‘Final Fantasy XV Royal Edition’ improves on original game

Krista Olson-Lehman, Staff Writer

Final Fantasy XV is an open-world, action role-playing game that first came out in 2016. Available now with an Xbox game pass for free download, the updated Royal Edition improves upon the original game and adds more features and content to the story.

The Final Fantasy franchise goes back to the original game, released in 1987 in Japan, and 1990 in the U.S. With so many releases, movies, TV series, and other assorted content, the world of Final Fantasy is incredibly vast. Final Fantasy XV takes place on the world of Eos, where a young prince journeys to marry his betrothed fiancée in accordance with a peace treaty. It doesn’t take the game long to turn dark, as a series of events turns the world to war.

Gameplay in Final Fantasy XV is extremely quick, but the game does give you hints on when to block and parry, and how to utilize powers. The gameplay has a real-world feel, as opposed to the turn-based menu selections in previous releases. If you plan to sit with this game and play for the long haul, I recommend using the tutorials offered at the beginning to help learn all the special maneuvers.

Much like other open-world RPGs, Final Fantasy XV gives you a series of quests and the direction to go, but your path there doesn’t have to be linear. You can investigate any corner and speak to any non-playable character you would like to. I found myself fishing off a dock to catch a tasty treat for a cat because the quest was there.

XV is billed as a Final Fantasy for veteran fans and newcomers, and I agree with that sentiment. I have obviously heard of Final Fantasy but had never ventured into playing it until now. The Royal Edition adds more playable areas, a new dungeon, a multi-player arena where you can design your own character and quest for treasure, and the option of first-person view while playing through the main questline. There are even icons in some of the menus that resemble the style of the original Final Fantasy characters in 8-bit mode. The game also features lots of stunning cinematics that help to tell the story.

As an open world, the game allows you to decide exactly how much time you want to spend on crafting spells, collecting items, or doing side quests. You can run straight through on the main quests, or you can take your time searching every passage in a dungeon for items to pick up.

Final Fantasy XV incorporates the hit points and magic points systems of other action RPGs, as well as the added elements of vehicle driving and camping. The main protagonist, Prince Noctis, has an ensemble of capable AI teammates to work with like most Final Fantasy games do. You can use acquired AP to level up Noctis or any of his crew; each person has different skill sets and attributes. You set your team up for success by utilizing the best weapons and the best items and leveling up attributes.

With this game, rest, food, and quests lead to better buffs for the characters and more experience points gained. Here’s something to keep in mind with the camping ability and cooking abilities: characters can stop for the night and avoid the higher-level enemies that wander at night while giving themselves added perks for getting some sleep and an HP boosting meal.

Despite being an older title, I found Final Fantasy XV highly entertaining. The fact that it is available for free in the Royal Edition with an Xbox game pass makes it an extremely good deal. If you’re a fan of action RPGs like Skyrim, Fallout 4, or Outer Worlds, you’ll enjoy this game. The only difference is you are stuck with the characters written for the story; if you are normally a fan of character customization for the main quest, this might be a disappointment.

Final Fantasy XV is also available on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Stadia systems.