So Final Fantasy XV has got the main game itself alongside a feature length movie and anime as well as multiple episodes focusing on the buddies of Price Noctis and now we get a multiplayer focused DLC just because we needed to take the Final Fantasy XV experience online right? Comrades feels mostly like a Monster Hunter style game with Final Fantasy XV gameplay and control except for removing the open world aspects. Comrades is a buggy thrown together mess that does nothing new for the Final Fantasy XV universe and has so many problems that ruin some of the moments where you could be having fun with it with either friends or other people online. I will point out in this review that I will be talking about some of the minor updates that are included in the March 2018 update as of playing the DLC now.
Taking place after the events that happened in one of the worst chapters in the main game chapter 13 the whole world of Eos has fallen completely into darkness, daemons have taken over and Prince Noctis is missing. As a member of the Kingsglaive who are a group of warriors that serve the king it's your job to restore the light back to the world as well as ensuring the reawakening of Prince Noctis that we all saw at the start of the final chapter of the main game. You will see characters return for the DLC like Noctis' buddies, Cindy, Cor and so forth but little to no story or characters development exists in Comrades and for the most part you already know what happens anyway. Your main character has amnesia and cannot remember anything but the sigils that he/she hears points out about the reawakening of Noctis that like I said happens in the final chapter of the main game. The other characters you see in the game are mainly just be there to try and help you stock up and prepare for your upcoming quests and that you never get to fully interact with them in any matter or form which loses any emotional attachment. The storyline also doesn't throw anything new in terms of plot twists or turns either which for the most part that you'll get from it is just lackluster and it never delivers.
Now like I said before this game is an online game where it plays similar to Capcom's Monster Hunter games where you take part in different quests either alone or with other players online. The way this works is that according to the story you complete quests so that you can gain KW which can be used to power up cities across the world, allowing to you save refugees, open up new areas, stores as well as obtain some cool stuff. You can elect leaders to towns as well which will open up new stores as well as donations which can be given to you which isn't bad but some are better then others. You also unlock new quests that you can partake in as well, these range from simple hunting quests where you hunt down of number of monsters till the boss shows up and take care of it, Defence missions where you must defend the target location from incoming monster attacks and lastly escort missions where you escort a truck to it's destination while fending off the attackers. The majority of the quests you do in the game get recycled often and become very repetitive that you end up doing the exact same thing over and over again. You also do get some solo only missions but these are rare and few and far between and can be beaten if you are a reasonable enough level.
In between doing quests you are in a home town where you'll spend most of your time in preparations for your next quest, you got stores where you can shop for materials and pieces of gear that you'll need but also the game adds a weapon upgrade system where you can use materials dropped from monsters to upgrade various stats. Each materials upgrades a certain number of stats that it will upgrade such as Health, Strength, Vitality, Spirit as well as adding Magic Resistance that makes you able to survive against a ton of magic attacks and also giving them different skills which could give you a bit of an advantage. The catch here is every time you use a material on a weapon it gains experience and each weapon has a max level limit, some will be either 20, 30 or at best 50. Now some weapons can have their levels increased if you follow some requirements, that means you to have to upgrade certain stats within the limit before it reaches max level so that it's levels can increase you can upgrade it some more till it reaches max level entirely. Now this system is okay considering that you can make potential builds that suit your playstyle, if you want to be an all out attacker with weapons or be a full time caster then this system provides enough options for what you want your build to be. Only thing to note is that you need to make sure you have the right materials for the build that you want and the best results will come from replaying some the quests that you already completed does make the whole process very tedious. Weapons in this DLC range from Katanas, Maces, Shields, Bows, Surikens, Knifes and Polearms and each of them function very differently in combat giving you a very different style of fighting plus you can equip up to 4 weapons on the weapon ring and switch between them with the d-pad.
