DLC Review: Final Fantasy XV – Episode Gladiolus

Final Fantasy XV fans, the first proper DLC release has arrived! It’s time to dust off your copy of XV and dive into Episode Gladiolus! That’s just what I did, and I’m here to provide you with all the details.

For those that may not know, Episode Gladiolus is the first chapter of Paid DLC content for Final Fantasy XV. It is included with the Season Pass for the game, or is available for about $5.00 on it’s own. The chapter focuses on the character of Gladiolus and takes place about half-way through the main XV storyline. (There’s a part of the main game where Gladiolus departs the company of the other heroes to attend to some “personal business”  – This DLC is that business.)

The story here focuses on Gladio as he undertakes a special set of trials with his mentor, Cor. The actual content itself is rather short, providing players with maybe an hour’s worth of busy work. Essentially, you control Gladio as he ventures into a secret Kingsglaive Proving Ground to do battle with the mysterious “Blade Master”.  Is he is able to defeat the Blade Master in combat, he will have proved himself worthy to hold the title “Shield of the King”.

Despite being rather short, and as some have criticized, “pointless”, I found the DLC to be overall entertaining. The backstory was interesting enough and being able to experience combat from Gladio’s point of view was an interesting change of pace. For the most part, this chapter controls just like the main game, with the exception the combat mechanics. Gladio’s combat is very “hack and slash” based. When controlling Gladiolus, you have three main moves; Strike, Block or Dodge. Each of these will, over time, fill a “rage meter”. Once full, Gladio can execute special attacks, dealing massive damage. The trick to the whole thing is learning how to effectively parry attacks and strike your opponent while they are vulnerable – then getting out of the way before they can counter attack.

As you progress through the story, there a number of unique boss battles. Each boss has their own strength and weaknesses. But the real challenge here is survival. Gladiolus has a limited number of health restoratives at his disposal. New ones can be found by exploring every nook and cranny of the dungeon, but even then – the number of potions are finite. So, you will have to learn to use them sparingly or you risk facing the final boss with very little to help you .

Upon defeating the Blade Master, Gladio will receive a special weapon and skill that carry over to the main game. Also, two additional features of the DLC will also become accessible. The first, is something called Score Attack. This is essentially a timed version of Episode Gladiolus. The point here is play through the scenario again and see how many points you can rack up before either the timer runs out or you complete the scenario…  rather pointless,  but maybe that’s your sort of thing. Whatever.  If you can manage to rack up a score of 500,000 points, you will unlock a special costume for Gladio in the main game.

Next up, is something called the Final Trial. This is an optional sparring battle between Gladiolus and Cor and certainly the most challenging battle in this DLC package. I pride myself on being able to defeat nearly every optional boss or challenge in the Final Fantasy series,  but so far I have not managed to best Cor in battle.  But… this content is still fresh – and I haven’t given up!

Finally, one other thing worthy of note is that this DLC was released alongside the FFXV patch 1.07. This patch also includes the long awaited “Final Fantasy XV – Chapter 12 verse 2”.  A short optional addition to the game that provides more information behind the infamous 13th chapter of the main title. This add-on ties in nicely with Episode Gladiolus as it also allows players to control him, and see the events of the game’s 13th chapter from his perspective. Not to mention, it fills in a number of plot points that have left players confused since the game’s original release.

Overall Impression:  A short but sweet add-on to Final Fantasy XV. This DLC provides exactly what was advertised, a story focusing on the character of Gladiolus. It integrates well with the main game, and provides a few optional challenges of it’s own.  Casual fans may not get much out of it, but those who are dedicated to XV should find enough here to hold them over.

Value: Yes. This DLC is very short. But for a price of $5.00, I find it hard to complain. For that amount you get about an hour of single player content, as well as some optional challenges to keep you occupied.

DLC Review: Final Fantasy XV – Holiday Pack

With the release of the Moogle Chocobo Carnival, the full contents of the Holiday DLC pack are now available to owners of Final Fantasy XV. So here, is the first of what will be many DLC reviews for FFXV.

This chunk of downloadable content is a bit odd and not really what I expected to see from XV’s first optional update.  First, let’s talk about the two different versions of this add-on, then we can dive into the contents. To start, there’s both a free version and a paid version (available to season pass owners). Both versions come with a handful of useful/game enhancing items, a vanity costume and a pass to a new special gameplay mode: The Moogle Chocobo Carnival.

The paid version includes several more DLC items, a second vanity costume, and some exclusive photo frames for Prompto’s pictures.

The add-on items are nice, but include nothing that really change the way the game is played. The real meat of this update is the Moogle Chocobo Carnival.

The Carnival is actually a new mode of gameplay that is accessible from the “Special” option on the main menu. It is essentially a solo mini-chapter. During this mode, you play as Noctis as he explores the fun filled streets of Altissia during the festival. Basically, the goal here is to collect “mog-medallions” that can be exchanged for prizes. These prizes range from exclusive vanity items (car decals, etc) to useful consumables. Medallions are earned by participating the carnival activities and doing various festival-related quests. Anything earned here will carry over to the main game.

This makes the carnival into a useful tool for players who have not yet completed the game, but it seems rather pointless for players that have already finished the main scenario. Perhaps, my opinion on this will change once we see how other DLC plans pan out. One big question remaining, is the inclusion of a special key item called the “Dream Egg”. This item is obtainable if you manage to collect enough Mog Medallions and attend a special fireworks session at the end of the carnival. Popular opinion with fans is that this egg may play a larger role in future DLC.

