Analysis, Gaming

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae Demo Impressions

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The open-world Duscae region is vibrant and beautiful, making for a tantalizing backdrop full of life, color, and hidden secrets.

Exploring Duscae

The Duscae region is all rolling plains, blue cloud-filled skies and sprawling vistas, with a distinct open-world vibrancy that really breathes new life into the franchise. Shattered plains and great hulking stony spires pierce the skies, with the crystalline cityscape glimmering in the distance.

The territory is peppered with exotic flora and fauna, with hinterlands, mountain ranges, marshlands and lake formations making up its widespread ecosystem. Right now the region is kind of scarce in terms of unique enemies and creatures, but we do see varying types in the open plains as well as in the shadowy forests.

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You can buy ingredients for delicious meals as well as helpful potions and antidotes, plus peddle the items you’ve earned in battle to rack up Gil.

Although you have to run everywhere, Duscae is so immersive that you genuinely want to explore it. You want to roam its sunlit grasslands and search for hidden treasures across the splintered crags and canopied forests.

You can find a variety of goodies laying peppered about the region that can be sold back to merchants for Gil, so be on the lookout for them. Dragon Scales sell for 2oogil a pop, but also remember you’ll often find items by defeating enemies, so do some battling while you explore.

Duscae has a living presence, and it beckons to the player, speaking to our innate sense of wonder. Even still it would be nice to ride on a chocobo…but the “Chocobo Heaven” ranch at the Wiz Chocobo Post won’t be renting out their birds “until the wetlands are safe to travel again”.

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Nothing provides male bonding like campfires, delicious meals, assigning EXP and of course some good-hearted sparring.

Questing and camping

As most of us know, the demo’s main quest centers around raising enough money to pay Cidney the mechanic to repair Noctis’ car, which Prompto promptly wrecked. While scouting the region, our band of friends come across a wanted poster for a ferocious behemoth called Dead-Eye, and decide to take on the beast to raise the funds to repair the car.

It’s hard not to crack a smile at such a wonderfully absurd premise, but hey, it is what it is.

So basically you’ll spend your time in Duscae uncovering clues on Dead-Eye’s whereabouts while leveling up, searching for items peppered throughout the region, and selling scraps and bits picked up by enemies to nearby shops.

As you explore Duscae, random sidequests will trigger to keep things interesting and fresh. There aren’t a ton of them, but overall it feels like there is enough content to keep players entertained. The combat sequences are pretty fun after a while, as is drinking in the dazzling eye-candy that is Square Enix’s Luminous Engine.

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Resting at campsites has some very real tangible benefits on gameplay, giving various buffs with meals and refilling everyone’s MP and HP to boot.

After a hard day’s exploring and battling, the sun starts to set and night’s great shroud encompasses Duscae. You have the option to keep roaming around or to camp at night, but I always opt for the camping scenario seeing as it’s pretty much the only way to progress.

Camping is an important part of the demo because you finally get to reap the benefits of all the EXP earned during the day.

Plus you can cook up some tasty dishes which have various effects that last throughout the next day, including immunity to status effects (incredibly useful when you face those annoying poison-spitting goblins), extra health, and other buffs.

Sparring with Gladio is pretty much the best way to become more attuned to Final Fantasy XV’s combat system, and you can retry it any number of times when you camp.