The combat system is mostly the same as the original game as well as the controls themselves although with some minor changes, the magic controls are more straight forward and simple, you press L2 and Circle on the PS4 version by default to use an offensive spell and pressing Triangle while L2 is held down you can use a quick healing spell or any other passive abilities that your character is assigned too. You can still warp point to a part of a map that will allow you to warp point to either to regain your MP and boost recovery and give yourself a strategic advantage but however Warp Strikes have had their power toned down making them mostly useless unless you start a fight off with it. Instead you have this king of Chain Link which activities if you block an enemy's attack, only then the Warp Strikes start doing more damage. The main thing about it is that enemies don't have a clear pattern and there can be so many enemies on the screen that getting the Chain Link to activate is just a roll of the dice, enemies can get out of invulnerability while the Chain Link is active making it most of the time worthless. Instead of walking up to your wounded ally when he/she is in danger state you can warp to another party by holding L1 and then Triangle to warp to that player and revive him/her. It's a neat idea but however the system does not lock onto players who are actually in danger state so in many cases you could by targeting and warping towards the wrong player and waste valuable time. You have to change the target with the right analog stick so that it locks onto the target you are trying to save. I mostly went through the majority of the fights holding down the R1 and Circle buttons to lock onto the targets and did regular attacks till the fights were over, occasionally rolled around the battle to dodge attacks. That's right I won my fights just by holding down the buttons and character did most of the work for me with little input. On a positive note the AI is much better then any of Noctis' companions in the main game for 90% of the missions, they use different well, use other abilities should the situation require it and also revive other party members rather quickly so it's usually best to leave reviving duties to them.
Over the course of the DLC you unlock these sigil abilities that you can equip to your character given it increased and decreased stats alongside different abilities such as cheering so that your teammates have positive status boosts, improved guard or being able to cast offensive spells instead of one. Many of them are okay I guess but however I find that the Tail and Rampage Sigils work the best and will carry you through the majority of the game but if you go for a different kind of build then you might find the other sigils useful in some form or another.
You have the option of going through the majority of missions with either players online or with the computer controlled AI side from some missions where you are forced to go solo like I said before but they are not hard for the most part if you have a reasonably good build. You can either set up a lobby where you can either make a room for random to join in as well or just friends. Note that you can't send invites to anyone on your friends list so you have to relay on sending messages online on your console's chat system or just pray that they show up. When you finish a quest and want to start a new one you have to go through this lobby making process again which can be annoying. However there is one mission in the whole game which is a daily mission by the way where you can only play with other players online or else you can't play it. Even if you do get one other player to join you in your lobby the game throws two AI controlled buddies anyway which removes the purpose of making that mission players only anyway.
The game's combat still has some of the same problems as the main game. The health system is still a problem when you get out of danger state only to get hit and get back into danger state in a blink of an eye because you temporally lose a portion of your max HP only that in the DLC you can't restore your max HP which can be a serious problem in some quests where the game literally throws dozens of enemies at you from possibly every single direction. It's that simple lazy game design choice to throw so many enemies at the players and it makes the fighting really annoying. Instead you have canned food that you find in the base camp that you can pick up before the start of a quest and you can also find canned food in many of the areas during a quest as well. They revive you whenever you fall in battle and can get another one whenever you are fighting a really tough boss. Aside from that there are no items to restore your max HP or status effects. The controls are not that great either, they often times feel a little bit stiff and I know what you are wondering how are the controls stiff? Well I'll break this down sometimes when the character stops attack it takes about a full to be in control of your character again because he/she has to finish off the full attack animation. It might not be much but trust me it's annoying in the heat of combat that you could be slow to dodge an incoming attack because of that delay. Sometimes the Warp Strikes glitches itself randomly, yes I swear it's true and I had it happen to me plenty of times. There were times I got within the right range to lock onto an enemy and use it only to glitch myself and leave myself wide open. The camera's also a problem and one that makes like I said in my review of Final Fantasy XV makes Tales of Zestiria's camera system better in comparison. The camera zooms to close when you try to target the right spot of a giant enemy you are trying to target making it difficult to see what's attacking you plus also the camera tends to jitter around when near walls and also trying to fight when the camera is covered by trees makes it difficult to see what you are doing as well. Look they do not fully ruin the game but they can be a nuisance for 70% of gameplay but look when the game works it can be fun.
Did I just say “when the game works.” oh yeah let me rephrase that cause the game has a ton of bugs of glitches which also makes going through the game a chore even with the latest update. I had instances where one enemy glitched out of bounds which made the quest impossible to beat and I had to restart. I had one instance where an enemy went through the game world when I tried to Warp Strike I ended up falling through the world with it and I had to quit that as well only to be stuck on a loading screen which caused my game to crash. I also completed one other mission one time only for it to suddenly crash as well. I also encountered a glitch where one of allies died and despite being dead comes back to life even without a food item and lastly one glitch where I died and the death animation kept on replaying itself for some bizarre reason which again I forced myself to restart.
