Feature Article

Is the Final Fantasy 15 Demo Update Worth Playing?

Caught in a rad bromance.

In a move uncommon to anything we've seen in the world of game demos, Square Enix released an update today for Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae, the playable slice of Final Fantasy XV that first launched in March. This latest version--released to address fan feedback from the original demo--feels like a full-on patch, adding a handful of new content to the roughly four-hour (if you explore everything) demo.

Last month, Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata discussed fan feedback from the original demo, noting that the updated demo would address fans' concerns. Players had problems with the targeting system and slow-moving camera, which hindered fluidity in battle. But after completing the updated Episode Duscae, I can comfortably say that Tabata made good on his promise and then some; in addition to the bevy of fixes, there are a few new missions providing new ways for Noctis to interact with his friends.

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After installing the patch, the first thing you may notice about Episode Duscae are changes to the camera. In the previous demo, it ran sluggishly, making it hard to track quick-moving enemies as they darted on and off the screen. The update has rectified this; the camera moves more quickly and is much smoother, allowing you to whip it around in any direction to keep up with the flow of battle.

One element not present in the original demo was Cross Chains, the ability for Noctis to team up with one of his friends and execute joint attacks. In Episode Duscae, these attacks are introduced while Noctis is "On Tour" with one of his companions--which essentially means Noctis and a friend are off on a two-person side mission that will temporarily pause the main quest. In the first tour with beefcake Gladiolus, Noctis learns to use Cross Chains while slicing up some Garulas for their late-night sirloin dinners.

Cross Chains are essentially a small chain of quick-time events and are easy to master once you get the hang of the timing. Noctis' companion will summon a gold circle, which he must enter in order to instigate the Cross Chain. After the companion lands a hit, it's Noctis turn, and a successful Cross Chain occurs when Noctis and his partner take turns landing hits three times in a row, for six hits total. If you manage the seesaw-like execution and all six hits successfully land, the pair gets one final, powerful dual attack that will usually bring down enemies in an instant.

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According to a message screen in the demo, when all four companions are on the field at once, they will all participate in the final attack of a Cross Chain, allowing them to kill larger, harder enemies like the giant pale blue Catoblepas roaming the watering holes of Duscae region (you know, those massive long-necked creatures you couldn't engage with in the first demo).

There are three "On Tour" missions in Episode Duscae, one for each of Noctis' companions. With Gladiolus, you learn how to use Cross Chains. Prompto takes you searching for mushrooms, and Ignis just wants some bro time stargazing. All three friends have their own Cross Chain attacks, making for some fun variation on the battlefield. When you first notice an enemy and the red detection bar appears at the top of the screen, one of Noctis' friends may approach him to talk--for example, Ignis may come up and ask, "Want to hear more of my plan?"; these interactions will indicate which teammate will want to team up for Cross Chain attacks in that battle, so look out for his prompts.

But my favorite change is the overhaul of the targeting system. Originally, when locking onto an enemy, the camera would not follow them or keep the target in focus in the center of the screen. This has been completely changed, and now you can lock onto an enemy and expect it to stay in the center of your field of vision. It's now easier to chase enemies as they dart around and move between targets

How you lock onto a target has also changed. Clicking R3 centers the camera in the direction you are looking at, but pressing and briefly holding R1 allows you to hard lock on to the target. A quick tap of R1 will also briefly target an enemy and bring them into focus in the center of the screen. It's a much more comfortable way of targeting than the previous scheme, which mostly used only R3.

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Noctis now has a dodge-roll ability, which can quickly get him out of harm's way. The parry system has also been tweaked slightly; parry symbols appear above enemies as they charge you, and holding down L1 allows you to dodge and then parry with a strong attack. Previously it didn't feel like you were given enough time to successfully execute a parry, but now you are given enough warning time to prepare the move. These two changes, coupled with the addition of more in-battle warp points--the top of rocks, mostly--have granted players more freedom of movement, opening up the battlefield for Noctis and allowing for some pretty sweet attack combos.

