AAA gaming has changed since the original Final Fantasy game released for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Iconic characters, amazing music, and fantastic stories give the series the esteem it has today, but since then the landscape has changed. Games like Skyrim and the Witcher 3 have created massive worlds with seemingly endless content and amazing worlds to get lost in. Square Enix’ development of Final Fantasy XV has been in in the works for over a decade and the studio has taken ideas from others to develop this title, and it truly delivers.
Square Enix has left the classic systems such as turn-based battles in the past with a modern battle system in an open world while retaining the classic JRPG style and role-playing elements fans want. This title is engaging with a great story that the series is known for with fun quests that still have that unique Final Fantasy feeling. Square Enix managed to deliver a game in one of the best packages the studio has ever put out. Sold now as Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition, this game includes all the DLC extras, updates, and NVIDIA-powered graphics enhancements that make this version of the game the definitive one.
Final Fantasy XV puts you in control of Noctis, the crown prince from the kingdom of Lucis who is forced to take on a greater role when his kingdom is invaded. Prince Noctis and his three constant companions must go on a long and winding journey across a massive world to save their kingdom. It is a familiar story the series is known for, but your companions and the living world around you are some of the most engaging and interesting experiences we have had in quite some time.
The game is unique as a large “buddy road trip” game that has all the side-quests, leveling, and character development hardcore fans are looking for. These characters are memorable and interesting, and as the story progresses we genuinely felt anger and shock as each chapter twists, turns, and evolves the narrative. Noctis, Gladiolus, Prompto and Ignis are very unique characters each with charming characteristics.
The constant banter and companionship they provide are some of the very best elements of the game. Final Fantasy XV then throws this group into a vast open world so large that you need a car just to get around it. There are hundreds of hours of content to enjoy along with fluid combat coupled with tight skill and gear development that make this game incredibly satisfying to play.
Final Fantasy XV is unique in the world of AAA gaming today while still retaining the development and progression fans of the series will enjoy. The gameplay and graphical fidelity are both fresh and beautiful to look at. However, before we discuss gameplay, let’s take a deeper look at Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition.
Any game with ten years of buildup and rumors will have trouble achieving perfection and will have a lot of hype to live up to. This game is far from perfect, but it is certainly a return to form for the studio and a welcome entry for old and new fans. Final Fantasy XV’s Americana, open-world, and JRPG gameplay is a vibrant, gorgeous, and a massive quest that anyone can jump into and enjoy. So what sets the Windows edition apart from the console release over a year ago?
Since Final Fantasy XV’s original console release in November, 2016, it has seen several DLCs released and the studio has even added cut scenes to clarify the story. The current version of the game also has some additional final boss battles and other minor tweaks that serve to further enhance the overall game and tighten up the original ending. It still suffers from becoming more linear near the end of the game but that doesn’t take away from the amazing journey it will take to get there. The road to the endgame can be long with hundreds of hours of great content including dozens of side-quests, hunts, fishing, and more.
Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition is a great package including all the post-launch DLC Square Enix has released for console. The base game on PC includes all current weapons, regalia skins, items and the three DLC episodes: Episode Gladiolus, Episode Prompto, and Episode Ignis. The game also includes the Final Fantasy XV: Comrades DLC that includes an online co-op mode that lets you explore the world and try quests with your friends.
Along with all the aforementioned content, PC gamers have been promised all upcoming story content and releases the studio puts out.
Mods, NVIDIA, and more
For the first time, first-person mode is available in Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition. This mode feels natural using the mouse and keyboard but some of the games menus and interactions still feel like they were designed for controllers. Overall, they are tight enough to feel great on PC and first person mode is there for gamers who may like it. This mode especially shines on high-end rigs and during the stunning battles that occur in the game. It’s what what makes PC gaming one of the best platforms to play on.
Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition has been out for about a week and we already have a mod that optimizes the game’s performance and brings even higher textures to it. We can only imagine the future mods that will enhance the title, like characters skins, new weapons, and more.
Speaking of textures, the game is massive and needs a total of 155 GB of storage space. This includes all the aforementioned DLC and base game along with 4K textures and HDR. The “normal” version of the game without the texture packs will still require around 100 GB of hard drive space. This game is huge and may be staggering for those with data caps or limited SSD storage space. We highly recommend installing this game on an SSD, as some of the loading times between chapters or large areas will remind you of playing Final Fantasy VII on console a little too much. Loading can take over a minute or even two at various sections of the game even on high-end systems using hard drives.
