"A Final Fantasy for Fans and First-Timers." This quote is the first thing you see when you boot up the game, and says a lot about Final Fantasy XV, for better or for worse.
If you count the years when it started out as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, I have been waiting to play as Noctis and the gang for well over 12 years. The game initially, finally came out on the tail-end of 2016. Once I heard that the game wasn't "100%" done and there was an upcoming DLC, I froze. Should I buy the game now with the expansion pass or wait? Thankfully, I waited and was rewarded with this version of FF XV.
Final Fantasy XV: Royal Edition is the definitive way to play Final Fantasy XV, for now. Maybe not the definitive way per say, but if you've been waiting like I have or if you're glad that it's finally on PC, then this version is definitely the way to go. With the base game, you also get all the expansions; which includes: individual episodes for 3 of Noctis's pals, a whole bunch of booster items that makes the start of the game a little easier, and a bunch of weapons from previous Final Fantasies, including Lightning's Blazefire gunblade and Zidane's Mage Mashers.
In a nutshell, this game is great. I enjoyed it, especially since I played both demos of the game, Episode Duscae and the Platinum Demo. It is a massive departure from the FF norm, with real-time combat instead of the usual turn-based fare. While FF XIII tried to fuse the real-time combat with the usual turn-based fare, with varying degrees of success, FF XV goes all-out on the real-time action. Combat is quick, with the main character Noctis able to zip-around as he teleports between enemies.
With the Royal Edition, Square Enix finally added a much-needed feature, the ability to switch characters in battle. It's locked at the start, but after a few battles or so, you should have enough AP to unlock this feature. The way it works is not so different to how it worked in older Final Fantasies. In lets say, Final Fantasy VII, you can only see and use Cloud in the overworld, but once you're in a battle, you can control the actions of his other party members like Tifa and Barret. So in Final Fantasy XV, you may use Noctis when you're walking around the world, but the minute an enemy encounter happens, you can switch into Ignis, Prompto or Gladiolus.
The best part is how different they all play from each other, while Noctis is an all-around fighter, Gladio plays like a Dynasty Warriors character, Prompto like a third-person shooter, and Ignis is just OP. Noctis, being the main character and all, has access to every weapon type, spells and his signature teleportation attacks. Gladio can wield greatswords and shields, he's all for melee attacks and has high-defense. Prompto has a pistol, an assault rifle, a grenade and a rocket launcher, all of them have ammo and a cooldown period. Ignis is a cross between a mage and a thief, being able to launch high-speed attacks with his daggers and imbue them with elemental properties.
One thing they still cannot fix is the story, though I wouldn't go and say the story itself is flawed, because it’s not, its a story about growing up and embracing destiny. The flaw comes in the presentation of the story. Unless you’ve been following all the ancillary media like 6-episode anime on Youtube or the Kingsglaive movie, then the game’s story really is confusing upon booting up the game. Certain FMV-like cutscenes are even straight-up from the movie itself! Heck, the opening cutscene clearly looks like it was rendered back when it was supposed to release for the PS3, so yeah, can’t say much for the story. It does get better after the first 4 chapters though, and the extra episodes fill in some gaps as well.
Graphically, the game is stunning. Exactly what you’d expect from a Final Fantasy game. The Royal Edition adds in the ability to play the game in first-person view, making you soak in the majesty of the game’s world. While it may not be ideal in combat, it is a good option to turn on when exploring, seeing the world of Eos with your own eyes. From what I’ve played and heard, the graphics aren’t too demanding on PC. From my own experience, I only get a few slowdowns when using Prompto’s rocket launcher and my XBox One crashed only once.
Overall, as a game, Final Fantasy XV is great. It has a few flaws, like the combat takes some time for you to get used to, but once you’ve passed that hurdle, it’s a JRPG like any other. I definitely do think this deserves a playthrough by everyone and after 2 years of release, it lives up to the title of a mainline Final Fantasy game.