Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition is an impressive port of a massive console game to a portable mobile game. This was done by toning down the graphics to be much less realistic and far more animated. Additionally, most of the systems have also been simplified to be more mobile friendly and most of the side quests have been removed. What’s left is a sleek linear story full of interesting characters and fun combat. FFXV Pocket Edition is perfect for anyone who might have tried the full game but didn’t like all the extraneous exploring and side adventures. This is our Final Fantasy Pocket Edition Review.
One of the mechanical changes in the FFXV Pocket Edition that I noticed was you can’t jump at all. This might seem like a small inconsequential thing to focus on, but the ability to jump or not to jump fundamentally changes how levels and areas can be designed. As I moved through the game it was clear how this choice deeply influenced the redesign of every zone. Every location is still easily recognizable as the corresponding location in the console game, but the layout of everything is different. This was most noticeable in Altissa where not only was there less space to run around in but how some areas are connected was also different.
Another big difference between this version and the original version is there’s no resting at campsites or hotels whenever the player chooses. Because of this, experience is tallied whenever big story steps are completed rather than while resting. This removes a bit of control from the player and doesn’t allow for keeping the boys at a lower level to try and increase the difficulty of the game. Also, even when the story had us rest at an Inn Ignis still made us food which gave stat bonuses which was a nice surprise. Though I did miss being able to peruse his recipes and choosing which ones to have him make.
The story itself is laid out pretty much exactly how it was when the game originally launched at the end of 2016. There have been some minor cuts here or there but for the most part cutscenes and dialogue have been ported exactly as they are in the original game at launch. Over the last year some extra cutscenes and dialogue were added to the console version to help better explain the motivations of certain characters and what happens during key story points and I was disappointed they were not included. However, their exclusion was made-up for by including brief synopsizes of events at the beginning of every chapter. Plus, while downloading the chapters there are interesting and informative text boxes about each character so that time isn’t a total waste. There were even a couple of tidbits I hadn’t realized before in there.
Combat in the Pocket Edition still has the same basic freeform fighting feel to it as it does in the original game but slightly simplified. As soon as I would target an enemy Noctis would start attacking and if I wanted I could mostly just let him auto attack and occasionally change his target. However, dodging and parrying are a large part of combat as QTEs. Parrying, especially, is a huge help on tough mobs because after a successful parry Noctis will do an attack with a ton of bonus damage on it. Also warp striking at the correct moment will break mobs and render them vulnerable for a short period of time. The amount of time to react to these QTEs varies mob to mob. Sometimes it’s incredibly quick and sometimes it seems like you have forever to react. Which might sound random or weird, but it makes sense because different enemies have different attack speeds.
Noctis can have a short sword, a great sword, and a polearm equipped and is free to switch between them during combat though they each have their strengths and weaknesses. There’s no upgrading weapons so better weapons are pretty much only obtainable through the shops. Additionally, any of the obtained King’s weapons can be equipped but it can only be used when its power gauge is full. Lastly, once four king’s weapons have been obtained the ability to use Armiger is unlocked. There is the option to just let Noctis go and attack whatever he wants, but there were times where I would change who he was attacking but it probably wasn’t strictly necessary.
Also for the most part Ignis, Prompto, and Gladio are not controllable during combat. However, during combat their portraits will pop-up on the right side of the screen which allowed me to command them to use their skills. They can learn new skills through the ascension grid and unfortunately there didn’t seem to be anyway way to decide which skill they used. You must be quick to use these skills though because they will timeout and go away after a short period of being ready. I also noticed I could not use their skills while Noctis was doing anything interesting, like using the Armiger. So, there were some interesting choices about which I wanted to do.
Magic is unavailable at the beginning of the game, but it can be unlocked through the Ascension sphere grid. It works considerably differently than it did in the console version of the game. I still had to draw the elements out of draw points I found in an area, but I could only have one element on me at a time. For example, if I had drawn from a fire node and then drew from an ice one the ice element would replace the fire element I previously had. There’s no mixing of elements and items to make spells, whatever element was the most recent to be drawn would be the spell available. Also, magic does not deal damage to the party. While this does make magic much more approachable and easy to use some of the gameplay of figuring out how to make certain spells is lost.
ne area the Pocket Edition falls a bit short on is there’s no facial animations at all. The mouths don’t even move when the characters talk which can be quite disconcerting. I’m old enough to remember when characters didn’t have facial features to animate in any game, so it isn’t as if this is a revolutionary concept to me; rather it’s a comment on how much it has become ingrained in RPGs over the years. VO can convey a lot of emotion on its own with the way a line is delivered but having the animations to back all of that up really takes things up a notch. I noticed there were a few parts of the game where I interpreted certain lines, despite knowing they were the exact same delivery and lines, in completely different ways than I had previously. I understand animating the faces probably would have made an already large game prohibitively large, but not having them was sadly noticeable.
Pocket Edition can be downloaded for free and is 150MB to start, which sort of surprised me, but there was another download of 524MB right after the first two cutscenes which starts everything off. The first chapter is free and then you can either buy chapters 2 & 3 for $0.99 each and 4 through 10 for $3.99 each. The other option is to buy all of them for $19.99. Either way this is a good deal for content in this game. My recommendation would be to buy all of them and download them all at once. This process can take a bit and can be frustrating if you are waiting to continue the storyline. All told the game takes up either 5GB or space or 8GB for the high-resolution version.
Overall Final Fantasy Pocket Edition is a great game and is ideal for anyone who doesn’t have time for the larger console (and upcoming PC) versions of the game or if most of your available playtime is mobile. I very highly recommend it.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on an Apple iPhone 7 with a code provided by PR.
Compare To: I honestly have no idea what to compare it to. Never seen a game of this scale get shrunk down so perfectly before.
Overall Score: 9.5/10
- Clear concise story is delivered and can stand on its own
- Game mechanics are simple but fun and engaging
- Gorgeous and fun animation style
- Some of the mechanics were occasionally too simplistic
- Would have been nice to have some facial animations