Is Final Fanasy 15′s new direction a reality check for the RPG on PS4?

Pinstripe suits. Concrete skyscrapers. Cover-based swordplay. Final Fantasy 15’s cutting straight to it: Square Enix’s long-running RPG saga has left its staid turn-based roots rotting in the current-gen compost heap. And while purists may initially baulk at the combat U-turn, we reckon it might just be the happiest accident in the series’ 26-year history.

Is Final Fanasy 15 a reality check for the RPG on PS4?

Accident? You might remember FF15 was originally unveiled as far back as E3 2006 as Final Fantasy Versus 13, a spin-off project featuring third-person, real-time combat. Seven years, a name change and an entire console generation later, 15 is flying the Final Fantasy flag for PS4 with its hacky, slashy battle system intact. Still with us? Good, because here’s a far simpler info nugget: the game looks astounding, even against everything else we’ve been shown on PS4 so far. Thought Square Enix was flashing false graphics at us when it showed off that fancy tech demo at last year’s E3? Well they were – FF15 looks better, and we’re not just talking about the polygon count of each character’s outrageously groomed barnet.

Final Fantasy 15 ps4 screenIt’s the action on show that looks dazzling, with lead man Noctis Lucis Caelum (yep, they’re still going with the stupid names) grappling monsters as he moves through buildings with no hint of slowdown, then leaping out again as if loading times are naught but a distant memory. Not only that, Noctis looks like he can interact with the scenery, too – jamming his sword in walls and ceilings to clamber up structures in what look like the sexiest platforming sequences this side of Nathan Drake, before scrabbling his way up city-sized monsters à la Shadow Of The Colossus.

On-screen hit point displays and enemies leaking numbers instead of blood show FF15 still has tactical bite to augment its delirious action sequences, but this still looks to be the boldest step Final Fantasy has taken in years. Crucially, though, we reckon it’s a step in the right direction. Final Fantasy 13 alienated fans three years ago by being linear as bog roll, but the noises coming from Square Enix this time around suggest the soul of Final Fantasy – a huge, explorable world (with airships and Chocobos) and a massive cast of magical misfits – is back.

It’s what the franchise needs if it wants to keep pace next-gen  – retain the emotive storytelling & visuals while smashing the turn-based combat
of old with a massive 2013 hammer

And that’s precisely what the franchise needs to do if it wants to keep pace with the next-gen big boys – retain the emotive storytelling and the prettier-than-polished-Adamantite visuals while smashing the stolid, turn-based combat of old with a massive 2013 hammer. It’s early days yet (expect a release in the latter half of 2014), but for the first time in a long while we’re genuinely excited about the future of Final Fantasy.