Final Fantasy XV and the Undying Single-Player Campaign

In all the years I’ve been a gamer, I’ve always had a preference towards single-player games. It’s not that I don’t think online multi-player experiences are fun. Rather, it’s my preference towards story when I play a game, as opposed to competition.

When I first started gaming, this was never an issue. Having a single-player campaign in a game was a prerequisite, as multiplayer gaming required everyone to be in the same room. In a time before online gaming, the thought of a game with just a multiplayer mode was all but unheard of.

Single-player games have recently been threatened. While some companies have done what they can to keep the genre alive, more and more developers and publishers are moving to “games as a service”. Sadly, this is a business model that works better with a multiplayer title than a single-player one.

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Story Matters

In the past, I’ve applauded companies like CD Projekt Red and Bethesda for their hard work towards keeping single-player games alive. Within the last year, however, there’s been a game that I’ve sunk more time than I’d care to admit into and the developers recently showed just how much they value the single-player side of it.

I’m talking, of course, about Final Fantasy XV. When the title was first released in late-2016, it received generally positive reviews from critics and gamers. The title wasn’t perfect, but over the last year, Square Enix has worked to fix the criticisms from fans.

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Up to a point, the biggest of these changes was related to adding new cutscenes into the game. The important thing about these scenes was that they added more story to points where players felt the game lacked it.  

In an era where developers and publishers have determined that constant profit is more important than a quality single-player experience, it was refreshing to see Square Enix send a message like “story matters” to fans. Has the company ever come out and said this? Absolutely not. But sometimes actions speak louder than words.

Season Pass

As is common with games these days, Final Fantasy XV featured a season pass. The key aspects of this season pass included 3 DLC episodes centered around Noctis’ friends Prompto, Ignis, and Gladiolus. The fourth key piece of the DLC was a multiplayer expansion called Comrades.

As we move closer and closer to Christmas, the season pass is all but done. Episode Prompto and Episode Gladiolus have both been released, as has Comrades. The last key piece of the season pass is set to drop sometime this month. That piece is Episode Ignis. Once that DLC is put out for download to gamers everywhere, Square Enix will have completed their promises to fans.

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In the blog post announcing the DLC roadmap for the game, there was also mention of “making certain key characters playable”. While there was little mentioned after in regards to this statement, character swapping has officially been announced. With this feature, players will be able to explore the game’s world with any member of the party they choose. The good news is that even without the DLC episodes, the game has a meaty post-game, as well as numerous side quests to clean up after the main campaign has been finished.

Personally, I’ve just started playing the DLC episodes. With that in mind, I still have much to do in the main campaign’s post-game. Up to this point, Final Fantasy XV has definitely given me my money’s worth.

But Wait, There’s More

At this point, Square Enix could call it a day with Final Fantasy XV. By the standards of most publishers, this would be the time where development on Final Fantasy XVI should begin while Comrades keeps the game’s world in players minds.

That’s not how Square Enix is choosing to proceed though. In a recent presentation, the company showed off the new character swapping feature as well taking the time to speak about Episode Ignis and updates that will be coming to Comrades. Then they blew the lid off the internet.

Square Enix is planning a second season pass for the game, to be released in 2018.

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What the season pass will contain has yet to be officially confirmed, though IGN reports that it will contain “at least” three new DLC episodes. While most of the details on this second season pass are scarce, one thing has been confirmed for sure: Episode Ardyn.

Ardyn is the main antagonist of Final Fantasy XV and is considered to be a very key character to the story by the game’s director, Hajime Tabata. Another character Tabata has gone on record saying he’d like to see fleshed out is Luna.

Fans have agreed vehemently with him. Anytime that I’ve seen a conversation on DLC gamers want to see added to Final Fantasy XV, Episode Luna is at the top of the list. We’ll have to wait a while before we know what the other two or more DLC episodes will be, but we do know this: Tabata is committed to getting each new Episode as close to perfection as possible before giving it to gamers.

Subtle Disagreement

It’s so refreshing seeing a publisher and developer put so much effort into a single-player experience for gamers. Some companies manage to make an amazing single-player game but they don’t follow up afterwards. The most recent of these that I can think of is Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V. Par for the course with the Grand Theft Auto series, the game is incredibly meaty and can take a substantial amount of time to clear out. But what was the followup to that? An online multiplayer mode.

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While GTA Online has been what Rockstar would call a success, the company can’t escape the criticism of not releasing a single piece of single-player DLC for the game. EA recently shut down Visceral Games, citing a lack of interest in single-player games by the gaming community.

Unsung Heroes

With games like Skyrim, The Witcher 3, and Final Fantasy XV getting so much love from players, despite being mostly single-player experiences, how is there a lack of interest?

Given when it was released, Skyrim has been the most telling of these. The game was initially released on the PC, as well as the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Bethesda then ported the game to the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 by way of Skyrim: Special Edition. This version of the game featured Bethesda’s official mod support and also saw a release on the PC. PlayStation VR recently received a VR version of the game. Bethesda also released Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch last month. By now, I’m not sure Skyrim won’t see more releases in the coming years.

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Both The Witcher 3 and Final Fantasy XV had the advantage of being released for current generation systems. While The Witcher 3 has more or less run its course, CD Projekt Red has no intention of abandoning the model they’ve created when they release their next game, Cyberpunk 2077.

As for Final Fantasy XV? Square Enix is currently working on a mobile edition of the game for smartphones and tablets. In addition, a Windows version of the game is set to be released in 2018. In a way, the second season pass makes a lot of sense. Square Enix is opening the door to a variety of new gamers who may not have experienced the game yet. Lastly, Tabata has expressed interest in bringing the game to the Nintendo Switch.  At this time, his team is looking at ways to circumvent the technical limits of the console. 

In Conclusion

It’s safe to say that despite the opinions of some, single-player games have a long and prosperous future ahead. Multiplayer games are awesome but there’s always going to be a market for games with vast stories. Games that encourage exploration of vast worlds will never die. 

What do you think of single-player games in the current gaming scene? Is there still a market for them, or are they dead in the water? Let us know in the comments below!

And you can pick up Final Fantasy XV right here!

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