Hands on: ‘Final Fantasy XV’ for PlayStation VR

The 'Final Fantasy XV VR Experience' is not what Final Fantasy fans were hoping for

The best case Sony can make for PlayStation VR, its PlayStation 4-compatible virtual-reality headset, is that it can bring games to the medium that other VR hardware manufacturers can’t. At E3 2016, Sony showed off a bevy of exclusive VR demos for tie-ins to some of gaming’s biggest franchises, including something called the Final Fantasy XV VR Experience, a VR tie-in of sorts for the upcoming action-RPG. Unfortunately for fans, the demo does not offer the adventure or excitement one might hope for from a virtual Final Fantasy.

The Final Fantasy XV VR Experience is not really a game, per se.

Final Fantasy XV: The VR Experience is not really a game, per se. You take control of the pistol-wielding Prompto, a member of the FFXV protagonist Noctis’ group of friends, to fight a Behemoth, a large, horned beast and one of many recurring fixtures of the Final Fantasy multiverse. As Prompto, you back up the rest of the FFXV party by repeatedly firing your pistol at the Behemoth until it dies. Shooting the beast’s head and tail does more damage than hitting its body, so there is an incentive to aim precisely at moving targets. That said, the creature is gigantic, and you can definitely just mash the trigger to victory.

You can warp to specific points around the level, marked with a blue crystal. If the Behemoth comes after you, you may have to use the warp to dodge out of the way of its attacks. In general, however, the experience feels like a facsimile of a video game: It isn’t entirely clear that anything you do would affect how the demo behaves.

With actual mechanics and a firm win-state, instead of an ending, the experience is certainly slightly more game-like than many of technical demos shown to demonstrate the capacity of virtual reality headsets, such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Plus, it’s still possible that FFXV VR may eventually offer something more.

Members of the development team told Digital Trends that this fall, the game will not launch alongside PlayStation VR, which will come out shortly after Final Fantasy XV, and that the E3 demo may not represent the final product.

That said, as a technical showcase, the demo paints a damning picture of the PlayStation VR headset’s ability to compete with its rival headsets. Compared to the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, the PlayStation VR running off the current PlayStation 4 simply cannot support the resolution to make the experience look real. Though the animation runs smoothly, every character was marred by ragged, pixelated lines reminiscent of a mid-era PlayStation 3 game, far from the cutting edge of VR, or even console gaming.

After the fight, the game asks you if you’d like to take a drive. When you say yes, you’re placed in the passenger seat of a convertible, sitting next to Cindy, Final Fantasy XV‘s female version of Cid, a supporting character who appears in a new form every game. It’s basically an opportunity to test the headset distraction-free. Looking around the car showed the headset’s very capable head-tracking, which allowed for a great sense of space. You could lean back, and look underneath the back seat without the headset losing track of your position. However, the sequence’s implication — that demo-goers would jump at the opportunity to ogle a blonde in a mechanic’s jumper — felt awkward, to say the least.

With the PlayStation VR launch coming in October, the time for tech demos has past. At best, the Final Fantasy XV VR Experience is a neat tidbit for die-hard fans who happen to own a PlayStation VR headset. At worst, it’s a misleading attempt to juice PS VR pre-orders by exploiting our dreams for what a virtual Final Fantasy could be.

Mobile

From the road to your wrist, see how Android has evolved over the past 10 years

Android started out as just a mobile operating system, but 10 years in it's pretty much everywhere. Check out our round-up of all the different Android variations that have cropped up so far, and what might be coming in the future.
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Computing

Following the Portal, augmented reality glasses may be Facebook’s next step

Following the launch of its Portal smart display, Facebook says it is working on AR glasses, possibly in a move at challenging both Apple and Google and perhaps to rise up in the hardware scene. 
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best gear and gadgetry you can snag for $100 or less

A $100 bill can get you further than you might think -- so long as you know where to look. Check out our picks for the best tech under $100, whether you're in the market for headphones or a virtual-reality headset.
Computing

Oculus VR could upgrade the Rift with a new display in 2019

Oculus could be set to release a new version of its Rift headset in 2019, but it will be more of a modest upgrade than a true sequel. The Rift S, as its purportedly called, will have a new display, and inside-out tracking.
Mobile

Google awarded patent for using eye tracking to detect expressions in VR

Google was awarded a patent that involves using eye tracking to infer facial expressions using machine learning in virtual reality. The tech could help make virtual reality a whole lot more immersive than it already is.
Virtual Reality

Prototype Valve VR headset leaked: HTC Vive challenger confirmed?

Leaked images revealed that a Valve VR headset is in development, even amid Valve's partnership with HTC for the HTC Vive. Sources confirmed the device, which may be bundled with a Half-Life VR game.
Gaming

Immerse yourself in a new universe with these incredible PSVR games

The PSVR has surpassed expectations and along with it comes an incredible catalog of games. There's plenty of amazing experiences to be had so we've put together a list of the best PSVR games available today.
Virtual Reality

Is the Vive Pro better than the original Vive? Our answer might surprise you

HTC Vive vs. Vive Pro, which comes out on top? That's the subject of our latest comparison, which looks at everything from tracking solutions, to controllers, and the brand new headset that could set a new standard for VR.
Gaming

The best HTC Vive games available today

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.
Computing

A Google patent shows a way to make VR even more immersive

Virtual reality can be a really immersive experience, but it does sometimes it does have boundaries. Google has addressed this problem by patenting shoes with a flexible region on the bottom.
Virtual Reality

Think virtual reality is just for games? These awesome apps will change your mind

Virtual reality isn't all about gaming. Swim with turtles, paint in 3D, and immerse yourself in some unique experiences the platform has to offer with our curated list of the best VR apps.
Gaming

Dive head first into the best experiences available now on the Oculus Rift

The Oculus Rift brought back virtual reality and put a modern twist to it. Grab your Touch Controllers, put on your VR headset, and jump into the fun with some of the best Oculus Rift games available now.
Virtual Reality

Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive: Prices drop, but our favorite stays the same

The Oculus Rift and HTC Vive are the two big names in the virtual reality arena, but most people can only afford one. Our comparison tells you which is best when you pit the Oculus Rift vs. HTC Vive.