"The player must hit some quick time events before escaping the Titan's oversized grasp Nathan Drake style..."
It is no secret that the development of Final Fantasy XV has been a long and arduous process. In fact, thanks to Hajime Tabata's commitment to transparency, there are few secrets about the game at all. Counting both versions of Episode Duscae, we have had four separate demos of the game, each demonstrating major development milestones. As the September release date draws near, our impressions of Final Fantasy XV's penultimate version that Square Enix presented to the world at E3 boil down to one word: disappointing.
The Titan demo drops Noctis and Gladiolus into a bleak, dull-brown, rocky corridor, and shortly funnels them into an encounter with some magitek soldiers; the textures look rough and muddled, well below the quality we have come to expect from the game's media and the PS4's hardware. With the aid of your trusted bodyguard, the encounters are not terribly difficult, but neither did I feel that I had precise control over Noctis' actions or movement. Combat felt tighter than in the Platinum demo, but nowhere near as responsive as Bloodborne or other top flight action RPGs. Perhaps FFXV is not striving for that sort of tight combat, but without any tutorial or meaningful context there is little else to judge it by.
As Noctis approaches the Titan, the game shifts from action RPG to overbearing cinematic set piece. The player must hit some quick time events before escaping the Titan's oversized grasp Nathan Drake style, running toward the fixed camera as the giant's outstretched hand threatens to swat you like a princely hair-gelled gnat. After Noctis joins up with some soldiers (apparently friendly) and the remainder of his road trip crew, the player must warp attack the Titan's fist, complete more quick time events, and cast blizzard on the creature's arm to trigger a cutscene and end the fight. Aiming Noctis' warps feels like skeet shooting on acid; the player has no concept of whether the warp will land or even where they should be aiming. Indeed, the entire encounter was hectic and unwieldy, not epic and empowering.
Rather than a cinematic attack on Titan, this demo felt like a confusing, muddled mess of a game. Rumor has it that Square Enix threw this demo together at the last minute to appeal to a wider audience, and I hope that is true if only because it means the Titan demo is not indicative of the game as a whole. Overall, I am still intrigued by what FFXV will offer come September, but playing this demo has drastically tempered my excitement. My hope is that with better context and more thoughtful presentation, Final Fantasy XV will shine in all its crowning glory. But Square Enix has little time left in which to make that happen.