Like I said with the quests they are mostly repetitive and you end up doing the exact same thing over and over but however they are just some of the quests that are just poorly designed. Hunting quests are just simple hunt down the monsters till the target monster is defeated however it's the defence and escort missions which are the worst. In the defence quests a lot of the enemy spawns are very stupid, some of them spawn very close to the target and end up damaging the target unfairly while the escort missions sometimes throws more enemies then there should be and also throws a boss fight it rushes past your character and instantly destroying the target unfairly while shaking off damage like it's nothing. Yes I know it's meant to be game played with other people but that doesn't excuse that some of the quests feel quickly thrown together because of this bad design. They are also some optional quests which have insane stats that you need to create some kind of powerful build that you need to look up online on how to do it just to stand a chance against but they mainly just recycled variants of the final boss fight which is also just lazy.
With the release of the March update you would think that the game could have been ironed out but sadly there are still plenty of glitches which try and ruin the fun. Sadly any of the new content added do not make up for it and are mostly just worthless additions which do not add anything. There is a Chocobo system where you can earn a Chocobo from completing a quest allowing you to raise it and max out it's levels so that you can use the Chocobo as just another source of lighting up the world. They can also be used for fights in the arena but however there are only 5 fights, yes there are 5 fights in the whole minigame I counted them myself and they are very easy if you raised your Chocobos very well and all you do is wait for the meter to be full and press one of the 4 main buttons on the controller that your Chocobos are set to do their special attack and then you'll win. I also found some of the new quests in the update to not be all that worthwhile even the new optional bosses and the new ending wasn't anything surprising to care for. At least they added a future quest which involves you playing as Noctis or his buddies and that quest is okay considering it changes up the gameplay for each character but some of their gameplay has issues too and I already covered Gladiolus' and Prompto's problems in my reviews Gladiolus and Prompto and I will talk about Episode Ignis in my next review. It's a cool chapter to see the main characters together again but again nothing special happens and you already know what comes after.
The icing on the cake however is what has to be some of the worst loading times I have ever seen throughout all of Final Fantasy XV, that's right I'm dead serious about it. You pick out a quest from the quest screen so that's one loading screen, you pick your canned food and then start the quest, that's the second loading screen, you play and finish the quest and then get dropped into another loading screen, you meet your chef who will cook for you, you wait a few seconds for the food to appear on screen and then be shown the results for completing it and then you are staring at yet another screen before you can do something else. I know what you could be thinking. “Surely the loading times couldn't be bad and you are just nitpicking at it.” well I should tell you that the loading times can take upwards from 30 seconds to a full minute.
There are some small moments where Comrades does work and when it works like half the time it's good fun but however there are so many overwhelming problems with the gameplay and performance that all the fun that you could have is ruined because of either rushed development or lazy programming. This is the 3rd DLC expansion released so there shouldn't be an excuse for a poorly designed DLC that feels like an unfinished prototype, mind you they have beta tested it so you'd think it be polished for release giving that the DLC costs ￡15.99 which costs ￡3 more what the actual game costs preowned in game stores but it's incredible to see how it manages to be such a buggy mess. You already know what happens in the final act of Final Fantasy XV so basically you are not missing out on anything really unless you happen to be one of those gamers who wants to add some super difficult achievement/trophy added to their collection and even there it's hardly worth it. I didn't even mention that camera guy Vyv who constantly spews out the same line about the photos of me cause seriously it gets on my nerves every single time I hear it. He never shuts up about the photos hence the reason I never bothered to take any photos throughout the game, I mean who's going to share that with their friends anyway? Overall Final Fantasy XV Multiplayer Expansion Comrades is a shameful attempt at a Monster Hunter style game that feels unfinished and is also an example of a quick cash-in in every sense of the world. If some of the glitches were patched up then the game would be somewhat decent but as it is it's an unfinished mess and I can't recommend to anyone not even hardcore fans of Final Fantasy XV who will still most likely defend it no matter what. Like I said I am going to talk about Episode Ignis in my next review and at this point I don't want to even mention how bad it could be so if you like this review be sure to comment and give it a thumbs up.
Game Score: 4.5/10
Game Title: Final Fantasy XV Multiplayer Expansion Comrades
Developer: Square Enix
Genre: Role Playing
Age Rating: PEGI: 16+
Release Date: 15th November 2017, 5th March 2018 (March Update)
The Good Points:
1. Customizable Weapons that allow you to make your own builds
2. More simple magic controls
The Bad Points:
1. Very lackluster story
2. Repetitive and sometimes poorly designed quests
3. Combat controls and the camera can still be stiff and cumbersome
4. Various glitches and bugs try to ruin the moments
5. Really awful loading times
Reviewed by: Anthony Hayball (AQWBlaZer91)