Not enough games are built around road trips, writes
There’s nothing better than hopping in a car with some friends, hitting the tarmac with only a vague notion of destination. That is, until you starting hitting the wildlife, too.
Final Fantasy XV is gaming’s best road trip, but problems with the combat stopped it from being a true classic.
Now that the Royal Edition of the game has been released, along with support for mods on PC this month, we thought it was worth taking the journey again, to see if things have improved.
First, let’s focus on what made Final Fantasy XV such a great game upon release. This is arguably the only game to truly nail that “adventure holiday” feeling, where a group of four friends hit the road, explore postcard destinations and generally live it up.
Sure, Prince Noctis and his three companions face their share of drama, including the demolition of the prince’s home city and the death of his father, but they don’t let a little invasion demoralise them.
Instead, they spend the majority of their time exploring vast, lush landscapes, taking photographs like tourists, finding the best spots to fish, riding chocobos (giant chickens) and learning about new cultures and ancient history. All the while, they chat and quip like good friends should, and saving the world becomes something of a by-product.
The world of Final Fantasy XV is brilliant and beautiful, and the means by which you travel, in a giant luxury car (and later an airship) perfectly capture the sense of holiday that we all need around summer time.
However, in between the sights — there are the fights. Combat in Final Fantasy XV is messy, at best, and unfortunately the Royal Edition doesn’t solve this problem. Caught somewhere between action and strategy, fights are confusing and cumbersome, designed to frustrate those who want to master the system.
There are plenty of strategic options, none of which really lend themselves to the physicality of the fights themselves. Instead of fixing this endemic issue, the Royal Edition includes bonus items that make combat largely trouble-free. The first, Ragnarok, is a sword that effectively lets you easily “warp strike” your way through the game, bypassing all other options. The second, Magitek armour, makes you impervious to damage.
In a strange way, these additions do make the game better. By acknowledging Final Fantasy is an adventure game first and foremost, Square Enix have reduced the stress of combat and given players free reign to enjoy the journey instead. The addition of a first-person mode and mods on Steam emphasise this further — Final Fantasy XV is meant to be explored and enjoyed, and doesn’t lend itself to the grinding or attrition of traditional RPGs.
In fact, by making the combat easy-going, Final Fantasy XV might be more than just the best road trip in gaming — it might be the best safari, too.
Mega bite in megabytes
Arguably the last place you’d want a safari is Jurassic Park. We’re just fine watching from our cinema seats, thank you. But actually running the park, now that’s a different matter.
That’s what Jurassic World Evolution is all about.
It’s a park management game that allows you to build, design and manage Jurassic Park, with all the problems that might arise from such an enterprise. When the T-Rex wrecks, that’s on you.
Jurassic World Evolution is pretty much an ideal use of the licence, giving players full control over the real star of the show, the park itself.
While the basic gameplay seems largely similar to other park management games, the fun begins when the dinosaurs break out of their pens and start causing havoc. It puts the mega bite in megabytes.
Finally, if rearing slightly less dangerous creatures is your thing, then Pokemon Go is still an option.
Developers Niantic have just added two huge features to the experience — a friends list and trading. Friends can be added using special codes that you can share with other people, allowing you to see their activity and team up together.
Trading, meanwhile, is a feature that should have been present from the start.
Trading Pokemon is essential to the culture of the game, finally making Pokemon Go the social experience it promised to be two years ago.