Final Fantasy XV, the latest game in the long-running franchise, is coming to PC next month at long last. We got to play an hour of the Windows Edition early and wanted to do something unique to the PC version, so we played Final Fantasy 15 on PC in Max Settings, with Mouse and Keyboard, in First-Person Mode. That’s with all the Nvidia stuff on too.
Now that that’s sorted, let’s go on a little quest to hunt a big monster that’s been harassing Chocobos.
Our full review of Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age on PC!Everything you need to know about Mod Support for Final Fantasy XV!
We started our playthrough a little into the game, somewhere between the Hammerhead garage and the Chocobo Farm in Malacchi Hills. We’d planned to have an explore, see a few of the characters, but Prompto kept begging to see the Chocobos. Fine, it was the nearest quest, so we headed over there in our big 4x4 truck version of the Regalia. We stuck it on manual control and tried to see how off-road the car would go – the answer was “completely”, apart from mountains, water, and through solid objects like the trees we kept hitting. The normal car can’t leave the road, but this one was just ridiculous.
We got to the Chocobo Farm, but we couldn’t ride them since the birds were being spooked by a giant monster nearby, the Behemoth. Slightly daunted by the name, and the fact that we hadn’t completely figured out the mouse and keyboard controls yet, we remembered the advice our father gave to us on our wedding day – “if you want to ride giant birds, you have to kill a huge monster”. Wise words. We took the Behemoth Hunt, slightly nervous.
The mouse and keyboard controls took some getting used to, but they are fully customizable, we just didn’t have the chance to do so. Well, we changed one – what type of monster puts ‘Sprint’ on the ‘X’ key? Left Shift it is. There is some jankiness when it comes to changing weapons, since the UI still shows them in a cross on-screen (they’re assigned to the D-pad on gamepads), but it was fine having them on number keys 1-4. The only annoying omissions, which hopefully will get rectified before release, are the lack of mouse support on menus and having to press ‘Page Up/Page Down’ to Zoom on the map.
In general though, mouse and keyboard controls work extremely well. Left Mouse Button attacks, Right Mouse Button Blocks/Dodges, ‘F’ key Warps. When out of combat, LMB interacts and RMB both Sprints and contextually Crouches. Spacebar Jumps, which after playing Final Fantasy XII for so long felt weird to do. We’ll require a bit more key customizing, and just generally getting used to Final Fantasy XV’s combat system, but we could totally see us playing entirely with mouse and keyboard for the duration… especially in First-Person Mode.
First-Person Mode is arguably the biggest new addition to Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition (and console Royal Edition), the first time a Final Fantasy game has allowed players to play entirely in first-person I believe. Cutscenes and certain contextual moments will be third-person still, similar to the recent Deus Ex games, but otherwise the entire game is playable in first-person – and we can say right now that it works astonishingly well.
First-Person is also something that, in our opinion, is more appropriate to mouse and keyboard. The most important part was, the mouse control of the camera felt like a mouse – not a control stick with acceleration, so clearly mouse and keyboard controls in First-Person haven’t been rushed. Warp Attacks work particularly well, as you can manually aim at a tree and see a flashing target to jump too – then press the Warp key, jump to that tree, use the mouse to spin the camera back at your target and Warp/Attack them. We could probably do with a crosshair for ranged attacks like Magic, and some Interact prompts could be a bit fiddly if we got close, but overall it was just a matter of getting used to things.
Of course, try telling that to some angry Voretooth wolves. As we began the hunt for the Behemoth through a rocky area night set in, and the Voretooths (Voreteeth?) attacked. Considering we’d never got into a fight in Final Fantasy XV before, certainly not with mouse and keyboard or first-person, we did amazingly well. While perhaps slightly more difficult to keep an eye on enemies without the wider camera view of third-person, leading to a number of unavoidable attacks, we took the fight to the wolves with gusto while companions Prompto, Gladiolus, and Ignis helped and occasionally healed us.
