quite verbose today, for which I apologize! I’m veeeery sleepy and quiiiite drunk now and looking forward to a rather important interview tomorrow… so do please forgive me!

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