Reviewed on: Playstation 4. Copy supplied by publisher.
Releasing in November 2016, Final Fantasy XV is the latest numbered entry in the hugely popular RPG series, and in the opinion of many also one of the best. A true departure from the usual format of the Final Fantasy games, XV saw the return to a massive, open world and player freedom, with all manner of gameplay features that meshed together to produce one of the best games of 2016, and even since.
Already a huge game in its own right, Square Enix always planned to flesh out the game’s story and world, and it planned to do this with a combination of free and paid DLC. Free additions changed various elements of the story, adding new cut scenes, changing chapters, and generally giving players more reason to return, and paid DLC focused on revealing specific events the main story out of the box didn’t cover due to the game being focused on Noctis.
These events all revolved around Noctis’ three friends, Gladiolus, Prompto, and Ignis. During the main story, there are very noticeable times when each of the three supporting characters either go missing, or end up with some battle scars that went unexplained. Some may call these plot holes, and bad story telling, but these events were always to be revealed via DLC as extra content.
Now, deliberately shaving off content and creating plot holes in the main game just to get more money from your fans isn’t exactly a nice move, and I’m not going to try and defend this. I thoroughly believe purposely cutting out important story content of a game people have paid full price for only to sell it back to them at a later date for more cash is abhorrent. There’s just no defending it. However, it is what it is, and if you don’t mind the extra cost, the DLC adds a few hours of extra content – content that fills in the gaps of the story, and offers more insight into the characters of Noctis’ friends. Each focuses on their own trials and tribulations, reveals more about their personality, and paints a more detailed picture of guys who share about the same amount of screen time as the game’s central hero.
Dare I say it, Ignis’ DLC even makes you like him.
The three DLCs begin with Episode Gladiolus. Focusing on the muscle-bound brawler of the group when he leaves the party for a period during the game all of a sudden. As the DLC reveals, Galdiolus has a destiny to fulfil in order to live up to his role as protector of the King, and like his father before him, he must run a deadly gauntlet to prove his worthiness. Accompanied by Ruvus, he faces a combat trial against the legendary warrior, Gilgamesh. This DLC introduces a new control scheme more akin to a standard Devil May Cry hack and slasher, and it makes for a welcome change to the more tactical combat of the main game.
Gladio’s new moves fit well within the confines of the FFXV world and feel, and although very short, the DLC is fun, gives Gladiolus some extra moves, and has some decent boss fights. It adds a new dimension to the otherwise fairly uninteresting, gruff character, and is a decent start to the DLC trio.
Episode Prompto is a big step up in terms of content and story. Focusing on the events following Prompto’s expulsion from the train journey to Gralea at the hands of Noctis, who was tricked by Ardyn. Prompto ends up surviving alone in the frozen wilds. Seemingly rescued by a Magitek patrol, the episode again changes up the formula, focusing on Prompto’s use of guns, and making combat more about ranged battle, and also introducing a little stealth. Unlike Gladio’s episode, which is very linear and small, Prompto’s story features both linear sections and a small open world area, complete with optional side missions and a new snow-bike vehicle. It’s a much better episode in general than Gladio’s, as it’s more open, has more content, and Prompto’s story is much more interesting, with a major revelation and plot twist that greatly affects Prompto and the story as a whole.
The final DLC focuses on Ignis, and recently released just before the 2017 holidays. Of all three DLCs, this is the most impressive, and clearly had the most development time. Ignis was always going to be a hard sell, as his no-nonsense demeanour and overly-serous nature didn’t win him any fans. This DLC, however, will probably change this, as it spends a good deal of time on his personality, his total, unwavering devotion and loyalty to Noctis, and shows just how far he’ll go to protect his King, and his friend.
Events take place during the main story trip to Altissia, and explains the events that lead to Ignis’ difficulties following said visit (avoiding spoilers, obviously). It’s by far the most fleshed out DLC, and features Gladiolus-style combat with, open areas, optional goals, and some pretty impressive set pieces and boss fights, culminating in by far the most story-impacting finale of the lot.
Ignis’ combat is great, as he uses magical daggers that can switch to different elements at will. Fire allows him to do a lot of damage to a single target, Ice does wide-range attacks to damage groups, and lightning allows Ignis to rush around the battlefield at high speeds. These skills need to be mixed up depending on the foe, and Ignis even gets a hookshot-style grappling hook to scale buildings at one point.
As with all the DLCs, it’s very driven, and even the open areas do heard you to the next section. It’s also pretty short, but enjoyable, and the development of Ignis as a character is much-needed, and handled well.
All three story DLCs fit very well into the events of the main game, and they do what they set out to do, and that’s flesh out each of Noctis’ friends, and expand upon the FFXV world and lore. They’re all good fun, and come with various challenge modes and extras to help fill them out a bit, and add replay value.
There’s no escaping that each episode is very short, though, easily beaten in a single sitting, and the events in each really are essentially to the main story, a fact you’ll appreciate once you’ve experienced them. Selling them for extra money to complete the story, which in many people’s opinion was one of the major problems of the main game, is just a poor decision, and a greedy one at that.
Of course, we can’t forget the multiplayer add-on, Comrades. Delayed and eventually released late last year, this mode takes place, like the other DLCs, parallel to the main story, several months after Noctis sets off for Gralea.
Players take the role of a Kingsglaive soldier, created from a limited creation tool at the outset, and the game plays in a similar manner to a sort of cut-down Monster Hunter. Don’t expect a large, open world MMO. Instead Lestallum is used as a central hub that you can improve to add more shops and features, and you accept missions from NPCs. These missions send you to a specific isolated location to do battle with certain foes, before returning to the hub city.
It’s a decent addition that focuses on combat, and building up the hub section and adding more content, such as being able to buy better weapons, outfits, and so on. Players can form groups and team up to take on monsters and foes, and it’s okay, if limited fun. It’s certainly not the MMO I was expecting that would make use of the large, open world of FFXV, and as another paid DLC, in my opinion, doesn’t add enough to warrant the extra cost, but for fans still hankering for more FFXV, it’s a good bit of DLC to go for.
Overall, the paid DLC for FFXV is important in terms of the story and characters, and expands upon the core gameplay of the game. Each adds in new features, but with such short play times, these features aren’t really given all that much time to shine or develop into anything meaningful.
As essential as the story element may be, I can’t really justify the additional cost of all the DLC. If you have the season pass, you’ll get it all anyway, but if you don’t, or you’ve yet to buy FFXV itself, I’d strongly suggest you wait for the inevitable Game of the Year edition, and get it all as a single bundle.