Final Fantasy is a series that has come up a lot on my nearly two years at Respawning. Everyone here has their favourites and I’ve always been at the back of the pile. I did spend some time on FFVII when I was young, and recently made the great decision to play XV on the PS4. I was aware that some people were not giant fans of XV, but my experience is positive. I’ve also been watching a friend play through and getting me more invested into the story and characters. Going off of this I was ultimately ready to take on board the Pocket Edition for the Nintendo Switch and see how it fairs in comparison.
Firstly I think it needs to be understood that this is in no way meant to replace the original experience. Pocket Edition is intended for weaker hardware and even mobile. It’s whole existence is to provide a way for people to get a taste for XV in a different playing environment. For the most part Pocket Edition translates a lot of elements of XV to the mobile space. The Story is very straight to the point and presented more logically to the player. You’re playing the part of Prince Noctis as he sets out an exciting journey with his friends. Prompto, Ignis and Gladious are still the lovable boys as always. The story is all about reclaiming your kingdom that has been invaded. But you’ll soon discover new abilities that will enhance your playing experience.
This story is enjoyable in the base experience. Although a lot of people said it was confusing or messy. Pocket Edition does a great job at almost summarising the key parts you need to know. However this comes at the cost of its open world. The typical exploration based gameplay has been cut down into tight linear sections that keeps the player moving from one section to another. A lot of the sections have been translated pretty well into these small levels, but it changes the flow compared to the console release.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing either. Remember everyone, it’s pocket edition. This is literally a game that was made for mobile, and it’s being sold at a fair mobile price. Each little section has a great amount of detail for the art style, and some areas feature side quests. These function in the same way as the linear small levels but it gives you more to do. More content is always a bonus in my eyes. I mean it’s fair to say you could crank plenty of hours into this version. While not as drastic as the console port, I could definitely take this on a flight and make significant progress while still enjoying myself.
The combat is another point to bring up as well. The combat in XV isn’t ultra complicated, you can dodge, hit, warp and experiment all at the same time. This has all moved onto the mobile port pretty much as I expected. You can doge, hit and warp as if you were on a console. Sure it’s top down but it still feels satisfying to do. That’s not to say there aren’t limits, you can’t engage with your party members in the same way, but they’re still assisting to the best of their ability. In a lot of way’s the boys are still the most exciting part of the game. The voice acting is still great and each individual personality shines through the low poly models.
The art is something that sticks out immediately, letting you know that this is a mobile port. But to be honest, the art style is actually really cute. It has is flaws, but it works perfectly with the character designs for a port. The environments carry an amount of detail to them that still keeps the world engaging. Once again the character design carries through individuality. They all interact and move in certain ways that match what you expect from the console version. Just to a lower graphic fidelity. It’s very easy to fall in love with the guys in this port and if you can do that, you’re in for a good experience.
Overall you’re paying for a different version of an existing game so you need to understand what you’re buying. If you own and still play FFXV on the PS4, Xbox or PC then you could be more negative towards this. However if you’re still a fan of that game and use your switch regularly then it’s going to get a lot of good use out of it. No it’s not as pretty, but its a port, not a downgrade. That’s ultimately the key point here, if you’ve never played FFXV and find the large scale of the open world daunting then this could well be for you. This is aimed very much at casual gamers, travelling gamers and just overall fans of the original FFXV experience.
I would say that all the key elements have been ported over pretty excellently. Story is cut to the key moments rather than personal moments, but it works for the experience. The Switch specifically delivers a very smooth performance that lets you feel the flow of combat weather you’re at home or on the bus. For me I think that’s why this game works great, I can whip it out on work breaks. The open world of FFXV can sound exhausting after 7 hours work, I’m usually ready for a nap when I get home. But thanks to this version I feel like I’m ultimately not missing out on the core FFXV experience. There’s still people that will have their gripes with the original but FFXV at least tidies up most of it for me. I still feel like I’m getting more out of the gameplay and handiness of the port than I am from the story though.
For delivering a solid port experience it ticks a lot of boxes. However due to the linear nature it still feels like there’s more to be desired. You’ll get your moneys worth, but don’t expect 150 hours plus game-time like the consoles.
FFXV Pocket Edition scores a 7/10