NVIDIA GameWorks features are quite welcome and they put the console versions of the game to shame. Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition is truly beautiful and the already great Luminous engine is enhanced by NVIDIA GameWorks technologies. The full potential of the game is realized only on the PC. Whether you are riding in your car, fighting a huge boss or a mob of enemies, or simply walking through a city, the world is stunning and absolutely gorgeous.
If you have a graphics card at the GTX 1070 level and can turn all of these effects on, the benefits of these features become immediately evident in comparison to consoles and even over playing on a GTX 1050 Ti. The ability for PC gamers to use these technologies coupled with the game’s already impressive engine is a totally new experience for Final Fantasy gamers. Even if you don’t like Final Fantasy’s style, the game is simply stunning in 4K and hectic battles become easier to understand and process with faster frames per second seen only on high-end cards.
Let’s take a look at the gameplay and new systems in Final Fantasy XV.
10 years Later, Final Fantasy has Evolved
Final Fantasy XV has gone through quite a wild journey to get to where we are today. The game has changed with the landscape and Square Enix has delivered fluid and fun combat with enough depth for hardcore fans. The game features a lock-on system that is extremely satisfying once mastered. The battle system features dodging, blocking and parrying attacks, linking with your partners for dynamic attacks, magic, and more. Royal Arms are also very strong specialized weapons that only Noctis can use, but although they drain his energy they can be great tools. Noctis can even summon a god at just the right moment when fighting a tough boss and it feels amazing the first time it happens.
These design changes and overall experiences in Final Fantasy XV feel like the perfect evolution that the series needed to undergo in the modern gaming world and is more easily accessible to newcomers because of these design choices. While we miss the old turn-based design of classic entries in the series, the revamped system is still fun and it feels fresh for a 2018 game. There is also a “wait” mode that serves as a middle ground for fans of slower paced combat. This mode allows you to pause between attacks and slows the gameplay down for those who like picking their targets and planning their attacks.
To be honest, the wait mode felt too slow when compared to the engaging and fun battles featured when using the normal system, although it is a very nice alternative for many people.
Noctis and his companions have several upgrade paths, weapons, and skills to keep combat interesting. The open world is full of quests and items to get and we enjoyed them, but gamers looking for dynamic events may be disappointed until much later in the game. Still, the game progresses quite nicely and grinding for EXP and levels are fun and interesting with your companions. Later chapters in the game open up the world and the experiences tie in together well. The banter between your companions also keeps it interesting along with various systems the game implements for progression. On rare occasions the conversations are deep.
For example, leveling-up requires sleeping in a hotel or making camp in the wild, and it felt natural with great transitions and with sometimes witty dialogue exchanges between the group. Riding Chocobos, Final Fantasy’s iconic chicken-like creatures, across vast fields is extremely different and great to experience on PC. It is hard to describe without experiencing it first-hand, but the camaraderie on the journey is truly engrossing and my fellow reviewer and I have jointly spent over 90 hours on the game and we have only barely scratched the surface of the game.
Some item gathering and repetitive side-quests may become boring as they lack diversity and are just small variations of the same concepts. Monster hunts, for example, are quests given to you by designated NPCs that let you gain some money and experience quickly by going out to specified areas and clearing a wave of enemies, a large boss, or random groups of demons. These events are fun and rewarding as they allow you to level up rather quickly but they are really a grinding tool that can be skipped. Still, we got sucked into weird side quests like fishing for a finicky cat who looked hungry.
The game is weird and design cues from Japanese developers thrown in like a random Cup Noodles stand in the city just make the game more memorable and uniquely Final Fantasy. Fun and interesting elements such as Prompto’s photos, Ignis coming up with new recipes, and more is the main strength of the game. You and your friends going on a journey in this huge weird world makes it one of the best role-playing experiences we have had for quite some time.
Square Enix has promised fans even more content for the game and we look forward to it. However, the game is demanding and some lower-end cards such as our GTX 1050 TI struggle to pass 34 FPS on average and our GTX 1060 6GB maxed out its performance capabilities at 1080p for the title.
Let’s take a deeper look at the gameplay, visuals and the performance of Final Fantasy XV