Starting out with Comrades, players will find themselves and their newly created character at a pit stop. Not unlike the many we’ve seen in the campaign. Although this pit stop has next to nothing to do. The diner can’t be entered, NPCs can’t be spoken to. We’re simply expected to run through a quick tutorial for combat. This is something that, with a little work, will be Comrades strongest asset on release. Those who played XV’s campaign will be instantly familiar with it. With the combat being exactly the same, players of the campaign can safely pick this one up pretty quickly. One thing players will instantly recognise is that we are indeed still in the same areas of Lucis.
Comrades Looks Big But Feels Small
With that visual confirmation, as well as the campaign’s open map, many would safely assume Comrades to be the same. Yet, the closed beta walled us into specific mission areas. Sure, these walls are invisible. But load screen after load screen, teleporting us from place to place as missions were completed, left us feeling a little empty. Like there was no meat here for us to get our teeth into. The format of accepting a mission, doing it and completing it feels very stop, start. This was a surprising change of pace after exploring Lucis with Noctis and the gang.
Yet, this time around we are the Kingsglaive. So, no crazy Noctis powers. Instead we have a glowy blue shield for defense and two spells, limited to offensive and curative. Which are mapped to L2 and circle or L2 and triangle respectively. We assume different variations of buffs can be applied to either spell type by final release as both have a small area effect. Comrades Closed Beta left us with a jedi like force push that frankly didn’t seem to do anything offensive at all…
Killing Things Somehow Feels Different To XV’s Campaign
Going on these missions is basically a mimicry of accepting hunts in the campaign. From the closed beta alone, Comrades began to feel repetitive. Yet, there’s no telling what gameplay variations with be in the final release when it drops. So let’s not assume too much just yet. The problem with combat in this game is, many enemy types are disproportionately easy to kill when compared to their campaign counterparts. Then one will come along on the other end of the spectrum and be insanely tough to kill even with the four of you laying into it. This alternative approach the hit point count of enemies strangely gives them a different feel. Aside from how they may spawn right in your face, they feel less like living beings this time around. And more like glorified hay bales to slash away at until they’re gone.
Ironically, Comrades would have felt cleaner if it let me play alone. As we know, XV’s combat is great. It has certainly carried through to Comrades. Yet every character, no matter how they’re initially designed will essentially be the same. Bunching up together after point warping to a foe, hacking away with all the same moves… It just degenerates into a bit of a mess. This leads us to hope that Square Enix will figure out some kind of character class system before release.
<Click here for our review on Final Fantasy XV>
Here’s Hoping More Freedom Will Be Available In The Final Release
The biggest shame about Comrades so far is the lack of free roaming. Contrasted with the scale of XV’s campaign, free roaming elements’ absence will be acutely felt by every player of Comrades. It does try to capture the teamwork ethos of XV’s campaign with campsites to eat meals made of jointly collected ingredients from missions (you have a travel along chef). We even have easy to access quick chat options that function very well. But the whole experience of being a part of a team needs some serious work before Comrades really deserves to stand out.
When you think about all the subtle mechanics of Battlefield 1 that come together to force a team to work together… Then contrast that with what Comrades offers. It’s those tiny little extra mechanics that have not yet taken root in the development of Comrades. Should they be designed before the end, we may get that teamwork bond Comrades is trying so hard to push for.
At this early stage however, we can’t really assume anything about final release. With episode Ignis due to arrive December this year, you can be sure Comrades won’t be with us until early next year at the very least.