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Final Fantasy XV: Demo Gameplay Breakdown (GIF HEAVY)

Exentryk

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The following is an analysis of the gameplay shown off in the Active Time Report by Hajime Tabata on 20th Feb, 2015. To note, I do not understand Japanese, and thus I have no idea what Tabata explained in the video. However, I have used translated information from various sources. If you have some corrections, please share.


Controls: (PS4)
Left Stick: Movement
Right Stick: Camera
L3: Dash (Characters will auto climb obstacles in dash mode)

X: Jump
|_|: Attack (hold or mash for combo)
O: Warp
/\: Weapon Ability

L1: Guard (Consumes MP, signified by blue light)
R1: Lock on

L1+R1: Initiate Phantom Sword
R1+O: Shift Break (Ex Ability)
L1+X: Shift Avoid (Ex Ability)

Dpad Left/Right: Switch between main weapon special abilities

Unused so far:
R2:
L2:

You can watch this video which shows these basic controls in action:

http://youtu.be/0BjgVETH6S8?t=14m57s


HUD:
The bottom right UI shows character names and HP, buffs/ailments, the MP bar, and critical condition warning. The bottom left shows weapon ability, its MP cost, total MP available at the time, and the player's current action.

In the gifs below, the different coloured HP bars mean the following:
White HP bar: The white bar shows default HP for the characters.
Red HP bar: The red bar shows HP that will recover automatically via idling/cover (unless you are on 0 HP).
Black HP bar: The black bar shows the HP that cannot be recovered (unless you use potions).

Now, when Noctis reaches 0 HP (white bar), the red bar of HP remains. This isn't gameover, but only actions he can perform are run around, or use items to heal into white HP. Gameover occurs when Noctis's red HP reaches 0.
If one of the ally character is at 0 white HP, Noctis can run up to him and recover his health. Other ally characters can also cast "Cure" etc to heal allies.

After the battle ends (or you flee), everyone is revived from critical condition and the red HP automatically recovers into white HP.


Battle Menu:
The battle menu can be opened at any time (even during a battle). This allows the player to use items, equip weapons for Noctis and the party, etc. In the demo, you won’t be able to change the rest of your party’s equipment however.

Guard:
Guarding works by pressing or holding down the Guard button. This lets Noctis automatically evade enemy attacks, but it consumes MP. MP, however, only gets consumed when an attack is evaded. This means one can hold down Guard while idling to avoid blindside attacks.


Idling and Cover:
When not performing any actions, Noctis's HP and MP recover at a slow rate. HP and MP will recover while the player is standing still, moving, dashing, or even holding down guard.

If Noctis is really struggling though, he can take cover behind objects (rocks, trees etc) and this will highly speed up HP and MP recovery. The cover mode can be started by walking up to a rock, and pressing the L1 (guard) button. Also, the HP and MP will recover at a similar rate when Noctis is warped to a high location and out of enemies' range.


Warp:
Warping involves locking on to enemies or terrain based points and then warping to them via the Circle button. Warping costs 25 MP per warp. The examples of warps can be seen below:

There is also another type of warp that can be performed when you don't have any target selected. This short warp lets you travel a small distance in front quickly. This can be useful to reach an ally that is in critical condition, or to just get away from a group of enemies.


Attack:
Pressing the attack button lets Noctis execute a single sword strike. Holding down the button or pressing the button multiple times will execute a basic combo. You can also jump and press attack to perform aerial attacks.

When enemies are in a weaker state, attacks start doing more damage (critical hits). This can be seen below:


Weapons:
Noctis being a weapon summoner, the game has lots of weapons that can be obtained and set up in menu to perform various actions. These are the weapons available in the demo that we know so far - Avenger, Blood Sword, Partisan, Wyvern Spear and Zweihander. Most of these weapon have special abilities and support abilities. For example, Blood Sword comes with HP drain special ability, along with MP Recovery Attack++ and Automatic Recovery+ support abilities.

In the demo, you can set different weapons for: Break, Rush, Slash, Counter and Raid. The weapons in this game change automatically. So, if you press the Attack button, depending on factors, a suitable weapon will get used.

BREAK: An enemy stance breaking first strike. The Break weapon gets automatically used when Noctis starts a combo. In the video, the player has Avenger set as the Break weapon. Avenger has no abilities, but is a quick weapon and has balanced stats.

RUSH: Rapid fire strikes in the middle of the combo. You can continue your Rush weapon hits indefinitely until your enemy reaches low enough health to be finished off with a finisher (Slash). The player in the video has the Blood Sword set as the Rush weapon. It has the special ability of HP drain (gif below shows it in action).

SLASH: The last hit of the combo, which deals a significant amount of damage. When the enemy reaches low enough HP that it can be killed in one hit, then your Slash Weapon will get used. The player has the Partizan set as the Slash weapon. Partizan has Heavy Thrust as the special ability (shown in gif below). Tabata highly recommends using heavy weapons as the finisher, like the Partizan. Heavy weapon on Finishers will stagger even slightly larger enemies.

