Episode Gladiolus is the first of several DLC pieces set to release for the smash JRPG hit Final Fantasy 15. Unfortunately it doesn’t set a good tone for the following DLC. It should be noted this review may have some spoilers for the main game, so please stop reading if you haven’t finished the main game.
Episode Gladiolus starts with the gang from 15 sitting around a fire probing Gladio about what he was doing while he was absent from the group. This leads us into the main story, or what little story there actually is. Gladio is upset with his loss against Ravus, the High Commander of the enemies forces. Gladio decides he isn’t currently strong enough to protect Noctis and so he hooks up with Cor to undertake a trial. This trial is taken in ancient ruins that were discovered in the kingdom of Lucis about 30 years ago.
The purpose of the trial is to get through the ruins and face the Blademaster Gilgamesh, a near impossible task. The only other person to even survive meeting Gilgamesh is Cor, who barely escaped with his life. That’s about it as far is story is concerned, when you rest at fireplaces you get a chance to grill Cor on information about his past, but there’s very little and its all optional.
The combat here is mixed up in a nice way and was a welcome change from the main game. Gladio, unlike Noctis who could warp all over the battlefield, change his weapons on the fly and even cast magic, is stuck with just blocking and swinging his huge broadsword around. You really feel the weight of it all too. Despite Gladio being a hulking mass of muscles it’s actually more beneficial here to learn how to time your blocks, a perfect block will usually open up a window to perform massive damage. You’re not required to learn how to block properly, in fact you can get by with just spamming attack, but it’s a long gruelling process. Also unlike in the main game where you had your 3 companions to assist you Gladio only has Cor, and Cor doesn’t actually join you in each of the boss fights. If the game was actually hard this would have added a nice difficulty boost.
Gladio sports 2 additional options in combat aside from attack and defending, the first is a bar that fills as you land attacks and lets you perform a special move by pressing the associated button (Triangle for Playstation 4, Y for Xbox One) button. This move can be used constantly, but its a better idea to let the bar fill to access heavier hitting attacks. The other tool Gladio has is a rage bar, that fills by attacking and perfectly defending, the higher his “rage” is the more damage Gladio can deal out, and again because this is tied to defending its just another reason to learn that mechanic.
Its a huge pity these new mechanics are wasted on this DLC. The enemies are more or less the same, only a few variations, and that includes the bosses. There’s also not really any difficulty to be found here which is a big disappointment. It”s also really short, even taking my time to look around on my first run through still had me finishing with only an hour and 17 minutes on the clock. Subsequent runs have seen me cut my time down to about 25 to 30 minutes. You do unlock a timed score attack mode and an extra boss fight after completing the campaign, but these feel mostly like fluff and most people probably wont spend much extra time with them.
Ultimately there doesn’t feel like there’s much here for the money you spend. The game is short, there isn’t much story and unless you’re a perfectionist the score attack wont hold your interest for long. There are a few nice bonuses to be unlocked for the main game, but for people who are actually finished with the main game these wont offer to much.
Ultimately, unless you’re a die hard fan of Final Fantasy 15 who is hungry for more, I cant really recommend this DLC. Its one of the worst examples of content for money I’ve had the displeasure of experiencing. It also bears the sin of wasting all its good ideas in this junk-heap of an experience. I really hope this doesn’t set the bar for future pieces of content they are planning on releasing. This is poor form.