tgs 2014

Opinion – Offering A Final Fantasy XV Demo Is A Step In The Right Direction For Square Enix

by Kimberley Wallace on Sep 21, 2014 at 05:30 PM

The road to Final Fantasy XV has been long and winding. The game that started off as Final Fantasy Versus XIII was announced at E3 2006 and very little information surfaced about the title up until it transformed into Final Fantasy XV last year. In a way, it was gutsy move to make it a mainline title. After all, it was always depicted as more of an action game, something the numbered entries haven’t touched. Not to mention, a lengthy development timeline already raises some doubts and concerns. Is this a game we’ll even experience? Is it a quality title? Why has there been such a delay in any information?

Fans have tried to patient, but knowing about the game for eight years and seeing few details isn’t an easy pill to swallow. Back in April, I wrote an editorial expressing my concern over Square Enix’s decisions with the JRPG market. I wrote that the company has a lot to prove to RPG fans, and that it must ensure games like Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III are worth the wait. More importantly, Square Enix can’t afford to make both games’ development cycles extend too much longer. 

That’s why I’m happy to see that Square used this TGS to finally show off new footage and announce an upcoming demo. The footage looked fantastic with realistic mannerisms and exciting backdrops. It reminded me of what Square has always been known for: making a statement with the power of new hardware. It felt like the game had been made for PlayStation 4 all along. However, I immediately got that inkling of a feeling that it could be too good to be true. Thankfully, while in Japan, I was able to discuss what the demo entailed and what Square hopes to achieve with it with new director Hajime Tabata.

First off, I think this director change is a smart move. This frees up previous director Tetsuya Nomura’s time to focus exclusively on Kingdom Hearts III, another game Square Enix can’t afford to take years upon years to launch. Tabata was candid with us about the demo, called Episode Duscae. It’s not just a 20 minute affair. He said if you’re playing through just the story content in the demo, it should take about an hour. But if you’re really exploring every nook and cranny, it can take anywhere from 2-4 hours. Most times when games are available to be previewed at shows, they are only about 20 minutes long. Having the first hands-on with the game given straight to fans and in such a large chunk shows a lot of promise and faith. Tabata stated he is looking for this demo to provide fan feedback.

He also let us in on the fact that, as of right now, Final Fantasy XV is over 50 percent complete. The game has been in development a long time, but once you switch console generations on a title and completely re-envision it, there’s a lot of heavy lifting to be done. But also with over 50 percent in place, hearing fans’ reactions gives them still enough room to make changes should the demo garner any concerns. Square Enix has some passionate fans and the company has been known for its magical touch on RPGs, but in the past years, it hasn’t seemed as focused on what the fans want. I like that Square Enix is using the demo as a way to gauge that. 

All told, these recent developments look like steps in the right direction. I hope it’s all not for show, and that Square Enix really is as serious as they seem. Tabata genuinely seems thrilled with his new role and the game.

An exact exact release date for the demo hasn’t been given so far, but a voucher for it is being included with Type-0. Square Enix indicated that it wants to launch the demo as close to Type-0’s March 17 release date as possible. It feels almost surreal to think we’ll actually be playing some of Final Fantasy XV soon. We sure have been waiting a long time, but things can only get better from here on out. Let’s hope this message from Square Enix is just the beginning and it continues to prove that its games aren’t just ephemeral dreams.