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(Up Next: Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age - Eruyt Village)

Impressions of Final Fantasy XV: Comrades

August 4th, 2017 by Andy

FFXV -MULTIPLAYER EXPANSION_ COMRADES- Closed Online Test_20170802112642

Post-release XV’s ambitions remain lofty to be sure, but they may be closer to achieving them than I anticipated with the still-developing DLC titled Comrades. Just as Episode Gladio and Episode Prompto explored parts of the story previously unseen, Comrades takes place after Chapter 9 on the mainland of Lucis whilst the Prince is absent. Except this time you do not fight as or beside one of Noct’s buddies or allies, but as your own avatar with one to three other players.

If you are familiar with Final Fantasy XIV’s robust character creation system, you will be at home here. You have entire palettes to decide the color of your character’s skin, eyes, hair, and so on (you can even add highlights). Most of the options for clothing and hairstyles are limited for the demo, but once all of the locked options become available at release, there will be plenty of room of individualized avatars. Details from body type all the way down to minute facial features are manipulable. It appears that skin affectations like scars and tattoos, will remain relatively limited. Still, this level of customization is impressive considering that this is but one aspect of the season pass. I dressed my avatar, Erasmus, casually, with half his head shaved, sporting long boots and knight’s gauntlets. But if you aren’t a fan of these sorts thing, you can always just dress up in a chocobo suit. The avatars, albeit with the possibility of producing absurd characters, do swagger through the streets like any other NPC. If nothing else, I look forward to making a new avatar in the future upon full release.

Upon finalizing your avatar (you can save multiple male and female avatars and switch between them) you start in a militarized Old Lestallum that the Meladacio Hunters closed off. The dusky sky mingling with the Ravatogh volcano’s smoke in the distance is a scene of urgent implication; the beginnings of the descent into the World of Ruin.This acts as the hub and full of notes to ground the setting and context, in addition to providing some basic gameplay tips delineating this mode from the base game. When you are done exploring, you speak with Cor who presents you with three missions. Each of these provide Meteorshards and Gil as rewards, but there is nothing that can be done with them in game. After choosing a mission, you decide between Quick Play (which never worked for me) or Custom games in which you can host or join other’s games. Sometimes, if no one else bites, the game will summon three AIs to fight with you. There is a “Solo” option, but it is unavailable for the beta, but suggests that those who have poor internet connection or would rather play alone can still utilize Comrades.

With the player’s assembled, you are teleported to a camp where you have five minutes to alter your weapons, your sigil (the armor/accessory in this mode), and interact with other players through the in-game text options. Once the team ready’s up, or the five minutes elapse, you teleport at the mission site and begin. The weapon choices expand upon those in the base game, starting you with a hammer, katana, shuriken, and twin blades. You can still warp to enemies or preset locations as with before, and the latter still increases the rate in which you recover HP and MP.

The battle’s themselves are waves of enemies, either attacking an objective, or acting as a roadblock on your way to another location. Like the main game, your movement options are just as limited, and you have to battle with the somewhat clunky systems to successfully dodge, guard, and get behind them for blindsides. By guarding at the right time, players can instigate a warp-chain in which the screen gets dark and you can beat-up on the enemy until a bar runs out. With all of the on-screen effects, the screen is busy. But with a stable internet connection, even my vanilla PS4 was keeping up with the fiery explosions, near-constant teleporting, and gangs of demons. However, these missions are rather short; Completing all three of them takes less than a hour, provided you aren’t trapped in never ending queues. Its hard to judge if at higher levels more skill, strategy, and synergy will be necessary to take down objectives, or if you’ll just need your teammate’s cures and sufficient endurance.

Upon completing a mission, you gain experience points and your camp chef will serve a meal. The meal they make is based on whatever that NPC has in their inventory, and also what the players picks up over the course of the mission. Each player can pick up one item, such as meat or a Zuu egg or other ingredients, and this will influence what the NPC will conjure up. As with Ignis’s meals, the food provides your team with buffs that will assist in the next mission.

There are some differences in the gameplay, however. Your dodge is replaced by a half-sphere shaped shield that guards you and any allies who take refuge behind you. The shield is preferable to Noctic’s automatic dodge in my opinion, because there is less to be inferred if the enemy collides with you despite your “dodge.” In retrospect, separate guarding and evasion mechanics could have improved the base game significantly, but as it stands, guarding changes little beyond the possibility of also guarding an ally in case of an area of effect strike. Magic is no longer expendable. Instead, it uses MP and comes in two forms; area of effect healing magic, and offensive magic that is determined by your weapon. Some weapons do not have magic associated with them, but others, like the Ashura katana and its fireball, do. Otherwise the gameplay is basically the same but multiplied by four players endlessly slashing at disgruntled mobs.

Because it’s just a beta, none of the rewards you earn, should you somehow survive any of the missions featuring the Iron Giant, Naga, or Ronin, are wiped upon completion.

With a more personalized avatar, different ability and magic system, and a few allies, those who garnered some enjoyment from the base game will continue to do so. Based on what I’ve seen, the game very well could have a large selection of missions and weapons, and allowing for a level of customization not unseen in the base game. Hopefully, more story details on this crucial time in the world of Eos will unveil through your avatar’s journey. If not, though, this DLC will have more objectives to accomplish and more tools to play with than previous DLC, and could lead to some enjoyable and emergent experiences, even if it only possesses a few hours worth of them.

These impressions were written in collaboration with Peter.

The beta will run until August 8th. The official release of the DLC has yet to be determined. 

 

About Andy

Andy23 | male | writer| admirer of storytelling through video games and other media, indefatigable fan (and apologist) of RPGs.