Finally, it is important to note that the Moogle Chocobo Carnival content is only available for a limited time. After 2/20/2017, this playable content will be removed from the game. It is unclear if there are plans to bring this back in the future, so players may wish to jump on this content before its  gone and earn that egg!

The Holiday Pack does not include any new trophies or achievements.

All in all, this DLC seems to add little to the overall game at large, but it can be a fun distraction and does feature some welcome items and enhancements. SE’s decision to make the majority of this content available for free is a big plus as well.

Overall Impression:  A curious choice for a first DLC release. The vanity and practical items are welcome. The carnival is quirky, but fun. Unclear how this will fit into the game at large. It’s unclear why SE decided to make a large portion of this DLC into a time-sensitive feature. It seems counter-productive to spend the time developing something like this carnival only to remove it from the game 30-days later.

Value: This DLC comes with both a paid a free option. Having it included with the season pass makes this a no-brainer. Non season pass holders can also enjoy the free version of the holiday pack.

Review: Final Fantasy XV – A King’s Tale

For those of you that pre-ordered your copy of Final Fantasy XV from Gamestop, you may have noticed a download code on your receipt for a bonus game. (If you didn’t notice this code, go fish your receipt out of the trash, quick! The code is for something called A King’s Tale. A King’s Tail is a mini, 16-bit style beat-em-up based on characters and monsters from Final Fantasy XV.  It’s a simple little game, and one that’s nothing at all like the actual Final Fantasy XV. But, for a price tag of $0.00,  you can’t beat it.

The premise of the title is simple, in A King’s Tale, Prince Noctis is still a child. One night his father, King Regis, tells him a fantastic bedtime story about an epic battle against legions of monsters. The “bedtime story” makes up the actual gameplay. Once you have completed the main story, Prince Noctis finally goes to sleep. This unlocks a slew of optional Dream Battles.

The gameplay is best described as an old arcade-style brawler. IE: Double Dragon. But much more fast paced. To start, King Regis only has limited abilities but as you continue to play and progress through the stages, more and more attack options become unlocked. As you play, you’ll find that certain monsters are weak to certain types of attacks. So you learn to tailor your strategy to match whatever you’re fighting. The tricky part is that you’re often attacked by multiple enemies at once, so you have to learn to switch up your assault on the fly.

Once you completed the main scenario, you unlock what are known as Dream Battles. These are short rounds of combat that also include an optional goal. To complete the battle properly (and earn a gold star), you need to achieve whatever the objective is – for example, complete the battle without using magic.

On the surface, A King’s Tale seems like a very simple little freebie. But, there’s actually a surprising amount of thought that’s gone into the game. The game comes complete with it’s own chiptune style soundtrack and even has achievements/trophies.

The worst thing about the game is that it is not available to the general public. Currently, only players that pre-ordered the game from specific retailers have access. I hope that after some time goes by, this decision is reversed.  Until that day arrives, if you’re one of the lucky bunch of players who can get your hands on A King’s Tale, it’s certainly worth a look. My only complaint about the title is a lack of multiplayer. This would be the perfect game for some co-op, even it was only local with a second controller.

 

Difficulty: Hard –  Looking like a retro title isn’t the only thing “old school” about A King’s Tale. The game also has a “Nintendo-Hard” level of difficulty.  This is especially true for the final battle and several of the Dream Battles. Progress is saved from stage to stage, but occasionally, the battles themselves can get very frantic. Those who are easily frustrated or not familiar with this type of game may not find this to their liking.

Story: This game could loosely be considered a prequel to Final Fantasy XV, as it takes place when Noctis is a young boy. But, the storyline here is not critical to the XV universe at large. Regardless, it’s cute and does provide a bit of nice window-dressing to the already large FFXV universe.

Originality: Years ago, games like this were a dime a dozen, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen a title like this so it was quite a refreshing experience. I’ve certainly never played a Final Fantasy title in this genre.

Soundtrack: Classic retro era chiptunes! The music here sounds like something right out of Double Dragon. It’s simply amazing!

Fun: I used to enjoy these games immensely when I was young.  So, I personally had a blast. But I can imagine that fans attracted to Final Fantasy titles as a whole may not appreciate this type of game. The difficulty level can also result in some frowns from younger players, I imagine.

Graphics: The graphics here are on par with a title you might find on the old SNES or in a retro arcade. Cartoonish, 16-bit sprites. But, the game is tweaked for modern consoles and looks great in HD.

Playcontrol: The controls are easy to grasp and very responsive. No real issues.

Downloadable Content:  N/A

Mature Content: Cartoon violence

Value:  This title is provided for free as a preorder perk for Final Fantasy XV. It doesn’t get any better than free!

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 – For a free title, it’s difficult to be picky. I suppose my biggest complaint would be a lack of local multiplayer. The difficulty level may turn off some modern players, but just like any retro title; practice makes perfect.

Available on: PSN and Xbox Live (DLC code only)

 

Other Reviews In This Series:

IIIIIIIVVVI VIIVIIIIXXX2XIXII XIIIXIII 2XIII Lightning Returns XIV – XV 

IV: After YearsVII: Dirge of CerberusVII: Crisis CoreVII: Advent Children (Movie)XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s TaleXV: Brotherhood (Anime)XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia – Dissidia 012

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Dimensions – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight