Final Fantasy XV Features

FeatureThe past, present and future of Final Fantasy 15

Hajime Tabata poured his life into getting the JRPG out last year - but he's not done just yet.

It's coming up to a year since Final Fantasy 15 released, but it's not as if work has stopped on Square Enix's epic RPG. Updates keep rolling out, a PC version is in the works - as well as a Switch version, which is still in the very early planning stages - while we're still a chapter away from seeing the expansions, each centred around a member of the game's main cast, being released. It seems the transformation that this game went from, from Final Fantasy Versus 13 to Final Fantasy 15, wasn't the only one it'd see - over the past year, it's shifted from a boxed game with a handful of expansions to a constantly evolving game-as-service.

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I ended up falling for Final Fantasy 15 in quite a big way when it finally released late last November, but good lord did it have more than its fair share of faults. A plot pockmarked with holes, a battle system that lacked some of the depth and elegance of the series' high-point and an open world that was a little threadbare - it was, if you looked at it from some angles, a bit of a shambles. But what heart it had. I struggle to think of another big budget game - especially one with such a tortured history - delivered with such enthusiasm, character and winning warmth.

Can Final Fantasy 15's new PS4 Pro patch hit 60fps?

Digital FoundryCan Final Fantasy 15's new PS4 Pro patch hit 60fps?

And has Square-Enix improved the 1800p 30fps mode?

Just prior to the release of Final Fantasy 15, Square-Enix teased an update that would enable faster frame-rates when playing the game on a PlayStation 4 Pro. Now, three months later, version 1.05 is finally available, promising enhanced performance up to 60fps. But does the final result actually match the target frame-rate - and have the title's troublesome frame-pacing issues in its 1800p/4K mode received any attention at all?

Prior to the arrival of this patch, users were presented with two options - lite and high. The former drops the presentation to 1080p resolution while delivering a smooth, stable 30 frames per second. This mode on PS4 Pro was our recommended way to play Final Fantasy 15 due to its consistency - the fact that, by and large, it produced a properly frame-paced 30fps. The high mode bumps the resolution up to 1800p using checkerboarding, and introduced enhanced visual features but consistent frame-pacing wasn't enforced, leading to a very jerky game in motion.

With 1.05 installed, the lite and high modes are still the choices available, but in adding a new, higher frame-rate mode, our only route to play FF15 with consistent frame-pacing is gone. Lite mode essentially unlocks the frame-rate, but performance doesn't reach anything like the mooted 60fps, averaging at around 45fps instead. Meanwhile, the high mode is the same as it ever was - the visuals are beautiful, but the consistency in the 30fps update is really poor. Frame-pacing definitely has not been fixed. It's a bit of a Hobson's choice then: in terms of performance, your options boil down to a highly variable unlocked frame-rate, or else a locked 30fps with inconsistent frame delivery, leading to a very jerky experience.

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Final Fantasy 15's new update is dumb, shallow and kind of brilliant

For all its pomp and grandeur, Final Fantasy is so often at its best when it's being a little bit dumb. And it doesn't really get much dumber than the Moogle Chocobo carnival that's just launched as a free update to Final Fantasy 15. A standalone of sorts set in Altissia, the carnival repurposes the Venetian city as a colourful parade of mini-games that offer enough diversions to while away an hour or two.

Square Enix has certainly put the elbow grease in to make it worthwhile, and there's a surprising amount to see and do here. Is any of it actually that good? I'm not wholly convinced - the Chocobo racing is cute but throwaway, a shooting range and Cactaur-themed game of whackamole are equally slight and the only activities that last more than a couple of minutes are extended treasure hunts that are as torturous as they are titillating - but I've had a lovely time in the carnival nevertheless.

As the owner of two moogle plushies and someone who's constantly scouring Etsy for a moogle outfit for my nine month old daughter, I was always likely to be a pushover, but there's a goofiness to the whole thing that I think anyone can get onboard with. Within seconds of entering the carnival I was dancing alongside a man in a moogle suit; shortly after, I was warping from point to point in pursuit of a child's rogue balloons.

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I have an odd little theory about Final Fantasy games. You've heard, no doubt, of the odd/even Star Trek theory - or, as posited by Tim in the sitcom Spaced, how every odd-numbered Star Trek film turns out to be shite. With Final Fantasy, I've always thought it's a bit more complicated than that. There's a lot more shite to get through, for one thing, but when you find those highs they can be utterly sublime.

Performance Analysis: Final Fantasy 15

Digital FoundryPerformance Analysis: Final Fantasy 15

A phenomenal optimisation effort from Square-Enix, but additional polish is required on PS4 and Pro.

For a while there, Final Fantasy 15 performance was looking a touch dodgy. Seemingly prioritising visual accomplishments over a stable frame-rate, each of the title's early previews exhibited profound issues - and even the more recent Platinum demo, which introduced dynamic resolution scaling, still disappointed. The good news is that the release code's finishing touches include the required raft of optimisations required to sustain 30fps. The bad news is that a key issue remains unresolved on PlayStation 4 hardware - one that Square-Enix really needs to address.

We're referring to incorrect frame-pacing. At the risk of turning this into a lecture, there's a reason why visually complex games lock to 30fps instead of matching your typical display's standard 60Hz - developers have twice the amount of render time available, and by presenting a new frame on every other refresh, you still get a smooth, consistent experience. Bad console frame-pacing typically sees developers put the required 30fps cap in place, but do not update the new frame on every other display update.

