I played through Final Fantasy XV’s first demo a little over a year ago.  It’s hard to believe, but the once-thought-to-be-vaporware game has an actual release date now of September 30, 2016.  Square decided to drop another demo a few weeks ago.  This one only took about 45 minutes to complete compared to the three hours of Episode Duscae.  How does it compare?

It's pretty weird, that's for sure.
It’s pretty weird, that’s for sure.

Combat is similar with some notable differences

In Episode Duscae, Noctis and his friends could equip five weapons: one for initial attacks, one for counters, etc.  In the Platinum Demo, you can equip four total items assigned to the four d-pad directions.  Swords, hammers, “magic”, whatever you want.  Weapons simply attack with circle and Noctis will continually attack if you hold the button down.  Similarly, you can hit square to dodge or hold square to automatically dodge some but not all enemy attacks.  I hope that switching weapons on the fly becomes key to gameplay, because locking onto an enemy and holding circle to constantly bash them will get boring pretty quickly.

I put quotes around the word magic because the only semblance of it is a few “bomb-in-a-bag” spells, as the demo puts it.  You can equip spells like thunderbolt and meteorain which have limited uses, but there is no casting animation or MP to manage.  You essentially target an area and throw the spell towards it.  I know this is a demo and FF games tend to bring it with magic, so it’s a bit confusing to see this.

Things you’ve come to expect in a Final Fantasy game are there

Animal companions chief among them.
Animal companions chief among them.

Excellent orchestral music, fragments of some kind of crystal, fantastical creatures that help you out — these staples of the Final Fantasy franchise are all on display in this demo.  Carbuncle, the fox-like thing in the image above, helps Noctis through the dream he is stuck in during the Platinum Demo.  Oddly, he speaks to Noctis through text messages.

More like a tech demo than Episode Duscae

While Episode Duscae felt more like a proper demo of an upcoming game, the Platinum Demo feels more like a tech display.  You’ll see a few different settings, whether it be the mansion that Noctis is miniaturized in for some reason or the waterfront town with it’s intricate architecture.  Each location has panels randomly scattered around that will do things like speed up time, change the weather, or even transform Noctis into an alligator-like creature or a car.  There has been a lot of talk over driving in FF XV, so maybe Square wants us to truly feel it?

The main fight is neat

In the blue corner, weighing in at who knows how many pounds from parts unknown...
In the blue corner, weighing in at who knows how many pounds from parts unknown…

The Platinum Demo ends with a fight against an iron giant, a series staple.  You can actually fight him twice, both times as adult Noctis.  The first fight is stupidly simple, as continuously attacking with small breaks to auto-dodge here and there will do the trick.  The second fight is a bit tougher as the iron giant’s level jumps from three to 15.  You’ll gain the warp strike ability seen in Episode Duscae and various gameplay snippets, which allows you to hop around the area a bit.  There are two hidden weapons, the cross shuriken and hero’s shield, that can be found via warp strike exploration.  The shuriken is very similar to the swords and hammers also in the demo, except that is hits a few times for smaller damage per strike.  The hero’s shield is meant to parry “even the strongest of enemy attacks”, but I couldn’t quite get it to work properly.  I mainly dodged, warp striked, and bashed my way through the iron giant’s second round.

Many people will be quick to defend Final Fantasy XV’s Platinum Demo as just that, a demo.  Normally I’d be first in line to say something like that.  But, this is a game that has been in development for nearly a decade.  It feels a bit strange to even bother putting this demo out there to play as it doesn’t really show us anything new aside from a revamped weapon system.  I’m sure I’ll still buy Final Fantasy XV in September, but I’m a bit more cautious now than I was a year ago.


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