Final Fantasy XV had a jam packed 2017 for DLC. Despite the game’s initial 2016 release, newer content is still being created and released even after players have ended their journey with Noctis and his crew. The most anticipated DLC fans of the game have been looking forward to are the companion episodes that dug deeper into key moments in the game that affected Noctis’ friends solely: Gladiolus, Prompto, and Ignis. With all three episodes now available to download and play, I review and rank each DLC episode dedicated to these lovable bros.
The first companion DLC to be released for FFXV was Episode Gladiolus. This episode seeks to explain why and where Gladiolus has been when he temporarily breaks off from the group after facing a crushing defeat at the hands of Ravus Nox Fleuret in the earlier part of the main game. The episode details Gladiolus’ desire to undergo the Trial of Gilgamesh to prove whether or not he’s still strong enough to be deemed Noctis’ protector or “the King’s Shield.” As you go through the trial as Gladiolus, you’re also assisted by Cor Leonis, the legendary captain of the Crownsguard.
This being the first of three standalone episodes, Episode Gladiolus sets the stage of what to expect from the remaining companion episodes—getting to know the unique fighting styles of each character, a recognizable supporting character from the main game who helps your companion on their solo journeys, and the hopes and fears they have for themselves, as well as for their friend and future king Noctis.
Initial reactions to Episode Gladiolus have been largely disappointing. The general consensus is that our large and beefy muscle of the group has the weakest episode DLC debut. Upon playing and beating the episode myself, I have to agree with this overall opinion. While I enjoyed using Gladiolus’ brute strength to lift pillars bigger than his biceps or beating down enemies with his heavy sword, the overall story or personal motivation Gladiolus has to go on his personal journey is largely boring and uninspiring. In my opinion, it doesn’t provide any new revelations about Gladiolus that you aren’t able to deduce from the main story itself. I also don’t think Gladiolus underwent any sort of emotional or character evolution, at least not in the same way you’ll see in Episodes Prompto and Ignis, which I will get into shortly.
Overall, Episode Gladiolus is a mostly forgettable experience that doesn’t add much to the character’s development.
Reviewer Rating: 8.0/10
The next companion to have their turn in the DLC spotlight is everyone’s favorite group photographer Prompto. If Episode Gladiolus lacked emotional depth and a reason to care about his journey away from the group, Episode Prompto revs up the emotional impact to 11 and makes Prompto’s origin story far more interesting and shocking to learn about.
Episode Prompto starts sometime after Prompto gets pushed off the moving train bound for Gralea by Noctis in the main story, thanks to antagonist Ardyn’s manipulation. Much of the episode has Prompto surviving the harsh cold and snowy landscape of Niflheim until he eventually ends up in a magitek production facility. Joined by Aranea Highwind, Prompto’s journey goes to dark places before he emerges on the other side changed but no less the hopeful and happy-go-lucky friend who tags along with Noctis on his road trip.
I found the second episode of the companion trio to be my favorite to play through for the story and additional character background you get on Prompto. Anyone who has played the game knows Prompto is the kind of character who doesn’t seem to let anything get the better of him, even in the darkest of situations. To see Prompto go through the personal struggles he endures, both in the past and present, it adds a whole other layer to his character you just don’t expect but greatly enhances the complexity of his personality. He’s more than just a smiling, photo snapping guy with great hair. Prompto has very deep insecurities and legitimate fears that further humanizes him. He’s one example of a character who exhibits a lot going on underneath the surface than you’re led to believe.
My only complaint, and this is just me personally, with the episode is the combat. Prompto’s fighting style allows you to switch between an arsenal of firearms, from handguns to sniper rifles. He can even use melee weapons. The combat plays very much like a third-person shooter, and as I’m not all that adept with third-person shooters in general, Prompto’s fighting style is incredibly hard for me to get used to. But for anyone who is very skilled with this kind of combat will find a lot to like in this episode.
Episode Prompto carries the emotional weight and additional development I look for in a DLC that’s designed to help you not only understand certain key plot moments that take place away from the main story, but also helps you learn more about the people who mean so much to Noctis.
Reviewer Rating: 9.5/10
The final DLC in the companion trilogy is the most recently released Episode Ignis. The reserved and composed advisor to Noctis follows in the same footsteps as Episode Prompto but takes things even further. What’s different about this DLC compared to the previous two is the three different endings you can get in Episode Ignis, or what’s known as the true, the bad, and the alternate ending. This episode can also be seen as the one most fans of FFXV have been waiting for, which is discovering how Ignis loses his eyesight.
Episode Ignis occurs during the climactic point in the main story where the summoning of Leviathan goes terribly wrong and the city of Altissia is being ravaged by the god’s wrath. Ignis gets separated from Gladiolus and Prompto, who are on city evacuation duty, and pushes forward alone to reach the altar where Noctis and Lunafreya are. The most surprising character support you get in this episode is none other than Ravus, who joins forces with Ignis to reach the altar together and fight off swarms of magitek troops overtaking the city.
If you thought Episode Prompto is filled with shocking character revelations, it’s nothing compared to the information you learn in Episode Ignis. It’s also the only companion episode that directly ties into the main story of the game and is vital in understanding certain plot threads. Episode Ignis will not only fill in those gaps left out of the main story, but also make you rethink what you thought you knew about the pivotal half of the game leading up to its finale. Like Episode Prompto, there’s no shortage of emotional beats and angst Ignis undergoes as well. Underneath the poise, sophistication, and seriousness residing behind those bespectacled eyes is a man whose loyalty will go through great lengths to protect his friend and king—even at the cost of his own life.
Playing through all three episodic DLCs and being acquainted with the different fighting styles of each companion character, my absolute favorite is Ignis’. His use of Spelldaggers, which is imbued with magical elements you can switch to at any point in between combat—fire, ice, and lightning—is a beautiful light display that’s hard to take your eyes off of. Out of the three guys, I find Ignis’ combat style very fluid and graceful, almost like a dance and befitting of the classiest guy of the group.
While your first run with Episode Ignis only allows you to play through the true ending, playing the bad and the alternate endings after beating the episode the first time is an interesting experience to witness all the varying branches the story could have gone. The episode is an incredible ride from start to finish.
Reviewer Rating: 10/10
This may be the end of the companion episodes of Noctis’ friends and protectors, but there’s still more character DLC episodes to come with Episode Ardyn having his chance at telling his story later in the year. Ranking the first three episodes is a no-brainer:
- Episode Ignis
- Episode Prompto
- Episode Gladiolus
No matter what your opinion may be on these three episodes, one overarching theme that connects these episodes together is the guys’ unwavering loyalty and love for their friend and king. Their struggles and journeys may be different, but they always end up at the same destination—brothers in arms and in life forever.
Have you played any of the companion DLCs? Which ones are your favorite? Which ones do you like the least? Let me know in the comments!