Not as heralded as Episode Prompto, Ignis and Gladiolus, Final Fantasy XV: Comrades is still part of Final Fantasy XV’s Season Pass content, and is a multiplayer expansion for the base game. Coming in at AU $29.95, it’s a sizeable price for something that could potentially have launched as free-to-play, although the price is somewhat easier to swallow as part of the AU $37.95 Season Pass.
The DLC allows you to make your own avatar, in the same weird system that Monster of the Deep used, where you choose your character’s ancestors and the game blends the them together to create your model. It also features a pretty wide array of other controls and sliders as well, from gender to specific features, to come up with faces that run the gamut of standard FF-pretty boy to oddly-misthapen potato man.
Comrades makes the admirable attempt to connect the formerly-disjointed Kingsglaive movie to Final Fantasy XV, by featuring some of its characters and concepts and bridging them to the main lore. Your character is a former Kingsglaive, a member of the royal guard, imbued with a degree of the royal magic power. After Noctis’ disappearance during the time jump near the end of FFXV, the world starts to fall to darkness, and maintaining power in a dwindling civilisation falls to the remnants of the Kingsglaive, protecting the last outposts of humanity. As you venture out into the world and harvest materials to power Lestallum’s generator, you’ll come across side characters from the main game and learn bits and pieces of information that help explain some of FFXV’s vaguer plot points. As far as a storyline goes for this kind of multiplayer expansion, I actually didn’t mind it – it’s nice that Libertus has actually ended up becoming relevant after his appearance in Kingsglaive, even if his voice is frustratingly weird.
As a royal guard, combat is very similar to Noctis in Final Fantasy XV, as you have access to four weapons you can switch between freely, you can warp towards lock-on targets and cast magic. Magic has been scaled back from the giant grenade-type effects they had in the base game, almost too far to relatively ineffectual ‘offensive’ or ‘restorative’ magic – although these can be upgraded. As you play in a party of four, either filled by friends online or AI companions, you can now warp towards a point to heal rather than attack, and work out strategies with the basic phrase-based chat system. Combat remains as fluid and fun as before, and credit is due to Square-Enix for making it work in a multiplayer mode and actually being quite exciting – seeing your party warp in and out of a battle and change up weapons on the fly.
Structurally, Comrades is essentially a grind through bite-sized missions, slowly unlocked as you earn electricity in kJ and restore power to more points of interest around the map. In the early stages, it doesn’t seem so bad, as missions can see you taking on small mobs of enemies, defending shacks from waves of attack or escorting characters. However, the rate of unlocking new missions seems relatively slow, guaranteeing grinding again and again through the same encounters until you’re able to continue, or waiting on the RNG to deliver the character you’ve been waiting for.
While I didn’t encounter a lot of lag or slowdown during battles, the same can’t be said for load times, which sit between you and just about every mission or re-location. Load times are about on par with the single player Final Fantasy XV experience, which was a little easier to swallow with its slower pace, but in bite-sized fast-paced quickplay matches, it’s a drag to have to wait for the game to seemingly load the entire map every time you finish a mission, return to camp or the hub world.
If you can accept the grind and the time you’ll have to put in to Comrades to get the most out of it, there are plenty of weapons to buy and improve using materials, imbuing them with different abilities or buffs. Customisation works well, and it’s something that was lacking in the base game, along with a slew of costumes both cool and ridiculous you can deck out your avatar in.
Comrades may not be worth seeking out as a purchase on its own, but as part of the Season Pass content, it’s not a bad way to round out the collection. You could complete solely the story content within about 6 hours or so if you focused on that, but to unlock and see everything will take a significant amount of grinding, if you’re up for it. I actually enjoyed most of my time fighting in Comrades, when I wasn’t waiting around for the game to load, and I do appreciate the little bits of plot here and there that don’t make me feel like I’ve entirely wasted my time learning about the FFXV mythos. If it’s been a while since you’ve returned to FFXV and have a fondness for the combat system, this could be worth a look – just come prepared with plenty of patience.
-Effective adaptation of FFXV's formula into multiplayer -Appreciated attempt to clarify FFXV's story and bridge Kingsglaive into the narrative -Character creation and customisation is suitably ridiculous
-Grinding upon grinding -Hefty price for the amount of grinding and RNG -Load times are excessive