Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition for PC / Windows is an extended and complete edition of the fifteenth installment of the legendary series of jRPGs; the franchise was born in 1987. The game was developed by a Japanese company Square Enix, and it was first announced in 2006 as a PlayStation 3 exclusive. At that time, the project was known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, and it was being promoted as a part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy XIII compilation. For years, the game's development process progressed at a very slow pace, and the small team of gamemakers only laid the groundwork for the gameplay formula and created an outline of the plot. In 2013, the game was again presented to the world as Final Fantasy XV, and afterwards announced to be released for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Hajime Tabata became the new director of the project - he had worked on Final Fantasy Type-0 and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII.
Final Fantasy XV made its official debut in November, 2016. Within a year and a half since the release, the creators enriched the game with four large expansions, as well as a series of improvements, patches, and free DLCs. Three of the aforementioned expansions offered small story campaigns; as for the other - the last one - it introduced a co-op mode into the game. This Windows Edition includes the additional contents mentioned above, as well as completely new elements, such as maps, boss fights or previously-unavailable means of exploration.
A young prince by the name of Noctis Lucis Caelum is the protagonist. For generations, his family have been the rulers of Lucis - a small, though technologically-developed city-state. As the only country in the world, Lucis is in possession of a powerful, magic crystal, that provides protection and well-being for the inhabitants. Lucis isolated itself from the outside world for many years, as its neighbours tried to take over the source of its wealth. The biggest enemy of the small city-state is the militarized Empire of Niflheim - nearly the entire continent is controlled by them. A special treaty signed by the protagonist's father and the emperor himself was supposed to put an end to mutual antagonism between the two sides, but the proposition of the agreement turned out to be a mere bluff - on the day of ratification, the aggressive forces of Niflheim invade Lucis and destroy its capital - Insomnia.
While Noctis's hometown is being destroyed, he is travelling to Altissia with his three companions - Gladiolus Amicitia (the protagonist's personal bodyguard), Ignis Stupeo Scientia (a royal advisor), and Prompto Argentum (a friend of Noctis from his childhood). In that city, the protagonist is supposed to meet his future wife - Lunafreya "Luna" Nox Fleuret. A marriage with the young, exceptionally-talented prophetess (she can communicate with gods, and comes from an autonomous imperial province of Tenebrae) was to seal the treaty between Lucis and the Empire of Niflheim. When the characters learn about what happened to their homeland, they are faced with a serious dilemma and must decide what to do next; simultaneously, they have to hide from the soldiers of the Empire that wish to hunt the group down.
Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition for PC / Windows also contains the following story expansions: Episode Gladiolus, Episode Prompto and Episode Ignis - these are set during the main story campaign. The player can access these several-hour adventures from the main menu of the game, and one takes on the roles of Noctis's friends while playing them.
The gameplay formula is similar to that of the Kingdom Hearts series. The game world is observed from the first-person, or a third-person view (depending on the player's choice), and one explores the vast, open environments in real time. Contrary to the previous installments of the series, the combat system focuses on action, so the player will not come across classic turn-based battles or encounters taking place on separate arenas. Another difference in relation to the previous Final Fantasy games, is that the player directly controls only the protagonist. Throughout the adventure, he is accompanied by the three friends, and from time to time, additional characters join the team as guests.
Noctis makes use of magic, special skills, as well as one of many magic swords of his - those if needed, can be used as shields. The protagonist can also quickly teleport over short distances, surprising his enemies and reaching otherwise inaccessible places. For a good part of the game, the player can benefit from the help of the companions - the protagonist can perform linked attacks and combos with them. Alongside progression in the story, the player receives help also from subsequent Archaeans - powerful beings serving the role of classic summons from other Final Fantasy games. Once the player has met specific requirements, they can summon them to the battlefield in a spectacular way.
Exploration plays an exceptionally-important part in the game. The player traverses the map by a car, which is controlled manually, but can be also set to automatically reach a designated spot. At any time however, the player can get out of the vehicle and wander off the beaten path in order to complete additional assignments and quests, or to search for different secrets. The developer implemented a day-night cycle, which influences the behaviours of wild creatures. Every once in a while, the team have to set up camp in wilderness - only while resting can the characters level up. The characters get regenerated thanks to meals prepared by the player, and depending on the ingredients used, the team can receive additional bonuses to defense or attack power - such bonuses are especially important while fighting the most powerful adversaries.
Thanks to the Final Fantasy XV: Comrades expansion pack, which is part of Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition, the game has a completely functional co-op mode for up to 4 players. In this mode, the player creates their own character, and along with others, they complete subsequent missions requiring them to defeat certain monsters, defend a position, or to escort someone. The players obtain money they afterwards spend on new equipment, gadgets and outfits.
Compared to the base game, this kind of experience is not much different - the combat system remains the same, though neither can the players use magic, nor many different weapons simultaneously. One spell is assigned to a particular weapon, such as a sword, a dagger or a shield, and the player can obviously use the spell in battle. One also cannot summon Archaeans here.
The visuals in Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition for PC / Windows make use of the capabilities brought by DirectX 11 libraries, and the game utilizes the Luminous Studio engine. When it comes to the character and world designs, the creators were inspired by both classic fantasy iconography and landscapes of modern-day Tokyo, Venice, the United States or the Caribbean. The soundtrack was created by a talented composer Yoko Shimomura - she is popular mainly for the music in the Kingdom Hearts series. On PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X, the game offers additional, configuration and graphical settings.
Because of how much the patches and expansions weigh, Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition requires over a hundred gigabytes of free space on the hard drive.