As far as we currently know, the combat in Final Fantasy XV is going to be your basic action RPG format with single button presses for attacks. So how is the magic going to work then? While he wouldn't offer specifics, director Hajime Tabata did reveal some interesting aspects of the combat mechanics in his game.
When entering combat in Final Fantasy XV, players will execute attacks by pressing an attack button, director Tabata confirmed in an interview with Weekly Famitsu. By keeping the attack button pressed, or by repeatedly pressing the button, your character will execute a preset combo. This looks to be the very basic framework of combat and very likely the bare-bones sort of play we've seen in almost every trailer or gameplay video so far.
Aside from basic attacks there will also be united attacks, with party members working together for more powerful attacks than they could pull off on their own. Said Tabata, "For united attacks with party members, we're still working on them, but we plan for them to be a system where you check your timing when you press the button."
There will also be things like parrying and counters which will also be executed through the attack button. However these are moves for more experienced players. "Parrying is an action where you time it to match an enemy's attack." Noted Tabata. "It's an advanced technique with a risk of failure."
Aside from the basic attack, some weapons will also have a built-in special attacks/abilities that can be executed through a specific button.
In the latest trailer for the game, the main character Noctis is seen using not only a sword, but a spear-like weapon in combat as well. Tabata explained that multiple weapons could be equipped simultaneously. "You can equip multiple weapons at the same time, but you choose a main weapon from [the weapons equipped]. During battle, by pressing a specific button, the ability tied to the main weapon is executed." Tabata said. "You can switch your main weapon during combat, so you can execute different attacks." Combos also vary from weapon to weapon.
One element of equipment that Tabata has brought in from his work on other games is the individual strengths of the different weapons. One of Tabata's first jobs when he entered Tecmo Koei (just Tecmo at the time) was making individual special shoots for different characters in the soccer game, Captain Tsubasa 5. "In that game series, the characters are very individualized – there are characters whose base status is low, but have special shoots, and other characters who are really good, but never learn any special moves." Tabata recalled. "The weapon system we're using is very similar to that, so some weapons won't have abilities but are very strong, while others may not have a high attack, but have special abilities, so each weapon is very unique. By collecting different weapons you can work out tactics for what combination of weapons might be more effective on an enemy."
Tabata noted that searching for and collecting weapons will be one of the objectives for players.
Interestingly enough, Tabata has confirmed that while the current UI seen in trailers is not the completed model and that there will be an MP gauge, it won't be tied to the use of magic and instead will be used for special moves. "The magic [in Final Fantasy XV] is a little unique and isn't your standard 'use MP to cast' model." Tabata explained. "MP is used for special actions like using your sword to warp or to evade attacks. For evasion, by keeping the button pressed, you can continuously dodge attacks, but it will also continuously drain your MP."
While he wouldn't offer more details on the magic system itself – although it is apparently already quite developed – when asked, Tabata did specify that it is nothing like the draw system from Final Fantasy VIII.
Aside from what has already been shown in the latest trailer and explained during the panel at Jump Festa, Tabata did add that summons were an ability specific to Noctis. "The summon creatures in Final Fantasy XV are the embodiment of the planet's power, and can only be summoned by Noctis." Tabata did not clarify as to whether there would be a system in the game that would allow other characters to use summons like in Final Fantasy VI.
Final Fantasy XV is currently scheduled for release on the PS4 and Xbox one. The playable demo, Episode Duscae, is scheduled to be included with the initial release of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD.