Final Fantasy XV is inching closer to release, so Square Enix is offering the latest progress report on what players can expect from the game. Game Director Hajime Tabata and Marketing Manager Akio Ofuji both appeared for the latest Active Time Report, which includes what's being billed as the 2nd and possibly final progress report for the upcoming RPG.
The presentation kicked off with a recap of what's been revealed to this point, including many of the notes touched on during the previous Active Time Report at Tokyo Game Show. One thing to note is that magic appears to have more than an effect on battle. Magic will physically affect the conditions on the battlefield. For example, Fire spells will ignite grassy areas, as well as foes. Another example will see Blizzard spells affect the entire environment and corresponding enemies within that vicinity.
Tabata and Ofuji also went into more detail about the Nlflheim Empire, which acts as the game's antagonistic force. New art was revealed, showing off its militaristic might that includes both modern and futuristic weapons and vessels. Tabata explains that after the start of the story, the Niflheim Empire has conquered most of the game's world, with only the Kingdom of Lucis remaining as the sole indepndent nation remaining. While Lucis is powered by the forces of magic, Niflheim is run by industry and machines. As players face off against Niflheim, they'll run across legions of Magitek Troopers, which the empire has used to conquer the world's many nations through sheer numbers.
Tabata describes the story as a clash between magic and machines. The empire is led by Iedolas Aldercapt, who is described by Tabata as a "ruthless supremacist." While Iedolas is semi-retired from active conflict, empire operations are run by his Chancellor, a fedora-wearing gentleman named Ardyn Izunia. The empire's military is run by the ruthless General Glauca, who commands the thousands of Magitek Infantry. There's also a female dragoon serving under Glauca named Aranea Highwind, who commands the empire's mercenary branch, with her oficial title the commander of its 87th Airborne Unit. As a human dragoon, she is an expert at aerial combat.
Tabata also offered a glimpse at the current state of combat in the game, which will include stealth elements through something called the Blade-Warp ability. This was demonstrated through footage of a Niflheim Base infiltration mission, which doubled as a demonstration of the new Luminous engine. The party snuck around a base filled with Magitek Troopers and a massive mech unit. To proceed, characters would sneak behind unsuspecting troopers and use the Blade-Warp for stealth kills. Allies can likewise mark enemies with warp points, which will allow players to warp to that target. Soon enough, they were all spotted, which triggered a full-on battle phase that took on a more traditional action-RPG look. While this might seem like Metal Gear Solid-style infiltration to stay hidden, the objective is actually to stay in the shadows just long enough to comandeer the enemy's artillery and use it to destroy the base. This particular sequence concluded with a clash with Aranea, who took matters into her own hands.
Following the battle footage, Tabata cited some improvements since Episode Duscae, pointing at the game's camera work, in particular. The weapon swirling effect that was first hinted at in the early Final Fantasy Versus XIII footage has also returned after semingly disappearing from Episode Duscae. Tabata noted that he was waiting to refine this mechanic before fully implementing it into the game. The game has also received a UI overhaul, complete with a button configuration change. The four buttons are now mapped to "Attack, defend, jump, and warp," with additional commands becoming available as characters and allies level up. Not only will additional skills be made available, but Tabata is noting that this will also affect combat AI, as well.
With all that, there's a playable tech demo that's on its way, with Tabata stating that more information will be revealed at an upcoming March event. Yes, this is the same March event where a release date was promised. That will happen on March 30 at 7PM PT. There's a lot to take in with the latest Active Time Report. Catch the whole presentation in the video below.
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Looks awesome, can't wait.