I’ve owned the first three generations of the PlayStation, having only skipped the PS4 knowing that most of its games are also available on Windows. Well, emphasis on most since there were some great titles I missed out on that weren’t ported to PC.
For a while, one of those AAA games was Final Fantasy XV. Only recently had it been brought over to Windows — more than a year after the original release on consoles. This drought left me without my once consistent dose of Final Fantasy. (My last one was Final Fantasy XIII way back in 2009!)
But even with FFXV now installed on my beloved gaming rig, there’s another obstacle I have to deal with: finding time to actually play it. This installment in the series is an open-world role-playing game, meaning you get to play at your own pace by going on side quests and exploring vast plains outside of the main story, which also means this takes dozens of hours to complete.
So, how can I enjoy the rich story while still finding time for everything else in my life? There’s Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition for that.
If it isn’t obvious, this is the mobile version of the game, available on both Android and iOS. But don’t think for a second that this is some spin-off with mild references to the full-fledged title. You’re getting the full story on your smartphone — without all the extra fluff.
You could call this the abridged tale of FFXV. The main storyline — from main hero Noctis and his all-male crew riding in a fancy car to saving the world — is intact. You can finish the game and get the entire story like I did. You lose out on a lot of the fun side quests and open-world exploration of the original, but the developers managed to squeeze in as many mini-quests as they could to keep things interesting.
Playing the abridged version before the full game felt like a throwback to high school when I would read up on summaries of novels to save time for actually writing the book reports. It felt wrong during my entire playthrough, but it was either play the pocket edition or wait another ten years for the next FF to release.
FFXV: PE (let this be its name from here on) is divided into ten chapters; each one takes about an hour to finish. Since you’re stuck within the realm of the main plot progression, you’re at the mercy of the game’s own pace. Done with this area? Move on with the story. Want to check out another town? Tough luck.
The game still gives you access to maps, menus for equipping your characters with new gear, items to consume, and a grid for unlocking character-specific skills using Ability Points. All these, however, are parts of an illusion that make you think there’s more depth than there actually is.
You see, because you’re bound to a linear path, there aren’t many ways to play FFXV: PE (this abbreviation still feels too long). The items and equipment I end up with at the end of the game are likely to be near-identical to what you or a random friend of mine would have. Still, it’s nice to have some control than none at all. Acquiring a new weapon and seeing your stats go up is still as satisfying as on the original game.
The controls themselves are as simple as can be: tap or hold the spot you want to run to, swipe during battle to roll around, and choose from a selection of special attacks to end fights in style. The standard attacks are done automatically and your party members are on auto mode the whole time, so the play style here is to relax most of the time and enjoy the scenery.
Hold on… scenery? For a mobile game, the graphics are splendid. Having grown up with Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and IX on the first PlayStation, seeing this style of visuals is a welcome change of pace from the non-stop hyper-realism we’re forced to endure on practically all new AAA titles. With the exception of facial expressions being frozen in place, not once did I feel the graphics were unsatisfying.
You’re going to need a powerful handset, though. I tried FFXV: PE on a range of smartphones and it wasn’t smooth sailing for all. It was only on the Snapdragon 835- and 845-powered devices that I could max out graphics settings. To be specific, I could run the game on the highest settings with the Essential Phone, Samsung Galaxy S9, and Google Pixel 2. The game itself is well-optimized for all aspect ratios, no matter how wide or tall the screen happens to be.
In case you’re wondering: Yes, the original music and voice acting are all there, making this by far the best audio experience you can get out of a mobile title. Your merry crew will banter while running around fields, commands will be shouted during intense battles, and the beautiful musical score will play during cutscenes, inside menus, and while cruising around in their car, the Regalia.
It’s this audio-visual combination that makes FFXV: PE such a joy to play while alone and with headphones on. Even with the tiny screen of a smartphone, you’ll easily get lost in the world of Eos and all the lively characters that inhabit it. It’s only when the plot forces you into tight corridors and bland environments that you gradually lose interest. There were times when neither the new area nor story could sustain my attention.
Being an abridged version of a grand storyline, cuts had to be made. Even though I didn’t finish the original game on Windows yet, I could easily tell when conversations were cut short in order to progress the plot and transitions were hastened to maintain the mobile pace. Some were appreciated; others were not. A lot of drama and twists fell flat because there simply wasn’t enough build-up. When the credits started rolling, I kept wondering, What was the point of that character? and Did I accidentally miss a major plot point?
Asking those questions are ultimately my fault. FFXV: PE is meant to be played after completing the console or PC version first. It’s designed to retell the story of Noctis and his friends in a more casual manner, free from the grips of a couch or office chair. The only way everyone will be happy is if it launches for the Nintendo Switch. (Please?)
Unfortunately, for a mobile game, it’s quite expensive. Although the first chapter is free to play, you have to cough up US$ 20 for all ten chapters. Spending a little more during a sale can nab you the full game on Windows, Xbox One, or PS4 — and that would be loads better if you had the time to play it.
