Wrestling the camera
Despite all of the customization, the techniques, and having to come up with your own personalized tactics, combat is still clunky and unrefined thanks to the game’s camera.
Ontop of having to pay attention to so many different things in combat, you also have to wrestle with the camera so you can actually see what you’re attacking. The camera also is heavily involved with the game’s two different targeting lock-on systems.
Noctis has a soft lock that can be activated when hitting R1 that’s used for teleporting over to an enemy and smacking them with a warp-strike. You can change targets at any time while in the soft-lock system, and you’ll automatically attack nearby enemies without explicitly needing to lock on to them.
He also has a hard lock which fastens your focus to a single target, which is pretty much essential for killing a specific baddy.
Now the trick to combat is getting use to how these lock-ons work, and getting use to moving the camera every which way so you can get a clear line of sight.
Since the enemies are always moving around, running to and fro (especially the gracefully fast sabertusks), your camera will swing around wildly and often conflict with nearby objects like trees, rocks and of course the knee-high grass.
Also the camera automatically pulls towards your locked-on target, which can be a big annoyance especially when you’re trying to see what’s around you.
Although Noctis swings his weapon in front of him, you’re always swinging the camera around to watch his back and make sure you’re in the clear.
Plus it’s a huge annoyance when you’re trying to run away and hide to regen MP and the camera is still locked onto the enemy. It’d be nice if the game automatically cancelled all your targets when you’re in Stasis so you can easily identify a safe spot to hide.
This can be a big problem at the beginning and really works against the player. Having to juggle the strange camera mechanics along with the targeting controls remains one of the biggest challenges the game has presented thus far.
Another minor hindrance is not being able to really cancel attacks and dodge quick enough. The attacks have their own animations, and let’s say you’re doing a Ravage attack when all of a sudden the enemy strikes before you do. In that instance you’ll get hit regardless if you hid the dodge button because you’re in the middle of an attack.
It would be nice to be able to fluidly “cancel” an attack and be able to time the dodges just right, but even still it’s understandable why Square Enix designed it this way. But it does take away the perspective of fluidity.
Overall combat is an intuitive–if not tricky–mix of third-person elements melded with a kind of action-oriented combo system tethered with a rather funky targeting system. It takes time and practice to get used to, but often acts as a major roadblock to enjoyment.