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Final Fantasy XV: Is Square Enix’s most famous property back on the right road?

Whether your favourite moment in the Final Fantasy series has been piloting Cid’s airship to the Northern Cave in Final Fantasy VII, taking Balamb Garden over the Trabian wastes in Final Fantasy VIII, guiding Tidus and co. through the Calm Lands in X or navigating the steppes of XII with Balthier and Fran, its safe to say the best moments in Final Fantasy gameplay come from the huge open plains the game gives you to play with where optional bosses hide, where secret weapons beg to be unearthed, where Square Enix can show off the true scope of its vision, with impressive scale and acute attention to detail.


It’s a relief to see Final Fantasy XV is taking us back to one of the best recurring tropes of the series sending Noctis and his band of brothers out across open plains in one of the best-looking vehicles we’ve seen in the series. The world is completely open, and your exploration will be peppered with events that humanise and characterise your team so naturally, it creates an almost unbelievable contrast to the grounded fantasy world they’re set in. This barbecue scene illustrating these pages is just one example of the intimate moments that will populate the game’s main quest…

TO BE OR NOCT TO BE?
We’re theorising that the story of Final Fantasy XV is based around Shakespeare’s Hamlet centring on themes of betrayal, inter-familial homicide and a persecuted prince. Protagonist Noctis also has an undisclosed relationship with Stella Nox Fleuret a character that can ‘see the expiring light of people’s lives’ much like Noct himself. We’re expecting a dark game in XV before moving on to Kingdom Hearts 3, ex-director Tetsuya Nomura already laced the game with his increasingly sombre personality, and new director Hajime Tabata seems to be keeping Nomura’s dark dreams alive…

HUNTING AND GATHERING
When you’re not kicking back and cooking up an evening meal, you’ll be up against the likes of these spherical be-tusked beasts: there are no screen-shattering or random encounters going on here; the whole game is fluid. What you see in the world is what you can attack; this allows stealth mechanics to be incorporated, a new action-orientated battle system (with the series’ strong RPG roots, don’t worry) and dynamic team-mate responses to various events. Get knocked down, they’ll help you back up, if an enemy’s charging at you, they’ll guard you… it’s the most involved a  Final Fantasy fight’s ever looked.

PICK YOUR FIGHTS
We assume that huge creature chilling out in the middle of the plains is an Adamantoise a staple Final Fantasy enemy. But that doesn’t mean you should face it you can tell from your team’s excitement as you pass by it that it won’t be an easy battle, so we hope Square hasn’t thrown this beast into all the promo material just as a gimmick if the whole game is littered with Monster Hunter-esque encounters like this, it has the potential to outshine event the ‘Mark Hunting’ system in Final Fantasy XII for best-in-series elimination quests.

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