Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition (Switch) – Test: FF XV, just different

Greatly simplified version of Final Fantasy XV. Can be played away on the side, it’s fun, but it’s not particularly complex or pretty.

I’ve made several attempts to play Final Fantasy XV. Sometimes I got further, sometimes less, but I always gave up sooner or later. In its basic features I liked the game, but at some point the combat system and the sometimes somewhat lengthy narrative style lost me. For impatient people like me, Square Enix released Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition back in February, initially only for iOS and Android, and recently also for PS4, Xbox One and Switch. I have now taken a closer look at the latter version.

Do you recognize her again? (Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition – Test)

Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition tells the exact same story of its big brother. You play Prince Noctis, who is leaving for his wedding with three friends. While he is on the road, his father’s kingdom is attacked and defeated by an evil empire. As the new king, he now has to find out how he can restore peace on a kind of road trip. The first thing you notice if the story remains the same is of course the greatly simplified graphics. Instead of the realistically designed characters from the original game, you are now dealing with Animé characters with heads that are far too large and that consist of far fewer polygons than their larger models. I want to carefully compare the graphic style with that of the Secret-of-Mana remake, although the one here doesn’t seem that clapped. Sure, the characters now look like caricatures of themselves, but the game knows that – which is why they don’t take themselves as seriously in dialogues as in the main game.

What I just don’t understand in this context is the fact that the game stutters again and again. This can happen on smartphones and tablets, if you like, but not on a Nintendo Switch, which of course is not as powerful as an Xbox One X, but which is capable of displaying a current Wolfenstein in acceptable quality. As a small consolation: The game usually only stutters when something is reloading, the fights themselves run smoothly. Nice by the way: With all the graphic downgrades that you have to accept, the music of the original is largely retained. And the voice output is also completely successful and even completely set to German.

Fights can sometimes be a bit confusing, but rarely too demanding. (Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition – Test)

Speaking of the fights: They work like in the main game in real time, but feel a lot more like in a hack-and-slay game. You hammer on an attack button and Noctis attacks, the other characters are controlled by the computer. Every now and then you can trigger a team attack, later you learn special skills and spells that charge over time and which you can then trigger with a key combination. You can also block when, the game shows you by means of a display. This is certainly not a particularly complex combat system, but it serves its purpose and it ensures that you can complete many fights in succession without having to think about a tactic too much. You have to know for yourself whether this is good or bad for such an “in between” title, I think it fits here.

Here you can learn new talents – with sometimes more, sometimes less effects. (Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition – Test)

It is similarly intuitive outside of combat. An arrow under Noctis always shows where you can find the next quest objective. In some places you can do more than just follow the main quest, but optional tasks are mostly limited to looking for certain items in the game world. There are then small rewards. Incidentally, these optional quests expire as soon as you leave the location in which they take place, because: The game is completely linear. Areas you have visited once are behind you, you cannot return to them. The areas where fighting takes place are difficult to describe as dungeons – they are more like tubes with few branches. However, they are only relatively short and that’s probably the reason why there is no monotony. Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition is very pleasant to play in bites, after every fight it is automatically saved and after every restart you can see immediately where you have to go next.

Even so, the game on the Switch can hardly deny that it was developed for smartphones and tablets. This can be seen on the one hand from the division into ten chapters, because in the mobile version you can buy them individually. But you can also see it in the sometimes rather badly muddy textures, which are very noticeable even with a graphic style like this. Square Enix would have liked to improve the console version a bit, especially since it was given the meaningful addition HD. Still, I can’t help but find the game lovable. Because of the way it picks up and reinterprets the characters from the main game, but also simply because it is so pleasant to play without a mind. Just run from scene to scene, collect a few items, buy new weapons every now and then and knock down opponents, wonderfully simple, sometimes you need that.

Square Enix does not do without such sequences in the Pocket Edition of Final Fantasy XV to advance the story. (Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition – Test)

But of course, this simplicity comes at the price of reduced game depth. Square Enix has downgraded a game with more than 50 hours of gameplay to one with ten to 15 hours of gameplay. Of course you notice that. On the way from one place to the next you can no longer stop and explore the area, instead you are only allowed to look around and steer your vehicle slightly to the left and right, but this has no effect on the gameplay. You can also cook in the Pocket Edition – but that depends on whether you find two ingredients per game section or not. If you find it, it will be cooked automatically and a few values ​​will be improved, if you don’t find it … well then not. There is some form of character progression, but that doesn’t really change much about the gameplay. If you collect experience points, you rise in the level, for this there are action points and you can then spend them on a kind of board for certain talents. However, I have to admit: Sometimes I haven’t even noticed anything of the skills that have been unlocked in this way. That Noctis should start his fight sequence with the sword with one blow? It might be, but does that do any more damage? Who knows…

Despite the simple combat system: It is satisfactory to knock an opponent off the legs with a targeted blow. (Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition – Test)

I don’t want to piss anyone off the Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition. On the contrary, the game finally let me get a breath of the air that the main game somehow always denied me. It tells the story of the original well and I was able to get used to the graphics at some point. It’s not even boring when you play it in a delicate dose. But it always remains superficial and simple, you never need real skill, the game can just be played away. It gives the impression that there is a more complex level of play somewhere. There are too. Just not in this game, but in its great role model. On the other hand, I also find it legitimate to just look for a piece of entertainment, something that is easy to play through and that you can then happily put aside. This is exactly what Final Fantasy XV Pocket Edition is.

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