Peter Triezenberg
Magic, Empire, and More in Latest Final Fantasy XV Active Time Report
Including the return of a certain lady Dragoon...
02.01.16 - 12:47 PM

To say "the hype is real" in regards to Final Fantasy XV would be an understatement. Hajime Tabata and his team's commitment to quality has been apparent for a while now, and the latest Active Time Report continues to drive that point home while also shedding light on previously undisclosed elements of the next mainline entry in Square's flagship series.

First up, there's a new progress video that shows how far the tech of Final Fantasy XV has come. Tabata claims that this could be the last progress report, as all content in the game has reached the final target of quality for release. This video doesn't represent that final quality, but it's still quite interesting.

The biggest reveal of the presentation was how magic would work in Final Fantasy XV. It's more than just a form of attack, with players being able to use it in conjunction with the environment for additional effects. For example, Noctis at one point sets a puddle of oil on fire, dealing extra damage. Other uses include using Blizzard to freeze water or increasing the power of a Thunder spell in the rain. There are two kinds of magic in Final Fantasy XV — Elemental magic, such as Fire, Blizzard, and Thunder, and Ring Magic. Ring Magic is unlocked after a certain point in the story, and can only be used by the bearer of the royal ring of Lucis, which is Noctis.

Elemental magic is described as a kind of item that can be purchased, which are also present in the form of elemental energy at various locations around the world for gathering. Sounds an awful lot like the Draw system from Final Fantasy VIII, doesn't it? Gathered energy can be converted into magic and storied in the inventory, and be equipped instead of a weapon in combat. Speaking of combat, it's been completely overhauled since we first got to experience it in Episode Duscae. To highlight this, Square showed off the following video, showing Noctis and crew infiltrating an enemy base.

Metal Gear fans, rejoice, as infiltrating bases is something the player can do as an aside to the main story. The camera has been greatly refined so the player doesn't have to fiddle with it as much, a great improvement over the demo. The swirling weapons select menu from Versus XIII can also be making it's triumphant return, which is exciting, as it was reportedly a very difficult feature to implement. While final UI adjustments are still being implemented, so various tweaks may still take place, what we have is a system where four weapons are mapped to directional buttons, allowing for on-the-fly adjustments and commands. There will also be a fourth type of combo in addition to auto combos, parrying combos, and combos triggered by your allies. More commands become available as the party levels up, and the camera temporarily switches to the party member performing a command before switching back to Noctis.

Next on the docket was an in-depth discussion of the game's villains, the Nilfheim Empire. At the beginning of Final Fantasy XV, Nilfheim has already taken over most of the planet, with Lucis standing as the last free nation. They are under pressure from the Empire, though. The two nations rely on different strengths, with Lucis drawing power from the crystal in order to use magic, while Nilfheim relies on mechanization and it's non-human army of Magitek troopers.

final fantasy xv nilfheim empire square enix active time report

final fantasy xv villains iedolas aldercapt

Above is a graphic depicting the hierarchy of power within the Empire, and Tabata went into further detail on these characters. First up is Iedolas Aldercapt. He is the emperor of Nilfheim and a ruthless supremacist. He is not considered favorably by the other nations of the world, but it turns out he does not lead Nilfheim at the start of the game. I smell intrigue!

final fantasy xv villains ardyn izunia top hat umbrella fabulous

Up next is Ardyn Izunia, or "top-hat wearing umbrella man" from the E3 2013 trailer. He is the Chancellor of the Nilfheim Empire and is described as a humorous but shrewd character who holds the reins of power within the Empire. Aldercapt had better watch his back, because I smell antagonist and imminent betrayal.

final fantasy xv villains glauca

final fantasy xv magitek troopers

Next is Glauca, a General and leader of Nilfheim's army. Said army consists largely of Magitek soldiers, former all-purpose models and combat prototypes alike, with humans serving at the higher levels of command. After that, we got our first returning glimpse of a character from the game's Versus XIII days — the mysterious female dragoon!

final fantasy xv aranea highwind dragoon lady

Her name is Aranea Highwind. No relation to Kain or Cid aside from her shared profession, but she is the Captain of Nilfheim's Third Army Corps 86th Airborne Unit (whew!). She is referred to by her peers as the "Dragoon" and is highly skilled at aerial combat.

In case that wasn't all exciting enough, there's yet more to come — the long-awaited March event. Called "Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV", it will take place at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, on March 30th, 2016, at 7:00 PM PST. Square will reveal new footage and collaboration at the event, as well as the game's final release date.

It's so close, you guys! Final Fantasy XV will be out this year, for PlayStation 4 and XBox One. You can watch the Active Time Report in it's entirety below.

final fantasy xv uncovered march 2016