Final Fantasy XV’s Royal Pack DLC expands on the game’s final story chapter. There are additional upgrades that allow for character switching, a first-person mode, boat exploration, and a special power-up. But the primary addition revolves around the new and improved city of Insomnia, main character Noctis’ hometown and vital location for the plot. As such, there may be light spoilers related to what is in the DLC, but there's nothing in this review that will overtly spoil the events leading up to the ending.
The DLC’s primary feature is the Chapter 14 expansion, which incorporates new cutscenes and dialogue that flesh out the backstories of Insomnia, returning characters, and the Glaives – protectors of the king. There is now a Glaive base, accompanied by cutscenes and references to the movie Final Fantasy XV Kingsglaive that tie the movie and the game together more directly.
More importantly, the DLC significantly enlarges Insomnia’s explorable area. In the original version of Chapter 14, the path was fairly linear to reach the finale – rather sparse endgame content for such a large open world title. Now, the final area’s map is at least three times larger, with more giant enemies around every corner. There are even three sidequests that focus on the strengths of Noctis’ teammates – Prompto, Gladio, and Ignis. While they add more to do and encourage you to explore the map, they’re not too different from the standard fetch quests or photo hunts from the base game. The new and improved Insomnia is much more engaging to explore, enhanced by the fact that you can drive around with the Regalia Type-D monster truck. As an aside, you can now access the Regalia Type-D through a special sidequest midgame now as well.
The other large addition to Chapter 14 are five new bosses. One is an extremely hard optional superboss that should please hardcore fans who find the rest of the game too easy. This boss poses a huge threat, even if you’re massively leveled. The other four bosses have been seamlessly added to the story. One familiar boss provides an epic prelude to the end, and the other three give Noctis’ bros yet another chance to shine, building on the development each character received in their individual DLC episodes. It was a very nice touch and made me appreciate the well-characterized main heroes even more.
Overall, the chapter expansion is the best reason to pick this pack up. I just wish it weren’t so clumsily handled for those who have already played the full game. You can’t access the improved chapter without manually going into chapter select and playing through again from there. You lose sidequest progress as a result, so be warned if you’re trying to put together a perfect file and don’t have backups. The only other thing I could ask for is an expansion of the open world in the context of the final chapter. Nevertheless, the DLC adds about three to five hours to the original version, which is still a notable improvement.
The other upgrades are more or less vanilla and don’t add a whole lot, but they allow for unique types of exploration and battle. For example, you can now switch to one of the other three main characters during battle. You can instantly switch between them as often as you like, and each sports the same abilities that they had in their own DLC episodes. Gladio is a slow, heavy hitter with a rage meter that multiplies damage, good for striking large, slow-moving enemies with high HP. Meanwhile, Ignis is very agile and manipulates three different elements (fire, ice, and lightning) to blast opponents using special attacks. Prompto is a light-footed, long-range shooter who needs to create some distance from the enemy in order to be effective, which can be a disadvantage for close-range enemies that constantly track you.
The three accommodate different playstyles and most importantly add variety to the original’s single-character gameplay. At the end of battle, you automatically transition back to Noctis, so unfortunately, you can’t run around as the other guys. That’s probably for the best, since there were some technical issues while playing with other characters. Sometimes there was lag during battle, usually during a switch. In some cases the character froze but the battle continued, and I kept taking damage.
The pack also adds the ability to play with a first-person view both in and out of battle. If you enjoy first-person games, you might like this. However, I found it a bit too chaotic and disorienting during combat, as the camera is already shaky and all over the place in third-person view. Nonetheless, the first-person perspective is great for looking more closely at all the details of the world, which you could easily miss otherwise.
The last battle-focused upgrade is Armiger Unleashed, a stronger version of the regular Armiger power-up. This is limited to those who have collected all the Royal Arms. Armiger Unleashed allows you to do various fighting combos with specific button inputs, like in a fighting game. Luckily, there’s an in-depth tutorial to assist. The new power-up is very useful against stronger enemies later in the game, and is much more visually impressive and longer lasting that the original mode. Not to mention that the glowing Noctis looks awesome with all the ancestral weapons swirling around him.
On the exploration side, you can now control a boat, the Royal Vessel, for maritime adventuring. At first, setting off on the boat is breathtaking and liberating. You can sail across the ocean to Altissia, which was previously inaccessible aside from warping, helping to connect the open world even more. A fast warp option between different ports makes travel more convenient too, just like with the Regalia. That being said, you can't actually land on many of the islands that you see; there are invisible barriers that keep you from getting too close. Moreover, there isn’t much else to do on the boat besides fishing, taking photos, and watching short events.
Final Fantasy XV’s Royal Pack DLC is the most substantial addition to the base game to date. The important Chapter 14, previously a relatively empty and linear area, is significantly more fleshed out with the DLC features. The expanded map, side quests, cutscenes, and dialogue make it feel closer to the open-world chapters in the first half of the game, which were what I enjoyed the most. I also appreciated the new battle and character switching abilities that give more spotlight to Noctis’ comrades. The other upgrades are fun bonuses that increase exploration and combat, but likely wouldn’t warrant a purchase without the expanded endgame content.
Although I appreciate what the Royal Pack has brought to the lore of Insomnia, its paltry additions may only appeal to the most hardcore fans who don’t mind replaying the definitive edition of a single chapter. If you’ve never played Final Fantasy XV, the Royal Edition or Windows Edition, both of which have all the DLC – including the character episodes and bonus content not present in the Royal Pack – is the way to go. Otherwise, your decision will depend on how much you wish to stand by Noctis on his journey.
I am a lifelong gamer, having grown up with Nintendo since I was young. My passion for gaming led to one of the greatest moments of my life, my video game themed wedding!