I have given the newest expansion to the unwieldy FFXV Universe a spin over the last 24 hours and can say this much: IT HAS NO MICRO TRANSACTIONS OR LOOT BOXES.
The Final Fantasy XV Universe got it’s latest addition late last night in the form of Comrades, a multiplayer mode in which you got to do some cool shit involving a certain time skip in the story. If you have played it you will know what I mean, if you haven’t I recommend you do that before playing Comrades as it is quite pivotal.
This article is not intended as a review as I have only played 3 hours of it, but at the same time I have no idea when (if ever) there will be a review of this on-going title.
Final Fantasy XV Plot Spoilers Ahead.
This mode takes place during that 10 year gap in the story, tasking you with protecting the people and rebuilding their lives while Noctis is having a kip. You create your own Avatar using one of the more complex character creation systems I’ve seen, allowing you to fine tune your look with around one billion sliders. You also get to choose your garms, all of which has multiple elements which can be coloured/recoloured as many times as you like.
Your Avatar is a member of the Kingsglaive, who are a unit of soldiers who work directly for the Royal Family and in return get to do things like conjure swords from thin air and teleport all over the place. You wake up with amnesia and this weird looking guy lets you know what’s going on and how you’re going to help; so starts your adventure in the World of Ruin.
Form your central hub of Lestallum, you are tasked with going out on missions which are rewarded with kWh (electricity), cash and experience. The electricity is used to power up the town via an Ascension-like interface, the more electricity you pump in to Lestallum; the more shops, upgrades or quests become available to you. This eventually leads you to fuelling massive power lines across Eos and unlocking more locations to hang out in. This kWh system has a great sense of progression and you actually feel like you are achieving more then you do when driving about in the main story.
Speaking to Monica in Lestallum, you can take on missions. You jump in to a mission (either Defend This, Run from A to B or Kill all the Enemies) then it drops you in to a lobby with three other players (or AIs). There are also some special single player missions that pop up at certain plot points too. These are full of cameos and locations from FFXV, as you would expect.
The combat is a little different to main game; while sword swinging, warping and weapon switching remains the same, magic and defence have had an overhaul. Now holding L2 allows you to cast offensive or curative magic, with elements that correspond to your equipped weapon. The curative spell will heal you instantly as well as anyone else within a couple of feet of you, however you can unlock an upgrade that allows you to blast a load of healing power for people to stand in. Defending is also a lot slower an more deliberate than before.
The performance of the game is so much better then FFXV (which feels like its running at around 24fps on a good day) and I think the smaller, more concentrated areas are to thank. The game has an incredible amount of polish and I am super impressed at what you get for your paltry £16. It is graphically every bit as gorgeous as its older brother.
The feel of clinging together as the last bastion of humanity is palpable in this expansion, it truly feels entirely separate from the main story yet at the same time part of the same world. The atmosphere and scrappy nature of the combat are spot on.
It isn’t all good in the World of Ruin
The online interface and flow is a little shitty. You are always the only player in Lestallum, if you want to play with your mates you have to set it up for every single mission. There is no system that just groups all of you together at all times.
There are no consumable items in this mode which sounds just insane (and it is). If you get poisoned you just have to keep your health up with curative spells, if you get petrified you just have to wait it out. There are no potions, no phoenix downs, no muscle stimulants, all that stuff is gone.
It takes a long time to level up in Comrades mode. I am at 3 hours in and just getting in to level 4. I have missions available to me at recommended levels 1 – 5 then a huge jump to 10 – 13. Hopefully this doesn’t mean I will be grinding the same mission until I am level 10.
Speaking of which, there is no negative to just grinding the same mission over and over; except tedium. I currently have one level 5 mission which I can manage and just play it over and over, it always rewards more than the others so I have absolutely no reason to go back to them again. In the higher levels I assume rarer monster parts will be up for grabs on certain missions but for now I am just grinding the same stage until the next one unlocks.
At the moment it is hard to tell if Square Enix has envisioned this as a 100 hour plus mode or a smaller 20 hour bit of fun, I am going to play on as the combat is fun and the loop of unlocking areas on the map is very addictive. You could do a lot worse then buying this expansion especially if you enjoyed FFXV, the entire thing can be played offline with AI’s as well.