Other small changes to Episode Duscae include brief scenes of the boys playing around together. Controlling Noctis, I approached camp just as Gladiolus tackled Prompto into our tent and began beating him up. Ignis regaled us with tales of shooting stars while the company drank from mugs around a campfire. After slapping a robotic soldier away from me in combat, Prompto reached out for an ecstatic high five. These brief interactions between the four make their relationships feel stronger; I feel like I'm watching four old friends pal around, and I believe how deeply they care about each other. Each subtle fist-bump and shoulder-punch and pat on the back make Noctis, Ignis, Prompto, and Gladiolus feel more real, more interesting, and I can't wait to see what adventures they get into in the main game.

Also, at the end of each solo mission, you're shown a cell phone selfie of Noctis and his companion. It's sweet.

Does the second version of Episode Duscae live up to the promises Square Enix has made? I think so. We've got huge improvements to the camera and targeting as well as significant additions to the battle system, and with combat making up such a big part of Final Fantasy games, it's exciting to see these cool systems play out. And with four main characters as visibly invested in each other as XV's heroes, I'm optimistic for a promising story.

Alexa Ray Corriea on Google+
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Alexa Ray Corriea

Alexa Ray Corriea is never not covered in glitter at any given time.

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srfilk86

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Really love the demo. So glad I found a day one copy at gamestop yesterday. :)

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IceWolFReal

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Edited By IceWolFReal

to the one who made the chain combo video pls just put only segments to how one should complete the quest if it takes you 10 min to figure that you should click buttons(and I hope you figured it because it does not seem like it) then I wander if you will be stuck in one place for 2 hours if something big happens (i'm telling you as nice as possibly I can)

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mirage_so3

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The internet is an amazingly stupid thing. We have never been so connected to each other, but what do we use it for? To call each other names.

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FKlepackiFTW

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@mirage_so3: I agree. Nothing really changes with the internet. And now we are able to be assholes anonymously to everyone. I may not be the best teacher but I know one thing. Positivity only creates more positivity so it's important to not be an asshole or others will be assholes to you and your life will become more negative.

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noirtenshin

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Edited By noirtenshin

i really hope they manage to get that "friends in deep shit" moment, where you know you don't have anyone except few friends, a mission, and pressure that reminds you all the time in how deep shit you are.

If they manage to get that right, this may be a critical hit, otherwise, its gonna be so meh it will kill the game...
and that's coming from a big FF fan(boy)

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nickfitz_99

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Did anyone notice the clarity in picture when you do a 'tour' mission? Maybe having 3 AI allies is too much for the current generation of consoles.

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jwsoul

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How do u get the demo?

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unknown-racer

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@jwsoul: you have to buy the day one edition final fantasy type-0 to get the demo which is to late for u now. If u a final fantasy fan don't play the demo even after the update patch ver2.0 the game still sucks and many way... they did improve on the combat but still suck. Just wait for the full version and get mad later.

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MisterMaster415

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Edited By MisterMaster415

There are actually 4 companion missions in the new demo. Gladiolus has two of them.

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Rekson

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Why did it take the person in the video 5 minutes to finally hit the square button 3 times?

No really, I can't fathom it.

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Flyin3lvl

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Edited By Flyin3lvl

I hope the target system etc crosses over to kingdom hearts 3 ..... the last set up was vaguely similar to one and two

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Blacktalian

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DId you know you can fight the big ass monsters in the water? lol

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esqueejy

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Boyband Adventure: The Coleman Years

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sofreshinclean

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I'd like to know something. If you're a "fan" of video games. Then why not just enjoy them for what it is? Yes, I do miss the turn based style the older Final Fantasy games have had. But with the evolution of game systems get higher in technology, the makers of these games need to also evolve. So why bitch moan and complain about it. Just enjoy it for what it is. You could be missing out on what could be a great game. I do enjoy this demo. I've died, yes.. (camera angles have been the killer for me) But it doesn't make sense to trash the game overall if it hasn't been released yet. At least SE has listened to their fans and have take their suggestions into consideration in terms of an update. Which I think is pretty cool.

