Is this Final Fantasy XV’S most perplexing DLC update yet?
Hands-on with Comrades, square enix’s multiplayer gamble
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.