One of the best demos at PAX East this year was the upcoming Episode Gladiolus’ DLC for Final Fantasy XV (FFXV). Initially, I thought it would just be more FFXV (which I don’t have a problem with at all). I was wrong about this, though, as Gladiolus’ chapter gives the game a whole new feel.
Since we are playing as the muscle-bound tank-type, it’s suitable that we learn how to play him in that way (as opposed to Noctis’ quick, dodging movements). To reinforce that role, Gladiolus’ chapter features a new mechanic called Rage. You build your Rage by blocking and taking damage, and as you build rage, your damage multiplier increases. This is the perfect way to get players in the mindset of Gladiolus, who constantly had to be our meat shield in FFXV.
Accompanied the Rage ability is the normal three-bar build mechanic that was present in FFXV, where Gladiolus has abilities that he can use as he builds bars (via fighting). One, for example, does a large attack on a single enemy, while another can do an area attack.
One of the most delicious moments of combat in the episode, and one that captured his style well, was the ability to pick up stone columns and beat the life out of monsters. Could it be any more catered to Gladiolus’ high-powered character? Also, there’s nothing more satisfying than cleaning out a third of something’s health with a swing of a stone column. Unfortunately, they only last so long, and you can’t walk very quickly with them.
Since you are on your own with Gladiolus, I was worried about the Phoenix Down issue. Players who have experienced FFXV will know that when a character goes down (0 HP), you enter a downed state where other party members could get you up or you could use a phoenix down. The only catch was that you would also lose some of your total HP in the process (depending on how quickly you were assisted/used the phoenix down). In this chapter, if you do go down, you can use a phoenix down and recover your HP. I was a bit relieved because the thought of being on my own and mastering blocking at the same time meant I would be down a lot. I didn’t like the thought of facing off against the boss with a tenth of my potential.
While fighting, you can also enjoy the new heavy rock music in the chapter. It is quite catchy, and a perfect anthem to his character. The whole chapter is wonderfully put together for his specific personality and it made me excited to see how the FFXV team will put together Ignis and Prompto’s chapters. From what I can tell with Gladiolus’, they put design above all else, and made sure players felt like they were in Gladiolus’ boots.
So, look forward to the release on March 28th and get ready to smash some faces in!