The first of three DLC episodes of Final Fantasy XV was released just yesterday and of course, I had to play it straight away. Revolving around Gladiolus’ time apart from the group, we get the opportunity to play Gladio on his adventures and see his character develop just a little bit more.
Gladiolus’ episode starts off with the good old Chocobros around the campfire before the others question Gladio’s new scar. And thus, we go back in time after their encounter with Ravus and Gladio takes off to attempt the Trials of Gilgamesh.
While we do know Gladio does make it back to the group in one piece, his attempt to take on the Trials of Gilgamesh is something that the player can never be fully sure about as Cor (his companion on this journey) survived his attempt but failed overall.
In the end, it’s a journey that reaffirms Gladio’s ability to protect Noctis and his role as “The Shield.” Even though it’s something that we already know, it’s nice to spend some time with the strongest of the bunch as he grapples with the idea of not being strong enough.
The DLC expands on Gladiolus’ motivations and Cor’s backstory, exploring these two characters in more detail. The moment between the pair during the end credits is especially heartwarming because you see a small moment of vulnerability with these two gruff characters – a small but significant development.
However, I do want to point out how Gilgamesh states it’s Gladiolus’ duty to protect the “Last King of Lucis.” This brings about the question of whether everyone knew about Noctis’ role before he knew it himself. Unless I’m completely missing that point in the story, it’s a very interesting detail to note.
And with the tease of Prompto’s episode at the end, I can’t wait for the next episode to come out. Early theory: Prompto has to shoot his father.
Centred around the battle system, the controls are similar to the main game however, blocking has a larger importance and there are new features to learn – though quite quick to pick up. I found it funny and enjoyable about the fact that Gladio could pick up columns to use as weapons which you could never do with Noctis. However, I guess the biggest downside is that if you don’t like using Greatswords in the main game, get ready for the time of your life.
Another notable feature is that the campsites take place as a save point in addition to providing meal bonuses (from cup noodles of course) and provide a quick exchange between Gladio and Cor that fleshes out their characters a little more.
It’s a quick playthrough that I had done under two hours – probably less if I didn’t pause every time I had a thought about the game. However, there is replay value with the main episode for those trophy hoarders (like me). In addition to the episode, there are two other modes: Score Attack and the Final Trial.
Score Attack mode basically goes through the entire game again but with a time limit to get to each trial and a limited amount of items. On the other hand, Final Trial is a battle against Cor where you only have three potions and one Phoenix Down – making the battle with Gilgamesh a walk in the park (even though Gilgamesh wasn’t that much of a challenge in the first place).
It’s nice to compliment how beautiful the game looks as well as sounds – contrasting against the mystical and wondrous sights of the main game. Set in the unreachable Taelpar Crag, the visuals of the DLC is a nice change from the main game. The rocky terrain with the glowing blue sections add a pop of colour to the game and makes for a great photo op when the sun is setting.
The music also adds towards the narrative as well as the change in environment: a battle with brute strength rather than an epic magical journey. The punching guitar adds to the aggressiveness during battle sequences and the main menu music of the episode: epic.
If you’re invested in the characters of Final Fantasy XV, it’s a great expansion to its universe as you delve into a world you can’t reach in the main game and play from a different perspective. It’s a quick playthrough so you won’t be spending too much time on it so it’s a nice little addition to the main game.