Final Fantasy XV: Episode Gladiolus Review
Final Fantasy XV’s first DLC has burst onto the scene like a car full of spiky-haired anime protagonists. In episode Gladiolus you play as, you guessed it, Gladio. This first of three planned character focused story expansions fills in the gap in which Gladio temporarily leaves the party for some personal business. We found out in early teasers for the DLC that Final Fantasy XV’s resident muscle head left to take on none other than recurring Final Fantasy baddie, Gilgamesh.
Episode Gladiolus opens with Noctis and pals sitting around a campfire in yet another cleverly disguised cup noodle commercial. The gang proceeds to ask Gladio how it was he came by that scar on his face. Those who played base-game will know that Gladio’s face has a large new scar when he returns from his mysterious vacation. So, Gladio tells the story of the trials of Gilgamesh, and his quest to become a true shield to the king. Gladio is joined by Cor, and must fight multiple enemies in order to challenge the Blademaster himself and gain the power to truly aid Noctis.
Combat feels like a significant departure from good old Final Fantasy XV. For one Gladio is locked into using a single weapon, his two-handed greatsword. I mostly shied away from heavy weapons in FFXV, they felt too slow and cumbersome, but Gladio’s movements with the bulky weapon feel faster than that of Noctis, making it manageable. The biggest change has to be that Gladio can’t teleport, one of the biggest staples of combat in FFXV. Gladio can also block with a shield rather than just dodge, a well-timed guard will result in a prompt for a powerful counter-attack. As combos are strung together a meter towards the bottom will fill up allowing Gladio to use some of his more powerful attacks like Tempest. The rage meter which builds as you take or block damage will raise Gladio’s overall damage output.
Some strange design choices stand out to me on Gladio’s solo outing. For one, most of the enemies look like Dark Souls characters, the same could be said for the design of Gilgamesh himself. It isn’t a bad game to draw from but the ragged skeleton soldiers, and imagery of swords sticking out of the ground make it clear where the folks over at Square Enix are drawing inspiration from.
Episode Gladiolus isn’t an amazing edition to Final Fantasy XV, but for those looking for a quick more character-focused experience or just another reason to play some more Final Fantasy its five dollar asking price is worth another visit to this world. Hopefully, Episodes Ignis and Prompto impress a bit more.
- New enemies
- Answers questions raised by the original game
- Changes to combat feel strange but good
- Too short
- Combat is unchallenging
- Plot feels lacking