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What Did Final Fantasy Fans Think Of The Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae Demo?



A few weeks ago, Square Enix sent a survey out to players that played the Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae demo, asking for their feedback regarding various aspects of the game. In a recent Active Time Report presentation, Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata went over the results of the survey and provided his thoughts on various points of feedback from players.


We’ll get to the survey results in just a second, but first, let’s take a look at a few other tidbits of information that provide a little context regarding survey participants.


Who Took the Survey?


The survey was taken largely by a segment of dedicated Final Fantasy fans. 69% of the people that took the survey in Japan said that they were interested in Final Fantasy XV because it was the next-numbered Final Fantasy game. Meanwhile, in North America, 48% said the same.


To provide a little more insight into the demographic that took the survey, 74% of survey participants from Japan indicated that they like all Final Fantasy games, while 52% of participants from North America echoed the same sentiment. (You can click on the image above to enlarge it and view these stats more clearly.)


Something else to keep in mind is that the total number of participants was less than 1 million, as Tabata’s presentation was recorded on April 10th—the same day Square Enix announced that they had shipped (not sold) 1 million copies of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, which came with a download code for Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae.


Why did people stop playing the Episode Duscae demo?


The vast majority of people that played Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae in North America, Europe, and Japan completed the demo. As a follow-up, Square Enix asked why people stopped playing the demo, and the results are interesting. Take a look at the chart below (you can click on the image to enlarge it):



78.9% of participants from North America said they had seen all the content in the game and were fully satisfied by it. Meanwhile, just 40.6% of participants from Europe indicated they had seen all the demo had to offer, while a mere 5% of Japanese players indicated the same, which is interesting.


That having been said, North America also saw the highest number of complaints about the game’s open world being bare, the battle system, and the controls. Meanwhile, a large number of Japanese players voiced complaints about the game’s characters.


An Evaluation of Episode Duscae By the Numbers (Out of 10):


  • Global Average Score: 8.3
  • Regional: North America: 8.6 | Europe: 8.3 | Japan: 8.0
  • World design: 8.9
  • Event scenes: 8.8
  • Graphic quality: 8.9
  • Open-world gameplay: 8.6
  • Voice-acting: 8.6
  • Character dialogue: 8.5
  • Main character design: 8.5
  • How much did you like Noctis’s personality: 8.4
  • How much did you like Gladiolus’s personality: 8.4
  • How much did you like Ignis’s personality: 8.4
  • How much did you like Prompto’s personality: 7.9
  • Sub-character design: 8.1
  • Game difficulty: 7.9
  • Story: 8.4
  • Tutorial: 8.2
  • Navigation: 8.2
  • Map design: 8.3
  • Battle system: 7.7
  • Amount of variety and content: 7.8
  • Controls: 7.4
  • Music: 9.3
  • Weapons design: 8.9


Now, let’s move on to individual thoughts players had about Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae, and Tabata’s thoughts on these issues. A total of 15 issues were discussed during the presentation, and we’ve listed the top four. You can view the rest in the presentation video embedded at the top of this post.


#1: “The lock-on is useless”

Players complained that the lock-on function is difficult to use and that the lock-on also does not keep the targeted enemy at the centre of the screen. Furthermore, if the enemy moves, the lock-on doesn’t follow it properly.


Tabata’s response: “Honestly, there were many instances where we also felt that that the targeting system wasn’t behaving as we had envisioned. We do take it seriously that this was the #1 criticism. Right after the demo was released, our team was able to play it from a consumer standpoint, and concerns about the targeting immediately came up. The most common internal criticism was that the targeted enemy would go off-screen. We wondered ‘Is is still considered a lock-on if the enemy goes off-screen?’ There are two rationales for this, and for the first one regarding the targeted enemy getting lost off-screen, this was due to an imperfect implementation of the system. We’ve already begun addressing it.


“The other thing, for example on the PS4, I think it’s the R3 button. The lock-on can be triggered by pressing R3, but this was not specifically explained within the demo, so there were many people who weren’t aware of this feature. Even internally, a lot of us weren’t aware of this feature, so there were problems trying to stay locked on to a single target. We’ve already started working on fixes to the issues regarding players not being aware of this feature and the feature not being up to par with our expectations.”


#2: “The camera is too close. I can’t tell what’s going on.”

#3: “Camera control was poor and felt heavy.”

These are being lumped together. Players felt the game’s camera was too close behind Noctis. Especially during frantic battles, it was impossible to figure out where party members and enemies were. Players also felt that the camera controlled too heavily.


