Square-Enix probably shouldn’t have released this as the first public-facing demo because it assumes that you’ve played Episode Duscae and are familiar with how the combat will play out once you have most of your options. If this was your first experience with Final Fantasy XV, you’d be pretty underwhelmed, as evidenced by the reactions over at NeoGAF. (Unrelated note: It still makes me giddy that GAF, self-proclaimed last bastion of the “hardcore”, overwhelmingly voted Portal and Skyrim as 2011 GOTY over Dark Souls.)
The game actually gives some decent advice in the loading screens: press and hold Circle to attack, press and hold Square to auto-dodge, and that some attacks can’t be auto-dodged. It also tells you that you can perform a dodge roll by pressing Square and holding a direction. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mention somewhat important things like that you can use different attacks by holding different directions while holding Circle, that you use MP for certain things and running out is bad, and that you can use a powerful charged attack that gives you invincibility frames by letting go of Circle and then holding it again after a combo string. If you’ve played Episode Duscae, you’ll be familiar with a few combat tricks, but the game could use a good tutorial (note: hahaha) or maybe gamers could learn things by experimenting (note: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA).
Because of that, the game looks like it has no combat depth and that you can just “hold Circle to awesome” your way through the game. And really, it’s hard to blame people for thinking that way, partially because most of the interesting combat was in Episode Duscae, and partially because that’s the way the industry is trending. Sure, the game has lots of interesting combat tricks, but it remains to be seen how many of them will be “required” to complete the main story. The game will probably have its share of bonus bosses, but the vast majority of gamers, even at the self-proclaimed last bastion of the “hardcore”, won’t ever beat them.
Overall, most demos do more harm than good, and it’s especially true with this one. It didn’t do much for people who already played Episode Duscae and it gave a poor impression for those who were on the fence. My hype remains steadily in the 80-90 range, but I can see why some gamers would be falling off.