I’m now on the second chapter of Final Fantasy XV: Windows Edition (FFXV: WE LOL) and I feel like I cheated on my book report. The progress so far follows what I already know, except the graphics are prettier and options are far more confusing. There are moments when I fondly look back at the simplicity of the mobile edition and wish I could go back to that.
Sometimes, cutting straight to the chase feels more rewarding.
5 accredited Airbnbs you can book in Boracay
Life is always better at the beach
Boracay is one of the Philippines’ most beautiful islands. Every tourist dreams of seeing its majestic sunsets and enjoy its heavenly white sands.
After Boracay’s rehabilitation in 2018, the Department of Tourism of the Philippines has limited the number of tourists arriving in the island, hence, every traveler must present proof of booking from an accredited accommodation.
Most Airbnbs in Boracay aren’t accredited yet. Thus, we prepared a list so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Bianca’s Garden Apartment
If you’re looking for a safe haven away from the crowd, then you should stay at Bianca’s Garden Apartment! Located at the quiet side of Station 3, the apartment is situated on a peaceful hilltop side of Boracay. Despite being situated at a distance from the popular tourist attractions, it’s still just a few minutes away from the center.
Tropicana Ocean Villa
Families can enjoy this entire villa by Tropicana Oceana. It’s a home perched gracefully on a slope, offering a beautiful and panoramic view. In addition, it’s situated in Din-i-wid beach, ensuring a serene and relaxed atmosphere away from the typical Boracay buzz.
Apartment 3, Sheridan Villas
For those looking for a homey place, Apartment 3 in Sheridan Villas is the place to go. It’s suitable for groups, and it’s also just a few minutes away from the white beach area in Station 3. Furthermore, you can bring your friends and families to nearby restaurants and eat to your heart’s content.
Bamboo Bungalows Rest House
Bamboo Bungalows screams tropical and nature, adorned with a little bit of sleek and contemporary. Located at Station 2, this place might be ideal for couples wanting an oasis surrounded by lush greenery, but it’s also great for solo travelers seeking tranquility. Nonetheless, Bamboo Bungalows are best for those who want to take a retreat whilst still near all the adventures Boracay has to offer.
Marrakesh Resort: Ocean View with Balcony
Located at the picturesque Station 1, Marrakesh Resort offers a stunning view of the beach and breathtaking sunsets. It also lets you experience Morocco through its themed rooms, restaurants, and bar serving Mezze and delicious cocktails. Enjoy a romantic getaway in one of the most beautiful islands in the world.
Friends is leaving Netflix for HBO Max
This is a huge blow to Netflix
Friends is officially leaving Netflix. Earlier this year, there were rumors that Netflix will lose Friends. It was officially confirmed when WarnerMedia — who owns Friends’ distribution rights — launched HBO Max as the new home for the well-loved TV series.
Along with Friends, titles such as Pretty Little Liars, Batwoman, and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air will be streamed when HBO Max launches in spring of 2020. The streaming service is positioning itself to compete with the likes of Netflix and Hulu.
The show won’t depart the streaming giant until later this year so you and your friends can still binge-watch until then. On the other hand, Netflix might take a huge blow from this since Friends is one of the most watched shows, according to research by Jumpshot.
More and more companies are capitalizing on video-streaming apps and services with paid video offerings. On a larger scale, this isn’t just a problem for Netflix but for the whole industry as well. Users might find it expensive to maintain multiple subscriptions and might resort to piracy instead. Sure as hell, we won’t pay three different subscriptions just to watch my favorite shows.
More than 1,000 Android apps are mining your data
They can bypass your restrictions
The world knows what you did last summer. Well, more than a thousand Android apps do, to be precise. A group of researchers have recently discovered the shadier ways of the Android ecosystem. According to a short report, several Android apps can bypass certain permission restrictions imposed by the user. The discovery reemphasizes the need for a crackdown on data collection.
Of course, excessive data collection has always terrorized the digital world. Software companies continuously find ways to extract data from us. As consumers, we can only restrict app permissions to combat malicious apps. For the most part, permissions can ward away the more rudimentary data collection method. For example, a selfie app absolutely has no need for access to your messages. A simple restriction can ideally stop this.
The latest findings reveal the futility of app permissions. Using a variety of methods, apps can still collect data, bypassing the imposed restrictions. Notably, most examples use readily available data on your device outside of the restrictions. For example, a restricted app can tap into an allowed app’s database to extract data. Baidu’s Hong Kong Disneyland app, for one, can access other Baidu apps with the right permissions. These allowed apps can store vital data on your internal storage, waiting for other apps to extract it.
Another example sends seemingly innocuous data hiding important information. Shutterfly, a photo management app, can sneakily bypass geolocation restrictions. Normally, users can restrict the app from sending geolocation data. If restricted, Shutterfly will instead send photos to its server. The server then extracts the photo’s EXIF or metadata to mine the same geolocation data it was restricted from.
These are just some examples presented by the short report. In August, the researchers will reveal more methods and examples including the full list of 1,325 apps. Additionally, Google has already promised to patch these exploits out in Android Q.
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