If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy, one of the longest-running series of role-playing games around, there’s a good chance you’re already excited about the 15th core installment of the series. Either that, or you long ago gave up hope of ever seeing it. After all, the game was first announced a full 10 years ago under the title Final Fantasy Versus XIII, securing its place on our list of games that are taking forever to come out.
It looks like the game may finally launch in 2016, if a major event Square Enix held recently is any indication (you can watch the three-hour event here). The game is slated to release on September 30, 2016, but the hype machine is already cranking. Here are six reasons to be excited for Final Fantasy XV.
1. Just look at this trailer
Final Fantasy games have always been epic in scale, and the 15th core installment promises to be no different. I mean, just look at this trailer. It mixes fantasy tropes like dragons and giants with modern cityscapes. The characters have cell phones; they also use magic. They drive on roads in a car; they ride through fields on giant birds called chocobos. If these disparate elements come together smoothly, the game could be something special.
2. The Platinum Demo is promising
If you have a PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, you can download a demo of the game and play it right now. It’s called The Platinum Demo. It’s a stand-alone chunk of the game that has you play through a dream as a young version of Noctis, the hero of the game.
Guided by Carbuncle, an adorable fox-like creature, you explore a series of locations: a forest, a child’s play room, a city, and a castle. Along the way, you pick up collectibles and slash through enemies using toy weapons. It’s one of the strangest demos I’ve ever played, but it offers a good idea of what the final game will feel like to play. And it feels pretty great.
3. Real-time combat
Most of the core Final Fantasy games of the past 29 years have featured turn-based combat, meaning your characters and the enemies would take turns delivering blows. Each installment gave the combat its own unique twists, but generally you’ve had to select your attacks from a menu and wait for your characters to deliver them. Not in Final Fantasy XV.
This is an action-RPG through and through, with free movement on the battlefield and button presses that translate directly into attacks, no menu required. As you move around, you can keep the camera locked onto your enemies or you can control it on your own with the right stick. This doesn’t feel at all like the Final Fantasy games you grew up playing. The series is evolving in interesting new ways.
4. There will be an anime…
It turns out that Final Fantasy XV is more than just a game. To create a steady drumbeat of excitement leading up to the game’s launch, Square Enix has two projects in the works. One is called Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV, an anime series that acts as a prequel to the game and shows how the main character Noctis befriended the three other heroes. Five episodes are planned, each one lasting about 10 minutes. You can watch the first installment above. The rest are expected to appear on YouTube prior to the game’s release.
5. …and a star-studded CGI movie
An even bigger-budget production leading up to the game’s release is Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV. It’s a feature-length CGI movie, with characters voiced by Lena Headey and Sean Bean from Game of Thrones and Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad. The story takes place during the events of Final Fantasy XV, but focuses on a soldier at the center of the battle between two warring kingdoms. The movie will be available on Blu-ray and digital sometime before September 30.
6. Square Enix needs a smash hit
It’s unclear exactly how much Square Enix has spent on this game’s 10-year development cycle or how much it cost to host the Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV event in Los Angeles, or to custom-build an Audi, but it’s obviously a lot. It’s so much that director Hajime Tabata said Square Enix is banking on the game selling 10 million units.
To be clear, that’s a crazy number of units to expect any game to sell outside of Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto. If Square Enix thinks it can hit that goal, Final Fantasy XV must be something special. Here’s hoping.