After 10 long years of development, Final Fantasy XV is here. CNET has some tips to get you into the swing of this epic game.
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Final Fantasy XV is Square Enix's latest epic -- but the downside to epics is that they can take some getting used to.
The game offers a 40-plus hour main adventure, plus many, many more hours of post-game fun. Here are some tips to get you chugging along on the journey of Noctis, Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto.
Play the tutorial
When you first load the game up, it'll ask you if you want to go through a combat tutorial and review the lore of Eos, the world FFXV takes place in. We recommend doing both.
The combat tutorial takes you through all the elements of combat: striking, blocking, warping, magic and team techniques. You'd rather have the nuances of combat explained to you at the beginning than have many "oh, you can do that?" moments throughout the 50-hour adventure.
Stay up with the story
The aforementioned introduction to the game's lore isn't ultra engaging -- it's done in the form of Noctis browsing a series of paintings -- but it's worth it for those who haven't watched the CG "Kingsglaive" film or the "Brotherhood" anime, which flesh out the plot and character relationships.
On this point, you should also make sure to examine books, posters and the like, as these will also give you information on key story points and lore.
Do hunting missions
Like Final Fantasy XII, some of the best fun you'll have here is in hunting monsters. Each town in FFXV will offer new beasts that need to be slayed, and doing so will net you experience, rewards and up your ranking as a hunter (in turn leading to more sweet, sweet rewards).
Not only will taking on these beasts lead to exciting battles, it's also an effective way of fattening your gil pouch.
Talk to the locals
Most new areas you get to will have a small diner in them. Make a point to go to these and talk to the attendant. They'll offer you food, new bounty hunts and, just as invaluably, will give you information on the local area. This leads to local camp spots, treasure locations, elementary deposits, parking spaces and more being loaded into your map.
Stock up on items
You'll quickly notice combat in Final Fantasy XV is different to previous games in two ways: less magic and more items.
When you're at critical health mid-battle, you can kneel behind large obstacles, like big rocks or walls, to regenerate HP. But each time you hit critical health, or "Danger mode," your maximum HP for the remainder of the battle drops. Plus, the crouch-to-regenerate luxury isn't afforded to teammates.
As a result, you'll find yourself using more potions, elixirs and phoenix downs in battles than you might expect. Make sure to stock up on them when you can.
Campsites vs. hotels
FFXV handles levelling up differently to other RPGs. You earn experience for slaying beasts and completing quests, which is standard, but you only actually level up by resting. Noctis and the gang can either stay at campsites or hotels, and there are pros and cons to both.
Staying at a hotel will cost you gil but gives the team an experience multiplier. This is especially important later in the game, where you can pay to have your experience multiplied by up to three.
However, you can get Ignis to cook up a meal for you if you stay at campsites. These meals give you temporary status boosts, which get more helpful as you progress through the game and Ignis' recipes get more complex.
Eat before big battles
Unlike other games where you drink potions for buffs, FFXV uses food instead. The buffs, which boost health, attack and more, last for a short while, usually long enough for one major battle.
You can either pay through the nose and eat out, or, as mentioned above, set yourself up at a campsite and have Ignis whip something up for the team. If you're a fan of tackling monsters above your level, you'll find eating solid meals an essential part of play.
At first, you'll have two travel options: run or drive. Driving is quicker, but is less flexible -- you can't take the royal Regalia off road. As such, you'll find yourself running a lot.
You can boost your speed by sprinting, but sprints are limited by stamina, a mechanic that's hidden unless you turn the indicator on in the settings menu. You'll move slower than usual if you run out of stamina, but the game lets you instantly refresh your stamina bar with a simple trick.
Once the bar is close to emptying, quickly release the sprint button and hold it down again. You'll get a quick spurt of speed and your stamina bar will be once again full.
Use a Chocobo
Luckily, there is an alternative to driving through Eos or sprinting until Noctis' legs fall off. You'll gain access to Chocobos around Chapter 3. You'll have to pay for them, but they're the perfect middle ground between the plodding pace of walking and the speedy-but-fixed-route transport that driving offers.
Block or die
Combat in Final Fantasy XV can be brutal, often putting you in scenarios that see the team outnumbered significantly. Thankfully, Noctis has a useful "phase" skill that he uses to dodge and parry bigger hits. If you don't block in time, expect to take massive chunks of damage.
But do note: In most action games, you'd tap the block button (Square on PS4) just before an enemy strike lands to dodge or parry. In Final Fantasy XV, you have to hold the button down for this stuff to work.
Get used to that, or use even more potions during battle.
Use Wait mode
The game offers two combats modes: Active and Wait. You can switch between the two mid-battle with relative ease in the Start button menu.
In Wait mode, combat slows to bullet time when Noctis stands still. You'll be given a timer, during which you can scan enemies to see how much HP they have and what their weaknesses are. Not only do monsters often have elemental weaknesses, but many are also weak against different weapon classes (Noctis and the gang use swords, lances, guns, daggers and more).
Wait mode takes a bit of getting used to, but it makes the combat easier and more strategic.
Don't stay out at night
The world of Eos becomes quite scary at night, as powerful Daemons come out to play. Unless you have a hunt quest that requires you to stay out late, it's best to head to the nearest campsite or hotel to get some much needed rest.
If you stay out, you'll encounter monsters that are far beyond your level, many of which can crush your party with just a few hits. Seeing dark Iron Giants spawn out of the ground is fun -- but dealing with them in the early stages of the game is not.