Tabata’s response: “When fighting a herd of garulas, there are times when the players keeps getting hit, and I agree that it’s difficult to understand what’s going on when that happens. And, near the entrance to the dungeon, there’s an enemy called the saberclaw. When facing saberclaws, it gets pretty difficult to see what’s happening.


“There’s also issues with the terrain. In the woods, the camera movement is limited, so it’s even tougher when fighting there. It’s the same with goblins, too. Especially when you’re in a confined space. So these issues, we need to make sure the camera pulls back in these situations to make it easy for the player. The system is designed to do so, but it wasn’t functioning as well as we had hoped. There were also times where it wasn’t functioning well because of the terrain, and we’ve all made note of it already.


“So it can definitely be improved, and we will improve it. Not being able to tell what’s going on in a game is unacceptable, so much like the previous criticism about not being able to target enemies, basic functions such as these will be addressed, so that you won’t feel that the game is difficult to play. Ideally, we would have one camera programmed to adjust to every situation, but in the demo, we noticed many instances where the camera wasn’t able to fully adapt to various terrains. So ultimately, we may consider allowing the player to choose from different camera distances.”


#4: “The AI is dumb. Allies get in the way.”

This speaks for itself, since it’s a common criticism in a number of RPGs. Examples provided were party members barging in and getting themselves down to critical condition, or standing around doing nothing when you needed them. In general, players felt that the rest of the party got in Noctis’s way.


Tabata’s response: “First, in regards to getting in the way of the player, that’s a hindrance to the game experience. So we will probably properly address it from the programming end so that the party members avoid getting in the way of each other. On the other hand, as far as the AI being dumb, I don’t think it’s that everything about the AI is dumb. There should have been times in Episode Duscae where you can feel both camaraderie and a sense of self-awareness from the AI characters.


“So our goal is to be able to really feel each character’s personality and the feeling of being with friends,  but we’re not quite there yet. Some of that is there, but the demo is just a glimpse of what might be possible. I’d like to take the time to really polish this aspect. So we’re fully aware that the AI is dumb. I get upset too when they go and get themselves knocked out.”


#5: “The jaggies. But the drop in framerate is even more concerning.”

Complaints about Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae’s framerate came primarily from North America and Europe, according to Square Enix. This issue was #5 globally, but higher up if one were only to tally surveys from the West.


Tabata’s response: “So, jaggies and framerates are two separate issues, but in regards to the demo, we weren’t able to implement anti-aliasing in the demo. That’s why the jaggies stood out a bit, but anti-aliasing will be implemented in the full game. The amount of jaggies will be reduced, so for the demo, we apologize. They shouldn’t be in the full game, so please rest assured. In terms of whether it can be immediately implemented… We’re currently in the midst of determining how we’d address it and the engineer working on the real-time rendering is looking into this.


“As for the framerate, that is a serious matter. We consider it a high priority issue. If we simply reduce the number of objects that need to be rendered and computed, like reducing the number of monsters or limiting AI behaviour, we can reduce the processing load on the CPU. Reducing the number of processes would naturally result in a stable, higher framerate. But achieving a high framerate by doing so isn’t going to satisfy our fans. So, the only option is to persistently optimize. Currently, the bottleneck during battles is the VFX and UI. As we head to mastering, we’ll probably repeat the process of optimizing as much as we can and reevaluating how objects are being rendered.


“We are working towards full HD. It’s not just me. The engineers and artists are all aiming for full HD. But from hearing the honest feedback from players who tried the demo, it becomes apparent that the framerate issue is more important than resolution. It’s pretty easy to understanding. Prioritizing resolution by sacrificing framerate is presumably unacceptable for our game, so our higher priority will most likely be the framerate. Based on that, our approach will be to increase resolution as much as we can. But we’re not raising the white flag just yet. We are aiming for full HD.”


The rest of the feedback from players:


#6: “So I get that the motion is realistic. But because of that, it feels slow.”


#7: “Can you at least add a minimap or compass?”


#8: “I want a dodge action that doesn’t rely on MP.”


#9: “A game that’s all about hiding behind rocks and replenishing MP.”


#10: “Battles are too difficult. No, battles are too easy.”


#11: “[Battles are] too monotonous.” (Plus, complaints about controls)


#12: “The stamina needed for dashing is annoying.”


#13: Players enjoy warping, but would like for it to be usable for moving around.


#14: “Please let me cancel my attacks by evading.”


#15: “Lots of bugs.”


Some of the aforementioned issues are being addressed in the upcoming ver. 2.0 update of Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae, which you can read about here. Final Fantasy XV is in development for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and doesn’t have a release date just yet.

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.