It’s been a long wait, but now, finally, on the verge of its big release, we’re starting to see exactly how Final Fantasy 15 is going to operate and it appears that the game combat mechanics are going to be composed of a clever mix of new and innovative styles combined with some smart throwbacks to previous entries in the series.
New Summoning System
A perfect example of this is the new summoning system presented in FFXV. Having been a vitally important part of gameplay in many previous series, summoning frequently acts as a way to call powerful beasts into battle and deal out massive damage or even slay enemies within a single hit.
While this still appears to be the case for the new game, there also appear to have been some major changes made to how summon will operate within this exciting and beautiful new world, while still functioning as an option to provide powerful, even tide-turning force to any battle in the game that they can be brought into.
One major difference between how the summons will work in Final Fantasy XV compared to how they have operated in previous games will be the conditions under which they can be summoned.
While in older entries in the series, summons could traditionally be called into almost any battle provided that the party had enough MP or other, largely arbitrary point, in Final Fantasy XV the conditions have to be right to summon certain of these mighty Archaens, such as Leviathan, who it is believed can only be brought into battle when the party is near a body of water.
Similarly, when the party is enclosed inside a building, cave, or other relatively tight area, they may not be able to summon one of these beings at all, or the summon may perform an action that is different from what it would normally do in order to accommodate the fact that they, being massive creatures, can’t reach the party themselves.
What’s more, there are many circumstances where it’s been indicated that the player is be able to directly control the appearance of the summons at all; that some of the giant creatures may not bother to show up if called to an area that’s inconvenient for them to travel to, or in the instance of fickle summons like Shiva, that they might show up at times that you don’t even want them there and try to help.
On the other hand, a player needs to be in a specific condition in order to summon. When the requirement is meet, a player will have to hold L2/LT for a few seconds without getting attacked by enemies.
This could potentially be very inconvenient in terms of trying to gain experience, for example, as it has also been mentioned that kills made by summons may not count towards the players experience progression, as those kills only count for the summons and not the player.
Besides the environment and the chaos that surrounds it, there may also be certain qualifying conditions that need to be met before a summon can be brought into battle. In the Episode Duscae preview play, for example, Ramuh could only be summoned when Noctis had most of his health drained and was in a critical stage
While it has been implied that this may not be the specific condition needed to be met to summon Ramuh in the game, it is unclear if this was meant more as an example of the sorts of conditions that will need to be in place in order to perform a summons, or if it was a direct indicator of something that will need to be done for most of the creatures.
Regardless, it has been stated by several sources that certain conditions will apply when trying to execute summons properly.
In older entries in the Final Fantasy series, it has been necessary to defeat or “prove” oneself to a summon in order to control it, and it appears that this is once again the case with Final Fantasy XV, but with yet another twist.
As the battle system has changed so fundamentally for this game, it appears that the context of these “trial” battles has changed in a very big way as well, with all sorts of unique battles being set up to prove Noctis’ worth to these ancient and powerful beings.
From some of the promotional materials, it appears that while trying to do battle with Leviathan in the hopes of gaining her trust and aid, the player will also have to engage with Nifelheim soldiers.
It’s also been stated that simply defeating these creatures in battle won’t be enough to gain their camaraderie, but that it will be necessary to “impress” them in some way in order to gain their help in battle.
The list of summons in the game, especially those confirmed with certainty to appear, may seem short at present, but the development team has explicitly stated that they were focused on “quality over quantity” in terms of how they chose to approach including various summons in the game. Presumably it means the amazing detail going into the design and performance of each of these amazing creatures and how they interact with the party, instead of just stuffing a lot of various creatures into the game.
It also would very much have run the risk of seeming tacked-on in terms of the meticulous game design that’s been a staple of every aspect of this game that has yet been seen.
That said, there are still said to be a good number of Archaens to summon, and a few have been confirmed with absolute certainty.
Titan, a giant, rocky beast that towers over the party with an orangey-red humanoid form has both been seen in promotional materials and spoken of in demo play, and is said to be able to help the party by sweeping them out of battle, crushing enemies with his massive size, and hurling gigantic boulders at enemies from afar.
Titan can only be summoned in an open world when everyone in the party but Noctis have been knocked out.
Leviathan is a beautiful and terrifying water dragon who, traditionally in the series, has been able to command the forces of water in various ways from cascades to powerful tsunamis, and is said to be potentially integral to Final Fantasy’s plot, possibly even taking on a humanoid form and becoming impossible to recognize as a summon.
To summon Leviathan, Noctis needs to be near water and in a danger state.
Shiva has been glanced only momentarily and little is known about her role in the game, but as usual she will be able to command the force of ice to deal tremendous damage to the enemy.
Shiva summoning condition is the mix of all three other summon conditions: party member knocked out, having a long fight, or Noctis in the danger state.
Ramuh, as seen in Episode Duscae, will be able to wield incredibly powerful lightning magic and use his enormous staff to destroy enemies from on high.
To summon Ramuh, Noctis needs to fight for a while. The longer the fight, the higher chance to summon Ramuh.
Those that played the Platinum Demo will even be able to summon Carbuncle, the cat/fox-like creature that acted like a guide to Noctis, though his abilities or the specifics of his summoning are still unknown.
While these are only the confirmed summons, it is speculated that several others will appear, with fan favorites like Ifrit the fire demon, Odin the great knight, and Bahamut the ferocious dragon all thought to be likely candidates to show up in the final game.
Along with several potential minor summons like Carbuncle to be present, they possibly include a tiny Malborough, a Tonberry, and a cactuar.
In the final days counting down to the release of this desperately-awaited game, it would seem that while some major changes are in place for the summoning system for Final Fantasy XV, the development team has taken a tremendous amount of time and thought in creating an exciting and spectacular new system for players old and new to discover.