Then night fully dropped, as did a deep fog, and the appearance of the Behemoth suddenly became a lot more creepy and atmospheric. We crept after him, staying in first-person all the time, and in the fog we were forced to rely on sound and the occasional sweep of a gigantic black tail – we’ll talk about graphics in a moment but it really was quite impressive.
Then we reached his lair and we confronted the Behemoth. In First-Person. With Mouse & Keyboard controls, which we still hadn’t got used to. Less than an hour after playing Final Fantasy XV for the first time ever. A Square Enix representative said he’d give us £10 if we beat it first time. We weren’t confident. Still, he gave us a clue – Behemoth was weak to fire. So we crafted a few Fire spells (Magic is finite and has to be crafted like items) and set to work.
We admit, we flailed around a little bit at first, concentrating mostly on slashing at the monster’s backside with a ridiculously-sized sword. Fortunately Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto picked up a lot of the slack, even healing us occasionally. We have to say, in First-Person the Behemoth was even more intimidating, and that’s without the creepy fog everywhere. We got lucky with an early hit – throwing a Fire spell at an explosive barrel, right next to Behemoth, did a lot of damage. That’s a plan right there. The hardest part from that point on was aiming the Fire spells at the barrel, and not the Behemoth itself. We probably should’ve tried lock-on aim, come to think of it.
Behemoth was getting the hang of barrel-avoiding, so we switched to our next trick – Warp Attacks. It was easy to quickly target a tree for a Warp, especially since we were surrounded by them, and quickly warped back to Behemoth for an attack. A few of those, while my merry band kept him busy, and another explosive barrel for good measure, and the Behemoth fell. First time. We enjoyed ourselves so much we let the Square Enix rep off the tenner.
We returned to the Chocobo Ranch to claim our prize and, more importantly, to ride the Chocobos. The second we climbed on one in First-Person we, honest to god, laughed. We were sitting on a giant chicken. Yes, we’ve ridden Chocobos in Final Fantasy games before, but never in first-person with such superb animation and texturing. Its yellow feathers ruffled everywhere as it moved, and just having it trot forward with its head going back and forth was hilarious – and that was before we pressed the Jump key and watched it flap its wings. For the rest of our playtime we just ran about the landscape with our Chocobo, flapping everywhere we could, having the time of our lives. Who needs cars? Or third-person? Or a gamepad?
Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition will be available March 6, and that’s with pretty much all features. You can pre-order it on the Steam page right here.
If you’re interested, here are the PC System Specs of the machine we played on:
CPU: Core i7-6700K Intel
RAM: 32GB DDR4-3000 Corsair
SSD: 500GB 850 EVO Samsung
MOBO: Z170 ASUS Maximus VIII Gene
GPU: GTX 1080 TI NVIDIA
Quite hefty certainly, but then the System Requirements aren’t quite as mean. With this system we had literally everything running in Maximum Settings, and that includes all the new Nvidia enhancements such as Hairworks, Turf Effects, HFTS, VXAO, and even Ansel for mad screenshots which we had a go with (but sadly couldn’t keep).
Graphically, it looks utterly amazing. Just running through the fields, watching the grass sway, with the character physics in full motion and the draw distance to maximum is incredible, and we never saw the FPS drop below 60. The Square Enix rep, who’s played a lot of the game on console, says he’d never noticed that Gladiolus had tattoos on his back – but now that his coat can flap about realistically you can see it. Hair looked great, which we normally wouldn’t care about except it was particularly awesome on the furry Behemoth. The fog was thick and gorgeous, and the only thing you could see was the lights of the garage we started at several miles away. The draw distance is really quite good.
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age was fantastic, but no matter what Square Enix did they’d never be able to hide that it’s a PS2 game at heart. Final Fantasy XV is a modern game on modern hardware, with an engine that has been completely unlocked so it’s one of the best looking games around. While First-Person Mode and Mouse and Keyboard controls might all seem like an odd fit for the game, it all works really well.
We’re actually torn on how we’re going to play Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition when it comes next month on March 6. And we haven’t even mentioned the Mods yet…
Most Anticipated Feature
Seriously, we just want to play about with the Chocobos in First-Person again.