Final Fantasy XV: Ready, steady, cook with the handsome open world camping RPG

It's very easy to look at Final Fantasy XV and see a bunch of male models dossing about in a sports car, but there's a seam of quiet experimentation running through it that suggests we may be in for a treat. While we still know next to nothing about the story, its systems of traversal, combat and exploration have been shown off in surprisingly extensive detail.

Like the early Final Fantasies, it's a game about wandering around the plains and towns of a scrumptious fantasy world, with a few battle-hungry chums tagging beside you. You could perhaps say that about any Final Fantasy, but XV genuinely seems like an attempt to return to the freedom of earlier titles, using the power of the current generation to remove pretty much any element of abstraction. The entire world is to the same scale; battles are fully real-time; the iconic Tent item has been replaced by an actual campfire.
A seam of quiet experimentation suggests we may be in for a treat
Familiar enemies, including goblins and the Adamantoise, return, with designs that echo the NES games. But there are new features too, including the ability to track certain monsters by their footprints, including the big beastie of the upcoming demo, Behemoth Smoke Eye.

Speaking of which, it's from a recent Square Enix demo playthrough that we've gleaned a lot of this new information. Mr Smoke Eye himself will be an optional encounter, but one who will help greatly with the main goal of the playable teaser. Some time in, your lovely car will suddenly break down, and you'll have to raise a large sum of cash in order to fix it up. You can do this by taking on the
Behemoth, or by finding and selling smaller bits and bobs a level of freedom that will hopefully carry across to quests in the main game.

Battles play out like a more restrained Kingdom Hearts, with various dodging and teleport moves, and flashy co-op attacks you can execute with your well-groomed buds. These will unlock in the full game as you make camp and grow closer with your chums but there are plenty of other reasons to sit by the fire.

FFXV's camping system is interesting if it wasn't a massive cliché by now, we might have said it seems partly inspired by Dark Souls. Campsites, once unlocked, will let you fast-travel between them, spend your hard-won experience, and naturally cook up a tasty bit of grub. Cooked food, including Ignis' famous beef stew, will supply characters with a temporary boon to their stats.

Final Fantasy XV is only 60% complete, a dispiriting figure but thankfully with the biggest FF demo yet to keep us entertained in the meantime. When it arrives free with FF Type-0 on 20 March, we expect to be running and cooking and hunting for many weeks to come.

Phantom Dust
A closer look at the stylish battle system
As a weapon summoner, hero Noctis' main talent is in acquiring and summoning phantom weapons, including the Zweihander and the Blood Sword. Each of these comes with a special ability, but you can also chain different weapons into combo attacks, and even combine them for extravagant Phantom Sword attacks. Weapons aside, Noctis can take cover in the environment to quickly restore HP and MP, or expend MP to teleport or auto-deflect attacks.

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