Is this Fi­nal Fan­tasy XV’S most per­plex­ing DLC up­date yet?

Hands-on with Com­rades, square enix’s multiplayer gam­ble

Games TM - - CONTENTS -

In Com­rades, the multiplayer ex­pan­sion for Fi­nal Fan­tasy XV, the world is al­ready lost. Evil is vic­to­ri­ous, and the last out­posts of hu­man­ity are slowly blink­ing out of ex­is­tence. The hero – Noc­tis, the pro­tag­o­nist of FFXV proper – is miss­ing.

Rather than a macabre end­ing, Com­rades treats this as a be­gin­ning, cast­ing play­ers as the last sur­viv­ing mem­bers of the Kings­glaive, a royal guard sworn to pro­tect the king and his peo­ple. What fol­lows will be fa­mil­iar to play­ers of multiplayer RPGS like Des­tiny and Mon­ster Hunter – co-op­er­a­tive on­line mis­sions that task squads of play­ers with de­feat­ing fe­ro­cious mon­sters. It’s all backed up by some light RPG char­ac­ter pro­gres­sion.

The fact that Com­rades doesn’t feel like a tacked-on stretch around FFXV’S nar­ra­tive is im­pres­sive, and that car­ries through to much of its de­sign. What you get up to is fun and sat­is­fy­ing with a pre­dictable, match­mak­ingfriendly ebb and flow.

You pick up a mis­sion brief in a hub zone, travel to a stag­ing area to prep and then head out on the mis­sion proper. If suc­cess­ful you’ll re­turn to camp to de­brief and in­ven­tory your loot be­fore head­ing back to the hub, where you can take on an­other mis­sion – but not be­fore you in­vest in new gear and up­grades or progress the story to un­lock more mis­sions.

It’s all de­cep­tively pleas­ing stuff, and at times it can be rather hard to be­lieve that this has been built atop a game that was so plainly con­structed with sin­gle-player in mind above all else.

Many of FFXV’S abil­i­ties and con­trols are tweaked to bet­ter fit a multiplayer set­ting. What was a dodge be­comes an area-of-ef­fect shield that can pro­tect your team­mates, for in­stance, while el­e­men­tal magic is more lim­ited to force a greater de­gree of pre-mis­sion prepa­ra­tion. Bat­tling larger crea­tures was one of the high­lights of FFXV, and that still con­tin­ues to ring true in a multiplayer set­ting where ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion and strat­egy make a larger dif­fer­ence.

It’s good stuff, then – though in places the scars of the surgery to graft multiplayer sys­tems onto a sin­gle-player open world are painfully vis­i­ble. Load times are in­tense as the game hops from zone to zone, match­mak­ing is frus­trat­ingly hi­tand-miss, and in its cur­rent state the multiplayer feels cu­ri­ously un­fin­ished. It cul­mi­nates in a bat­tle that’ll make hard­core FF fans squeal with glee, but the game also al­ludes to more mis­sions in ar­eas that aren’t yet avail­able to play.

Like FFXV at launch, Com­rades feels like a great idea that needs a lit­tle more de­vel­op­ment. If Square Enix sticks to its guns with up­dates this could be a must-play in a few months’ time.

block­ing, heal­ing and magic have all been tweaked to make more sense in an on­line team­based en­vi­ron­ment.

Above: plenty of FF iconog­ra­phy crops up, from bat­tles with fa­mil­iar mon­sters to cameos from ma­jor play­ers in FFXV’S story. the main theme tune is even by clas­sic FF mae­stro nobuo ue­matsu!

Above: there’s a full and im­pres­sively de­tailed char­ac­ter cus­tomi­sa­tion sys­tem, and you can buy new duds with your hard-earned cash.

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