Final Fantasy XV: Episode Gladiolus DLC (PS4) Review
Title: Final Fantasy XV: Episode Gladiolus
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Rating: T for Teen
It is my firm belief that Final Fantasy 15 is the best numbered Final Fantasy game in the series and probably my second favorite Final Fantasy game, behind Crisis Core. While the storyline might be bunk, and the characters are broadly sketched, especially Lunafreya, the side activities are spot on and the combat loop kept me almost infinitely engaged. I’m not kidding, I spent over 120+ hours in the game, and just completed the Costlemark dungeon’s secret area, which is no small feat.
So, suffice it to say, I would classify myself a fan of the game, and was pretty interested in the DLC they announced. And my thoughts are basically “Eh”. It’s not that Episode Gladiolus is bad, but it is short, linear, boring, and ultimately not that much fun to play.
The basic gist is that after Gladio got his butt kicked in the main FFXV game he goes on a pilgrimage to become stronger and more worthy of his job. So he calls up Cor, the Marshal you met in FFXV also, and they traverse Gilgamesh’s cave system in order to fight him. That’s about it.
Gladio does not fight like Noctis does in FFXV, so no warping around the environment or using different weapons. You use a great sword to attack foes, and a shield to guard or parry attacks. The unique hooks for playing as him involve his sword arts, which are just his team up moves but you can do them solo, and a “rage meter” that increases the damage you can do, when you successfully guard against an attack, going up to 3X your normal damage. The meter decreases after a time, but can be refilled once you guard again. After a little while, you can also pickup columns in the game world and use them as clubs, which is oddly satisfying.
You go through a series of caves, and face three (if I remember right) trials of combat, basically mini-boss battles, as well as taking on a bunch of fodder in between. The combat trials just involve you taking on harder enemies, and you gaining abilities like being able to guard better, or a new special move, after you’re done. You’ll get injured as you play, but there are plenty of health potions around, and a few Phoenix Down’s, so you won’t have too much trouble.
Honestly, combat in this thing should only be played if you like the great sword. I do, so it was fine, but the normal enemies you fight are almost no challenge, and only come in about 5 or 6 varieties. Basically, normal skeleton, slightly better skeleton, even more slightly better skeleton, armored ball animal, Wyvern, and maybe one or two others.
The bosses are a push over as well, except for the Iron Giant you face near the end of the episode, and Gilgamesh himself. Both require a lot more blocking and parrying than every other enemy, and thus, make these two fights more enjoyable because you’re actually doing something besides mashing buttons.
You do get a bit of background exposition with Cor and Gladio talking about their respective pasts, but that is it for actual story content. Once you complete the episode, you gain a weapon for the main game (which isn’t useful in the grand scheme), unlock score attack (which unlocks an extra costume for the main game), and a one on one battle against Cor. That’s about it for the actual content in the add-on.