After being teased at the end of the first DLC pack, Episode Gladiolus, the second premium piece of DLC for the long-awaited Final Fantasy XV is finally here. Its predecessor was much maligned for being short, clumsy and not very imaginative, and they weren’t just my thoughts. Does the second piece offer more, or is it as ‘Prompt’ in its length?
Without even starting the DLC, there is a feeling that this one will offer more because of the character it centres around. Prompto has all the characteristics of that one friend who tried their hardest to fit in and would seemingly agree with everyone’s opinion no matter how diverse. And while this is true, the main game offers plenty of explanation for that. As a result he quickly became a fan-favourite due to his nature and demeanour covering up his internal struggle and demons within. The exact opposite then of Gladiolus, whose only emotion was ‘hard’ and only reason for leaving the group midway through their journey was to ‘Git Gud Skrub’.
The DLC opens with Prompto falling off the train during Chapter 11 of the main game. Following precedent, the DLC fills in the plot hole left out from the final release. Prompto spends days battling the elements, but the snowfall gets too much for him and collapses. He awakens, but only to find himself trapped somewhere that seems strangely familiar.
Without going into too much detail, which would then spoil a major plotline in the Final Fantasy XV Universe (in not just the main game, but with the Brotherhood prequel anime as well), Prompto must escape a factory… but he requires the help of an old ‘frenemy’ to do so.
During this daring escape, Prompto needs to ride down a hill on a snowmobile in a set-piece very much like VII’s snowboarding. It handles about as well as the PS1 classic too, and will leave you frustrated long before you complete the Time Trials available after the DLC is complete.
Provided you manage to navigate the snowmobile to the bottom, the DLC then opens up from the corridors of the factory into a more open-world scenario, complete with side missions to undertake. These only appear at certain times of the day but, when complete, provide you with CPUs to help you upgrade the snowmobile. Sadly, taking full charge of the snowmobile is tricky. I keep coming back to the controls, but it handles so badly that any slight hillock completely throws the camera off course. It’s enough to give you travel sickness.
Prompto was the firearms expert of the group in the main game, and continues to be so in the DLC. This turns the action-oriented gameplay on its head again as things now becomes more like a third-person shooter. Stealth, cover mechanics and a variety of weapons come into play, but these are offset by fiddly controls once again. Left bumper to aim and right bumper to shoot should be moved down to the triggers, like 90% of other shooters on Xbox One, but these are the controls copied over for attacks in the main game where the control issues fundamentally apply.
This isn’t the first time that Final Fantasy has done a shooter. But unlike the shooter/RPG hybrid, Dirge of Cerberus, this is an out and out shooter, within an action-RPG. It is a very basic shooter, and you will find your blade far more effective for dispatching enemies quickly, but a shooter nonetheless.
As with the previous DLC episode, Episode Prompto includes another guest composer, who this time is Naoshi Mizuta, a contributor to the underrated score for Final Fantasy XIII-2. It should therefore come as no surprise that the music is of a high calibre once again.
Episode Prompto’s ending is high octane with a couple of bosses that are amongst some of the more exciting in all of Final Fantasy XV. It’s another short one overall at around two hours, but it is clear that lessons have been learnt from the laborious Episode Gladiolus, with far more variation and a character that has a backstory worth telling. That’s not to mention the return of some of the more interesting supporting cast. Fiddly controls let the experience down, but this is still a marked improvement, and for those that did not pick up the Season Pass then Episode Prompto is definitely worth splashing out for. Even more so as it includes the first details for the next piece of DLC, Episode Ignis.