You know, I consider myself a Final Fantasy fan – but these days it's so hard to keep up. Square Enix has always loved a FF spinoff title, but now it seems like for every major entry there are dozens and dozens of smaller titles I just never get around to. One of the reasons for that is, when I do put the hours in, often the experience is a little disappointing: step forward mobile title Final Fantasy Brave Exvius.
This has been out for a few years now, and is a turn-based battler with the visual style of the SNES Final Fantasy combat system. Insta-download for me, but after a gentle opening I stopped playing Exvius relatively quickly – it showered me with stuff at the start, before ramping up the difficulty and highlighting the shop.
Still, Square Enix is not the kind to give up lightly on lapsed Final Fantasy fans, and has deployed its ultimate weapon: Cloud Strife. Yes, the hero of FFVII is guaranteed to attract even the most hesitant nostalgic – I can't help it. I'm sorry, I just really love FFVII. I redownloaded Exvius for the most generic hero I've ever had, and couldn't be happier.
Then I realised he's not out for a few days yet: bastards! Cloud will appear in an update on 15 December.
So I'm going back. I always loved the idea of Exvius and I'm genuinely curious if, two years or so later, the game will even resemble the one I first played. And I'm increasingly beginning to feel like playing mobile games at launch is a bad idea – Animal Crossing Pocket Camp I found kind of soul-crushing, but I bet in six months it'll have a lot more going for it.
There's a curious dynamic at work when you're a free-to-play maven. Part of the game's fun is seeing how far you can get before feeling you need to pay anything and whether, when you get there, you want to pay at all. You can see this in black-and-white on app store reviews of such titles: players will openly write about enjoying days of play for free before screaming blue murder about the app turning the screws and 'demanding' money. It's a delicate balance, and you know when a game's got it right or otherwise.
Here I am, an old man, decripit and useless, downloading a years-old F2P mobile game just because it's got Cloud in it. And I'm proud*. The update includes a few more additions to the game, quoted below. If Final Fantasy Brave Exvius is any cop after all this time and updating, I'll let you know.
New Unit – Cloud: Beginning 15th December, players can obtain the FINAL FANTASY VII hero via Featured and Rare Summons. A FINAL FANTASY VII themed in-game event, “Destroy the Reactor” will coincide with the introduction of Cloud, from which players can obtain new items and equipment.
New Trial Boss – Glacial: The winter season brings forth the new powerful and icy enemy, Glacial, who awaits those seeking a challenge in the Chamber of the Fallen. Those that defeat Glacial will be rewarded with exclusive rewards, including the Frozen Crown—a piece of headgear optimal for healers.
New Holiday Characters: Three new holiday-themed characters—Kryla, Christine, and Carrie—will make an appearance this holiday season, and will later be joined by last year’s holiday units White Knight Noel and Santa Rosalia. Holiday characters will only be available for a limited time, and may only be obtained through the holiday Featured Summon.
King’s Knight Collaboration: The four heroes from the hit mobile game KING’S KNIGHT –Wrath of the Dark Dragon–, which also appears in FINAL FANTASY XV, will join the cast of FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS: Rayjack, Kaliva, Barusa and Toby. Each of the four characters provide a different role within the party, and together can create a full and balanced party with which players can adventure.
*please no-one tell my family or friends of this.