The Comrades DLC for Final Fantasy XV is a semi-standalone experience. It allows you to create your own character and team up with other players to complete missions in a fashion similar to Monster Hunter. Having spent some time playing through the closed beta over the weekend, I’ve put together some impressions for those anxious to know more about the upcoming expansion.
Final Fantasy XV Comrades Multiplayer Impressions
Controlling your character is very similar to Noctis in the base game. You can jump, dodge roll, combo attacks, use four weapons, and warp strike just like Noctis. The biggest difference is in magic and item use which we’ll cover in a bit.
- Katana: Cor’s signature weapon from the base game. If you remember him in action, you have a fairly good idea of how it works. A wide move set based around slashing attacks backed by a good amount of evasiveness, the katana is a solid weapon for any occasion.
- Shuriken: A fast-paced weapon with an insane moveset, the shuriken is capable rapid, buzzsaw hits in melee and evasive throws at range. Combined with The Rouge’s Sigil (more on that later), the Shuriken is capable of never ending aerial throws. While not the most efficient weapon, the shuriken is one of the most fun weapons in the game.
- Mace/Hammer: My personal favorite from the demo, the mace is the heaviest weapon in the demo, and arguably heavier than the base game’s greatsword. Almost every attack has a wind up, but deals high damage. It’s also capable of a charge attack that, you guessed it, does even more damage. As a side effect of its nature, the mace is very good at breaking parts of monsters.
- Daggers: Daggers haven’t changed a bit. They work exactly the same as when Noctis uses them.
While not available in this demo, the equipment menu has categories for polearms, crossbows, and shields. There is a good chance that polearms and shields will work just like the base game, while crossbows will hopefully be a fun mix up to the otherwise melee oriented roster.
Strangely, items were not in the demo. There was an option in the menu for them, but it was grayed out and inaccessible. I don’t’ know if they will be included in the full version or how they will work if they do get added.
Since there are no items, spells are your only option for recovering health. Pressing L2 + Triangle casts a healing spell. It restores a moderately small amount of HP to you and nearby allies for a moderate cost in MP. It’s primarily used to revive downed players because health decay is still a thing, (As you take damage, your max HP goes down) and there is currently no way of restoring your max HP, which makes normal healing useless.
Offensive magic is cast by pressing L2 + square. In its basic form, it’s just a relatively weak, short ranged projectile with a moderate MP cost. However, certain weapons can modify your spell and give it an element. Using your modified spell against enemies that are weak to the element makes your spell a very useful tool indeed.
By holding Square, you can erect a shield in front of you to block attacks. Blocking attacks costs some MP but allies behind you will be perfectly ok. You can also parry enemies with this ability with opens them up to warp-strike barrage, which we’ll cover later.
MP management works just like Noctis; however, it feels like you have vastly less max MP. As a result, you can only get off two warp-strikes, heals, or offensive spells before you need to let it recover.
Player interaction is fairly standard. You can split up to divide up the enemy, use small quotes and emoticons to communicate, and revive each other. Players left on their own for a bit will auto-revive, so leading the enemy away from them is very useful.
The Warp-strike barrage is the only new mechanic I saw that let players work together. Normally, warp-strikes deal 1X damage regardless of the distance. After anyone parries an enemy, the screen will be tinted blue and a meter will show up and begin to rapidly drain. During this time, anyone can warp-strike the parried enemy to get a multiplier based on distance. Anytime anyone warp-strikes the target, the meter resets back to full. This way, players can stack some big damage on a target.
Royal Sigils are a new piece of equipment. You can only equip one, and they provide big differences to your stats and change something about one mechanic. There were only four in the demo. The Rouge’s Sigil gave a minor boost to melee damage and let you air dash after attacking in air. The Tall’s Sigil gave a HUGE boost to melee damage and a bit to your health at the cost of defense and the ability to heal. The Oracle’s Sigil lowered your offensive stats to boost your healing power. Another raised magic power and let you cast offensive spells faster.
Character customization is fairly standard, but fairly deep. You can pick your hairstyle and clothes and change the colors of almost every part of them. There weren’t many choices for either, but the full version promises more.
While most of the things in the game loaded at a reasonable pace, some things took far too long like switching hairstyles and clothes. I don’t know why or how, but hopefully that gets fixed.
You start in a small, fortified town (Old Lestallum, in fact). You can find tutorial and lore messages scattered about, a practice Cactuar dummy, and Cor, who gives you missions. The missions were usually kill X monsters, then kill a boss, or escort a truck, or defend a structure. After a mission, you would have a meal made from stuff found in the previous mission. With the meal buff, you would go straight to another mission. After completing both missions, or failing ether of them, you are thanked for playing the demo and booted you back to the main menu. This obviously won’t be the case in the full version and we can expect a persistent experience.
The connection was a bit iffy, with allies and enemies jumping around rather often. However, there was a notice about this on the main menu, so the devs know about this and are likely working on fixing it.
Finding a random match is simple. Just pick the mission and hit quick match. It put me into a lobby fairly quickly and everyone readied up and we were on our way. As a nice bonus, if we didn’t have a full lobby, the game gave us generic AI companions. As a pleasant surprise, the AI were on par with human players.
Playing with friends was a bit more complicated. First off, there were two servers and you had to be on the same one too play with each other. However, it put you into a random one and there was no way to switch. You had to back out to the main menu, (and to do that you had to close the game entirely and relaunch it) and hope it put you into the one you wanted. Once you and your friends were on the same server, someone had to create a custom lobby and give the others the lobby ID so they could join. The whole thing was annoying at best, and hopefully it gets fixed with proper matchmaking by the time the full version comes out.
Surprisingly, the multiplayer is not easy. We lost to the Ronin and Naga boss fights, and to a Coeurl boss and its posse during an escort mission. Personally, I like this. It makes it much more interesting when there is a challenge present. So long as they don’t just give enemies thousands upon thousands of health, I like this approach and it gives the game some longevity.
The demo has no story other than the player character is a member of the Kingsglaive. Various notes found around the small town suggest that it takes place during the 10 Years Night of the base game, but the sun is high in the sky so it’s unclear. There will be a story in the full version which will no doubt shed some light on what the narrative premise is.
Overall, the Beta was quite fun. Playing with friends made the game quite better, and the new weapons are a nice bonus. I’m very interested to see what the story will entail in the full version, as well as what monsters we’ll be able to face. Character customization was also promising, and I look forward to all the options in the full version.
The only bad parts were a lack of content, lag, and unwieldy party making. The content makes sense because it was just a demo, and the full version is assuredly going to have more. The devs have already acknowledged the lag problem, and thus I think we can expect this problem to be fixed in the near future, if it hasn’t already. The obtuse party making was, hopefully, just a result of the limited nature of the demo, and might be fixed in time for the full version.
The Comrades DLC is shaping up to be a fun co-op experience about hunting monsters and demons with your friends. The beta was a nice, if limited, preview of what is to come, and any problems it had are already being solved. With that, we have a clearer picture of what to expect in the Comrades expansion when it releases presumably sometime this year. Thoughts on the new multiplayer? Share your impressions in the comments!
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