Last year we were promised three standalone episodes, each focusing on a different one of Noctis’ gang. Knowing that we’ll get to spend more time with the well fleshed out and lovable characters, Gladiolus, Prompto and Ignis, was always a very exciting thought – knowing that we’ll get to control them ourselves, even better!
Now, finally, the first episode of the Final Fantasy XV DLC is here.
The first outing, named Episode Gladiolus shows us what Gladio got up to during his short break away from the gang – after they received a nice beating from Ravus. Feeling the weight of this defeat, Gladio meets up with Cor the Immortal in order to take down the Blademaster and prove once and for all he has what it takes to be the shield of the king.
The episode takes place in a linear dungeon, where you’ll slam your way through enemies with Gladio’s massive blade, and take on massive beasts, before you get a chance to challenge the Blademaster, Gilgamesh himself.
The main charm of this episode is, of course, getting to control Gladio. He plays very different to Noct, he’s slower, but a lot stronger, he uses a shield and rolls to evade enemies, making the combat feel fresh. He also has a rage bar which deals more damage the more it’s filled and a special move meter that allows you to unleash devastating attacks the more it’s filled. He can even pull pillars out of the ground and use them to pulverise foes.
The biggest issue I have is that the area, being a dungeon, is small. As Gladio wields a massive sword and is the biggest of the gang, it seems like a very odd choice to give us a chance to play as him, but then keep us locked in a small place.
The whole episode took me around an hour to complete, which is a little shorter than I was hoping for. I would’ve liked to have a bit more freedom, more places to explore – or even the choice of playing as Gladio in the main campaign.
The DLC doesn’t end there, though, there is a Score Attack mode, where you can challenge the dungeon without the cutscenes while gaining points for your combos. As I mentioned above, the area wasn’t the best ever and locking us in there again for an extra mode is a little bit of a shame.
The last extra we receive is Final Trial, which has you face Cor one on one, with only three potions and a phoenix down. It’s tough! Probably the toughest boss we’ve experienced in the Final Fantasy XV world thus far.
The DLC wasn’t the only addition to Final Fantasy XV this week, there’s also been an alternative route added for Chapter 13, where you can play as Gladio after the gang get separated from Noct. Which will give you a nice taster of what this DLC has to offer.
Overall Episode Gladiolus is well worth picking up. It’s a little on the short side, but playing as Gladio is an absolute joy and the extras help give it some replayability. I will definitely be sinking a bit more time on it over the next few days and I can’t wait for Episode Prompto in June.