COUNTER: The weapon set here will get used when Noctis counterattacks. This can be after successfully evading an enemy attack with Guard and pressing Attack right after. Noctis can also counterattack after successful parries. The player has the Wyvern Sword set as the Counter weapon, which has Jump as the special ability (show in gif below).

Here is a Counter in action:

RAID: The weapon set here will get used when the player jumps and presses attack in mid air. The player has the Zweihander set as the Raid weapon, which has the special ability called Tempest (see gif below). Tabata clarified that Aerial Attacks are moved to the last part of development since they are among the easiest so the demo wont include too much aerial combat.

And an example of an Aerial Attack can be seen here:

Different weapons have different speeds, weight, range etc, and so it is important to think about which weapon works better where.


Parries and Co-op Attacks:
Some enemy attacks can be parried and countered. In the gif below, the UI element that shows a small arc with three lines signifies that an attack can be parried. The guard button (L1) is used to initiate the parry, and then the Attack button (Square) has to be timed when the counter prompt comes up.

Parries can also chain into Co-Op Attacks. Notice that Square gets pressed twice, first to initiate Prompto's/Ignis's hit, and then for Noctis's swipe.

The co op attacks can only be performed if an ally character is close by when you parry an enemy. Tabata has shared that the co-op moves are really strong and that there is only one co-op move in the demo. It disrupts the balance because they are gradually learned through growth.


Phantom Sword:
This is a special ability that Noctis can activate at max MP with the press of L1+R1. This ability allows Noctis to summon all his Phantom Sword weapons at the same time. When activated, MP starts depleting at a constant rate until it reaches 0. During this time, all abilities cost 0 MP, so they can be spammed.

The normal weapons you regularly use in battle are completely different than the Phantom Sword summon weapons. When you start the demo, you have regular weapons and those won’t increase, but you can obtain the Phantom Swords. The Phantom Swords are scattered around on the map, and you obtain them by searching. This is one of the extra elements outside of the story line.

There are two aspects to Phantom Sword - Defence/Idle or Offense.

When defending or idling, the phantom weapons start circling Noctis creating a barrier that reduces/negates enemy attacks.

When attacking, the barrier disappears and the swords start attacking the targeted enemy one by one from above. Each phantom sword falling on the enemy deals damage in addition to the damage Noctis is dealing with his moves.

Noctis also gains the ability of Shift Break (R1+O), which essentially are small warps to close in on enemies. He also gains Shift Avoid (L1+X), but that does not get used in the video, so its purpose is unclear at this stage.

(Note: Even though these shift moves have corresponding buttons, I think they happen automatically. For example, if you are far from an enemy and hold down the Attack button, Noctis will automatically perform Shift Breaks until he gets closer to the enemy. I think so because the basic attack button is held down when Noctis performs the Shift Break. Another point to note is that beside the emblem (Akyueshiro) is a left and right scroll marker, which means there might be even more powers for the actual game.)


And if I'm not forgetting anything, that's pretty much it. Hopefully this makes you a bit more prepared for Final Fantasy XV's combat in the upcoming demo.




---
Credits:
@LeonBlade (for translated images - Weapons, Battle Menu, Weapon Menu)
Raven777 and DarkLordMalik (for some gifs)
Kotaku (Controls)
Gematsu (Main points translated)
Reddit (Weapon System Translation)
 
I like how you can choose your weapons for each part of the combo. I can see a lot of interesting strategies come from it, and certain enemies may force you to mix it up. Pretty much every aspect of the combat looks fantastic. I do have some qualms though. The Phantom Sword mode looks like it could be pretty broken late game if you get a ton of MP. Also I'm not really liking the health recovery system. It seems like you could cheese that easily by just hiding behind rocks while your party takes care of everyone. I don't want to be standing around doing nothing for half the battle.
 

chozen

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I wish we could remap the buttons.

O to jump, X to attack, Square to Guard/Dodge, and L1 To warp instead.
Everything else is fine but that combination would feel right at home for me.
 

Falk

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Also I'm not really liking the health recovery system. It seems like you could cheese that easily by just hiding behind rocks while your party takes care of everyone. I don't want to be standing around doing nothing for half the battle.
From the brief night outing, the party members got creamed pretty damn fast. Of course, this is going to boil down to how versatile the AI/gambit system is and how well the other 3 avoid attacks, but Noctis already has the survivability advantage of being player-controlled with a contextual auto-evade, so I'm thinking that in any encounter that has damage spikes that able to blow through his HP to the limping state, the other 3 are going to be even more susceptible to it.
 

Angel_DvA

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Really nice thread OP, congrats.

I can't wait to play this game, I hope Square will deliver with this one, it's been to long without a good FF, please be good !
 

Exentryk

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Yeah, worth mentioning that the demo will not have magic (and AI control?). So with those in the mix in the full game, you'll have your hands full with stuff.

