Final Fantasy XV, a Cup Noodles commercial cosplaying as a video game, got its first piece of downloadable content this week, and you really don’t need to bother with it. It’s short, straightforward, and—unless you’re particularly attached to Gladio—really boring.
Episode Gladiolus, which came out yesterday for $5, starts off with the Final Fantasy XV gang asking the question we’ve all wanted to ask since we finished Square’s latest role-playing game: Why does Gladio have two scars on his face instead of one? Then we cut to a flashback featuring Noctis’s brawny bodyguard, presumably during the time he inexplicably left the party during Chapter 6. Though Episode Gladiolus doesn’t explain why Gladio returned in a big spacesuit, the new DLC does tell us what he was doing while Noctis and the others hung out with Aranea.
As it turns out, Gladio was embarking upon trials (as you do) to fight Gilgamesh, a recurring Final Fantasy character who is usually played for laughs but in FFXV is extremely serious. To do this, Gladio meets up with Cor, a badass warrior who unceremoniously vanishes after the first eight chapters of Final Fantasy XV, and the pair descend into Gilgamesh’s lair so Gladio can prove himself worthy as Noctis’s sworn shield.
The next hour consists of walking in a straight line through a series of tunnels and hallways, fighting monsters along the way. Playing as Gladio feels drastically different than playing as Noctis, especially if, like me, you immediately ditched Noctis’s greatsword because it felt too heavy and unwieldy. With Gladio, you can’t switch to daggers or a short sword. You’re stuck with the worst weapon type in the game. You also can’t use warp, which is what made Final Fantasy XV’s combat feel so good in the first place.
What Gladio can do is A) use standard attacks to fill up an ability bar, allowing him to kill enemies with techniques like Tempest and Maelstrom; B) block attacks with a shield; and C) grab stone pillars from the ground and swing them at enemies, which is as fun as it sounds. You won’t need to pay too much attention to combat until you reach the final boss (spoilers: it’s Gilgamesh), who is surprisingly tough and requires lots of blocking to defeat.
If you’ve played Final Fantasy XV, you will not be too shocked by Episode Gladiolus, which has many of the same traits: gorgeous scenery, some great new music, and tons of frame rate drops (during one mini-boss fight the frame rate crawled so low that I thought it froze my game). Episode Gladiolus brings nothing new to the table, and I say this as someone who adored Final Fantasy XV. This DLC offers no character development or interesting decisions, and it’s not really that fun to play.
Actually, it does bring one new thing to the table. If you beat Episode Gladiolus, you’ll unlock this costume for the rest of Final Fantasy XV: