VERSION(S) REVIEWED: PC & PLAYSTATION 4
Final Fantasy XV
Written & Edited by: Prof. Purble, A Tomato & Den
Published: 23rd, October, 2021
Final Fantasy XV takes you behind the wheel in the glamorous Regalia with your three buddies. The game features real-time combat and groundbreaking new technology at the time of its release.
On my Ryzen 5 3600, RTX 3060, 16GB RAM, the game maintains 60fps at 1080p on Max settings, however dips to 50fps in densely packed areas or when a lot of particles are present on screen, especially with the Nvidia settings enabled. There is even occasional micro stuttering - the severity of which varies between multiple systems and configurations.
One of the main selling points according to the developers was to be able to have the game run on older hardware, which it succeeds in doing so.
Though it’s seen many revisions and updates, the story represented here is not quite complete. The game focuses mainly on the road trip aspect of Prince Noctis and his companions' journey, who had been tasked to escort him to his bride-to-be, Princess Lunafreya. After some run-ins with the locals, it’s soon discovered that the citadel they had just left had been stormed and the royal throne had been forcefully taken. Enraged by the news, Noctis intends to make the ones pay for this mess and eventually reclaim what was rightfully his.
Further additions to the story have been made in the form of episodic DLC, showcasing events with Noctis’ friends and rivals. A five episode anime was released on YouTube, a cinematic film and several books have been published. Without proper context, the game on its own can be quite confusing to follow along.
More DLC was planned to supplement the story further, but unfortunately had been cancelled.
For most of your adventure, you are in control of Noctis. Playability of other characters is mostly reserved for their own respective DLCs or during combat.
Movement around Eos can be achieved either by foot or car. Later points in the game allow fast travel, and the map opens itself up through progression of the main story. In the beginning, your car is effectively glued to the road, regardless of player input; however, later upgrades to the Regalia can unlock the ability to go off-road.
Upgrading requires the use of AP - A passive currency you gain through normal gameplay. The amount gained depends on which activities you decide to do throughout the day. The skill tree is required to unlock additional character perks, skills and even grants the ability to play as one of your allies during combat.
This game introduces real-time combat mechanics - a departure from the traditional turn-based combat from prior games. You can pick your targets out carefully and exploit their weaknesses with the time-based system, freezing time whenever Noctis isn’t moving, or just get right in the enemy's face and experiment with different combos.
Depending on where the player faces the camera, Noctis can phase warp to specific locations, leaving a blue trail behind him. This, put together with real-time combat, creates a feeling of satisfaction as you swiftly move around to different parts of the map and unleash a devastating flurry of attacks in conjunction with well timed parries and dodges, making you feel incredibly powerful with this ability alone that forms a smooth transition between traversal and combat.
During mid-combat, one of Noctis’ friends can be controlled if the ability has been unlocked to do so. Each feature their own separate style that can break up the gameplay of the usual combat mechanics:
Has no magic abilities, but makes up for it with pure raw strength that can devastate any opponent on the receiving end of his wrath.
Focuses use on magic, exploiting the enemies weakness with more focused strategy on analyzing them more closely and unleashing a flurry of well executed attacks once identified.
Uses gun combat over close ranged physical attacks. Prompto does best to chip enemies' health from a distance while his friends keep the attention drawn away from him.
Your allies can be managed with various weapons, skill sets and what items are assigned to them - throughout the game, more options will unlock, leading to various different combos occurring that randomly occur during combat sequences. Holding down the dodge button will have Noctis phase through enemy attacks, and dodging at just the right time allows you to parry and stun the enemy temporarily. Dodging and phasing drains MP which must be replenished regularly during combat - if you run out of MP, Noctic becomes vulnerable and unable to do anything, prompting you to take cover until it eventually restores itself.
Located around campsites and within certain caves are either containers or rocks with magical properties. Noctis can absorb and use these to cast powerful spells in the form of magic grenades. For further enhancement, the magic can be brewed with various different items for a much more powerful effect. Your allies are not immune to this however - friendly fire is very prevalent and will momentarily paralyze them if caught within the blast radius.
Ingredients can be found in various locations around Eos - they can be bought in shops or found laying around for Ignis to cook up during camping and grant temporary buff stats the next morning. Food with a heart icon has a much greater effect for that particular character.
Included with the PC launch comes the Online Expansion DLC - Comrades. In this mode, you customize your own character and fight your way to claim back the land that has been taken controlled over by evil monsters. To do so, you need to restore electricity to neighbouring cities and villages via an electrical grid in collaboration with other players. Comrades occurs parallel to the main story. As of June 24th, 2020, online functionality has since been discontinued, but it is still possible to play Comrades with AI.
It’s recommended that you finish the main story first as Comrades contains major late-game spoilers.
There is full custom rebinding support only for the keyboard.
First-person mode can be enabled but the game was clearly designed to be played in third-person mode as you’re often taken out of first-person during certain combat maneuvers and cutscenes - breaking immersion.
Nvidia technology has been implemented to further complement the game's visuals, including a free 4K textures DLC. These options chew a whopping chunk of resources - sacrifices in other areas may be necessary if you really want to maintain good performance. The game uses DLSS 1.0 and is not a viable option for increased performance.
Final Fantasy XV was marketed as a Final Fantasy for Long-Time fans and newcomers to appeal to a wider audience, and it certainly delivers on that. Easy difficulty settings are available for those having difficulties adapting to the control style.
The PC version includes the possibility of mod support and the addition of a Workshop, allowing for fan made content to be implemented. The included Mod Manager grants the ability to change the appearance of all the main characters, implement new custom weapons and more.
When support for the game had been discontinued, the Mod Manager was left in a perpetual unpolished state, leaving it mostly to the community to create guides, workarounds and patches to help new users understand it.
A Map Tool was planned along the road, but got cancelled.
Final Fantasy XV has an impressive presentation overall. While the story falls short of expectations, it makes up for with fun gameplay and it debuts some impressive technical innovations that would only be further improved upon in the foreseeable future.
Is this truly the Final Fantasy for fans and first-timers? Absolutely, and I strongly recommend you give it a go!