The end result is that you get a jittery presentation that actually looks like a lower frame-rate presentation. Frames should arrive paced at clean 33ms intervals, but instead they persist for 16ms, 33ms or even 50ms. In a third person title like Final Fantasy 15, which has a lot of sweeping camera movement, the perceived judder is difficult to ignore. However, here's the thing - Xbox One is completely unaffected, and there is a mode unique to the PS4 Pro version that also seems to mostly address the problem.

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FeatureFinishing Final Fantasy

Inside the team working to complete the most troubled Final Fantasy game ever made.

Editor's note: Hello! This piece originally ran in early November, but it seemed entirely appropriate to republish it this morning, now that a truly monumental piece of game development is finally reaching its conclusion. Enjoy!

Just over a week ago, Chris Bratt and I were able to go hands-on with a new and improved build of Final Fantasy 15 - coincidentally, on the day that would have been its original worldwide launch date. The release had been pushed back two months to allow for extra polish, amid reports that earlier builds suffered from technical issues. From everything we experienced during our playthrough, though, the delay has so far been time very well spent. Here's almost an hour of gameplay if you'd like to see it for yourself.

The Eurogamer Podcast #14: Does anyone have a script for Aaron Paul?

Virginia, Final Fantasy 15 and only a tiny, tiny bit of XCOM 2.

Spare a thought for Aaron Paul. That guy is busy. He is up against it! He needs a holiday! He needs a long bath, as they say, to soak his hams. How do we know he's busy? Because, weirdly enough, Microsoft chose to make his busy-ness a core component of the marketing for Titanfall back in the day. Aaron Paul: Busy! But not too busy to play Titanfall.

Digital FoundryFinal Fantasy 15 E3 demo shows big performance increase

Plus: the game's director talks frame-rates and resolutions for PS4 and Xbox One.

Frame-rate testing of Final Fantasy 15's Trial of the Titan demo - as seen at Microsoft's E3 presentation - shows Xbox One performance in a much improved state after two playable demos showed the game struggling to hit its 30fps frame-rate target. The E3 segment is taken straight from the main game's story, but moulded into a unique, self-contained sampler for the event - and compared to the poor performance seen in Episode Duscae and the more recent Platinum Demo, gameplay in this Titan battle runs at an almost locked 30fps.

Digital FoundryTech Analysis: Final Fantasy 15 Platinum demo

Square Enix's surreal taster assessed on PS4 or Xbox One.

After a decade of on-and-off development, the end is in sight for Final Fantasy 15. Across multiple setbacks, changes in production personnel, and one name change, Square Enix now lays down the gauntlet with a firm September 30th launch date, and a brand new 'Platinum' demo for public perusal. This surreal 20-minute taster is entirely separate to the main game, but handily guides us through the technology of the final product - with the Luminous Studio engine in its latest form - where change is afoot on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Digital FoundryFinal Fantasy 15: Episode Duscae revisited

Digital Foundry gets to grips with version 2.0 of the demo.

Only available as bundled bonus with Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, the Final Fantasy 15 demo impressed us with the scale of its technological ambition, but fell short in terms of performance. But that's OK for now - the game is still deep in development, after all. Now, in an unprecedented move, Square-Enix has seen fit to update this demo based on real feedback from fans around the world. It's a fascinating new approach to game development from the Japanese giant - and with version 2.0 of Final Fantasy 15 Episode Duscae comes a whole host of improvements and changes.

Digital FoundryTech Analysis: Final Fantasy 15 Episode Duscae

Digital Foundry investigates Square-Enix's progress on PS4 and Xbox One.

Square-Enix's last generation Crystal Tools engine came and went with only four games to its name before being put to pasture - so when it was announced that the publisher would be switching to Unreal Engine 4 for new projects we were left wondering just what would become of their next-generation Luminous Studio. For the time being, at least, the answer is Final Fantasy 15 - the only announced title being created with this new in-house middleware solution. The team responsible for this new toolset is working closely with the game development team in order to deliver the most technically ambitious in-house game the Japanese publisher has ever produced. In a move recalling Square's glory days on the original PlayStation, the publisher has bundled a special demo version of Final Fantasy 15 known as Episode Duscae with another product, giving us our first hands-on with this ambitious new title.

I've spent hundreds of hours exploring the worlds of Final Fantasy. Between battling Ultimate Weapons, collecting Celestial weapons, playing cards, playing ball and hunting down secret summons and characters, I've lost days, possibly even entire weeks, to past series entries, all told. So, when I'm given just a single hour to explore a vast expanse of land in the Final Fantasy 15 demo, Episode Duscae, I panic.

FeatureMeet Hajime Tabata, Final Fantasy's latest saviour

The man now in charge of Final Fantasy 15 on a more western, more casual RPG.

Final Fantasy has never been short of characters burdened with saving the world, but there's something different about its new breed of heroes. When Naoki Yoshida was tasked with salvaging the mess that was the original release of Final Fantasy 14, the challenge seemed insurmountable. With A Realm Reborn, it's a feat he pulled off, and with some style: the rebirth of the once troubled game has done more than rescue an expensive, wayward project. It's restored faith in Square Enix, and in a series that for too many years seems to have drifted away from its audience.