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PSX SEA 17: Wan Hazmer Convinced Us That Monster Of The Deep Final Fantasy XV Is Not Just A VR Cash-In


Wan Hazmer is just one loveable dude. He’s friendly with the crowd and very easy to approach. Throughout the whole day where PSX SEA 2017 took place it’s safe to say you could see him mostly smiling. That’s our Malaysian hero alright- the person in Square Enix that designed the towns in Final Fantasy XV, though we mostly knew him as the guy that brought roti canai into the game.

The media presentation had a pretty casual setup. We could interrupt and ask him questions anytime, though that caused the topic of roti canai and Malaysian food kept being brought up, unfortunately. But he was there not to talk about adding more Malaysian food, but as the lead designer of Square Enix’s new VR game called Monster Of The Deep: Final Fantasy XV. What we heard from the presentation was some world-exclusive details about the game, and is a similar presentation to what he gave on the show floor at KL Live at Life Center in front of the attendees of PSX SEA 2017.

Wan Hazmer explaining the video of the development team’s fishing trips.

Hazmer first addressed the elephant in the room: what happened to the Final Fantasy XV VR experience unveiled at E3 2016? Apparently that was just a tech demo and was never intended to be released. Hazmer clarified that for the Final Fantasy XV Universe, it’s all about exploring different experiences. That means there is an option for different mediums such as anime and CG movies, as well as different gameplay like the online co-op of Comrades, the action-focused Episode Gladiolus and the stealth and shooting from Episode Prompto. Speaking of which, with Episode Prompto, the original VR experience would have overlapped should it be released since both featured Prompto and shooting gameplay. Which is more the reason to not release it.

With that settled, Hazmer convinced us that Monster Of The Deep is not just a simple cash-in. The team is certainly aware of the tepid reception when it was unveiled on Sony’s E3 briefing, and with the media and public presentation, made a strong case that it isn’t. The developers went out for a real fishing trip to get a feel on how to fish in real life. This experience would then inform them on how to recreate it in the game which is exclusively a VR title.

You catch the video of the developers fishing here (starts at around the 20:00 mark):

As Monster Of The Deep will be a standalone title, Square Enix is putting in a lot of content as well as making the main gameplay of fishing fun. There will be three different modes: Story Mode, Free Mode and Mob Hunt Mode. In the story, you are not Noctis. As Hazmer puts it, you are “you” hanging out with the four boys, with a tease that “there is a deeper meaning” that will be uncovered throughout the game. There will be a number of environments to fish, with some liberties to traverse the areas to find secret fishing spots where more fish, or bigger fish, can be found. Things that the developers picked up from their fishing trip were also translated into the game. There will be bigger fish hiding in the shadows beneath ships, and you cast your rod sideways rather than just the normal upward motion to land the bait inside tricky spots. Catching fish from these modes will net you currency used to upgrade your fishing rods and reels.

Later in the presentation, Hazmer talked about the namesake: Monster Of The Deep. Apparently there will boss fights. Yes, boss fights, in a VR fishing game. These bosses are much harder to catch, you will need to use a crossbow that fires tranquilizer bolts and an upgraded rod and reel to stand a chance to bring them out of the water. There will be several bosses, each with their own unique characteristics. One is seen in the promotional images, looking like a more monstrous angler fish. Another one, which was first revealed here at PSX SEA, had a theme of beauty.

One of the boss fish designs unveiled at the media session. The theme for this was ‘beauty’.

While we did not get a chance to try out the demo of the game, it left us convinced that there is a lot of effort being put into this VR game. Monster Of The Deep is also co-developed by Malaysian-based Streamline Studios. A few months back, the studio did teased us in our interview with them that they have a new VR project in the works, and now we know what was one of the two projects that they had to keep in wraps. The game has a lot of Malaysian talent backing it.

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Monster Of The Deep: Final Fantasy XV is set out for release this September for PS VR. Playstation Move controllers are highly recommended though it is playable with a regular PS4 controller.