And we shouldn't worry too much about difficulty just yet. The enemies hit hard, and we saw the team got nearly wiped at night against those soldiers.

I wish we could remap the buttons.

O to jump, X to attack, Square to Guard/Dodge, and L1 To warp instead.
Everything else is fine but that combination would feel right at home for me.
Yeah, it'd be awesome if they can allow us remapping, at least in the main game. I can see Dash with L3 being annoying, but I am yet to try it.
 

Spot

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Really nice thread! One question though, is it possible to switch the "deck" of weapons you are using? Something like the paradaign shift where you can change your moveset in battle.
 

Dark_castle

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Brilliant work, Exentryk.

L3 dash.

This sucks in everything.
If we only have to press L3 once before/as the running motion begins, I don't think it's a major problem.

Really nice thread! One question though, is it possible to switch the "deck" of weapons you are using? Something like the paradaign shift where you can change your moveset in battle.
Never mentioned in the demo, but certainly would be a neat feature for the final game.
 

chozen

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Yeah, it'd be awesome if they can allow us remapping, at least in the main game. I can see Dash with L3 being annoying, but I am yet to try it.
Relay that to the devs after the demo, even if it is good the way it is now, for nostalgia/comfortability reasons I'd like the button layout to be like that. The dash thing is such an fps copy lol.
 

Death Penalty

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Hm... That weapon deck seems to leave absolutely no room for Noctis to wield ranged weapons like guns... That is a huge shame.

Thanks for the thread though, very nice as always.
 

chozen

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ohmahgod ohmahgod ohmahgod

this sounds brilliant and looks fantastic ..
Thanks for making this thread.

Now I need to lay down..too much hype.
 

Rad-

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Okay, the weapon deck system sounds pretty fun. I like that some weapons have old job abilities like that one weapon having "Jump". I hope there's plenty more weapons like that. Would sort of give a job system -lite feeling to the customization.

Also calling now the story twist of this game: Noctis is Gilgamesh.
 

Dark_castle

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Forgot to say great thread

Side notes, I really hope we can remove the button prompts for the parries.. It makes it look like some dumb QTE when it really isn't ala -

Basically Guard then Attack button. Also

"The co op attacks can only be performed if an ally character is close by when you parry an enemy." Then what are these co-op moves? Are they removed?
There are no button prompts for parry itself. But the follow up for co-op does have context sensitive input, requiring you to hit the attack button for the moves to happen.

Co-op moves are unlocked as you camp and increase your 'bromance level'. They can be acquired eventually if they're not in the demo.
 

chozen

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The first one may not even be a co op move. The 2nd and 3rd do have ally characters close by.
It didn't seem like he needed to parry though for these moves to activate is what I'm saying and I didn't seen any of that non-counter offensive attacks in the demo. Like when allies push you out of the way and attack for you. Wondering if there is like another button to press to activate these moves, I mean we still don't know what L2/R2 does right? Can it be a call for ally support?
 

raven777

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OnFire331

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The battle system is shaping up to be pretty good and we haven't seen how gambits, magic, summons and aerial combat factor in it yet. That patent had me pretty excited for the battle system, especially the bit where magic can affect terrain (like burning down the grass in an area) and prove to be a hindrance to your party members.
 

Dark_castle

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Guessing time.

L2 - Magic shortcut (L2+X = Fire, L2+O = Aero, L2+Square = Demi, etc)

R2 - Summon shortcut
 

RoadHazard

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L3 dash.

This sucks in everything.
Yes. Absolutely awful. Having to press down on the stick while also pushing it in a direction feels so damn terrible. And this with L2/R2 being unused? Put sprint on one of those, what the hell. If there's something else that needs to go there that isn't in yet, put that thing on R1 and move lock-on to R3. That works fine. The one thing you MUST NOT DO is put sprint on the same damn stick you use to move. I mean, logically it may make sense to have those two closely related actions on the same stick, but it feels so bad.
 

Seven Force

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This was definitely the most needed GIF breakdown by far, great job! Being able to more or less customize your melee attacks through the weapons sound great. I imagine endgame Noctis would have a sizable pool of weapons to choose from.

The Phantom Swords remind me of Vergil's Summoned Swords from DMC3, right down to being able to use them defensively (spiraling around you) or having them strike in the middle of your normal combos.
 

MultiJhonny

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This was definitely the most needed GIF breakdown by far, great job! Being able to more or less customize your melee attacks through the weapons sound great. I imagine endgame Noctis would have a sizable pool of weapons to choose from.

The Phantom Swords remind me of Vergil's Summoned Swords from DMC3, right down to being able to use them defensively (spiraling around you) or having them strike in the middle of your normal combos.
Exactly what I think especially when it comes to the phantom swords when they are floating around him. Since in the demo it only seems like there are 3 or 4 floating around him when in the older trailers when they say he is at a higher level he has a ton around him so this really makes sense.