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deactivated-5b6fca28803ac

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Summary of comments below:

Elementary school kids using the word "gay" on everything.

Casuals who dont even play ff just here to B.

Kids

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esqueejy

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@masterkushh: I don't particularly ascribe to the whole idi0cy of calling things "hardcore" or "casual," but frankly, there's nothing "hardcore" about FF games. Nothing. It's a "casual" series.

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nickfitz_99

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@esqueejy: Its been a casual series since 10. The last time I actually had an issue with a boss in those games was Ozma in FF9

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FKlepackiFTW

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@nickfitz_99: You haven't played FF12.

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el_swanno

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@esqueejy: I think JRPGs have become a niche market in the west over the last couple of generations of console hardware. It seems SE are attempting to make FFXV accessible to the mass market in western countries. Personally I loved the first Duscae demo and can't wait for the finished game. I think we're in for something pretty special even if only in a technical sense.

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Avatar image for deactivated-5b6fca28803ac
deactivated-5b6fca28803ac

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@esqueejy: how is FF a casual series? The fact that its a rpg already makes it non casual.

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BigAl519

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@esqueejy: I would love to know your definition of "hardcore" gaming lol.

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TurianShepard

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@esqueejy: Wasn't always.

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Rusteater

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Caitlyn Jenner has now been added as a playable character.

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HughTheHand88

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@Rusteater: she better be dressed modestly or no dice.

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gamebuyer22

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Edited By gamebuyer22

What about the resolution?? The game is extremely blurry.

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esqueejy

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@gamebuyer22: Looking at the scene at which the video is frozen above with the extremely crystal clear rendering of a Coleman lantern in the foreground, I think we're seeing them blur the background more than usual or necessary to draw your attention tot he advertised products.

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xXl_z3r0_lXx

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@gamebuyer22: No It's not? It runs at 1080p

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deactivated-5bda06edf37ee

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so, this is still exclusive to Type-0 HD?

ZzzzZZZZZzZZZ..... i would understand beta, but demo? demo is supposed to be spread around for free to attract customers. what is this shit?

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FKlepackiFTW

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Edited By FKlepackiFTW

@groowagon: I agree it's kinda dumb.

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Arsyad00

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so they added sidequests

its more RPG-like now :D

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djisgod15

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why dont they just stop pissing about with a demo and actually hurry the hell up and release the game.........it's only been 9 fucking years

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deactivated-5bda06edf37ee

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@djisgod15: because the changes to the demo will also affect the final game?

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Blacktalian

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I don't know what people are complaining about about. I enjoyed the demo, and appreciate the fact that they tried to please us by giving us another demo after our feedback. I am pleased with boht graphics and gameplay.

As far as I know every final fantasy is suppose to be unique.

I enjoyed some of the previous final fantasy games, especially 7, 9 and 10 I played all 3 multiple times.

I'd rather have this new battle system than the old FF classic battle system (which by the way i was ok with in the past) where you roam around and randomly you get into a fight and it has to load and time stops and you get a list of actions to choose from.

A game is suppose to evolve not stay the same.

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deactivated-5b6fca28803ac

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@blacktalian: complainers are most likely yougins with short fuses and spoiled rotten personalities.

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tom_cat_01

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9 years

9 YEARS.

NINE. YEARS.

I've been waiting for this game since I was 21 and first saw Noctis wielding all those swords on the Cathedral step. C'mon... give us a release date!!

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lostn

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@tom_cat_01: That stuff from versus 13 is all gone now. It's almost an entirely new game from ground up.

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ethanm1834

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Edited By ethanm1834

I'm enjoying the demo, looking forward to whenever this will come out. The only thing I'm worried about is the story. I play RPGs for story, no matter how well they are done if the story doesn't grab me its a fail. So I'm tentative, and is probably the main reason that I haven't bought any RPG this year day one. Though for some reason, this game makes me a little hopeful.

