Hands-On: Final Fantasy XV: Episode Gladiolus

If you’ve already played through most of Final Fantasy XV, you’ll remember the part of the game where Gladiolus, a member of your party, leaves the group to handle some personal business. Later in the game when he returns, he has another scar across his face but he doesn’t share what happened during his absence.

The other members of your party also take mysterious sabbaticals from the game’s main mission throughout the game with each being revealed through separate DLC episodes. The first one, Episode Gladiolus, launches on March 28 and we got to go hands-on with the game for about 15 minutes during PAX East.

The episode begins with the fellas sitting around a campfire asking Gladiolus about the new scar on his face. He says that the scar came from his battle with “Blademaster” and the rest of the guys give a “who?” type of look. Gladiolus then goes into the story of what happened.

The story seems to be a personal or selfish one for Gladiolus. It doesn’t contribute to the larger scale battle or danger that the world is currently in and is more of a quick revenge story for the character. Gladiolus is contacted by an old associate named Cor who offers his assistance in battling the Blademaster, whose real name is Gilgamesh.

Before facing Gilgamesh, however, Gladiolus will have to go through a number of trials with a handful of bosses. Going through the trials gives Galdiolus the abilities to defeat Gilgamesh. While the gameplay is similar to that of Noctis in the main game, Gladiolus is stronger with his melee attacks. He can dodge and block and has a “Glaive” ability that allows him to pull off different moves like spinning with his sword slicing enemies near him or slamming his sword into the ground to cause a mini-earthquake. The Glaive ability meter charges up as he attacks and blocks attacks. In the 15 minutes I played, Gladiolus didn’t have any type of magic attacks but was able to pick up and use Potions. He was also able to grab stone columns from the environment and swing them around to bash enemies in his path. The stone columns came in real handy when taking out a couple of bosses.

The episode is a linear experience lasting about two hours, depending on how good you are. The episode looks and plays just as good the main game, there just isn’t an open world, a car, or any type of shopping. We’re not sure how many trials Gladiolus has to go through before facing his final battle with Gilgamesh, but in the 15 minutes I played, I was able to go through two trials. Once Gilgamesh is defeated, the episode ends with a special teaser trailer for the next episode, Episode Prompto, which launches in June.