It’s been a long time coming, but as of last week, PC players can finally jump into the sprawling world of Final Fantasy XV.
After a decade of development and a year-and-a-half out in the wild, for anyone who hasn’t been following the game closely it would be easy to forgive them thinking this is just one game. However, as many of my own friends have now realised, Final Fantasy XV exists within an entire universe of multimedia.
That’s right — alongside the mainline Final Fantasy XV game, you’ll find everything from smaller budget games, demos, expansions, re-releases, movies, anime, and side stories. The Final Fantasy XV universe is big and it can seem daunting for anyone diving in. Luckily, I’ve seen most of this stuff first-hand. Whether you’re jumping into the game for the first time, or just trying to make sense of it all: here’s everything you should and shouldn’t pay attention within Final Fantasy XV.
The stuff you can straight up skip
Like I said before, there’s a lot of content that’s tied to this game. So much so that it’s hard to tell what’s integral to the world-building and what isn’t. So with that in mind, take the following not as a “don’t pay attention to this stuff” list but more as a “this is for the hardcore FFXV fans” list, because I’m not here to judge.
I’d say that almost all of the smaller side games associated with Final Fantasy XV aren’t super important. A King’s Tale is a side-scrolling beat ‘em up that tells the story of main character Noctis’ father and his own group of dudes as they go on their adventure. It’s charming, but on its own it isn’t good enough to recommend. Same goes for mobile titles King’s Knight: Wrath of the Dark Dragon, and Justice Monsters Five. Whereas King’s Knight is a remake of the original King’s Knight game from 1986, only contextualised as a game that exists within the world of Final Fantasy XV, Justice Monsters Five is a convoluted pinball game that similarly exists within the game world.
A King's Tale
Don’t pay any attention to Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire, either. It’s a mobile game that doesn’t pertain to the main Final Fantasy XV experience at all and is mostly just an excuse for fans to continue living in that world. It’s not good enough to recommend on its own, but it’s at least better than the other games already mentioned on here.
There’s also Final Fantasy XV: Parting Ways, an audio story that was never released in the West, but still was translated to English during the original Japanese release. It’s a softer, slice of life story that describes what life is like for the characters of the game. Definitely not important to understanding the game to any degree but it’s mostly for the hardcore fans who have sought it out. Otherwise, it’s an easy one to skip.
What to do before you play
Probably the biggest hurdle to get over is the question of what you should do before you play Final Fantasy XV. There’s a lot of stuff to get through so to make things simple, I’ll just be going over the stuff that really matters.
First, it’s a good idea to watch the five-episode anime Brotherhood Final Fantasy XV. For non-anime fans, that may sound… extreme, but hear me out. It’s not only a great introduction to who these characters are, but also offers some of the best characterisation of them in the entire universe. Using this as a jumping-off point will make for a better game-playing experience, since you’ll already know all about some of their dynamics that aren’t touched on as much in the game.
Next, you’ll want to watch the feature-length CGI animated film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV. You’ll probably remember this for its high-profile casting of Aaron Paul, Lena Headey, and Sean Bean. The movie isn’t great. In fact, I’d probably call it the worst movie in the Final Fantasy franchise which, if you’ve seen any of the other movies, is quite a feat. But even still, it’s a gorgeously animated movie that delves into one of the game’s most important story elements that is bafflingly left out of the main game, which is the invasion of Insomnia. It’s a lot of spectacle, but there’s also some nice payoff moments for anyone who's seen the Final Fantasy Versus XIII trailers over the years.
Besides these two pieces of media, there’s not much else you’ll need to do before playing the game proper. I also want to make clear that you of course don’t need to engage with any of this stuff before playing the game, or at all for that matter. This is all supplementary content. But if you’re wanting to enjoy Final Fantasy XV to its fullest, which is what I’d definitely recommend, the anime and movie are important in helping introduce you to the world, its central conflict, and the characters within it.
If you’re really looking to go that extra mile, find a way to play Episode Duscae, the demo of the game that came out with copies of Final Fantasy Type 0. It’s probably pretty tough to access these days, but it’s a nice stretch of gameplay that most people used as their introductions to the way Final Fantasy XV plays. It’s also a cool way to see how things have changed over the course of development.
After you’ve beaten the story
All in all, Final Fantasy XV rounds out its story at the 30-hour mark. Including what was mentioned above, you’ve probably spent about 33 hours in the world of the game, give or take. If you’ve had yourself a good time and would like to see what else there is to offer, here’s what you should do after beating the game.
Start by playing the DLC that’s been released for the game thus far, in order of release. First up is Episode Gladiolus, a short expansion that details what the character Gladiolus was up to when he awkwardly left the party for a little while in the middle of the game. There’s little story in this one, but it offers a cool final boss fight and trial mode for people who enjoyed the game’s combat.
Next is Episode Prompto, which is a much more story-focused expansion. In it, you get to see what Prompto was doing while he was separated from the party later on in the game. Most of it deals with Prompto’s internal issues with the game’s final hour twist on his character and also uses a revamped gun-focused fighting system. It’s a bit longer and a little more satisfying than Episode Gladiolus, which was a nice thing to see.
Then there is Episode Ignis, the best expansion so far. It fills in some very important story beats, but also feels the most like the main game while still including new mechanics. If you’re thinking of skipping the DLC for Final Fantasy XV, Episode Ignis is the only expansion I’d want you to reconsider, just because of how much fun it was to play through. It also includes Ravus heavily throughout, a character who was criminally underutilised in the main game.
There is the co-operative online mode, Final Fantasy XV: Comrades for those who are so inclined. It’s been supported with steadily released updates since its launch last year, but don’t think there’s enough content here to rival an MMO. From creating your character to finishing the final battle, there’s around 40 to 50 hours of solid content to get through, most of it includes repeatable activities and such. But, if you enjoyed Final Fantasy XV and want more interesting things to do in that world, this is probably your best bet. There’s also a nice payoff at the end.
There’s also a standalone VR fishing game called Final Fantasy XV: Monster of the Deep, but I mean… you know if you’re gonna play that thing or not from the second you look at it.
What to look forward to
Somehow, there’s still more Final Fantasy XV content to look forward to on the horizon. The Royal Edition and the Windows Edition both contain all the DLC, expanded end-game content and other nice goodies. From my perspective, it’s probably the best additive content you can get for the game thus far, and seems to make the game’s final act more interesting to play through.
There’s also other versions of the game, like the surprisingly similar mobile version if you’re dying to take Final Fantasy XV on the go with you.
Safe to say, if you’re a fan of Noctis Lucis Caelum or any of the members of his dude crew, there’s plenty of stuff to do with the good ol’ boys from Insomnia.