e3 2016

Final Fantasy XV

The E3 Stage Demo Played Better Than It Looked
by Brian Shea on Jun 18, 2016 at 09:00 AM
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Release:
Rating: Teen
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Aside from the multitude of premature leaks, most of the E3 2016 press conferences went off without a hitch. There were few bad demos, but one of the surprise poor stage demos was Final Fantasy XV. The demo showcased the massive Titan Trial, which had Noctis and Gladiolus battling one of the largest foes ever seen in the series' long history. Unfortunately, the stage demo was full of missteps and a rush of negativity flooded social media as fans reacted to the action shown on screen. I had the chance to check out the demo for myself, and while it's still not my favorite Final Fantasy sequence I've seen, it was much more enjoyable to play the battle than it was to watch it.

The build up had me, as Noctis, taking on a few standard enemies. With Gladiolus' assistance, we made quick work of these baddies. Within minutes, we moved into the open area that housed the Titan seen in the stage presentation. The Titan telepathically communicates with Noctis, which makes the protagonist none too pleased. He decides he's had enough and fights back. He and Gladiolus burst into action, but they're completely overwhelmed. Ignis and Prompto are on their way, but they'll be a few minutes. The two present members just need to survive until help arrives.

As the massive Titan throws his hand down on Noctis, I'm prompted to hit a button to defend. Noctis throws his sword up and halts the giant's strike right in front of Noctis' face. The game prompts me to quickly tap a different button to counter and do slight damage to the creature. We get a couple of quick strikes in, but Noctis and Gladiolus know they're overmatched. They make a break for it, running for higher ground. Once the duo arrives at a higher arena, the Titan begins sweeping his fists back and forth. The best Noctis can do is warp strike around the sweeps, digging his blade high on the cliffside. Occasionally, an opening presents itself and I perform a warpstrike on the Titan's arm. It does relatively little damage, but causes him to recoil, buying Noctis and Gladiolus time.

In the stage demo, the presenter was getting knocked down by the boss frequently. I ran into this same problem in gameplay, but found many of the knockdowns in my playthrough were scripted. I found that warp striking proved an effective attack in Noctis' arsenal. I continued this strategy, slowly chipping away at his health before Ignis and Prompto join the battle. The giant attempts to strike me down one more time, but I counter his strike, then get my newly reunited party to cast Blizzara on the Titan's arm. The arm freezes and we strike together to shatter his appendage clear off, putting him out of commission.

I understand why Square Enix wanted to show off this sequence on the stage – the press conferences are all about spectacle and that boss is impressive and enormous. I just think that fans would have been more excited to see a new area or maybe some more of the game's flashier moves. Thankfully, the encounter played better than it showed on stage.

Final Fantasy XV releases on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on September 30.