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JoeJoe1639

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It's pretty funny how uncomfortable everyone is with the idea of male friendship. I'm curious if any of the guys here have any male friends, and if so is there a token girl you always bring along just so being alone with your guy friends won't turn you gay?

It's a FF game, so I'm sure there will be plenty of tits to look at, but I'm not quite willing to completely write off the story and the main cast because they're all guys. Also, if you think their clothing and hair-styles are unusually metrosexual then you clearly haven't played much FF. It's a JRPG trope that you kind of just have to get used to.

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Flyincloud1116

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Final Fantasy 15: Octoberfest

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Otterbee

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@flyincloud1116: Don't you mean, "Final Fantasy 15: COCKtoberfest"? :)

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Guy_Brohski

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@otterbee: Anal Fantasy XV: FOCKtoberfest.

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Bagshot

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Edited By Bagshot

I applaud their approach to this game, taking in all the feedback and making improvements, but I still can't enjoy it. I lose interest very quickly. The characters are annoying and don't appeal to me in the slightest. They look like the sort of men who are way too interested in fashion for my tastes. The combat gets boring very quickly and I hate the teleport mechanic thing (can't remember the name), where you hide behind a rock to recover MP. What? Who wants to do that?

Mmmmm....not looking to good from my point of view. I think I've outgrown Final Fantasy. Maybe I've even outgrown the whole Japanese thing altogether. I think I'll just go back to playing The Witcher instead.

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KahnArtizt

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KahnArtizt  Online

@Bagshot: I never had any inclination that these guys are fashionistas. They have literally never mentioned their clothes in any way, shape, or form so I don't know where you're getting that from. Also, you do realize that every final fantasy since like 8 or 9 has had an actual fashion designer design their outfits right? Would you rather they just wear jeans and a t-shirt? How boring is that?

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koopabros64

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@KahnArtizt I actually would prefer jeans and a t-shirt. Never really cared for most character designs in FF.:

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Otterbee

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@KahnArtizt: GTA IV boring.

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Kusimeka

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@Bagshot said:

I applaud their approach to this game, taking in all the feedback and making improvements, but I still can't enjoy it. I lose interest very quickly. The characters are annoying and don't appeal to me in the slightest. They look like the sort of men who are way too interested in fashion for my tastes. The combat gets boring very quickly and I hate the teleport mechanic thing (can't remember the name), where you hide behind a rock to recover MP. What? Who wants to do that?

Mmmmm....not looking to good from my point of view. I think I've outgrown Final Fantasy. Maybe I've even outgrown the whole Japanese thing altogether. I think I'll just go back to playing The Witcher instead.

You know, i was wondering the same thing. Have i outgrown Final Fantasy, or maybe these type of games in general? So i went back to play FF IX, and guess what? I had more fun with this game than i had with any JRPG in the last 10 years. It was a blast. So no, i think they are seriously lost with what they are trying to do. It's part greed, part stupidity. They want to appeal to everyone, and this is the result.

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mortaniuslok

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Edited By mortaniuslok

I'm amazed with the amount of people critizicing this. I know the last few FFs (especially the XIII saga) had a lot of criticism, but everything SE is doing seems to me like a step in the right direction: they are creating an open world game, full of exploration, they are creating an apparently (from what we can infer) deep interesting story with characters that can branch out and lead to great sidestories, they are innovating on the battle system, and they are using the Demo as a way to gain customer feedback vefore the final release so the result is something we like!. It's an amazing approach and I personally applaud SE's efforts to bring us a game we like.

I know not every FF is for everybody, I personally loved FFx, X-2, XII, XIII and XIII-2 (haven't played Lightning Returns) as much as I loved the classic ones (IV, V, VI, etc), and I have great hopes for this one too.

Ohh, and please stop it with the gay thing. If you feel that your own sexual tendencies are threatened by a game like this, then don't play it.

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