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Final Fantasy XV Releasing Sept. 30, New Playable Demo Now Available

(Image by Square Enix)

(Image by Square Enix)

After ten years, Final Fantasy XV finally has a solid release date as the game gets an expanded universe with multimedia content.

Final Fantasy XV will release worldwide on Sept. 30, Square Enix officially announced during its special “Uncovered” event for the game at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California on Wednesday.

The game will release for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. A PC version wasn’t announced. The game can now be pre-ordered at both retail and digital stores. There’s a dynamic theme for pre-ordering the game digitally from the PlayStation Store.

A Collector’s Edition exclusive to the Square Enix online store is now available to pre-order and retails for $269.99, limited to 30,000 copies worldwide. The Collector’s Edition comes with a Play Arts statue of the main character Noctis, a 192-page hardcover artbook, a soundtrack with songs from various XV projects, a CGI movie on Blu-ray, an exclusive sixth episode of a Final Fantasy XV anime on Blu-ray, in-game item packs and two special steelbooks for the movie and anime featuring the main characters.

There’s also a limited Deluxe Edition retailing for $89.99 that includes the CGI movie, a special outfit, weapon and a skin for the group’s car. Like the Collector’s Edition, the game features a steelbook with special artwork done by Yoshitaka Amano, who has created many of the franchise’s characters and artistic designs since the original Final Fantasy.

A new playable demo is now available for everyone to download for free on the PS4 and Xbox One, which is a separate story that won’t be in the final game. An exclusive summon called¬†Carbuncle will be unlocked in the full retail game only by completing what Square Enix calls the Platinum Demo. It acts as a sort of prologue that follows a younger version of Noctis, the game’s main protagonist. The demo is designed to show off the game’s final visuals and combat system, set in a dream world of Noctis’.

Square Enix also announced other media tied to the game that will create a bigger Final Fantasy XV universe leading to its September launch.

There will be a full-length CGI movie called “KingsGlaive: Final Fantasy XV” that takes place during the events in the game. It stars Aaron Paul from “Breaking Bad” voicing a Glaive called Nyx Ulric, who is the leader of the Lucia kingdom’s guard. Sean Bean and Lena Headey from “Game of Thrones” will also be featured in the movie as King Regis and Princess Lunafreya. These three are only lending their voice to the movie and won’t be featured in the game. Takeshi Nozue, the director from 2005’s “Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children,” will return to lead the new film. “KingsGlaive” will be available for download and streaming but not released in theaters.

A five-episode anime called “Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV” will be free on YouTube. Made by A-1 Pictures, creators of “Black Butler” and “Sword Art Online,” each episode will release over the next several months leading to the game’s launch. The anime gives a backstory to the characters before the events in the movie and game. The first episode is already available to watch.

The game’s official theme song is a cover of Ben. E King’s 1961 iconic hit “Stand by Me” done by “Florence and the Machine.”

There will also be a mobile pinball game called Justice Monsters Five tied to Final Fantasy XV that will be free to download. The game features monsters from Final Fantasy XV and will also be playable inside the full release.

Square Enix showed off a lot of footage from the game at Uncovered, including its open world, new environments, mini-games and scenes like riding chocobos and the protagonists driving around in their black sports car. The battle system is action-focused instead of the franchise’s traditional turn-based combat. New game details were also revealed at the event. At the end of one trailer, the car drives down the road then takes off in flight, which could potentially act as the game’s airship. There will also be downloadable content, with suits for new outfits that are included with the game’s special editions.

Most of the important news like the game’s release date and second demo leaked several hours before the event, with the official Twitter account for Final Fantasy XV even humorously acknowledging the leaks.

The game’s storyline is about securing the last remaining crystal in the world. The main characters are a group of four close friends since childhood led by Prince Noctis, who is set to rule over the Kingdom of Lucis. Right as he leaves for a road trip to marry Princess Luna in a peace treaty with¬†Niflheim, Lucis gets invaded by that nation’s forces, who then steal the crystal and start attacking other countries. King Regis, who is Noctis’ father, is possibly killed during the invasion as Lucis gets deceitfully taken over. Along with Ignis, Gladiolus and Prompto, Noctis must take back his kingdom and learn the truth of what happened. The game’s setting is more modern than other Final Fantasy titles, featuring some large metropolitan cities, cell phones and cars.

Final Fantasy XV has been in development for a decade, starting in 2006 as Final Fantasy Versus XIII. The game was originally planned as a PlayStation 3 exclusive that would be a spin-off to Final Fantasy XIII. Over the years since Square Enix revealed the game in May 2006 at E3, the game was rumored to be cancelled or stuck with no progress. Pre-production on the game lasted several years, with actual development not starting until 2011. Square Enix rebranded Versus XIII as Final Fantasy XV in June 2013 during that year’s E3 conference, announcing its development had gone through a major overhaul.

Hajime Tabata is the game’s director, who previously had the same position on Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (2007) and Final Fantasy Type-0 (2011), both for the PlayStation Portable. Tabata was originally Final Fantasy XV’s co-director with Tetsuya Nomura, the Kingdom Hearts franchise leader, who left its development in 2014 to focus on the upcoming Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy VII Remake.

The main story will take at least 50 hours to complete, according to Tabata. This is longer than the 40 hours originally estimated in 2014. Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the Final Fantasy franchise back in 1987, took the stage at the beginning of the Uncovered event and said he was assured by Tabata that the game would take the series back to its challenging roots.

A PC version of Final Fantasy XV might happen later, according to Tabata. Square Enix needed to focus on the game’s console development for its best optimization before working on a PC release. The game needs to sell 10 million copies in its lifetime to be successful, Tabata said. This is more than almost every other game in the franchise except Final Fantasy VII (1997), which has sold more than 11 million across various platforms since its initial 1997 release.

[Update 4/01: Tabata clarified that the 10 million sales number is just an internal goal of his team and not an official projection needed by Square Enix for the game to be a success.]

Final Fantasy XV is developed using the Luminous Engine created by Square Enix.

The last mainline game in the series was Final Fantasy XIII (2009) and its two sequels, Final Fantasy XIII-2 (2011) and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (2013). Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is an MMO that launched in August 2013 and requires a monthly subscription.

Watch the latest trailer called “Reclaim Your Throne”:

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