Final Fantasy XV is being developed by Square-Enix as part of the company's Fabula Nova Crystallis project. Originally revealed as a PlayStation 3 exclusive entitled Final Fantasy Versus XIII, it was later re-announced during E3 2013 that its name had changed, and it had become the next game in the core Final Fantasy franchise. It will be released on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
The story revolves around a prince, Noctis Lucis Caelum, who is the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Lucis. Lucis has become more modernized than other nations, to the point where it resembles a contemporary city of modern Earth. It has isolated itself from the world in the process. The game's setting involves a war between Lucis and another nation called Niflheim as they fight for control of the world's last crystal, which Lucis possesses. The game begins after the end of a long cold war between warring nations and the world's crystals are involved in these conflicts in some way.
Noctis is the last heir to the throne of a dynasty who are in charge of protecting the last crystal, and he has to protect the city from an enemy nation trying to steal the crystal. He is able to wield multiple swords, spears, and lances by materializing them out of thin air and controlling them with telekinesis. His weapons can also be used as shields. Noctis also has the ability to teleport and move at high speeds. His eyes change color from blue to red during battle, which is related to his teleportation ability.
Most of Noctis's party consists of his childhood friends: Ignis Stupeo Scientia, a strategist for the royal family who fights with a katana, Gladiolus Amicitia, a bodyguard of the royal family who fights bare-handed and with a giant greatsword, and Prompto Argentum, a foreign fugitive who wields firearms, despite their illegal status in Lucis. There is also Cor Leonis, a middle-aged military man who is sworn to serve Noctis and his father.
Noctis finds a counterpart in Stella Nox Fleuret, who is implied to be royalty like him, though from another nation. Just like Noctis, Stella is shown to be able to fight by materializing weapons out of thin air. Noctis and Stella seem reluctant to fight each other and her exact affiliation with him is unknown. The two of them talk about how they are both able to "see the light", implying that they have similar powers. Noctis is shy but hides it by acting cool, while Stella seems to have had a much better upbringing.
The player has direct control over one character, Noctis, with assistance from AI companion party members. Party members can also team up for more powerful attacks.
In early iterations of the game, the game would end immediately if Noctis died in battle, though that may change for the final version.
The primary mode of travel around the game's world is a car. Though the player can exit the car and explore the world on foot, the world is large enough enough foot travel between destinations isn't practical. The player is able to drive the car manually, or set driving to auto. When driving is being directed by the game, the player can still look around the world as it passes by for secrets.
Noctis has a special teleportation ability that allows him to warp between select points in the environment. When a cursor highlights a visible location that Noctis can warp to, the player can make him teleport to that spot.
Final Fantasy XV was first announced under the name of Final Fantasy Versus XIII in 2006. Helmed by Tetsuya Nomura, the intent was to create an action RPG in the vein of Kingdom Hearts, but with a more mature tone and story. The game's title "Versus XIII" was meant to reference a number of elements, such as the game's darker tone and setting that play in opposition to the tone and setting of Final Fantasy XIII. Versus XIII was developed as a part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis project, along with Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Type-0 (originally entitled Final Fantasy Agito XIII), and shares elements of the same fictional mythology from which the other games take their own.
After years of protracted development, Square Enix unveiled a new trailer for Versus XIII at E3 2013, where it was first revealed that the game had become Final Fantasy XV. The following year, at TGS 2014, Square Enix announced that Nomura had shifted off of the project to focus on Kingdom Hearts III, and that Final Fantasy Type-0 director Hajime Tabata is now overseeing the game's development. Tabata originally joined the Final Fantasy XV team as co-director in 2012, after which the game began its transition from Versus XIII to XV and development was moved to newer console platforms. Additionally, the three core gameplay, engine, and cinematics teams that had been working separately on Versus XIII, were merged for better collaboration. As of TGS 2014, the Final Fantasy XV team was around three hundred people.
Luminous Studio Engine
The game is running on Square Enix's Luminous Studio graphics engine. The demo will be using version 1.5 of the engine, while the final game will be using version 2.0 of the engine. It will be running at 1080p with 30 frames per second. Compared to the 20,000 polygons used for the Final Fantasy XIII characters, Final Fantasy XV will be using 100,000 polygons for its characters (around the same as The Order: 1886, Uncharted 4, and Star Citizen, but slightly less than Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor's Edge and inFamous: Second Son). Overall, Final Fantasy XV will be using 5 million polygons per frame, pushing 150 million polygons per second. [ref] This is one of the highest polygon counts known for a video game.
Each character model will be using 20,000 to 30,000 polygons just for the hair alone, [ref] more than any other video game, and the same as the polygon count for an entire Final Fantasy XIII character. The game uses an advanced hair physics engine that is rendered using techniques such as tesselation, NURBS, and a new technique where a professional hair stylist creates the hairstyles in real life using mannequins which are then rendered for an in-game character model.
Each character will also have 600 bones, twelve times more than the 50 bones used by most PS3 and Xbox 360 games, and the highest known for a video game so far (more than Ryse: Son of Rome and inFamous: Second Son). Final Fantasy XV also uses 30 MB textures for each character [ref] (in comparison, inFamous: Second Son uses up to 28 MB for a character).
Comparison screenshots between Final Fantasy XV's real-time gameplay and pre-rendered CGI appear to show the real-time gameplay graphics screenshot coming close to the quality of the pre-rendered CGI screenshot. [ref]
According to DualShockers, the size of Final Fantasy XV's open world could be up to 600 square kilometers, larger than the worlds of Skyrim (37 square kilometers), Grand Theft Auto V (250 square kilometers), and Xenoblade (400 square kilometers), though smaller than the world of Xenoblade X (2000 square kilometers). The Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae demo will cover 3 square kilometers, a small part of the Duscae region.
Vouchers for a Final Fantasy XV demo will be included with purchases of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD when the game is released on March 17, 2015. The demo will be available on March 20, 2015. Entitled Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae, the demo is taken from an early portion of the full game with some differences; the name "Duscae" is taken from a location in the game's world. The developers are aiming to allow the demo to be completed in an hour, but it could contain enough optional content to explore to extend to three hours.