Monday, March 23, 2015

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae Impressions

Final Fantasy XV, formerly known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, has been in development hell for a very long time. Entire series of games have come and gone in the time that this one game has been in development. Now at long last, players can finally get their hands on a demo of the game (provided they buy Final Fantasy Type-0 HD of course). While it is clearly a promotional tool to make the game a day one purchase for gamers, I imagine that the second purpose of this demo is to show people at long last what Square Enix has been working on for the fifteenth installation in the series. In a way, having a demo out for the game brings us one step closer to a day when the full game will be released.

In short, Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae is an incredible experience. The demo alone offers more content than most games released these days. While it will take roughly three to four hours to beat the demo, there is lots to do in the demo afterward including a fight against a large behemoth by the name of Deadeye.

Apparently the demo takes place early on in the game, likely sometime after the intro and any tutorials that proceed it. Noctis and his three friends are stranded in the region known as Duscae when their car breaks down. The goal in the demo is to raise 24,000 Gil so thatCidney can repair the car. The player accomplishes this by selling items and completed various side jobs. You can get all the money you need by killing Deadeye, but this will require the player to be fairly high level to have any hope of success.

That's not a skybox.  That is, for the most part, all terrain that you can explore. 

Gameplay is very similar to Kingdom Hearts and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. The player controls Noctis during combat and is able to freely move around and choose targets to attack. Targeting enemies and landing hits can be a little difficult at times, but I imagine this system will receive a great deal of adjustments prior to release. Combat occurs right on the spot rather than being transported to some random battlefield like in older RPGs.  

In the demo, the player is given the entirety of the Duscae region to run around in and explore. This is the first true open world Final Fantasy, and this change is a welcome one. If you see something in the distance, you are able to go there in most cases. This small portion of the world begs to be explored, leaving all kinds of neat things for the player to discover. There is even enemies that will dynamically spawn from drop ships that look like they belong in some kind of science fiction movie. 

As you explore, you find resting areas where you can camp for the night and save your game.  By using these places, your characters will cook up a meal using ingredients in your inventory and then rest up.  The food provides various buffs like boosted EXP and negative status effect immunity for the next day, which can help give the player an edge against more difficult opponents.  

Bet you can't guess what they're looking at.

While it is clearly still in development, Final Fantasy XV is a gorgeous game. The environments are beautiful, characters have a lot of detail on them, and it all feels like a realistic world rather than some area that exists solely for gameplay. If there has ever been a game that made use of the power of the current generation consoles, it would be Final Fantasy XV.  Character animations are highly life-like, and they will even adjust their movements based on terrain.  There are all kinds of nice little details added to the world, like cars driving along roads that will move around you if you are in the way.  It is this kind of attention to detail that really brings the game to life in a way that is only possible on the current generation.  That said, there are some minor frame rate issues and other bugs that can occur. But with how polished this demo is, I can't even begin to imagine what the retail release will be like.

If you are a fan of Final Fantasy or RPGs, you owe it to yourself to check out Episode Duscae. Even if you don't really care for Type-0 HD, the demo alone makes it a worthy purchase. It is unknown when Final Fantasy XV will come out, but I imagine it will be sometime before the end of this year or early next year. Final Fantasy XV will be available on PS4 and Xbox One only.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Blizzard Announces WoW Tokens

Earlier today, Blizzard announced a new feature that will be coming to World of Warcraft soon. The new feature is the ability to purchase game time tokens and sell them on the Auction House. You can find more details about this upcoming addition to WoW on the official website, but here are the basic details.

You will be able to buy a token and sell it on the auction house immediately. Unlike other items where you set the price, the price for the token will be fixed and based on region. At this time it is unknown how much the token will cost in either real world money or gold. All that is known is that the gold cost for tokens will adjust dynamically based on supply and demand. I imagine Blizzard did this not only because of the ever changing value of real world currency, but in order to prevent the sheer amount of undercutting that goes on in the Auction House due to many a player lacking even the most basic concept of economics. 

Take a look at the Swift Lovebird mount being sold.  This is an example of undercutting in the auction house.

For players that have reached the gold cap (which is 999k gold at present), this would be a great feature that would allow them to maintain a WoW subscription without having to pay a single cent provided they can buy a token every thirty days, which is the amount of time each token is worth. The current release date for this feature has yet to be determined.

As far as my opinion goes, I think the idea is interesting. It is a feature that theoretically serves two purposes, and can allow players to get gold quick in-game without relying on shady websites and services that usually end up stealing their customers account information anyway. As I said earlier, those who have a seemingly infinite amount of gold will be able to maintain their subscription through their efforts in-game alone. Not only that, but those who have some money to spend in real life and are hurting for some gold in-game will be able to purchase a few tokens to sell to those who have excessive amounts of gold. Although, just because the idea has potential, it doesn't mean it will actually work or be used by the player base. Not only that, but this idea will require a great deal of care and observation on Blizzard's part.

(Image from WoW official site) This could be an interesting new feature, or a new headache for Blizzard and players.

For example, there will likely be a lot of balancing and guess work involved with determining prices. How will Blizzard decide what gold as a currency is worth when compared to real world money? Will it differ when compared to the euro or the pound? It is unclear at this point, but it is something that I intend to keep an eye on. At the very least, it can't be any worse than the disaster that was the Diablo 3 auction house.

Stay tuned, as more information on this is released I will keep you all posted!