Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition (Free) by Square Enix is an abridged, mobile version of the latest entry in the Final Fantasy franchise. If you didn't get a chance to play the original game, had no time, or just disliked certain things about the console version, then Pocket Edition is a great alternative.
When Final Fantasy XV was first announced over a decade ago, I was super excited for it. I had even bought a PS3 back then because I didn't think it was going to take a whole decade, plus another generation of console, before the game would see the light of day. But when I played the first beta, I was disappointed by the combat system. I was put off by it, but I thought I'd give the final release a try.
My fiancé got the game for me for Christmas, but again, I tried it and still didn't like the combat system. Plus, I didn't have the time to invest fully into the game, with the massive open world and side quests. But when they announced FFXV Pocket Edition, I was intrigued — how would such a massive game work on mobile, with watered down chibi graphics? I've been playing the game all morning, and so far I'm actually quite impressed.
App Feels Like
App Feels Like
Visually, FFXV Pocket Edition replaces the gorgeous graphics from the console with chibi-fied, low-poly character models and environments. This makes sense, given the limited capabilities of mobile hardware versus consoles. I'll admit, the first time I saw this, I chuckled and thought it was kind of dumb, but the look has grown on me. Square Enix translated incredibly high quality graphics to lower definition in a seamless way, and it works. The game still packs in a lot of detail, especially with the giant bird creature you'll discover in just the first chapter. And even though the in-game, realistic food visuals got watered down too, they still look dang tasty. Animations are smooth, and I did not have issues on my iPhone 8 Plus. The soundtrack remains the same as the original game, and the dialogue are in-sync with the console version cutscenes. For this port, I'm satisfied with Square Enix's transition.
Unlike the original console version, Pocket Edition is broken up into chapters. The first chapter is free with the initial download. Chapters 2 and 3 are $0.99 a pop, while chapters 4 through 10 are $3.99 each. There are also bundles for $19.99 (2-10, 4-10) or $11.99 (7-10). The first chapter does give players a good taste of what the full game is like, and honestly, it's satisfying and enjoyable. So far, Pocket Edition has exceeded my expectations.
In the console version of FFXV, there was a lot to do, even in the beginning of the game. While you can just do the main story quests, there were a ton of side quests to pick up, or you could just run around and explore to your heart's content. But Pocket Edition simplifies things and it's much more linear, which is great if you felt overwhelmed before.
Pocket Edition does a good job of showing you the important cutscenes from the game that advance the story. It removes the unnecessary ones, and the dialogue from the original cinematic scenes line up with what you see in Pocket Edition. You'll travel from area to area in the car, without the option of going back, so make sure you complete all of the side quests you have before moving forward.
In the first chapter, after the infamous car-pushing scene, players end up at Hammerhead, where they meet Cindy and Cid. The first quest from Cindy has you go fight off some monsters in a small field map next to the shop, and then after that's done, you end up back at Hammerhead. There's no exploring and no fluff — just straight to the point, and I like that.
The controls in FFXV Pocket Edition are simple and work well, though I wish there was more options for movement. Instead of having a ground-level view, it's more of a top-down, action-game perspective like Diablo III or Kingdom Hearts. You tap where you want to go, or keep your finger on the screen to move continually in that direction. Honestly, I wish that there was a virtual joystick for movement, as it would feel much better and I don't have my hand blocking my view.
When there are NPCs that you can interact with, such as through conversation or shopping, you just tap on the button above their character sprite.
Combat has been simplified, and I'm ever so grateful for this. You only control Noctis, while the computer controls Prompto, Ignis, and Gladiolus. When you tap on an enemy, Noctis will go towards it and automatically attack with his weapon. If you can block or parry, an action button appears on the screen, and you just tap it. Noctis can have a few different weapons equipped at the same time, and you just tap on the one you want to use in the bottom right corner.
Noctis' Warp Strike technique still plays a central part of FFXV Pocket Edition, and it's much easier in this version. To do a Warp Strike in battle, just long tap on the foe you want to strike. Doing the Warp Strike on enemies can surprise them and break their defenses, leaving them vulnerable. To get to higher ground, a Warp Anchor button appears, and all you need to do is tap it. Then you can do surprise Warp Strikes on unsuspecting enemies, which kill them instantly.
Unlike previous Final Fantasy games, you don't gain your experience points right away and level up after battles. Instead, you'll have to complete quests before all of the accumulated experience is accounted for, and then you level up. As you gain levels, you earn AP, which can be spent on combat abilities so your team is stronger in battle.
And again, don't forget about cooking! Recipes are vital in FFXV, and Pocket Edition is no different. But like combat, it's been simplified too. You'll get side quests that involve searching for some ingredients (golden shiny drops), and after you acquire them all, the recipe becomes available. You'll want to cook whenever you're resting at camp, as food grants your team some benefits in battle, like better health recovery.
The story of Final Fantasy XV has been redone for mobile devices.
Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition is a surprisingly good time. Even if you've played the original, or have yet to get through it, Pocket Edition differentiates itself in a variety of ways. Namely, it streamlines everything so you can get through the story easier, and the combat is so much better. And there's something charming about the chibi, low-poly graphics that makes it hard to resist.
The first chapter provides a great example of what to expect from the full game. The other chapters are pretty reasonably priced, and if you think about the full chapter bundle, it's about what you'd expect for a full-fledged Square Enix Final Fantasy game on mobile.
The only thing that bothers me about the game is the controls for moving around. I hate that my hand is blocking my view, and I'd prefer to play this using two hands. So to me, having a virtual joystick would make more sense for movement. Hopefully this can be changed in the future.
I played through the first chapter of FFXV Pocket Edition, and I'm getting much more enjoyment out of this than the console version so far. I wasn't expecting to like the game this much, but it's won me over with the cute and endearing, slightly deformed character models and vastly improved combat system. I've already gotten farther in just the first chapter than the console version, and that's saying something. The dialogue matching up is also impressive.
Whether you've played FFXV or not, this is a great port that's exceeded my expectations.
Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition is on the App Store as a universal download for free. You can purchase the other chapters as a complete bundle for $19.99, or individually at $0.99 or $3.99 each.