Square Enix's Mobius Final Fantasy is coming to the U.S. and we got a sneak preview!

It's an exciting time for North American fans of the Final Fantasy franchise. While we eagerly awaiting the release of Final Fantasy XV on PS4 and Xbox One (due in late September), publisher Square Enix is providing the world with something to whet their appetite in the meanwhile with the International release of Mobius Final Fantasy on August 3. Released exclusively in Japan last summer, the free-to-play game was praised as one of the best Japanese mobile releases of 2015.

We were provided access to an early build of the North American version; here's our first impressions from playing through Chapter One: Blank Slate.

Story and visual style

The story places you in the boots of Wol (or whatever you decide to name your character), a young man who wakes up with amnesia in Palamecia, a world currently under siege from the armies of "Chaos". Our protagonist is but one of countless "Blankers" who have arrived in this mysterious world with no recollection of their past lives. The story begins as you learn of a mysterious prophecy which foretells that one Blanker is destined to become the "Warrior of Light" and rise up to save Palamecia from darkness.

Square Enix decided on breaking the game's story into chapters, which were released on a semi-monthly basis in Japan over the course of a complete calendar year. We'd expect to see a similar schedule of story updates for the North American release.

Since development began in 2013, Square Enix's stated goal for Mobius Final Fantasy was to bring Triple-A console graphics to a mobile RPG experience — and it's a claim they stand by to this day. In a recent press release, they boast that Mobius Final Fantasy features "console-quality HD visuals that push the boundaries of the mobile platform."

Having played an admittedly early build of the game, the graphics aren't quite as groundbreaking as Square Enix would like to have us believe — or perhaps would have been if it were still 2013 — but they're absolutely impressive for a mobile game nonetheless. Changing the resolution settings to High certainly makes things sharper, but it's still a far cry from the quality we've seen from current-gen console releases — including the aforementioned Final Fantasy XV. Ultimately, it's a matter of hardware limitations more than anything else.

If you're hoping for the lengthy cinematic cutscenes synonymous with other Final Fantasy console titles, you're in for a bit of disappointment. The plot unfolds through quick conversations with characters, rendered using the in-game engine. This might turn off some hardcore fans who really enjoy the cinematic storytelling, but it also makes Mobius Final Fantasy more accessible for casual gamers looking for a decent pick-up-and-play mobile RPG experience.

Having played an early build of the game, the graphics aren't quite as groundbreaking as Square Enix would like to have us believe, but they're absolutely impressive for a mobile game.

Speaking of the hardcore fans, it's worth noting Mobius Final Fantasy was developed by producer Yoshinori Kitase and writer Kazushige Nojima — industry pros best known for their work on the iconic Final Fantasy VII and many other iconic Square Enix titles. As such, this ain't some quick cash grab mobile game for Square Enix; Mobius Final Fantasy is a full-fledged release for the storied franchise, and you will notice and appreciate the attention to detail and care that obviously went into the game.

Gameplay

Mobius features the character development and depth we've come to expect from a Final Fantasy release, including a job system, multiple ways to upgrade and customize your character, and upgradable ability cards which you earn in battles. Each special ability is connected to one of six elements: Fire, Water, Earth, Wind, Light and Shadow. Each job class is tied to three of those elements, requiring you to swap them out depending on the types of enemies you expect to face.

Battling is truly the heart of Mobius Final Fantasy, and was developed to be played with one hand in portrait mode.

Elements are most effective against their opposing element, so for example a Water ability will be most effective against a Fire opponent and vice versa. You'll need to create and manage multiple decks, consisting of job, weapon and ability cards if you hope to fulfill the prophecy and save Palamecia.

Battling is truly the heart of Mobius Final Fantasy. Developed to be conveniently played with one hand with the phone held in portrait orientation, the battling system combines the turn-based combat system typically found in JRPGs with the familiar tap-and-slash combat mechanics found in many popular action games for mobile. Tap to launch a physical attack on an enemy, which in turn releases Element orbs used to charge up your special abilities.

Once you've collected enough orbs, you're able to use your special abilities to unleash more effective attacks on tougher enemies. There's a ton of strategy involved in properly managing your elements, as the proper Elemental ability is often required to break through the tougher defenses of bigger enemies. Alternatively, orbs can also be absorbed to heal, or raise your character's resistance to a specific element for a set number turns.

There's also a social element to the game, wherein you rent ability cards from other players. This aspect of the game is somewhat limited in the pre-release build of the game, but it will be curious to see how that aspect of the game pans out after August 3.

Pre-register for in-game rewards

Pre-registration is currently underway, and will continue up until the official launch of the game. Pre-registered players shall receive a number of in-game rewards to help them on their journey, as well as a push notification as soon as the game is available to download in their region. Currently, over 150,000 players have pre-registered to unlock bonus content such as a special card featuring fan favorite Yuna from FFX. There are more rewards available via pre-registration stretch goals.

Mobius Final Fantasy will be released in North America and International app stores on August 3, 2016.

Marc Lagace was an Apps and Games Editor at Android Central between 2016 and 2020. You can reach out to him on Twitter [@spacelagace.

12 Comments
  • I give AC credit for being able to hype up a mobile card game the way they do Posted via the Android Central App
  • a mobile card game? Did you read the article? This is a very fleshed out rpg. Yes it uses cards for skill / job customization but it aint no card game
  • Tbh, no I didnt. I did a quick glance and saw the word card a few times. I own it I was quick to jump. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It looks pretty great to me. I hope SE doesn't charge a fortune for it.
  • Story says it was free to play in Japan on initial release... Does not seem likely to be different here. Personally I would prefer a nice one time purchase price and be done with it, but no evidence of that yet. Posted via Android Central App
  • I agree, most likely it'll be a free to play with IAP, so it'll cost a fortune :( Posted via the Android Central App
  • Is this game only on tablet/phone or can it also be played on Android TV/Nvidia Shield?
  • Yeah that's what I want to know. Posted via the Pokemon Central App
  • I'm more concerned about support. When Nougat is release later this year, the current game development will be using older API's. SE has not been known for supporting their games as the OS evolves. Also, will they use Google Play Services for game data or their own? This can also cause some issues if you upgrade a phone ore have to do a factory reset. I've stayed away from FF7 simply because it was issued with a major bug and I doubt that SE will bother to fix it. I can't see it being any better for this game.
  • Was having flashbacks to ARR. While I am not a fan of micro transactions, I am glad its not a monthly sub. Hopefully it wont be the battery killer that Pokémon GO is.
  • I have been playing the Japanese version since it was released last year. It is a great game that feels more console-like in quality than most mobile games. It also has a good amount of cinematic cutscenes which start appearing in later chapters (which you can skip). You do not have to spend a dime if you want to progress in it due to the amount of freebies that are given. I just hope this carries over to this version as well. Posted via the Android Central App
  • The only problem i take (im still super hyped) is that they removed the energy system in the JP version so i dont see why they have to gimp our gameplay with a craptastic energy system :'(