At the Microsoft press conference, fans of Final Fantasy XV finally got a demo of the eagerly-awaited battle with one of the titanic summons. Zack Webster had the chance to try his luck fighting Titan.
There have been several easy-to-play demos of Final Fantasy XV already, but none until now have featured a battle with the titanic summons that seem to be a running theme for the game. I managed to play the newest demo - the one shown at Microsoft's press conference - which does exactly that. The demo is effectively a portion of a boss fight against Titan, the oversized rock monster, and gives a decent preview of some of the abilities available for Noctis in the full game. However, the demo itself was a rather dull affair.
After dispatching a few nameless guards, the fight with Titan begins with him smashing the ground from out beneath Noctis. This is Final Fantasy, so no damage is done, I was now separated from the rest of the party. The following minute of gameplay consisted of blocking and parrying Titan's attacks, which, given his size, were slow, noticeably telegraphed, and predicated by a big button prompt in the middle of the screen that gave ample time to respond to. After successfully blocking, a short, uncontrollable animatation played out, leading to another big button prompt to push the giant fist or foot away. This repeated several times until another party member showed up and I was prompted to run away from Titan as he crumbled away more of the stage. It should have been an exciting action sequence but it was a bit too obvious that it was scripted.
Arriving on a new platform, the game then prompted me to hold off until more friends arrived. The game told me this in the most uninteresting way possible, just spelling it out across the screen like it was the next mission objective in a Call of Duty game. This part changed things up a bit as Noctis could now attack and Titan added a few attacks that required dodging instead of blocking via blatant button prompts. However, since dodging is still just a held button, many of these attacks were quite easy to dodge. Which may have been a good thing, as the camera was a mess anytime I let go of the lock-on button. However, the game had some moments of fun during this bit. Warp jumping up to Titan's limbs to let off aerial combos and get out of the way of his attacks at the last second was fun and I made a game out of seeing how long I could stay in the air. All this action was entirely unnecessary, as any offensive effort against Titan was made moot as I completed the current objective and the game told me to destroy Titan's arm, which consisted of hitting it until it becamed stunned and casting Blizzara on it. At that point, it cut to a scene of everyone attacking it at once before Noctis hits it with a big sword and it shatters. The demo then just kind of trails off with a few token lines from the characters.
While visually spectacular, the demo failed to be engaging in most ways. The more interesting aspects of the game's combat system — chaining magic, setting up partner attacks, warping, the verticality of the arenas — was lost in a messy spectacle that was not fun to play and easily the worst bit of gameplay I've gotten my hands on yet for the game. My attacks were worthless, the whole fight felt on-rails, and the conclusion underwhelming. While I have been impressed with other showings of the game, the fight with Titan made me feel like a tag-along rather than the hero.