With the release last week of Episode Ignis, Final Fantasy 15’s season one DLC collection is now complete.  So is the season pass worth the money and does the DLC plug any holes in the Swiss cheese plot of the main game? Well, I’ve now played all of the DLC content released this year, so feel free to check out my opinions in the article below.

Episode Gladiolus – 28 March 2017

It’s a real shame that the first DLC to be released also happened to be the weakest. I’m sure many fans must have been put off by it. This first instalment feels shallow, in terms of both narrative and gameplay, being, essentially, just a long dungeon with multiple bosses and wave upon wave of enemies. The combat is even more button mashy than Noctis’ controls and doesn’t have any finesse. This episode doesn’t really add much to the game’s overall narrative or to Gladiolus’ character. In fact, it added more to NPC Cor’s backstory than it did to Gladiolus’, illuminating the reason behind his title of “The Immortal” which was about the only interesting element in it. In my opinion, there’s just not enough substance in this episode to be worth the price tag of paid DLC.

Episode Prompto – 27 June 2017

This instalment is a massive improvement over the last one. It adds both to Prompto’s backstory and his character and gives the player a new, if modest, open region to explore, which even comes with side quests and a new vehicle. The game mechanics are fun, if a little eccentric, and plays a lot more like a third person shooter than the FF15 mechanics you will have become used to. It also comes with the ability to take selfies with the enemy, which is actually quite fun.  It’s still only a couple of hours long but certainly has a lot more substance and replay value than the last DLC episode.

If you wondered what happened to Prompto after his tumble from the train in chapter 12 then all will be revealed here. However, despite the drastic improvement on the last DLC instalment, I still wouldn’t call it required play.  It was certainly an enjoyable experience and a welcomed delve into the perspective of one of FF15’s more quirky characters. However, as a warning, if you didn’t like Prompto in the main game then spending two hours with him, alone, may not be the best use of your money. I, personally, love Prompto, although his sunny disposition has been dampened a bit by the events in the DLC and the main game, so he’s not quite as full on as usual.

This section of narrative does shed some interesting light onto the nuances of his character, building on his pre-existing backstory in the free anime series. Unlike Episode Gladiolus, playing this instalment is unlikely to leave you feeling disappointed and considering the low price point, the content provided is decent value for money.

Comrades – Multiplayer Expansion – 15 November 2017

As titled, this instalment is less like an add-on and more like an expansion. It has the highest price point of all the season one DLC, at just under £16, but also has the most value for money, easily adding another 20 hours of gameplay. This largely self-contained narrative takes place between the end of chapter 13 and the start of chapter 14 in the main game. Breaking away from Noctis and Co, you instead create your own avatar using a surprisingly advanced character creation screen, allowing full customisation right down to facial features, clothing and birthplace.

When I heard a multiplayer expansion was coming, I assumed that it would just be a brief add-on, not a full standalone multiplayer experience. While it does have its problems, most notably the loading times, it’s a lot more polished than I expected. It’s set in a period of darkness, in the land of Lucis, and you play a Kingsglaive who, along with many others, battle to return the light to the darkening kingdom. This involves battling monsters for meteor shards to power the electric grid to light up the kingdom, pylon by pylon. It’s a clever design, where you unlock new missions and hubs with power you earn in battle. This is accompanied by a decent storyline, in which a lot of the NPCs from the main game make a reappearance. Even Gladiolus, Prompto and Ignis pop up on occasion.

There is a decent range of weapons and more importantly a number of different play styles, caster, healer, ranged, tank or even a hybrid, as your stats very much depend on how you grow the stats of your equipped weapons by upgrading. Weapons can be enhanced with items dropped during missions, and if they meet certain stat requirements on reaching their final customisation level then they will evolve into a new form with a new upgrade limit. The weapon upgrade system is really quite addictive, if not brilliantly well explained.

Missions come in a few different types from basic combat – defeat foes and then a boss – to escort quests and defend quests. Each require slightly differing tactics, and when you are playing with other players online, this can add a sense of depth and enjoyment to the usual FF15 formula. However, despite the decent volume of added content, it’s worth noting that the backbone of progression in Comrades is grinding, be that for weapon parts or for shards to power the next big node. For those who have completed the main game, the general mechanics will be familiar enough, as the controls of your Kingsglaive will feel similar to those of Noctis, at the start of the main game. You can warp to points, to enemies and, rather usefully, now to other players, too, to give them a quick heal in their time of need. There are no potions or phoenix downs in this section. I would assume because the power of those potions were imbued by Noctis, who isn’t around, this time. Instead, you have a heal spell at your disposal and you can pick up ingredients on the battlefield which can be used to recover when downed, just like a phoenix down. However, if you don’t have one equipped then you are down for good. Your friends won’t be able to save you.

I’ve had great fun playing this expansion. However, if you bought and played the main game and it didn’t really interest you then it’s unlikely this piece of DLC will win you over, as while it does add to the main mechanics, it’s still recognisably FF15. Combat, in a lot of instances, does generally dissolve into button mashing with the occasional dodge thrown in. However, this is clearly the main feature of the first season’s DLC and really does give the season pass some much needed value for money. If you enjoyed the main game but really wished that you could play it with your friends rather than the fixed party of NPCs then this DLC might just be for you.

Episode Ignis – 14 December 2017

Released only last week, this is the final DLC instalment this year and Square Enix chose a good one to end on. While Episode Prompto was good, Episode Ignis just seems to have a better a mix of everything. It’s set in Altissia during the events in chapter 9 of the main game. Noctis is in danger and Ignis gets separated from Prompto and Gladiolus as he rushes to help and has no choice but to go it alone.

The episode starts fast with a brief tutorial on how to use Ignis’ elemental daggers which allow him to adapt his attacks for single to multiple enemies and to easily take advantage of an enemy’s elemental weakness. These can be switched quickly during battle. Early on you also get access to a hook glove which he can use to launch himself up onto the roof tops. This opens the map out for exploration within the first 10 minutes of play. Exploring the ruined city of Altissia and liberating districts from enemy hands is quite good fun on its own. There’s also a nice array of pick ups, awaiting those who take the time to explore which give the activity added purpose. The level does become more linear in the second half, but by that time the story is ramping up and the momentum building.

I’ll confess that Ignis has long been my favourite and I’m glad that his section has been given a little more love than, particularly, Episode Gladiolus. However, one thing I was disappointed in was the lack of a childhood back story for Ignis. We know both Prompto and Gladiolus’ start in life, but all we get for Ignis is that he was assigned as Noctis’ retainer at a young age and asked to “stand by him”. Even seeing a young version of him is artfully dodged, all you see is his arm. In any other game, I would assume such an omission had a reason behind it. In this case, I think it’s just another Swiss cheese hole, which is a shame because great efforts have been taken by the development team to patch the game, in line with player feedback, with decent chunks of free DLC content added to plug the plot holes. However, of the three DLC episodes, this was by far the most enjoyable. Ignis has the best controls of the three and the most engaging storyline which does enhance the understanding of the main plot and the way certain NPCs act later in the game.

Again, it’s only a short section taking between 1 to 2 hours to complete. It really is best described as short but sweet. Like the previous Episode, the cost is low to reflect the length, and I do feel that this one is worth a play. It seems to do the best job, so far, at tying up loose ends in the main game’s plot including building on the main nemesis, described as weak, in terms of identifiable motive and character, by many of those who have completed the main plot.

In Summary

Overall, the value of the season pass is mainly to be found in the Multiplayer Expansion – Comrades. The DLC episodes are all quite short and don’t on their own make the cost of the season pass worth it. If you enjoy multiplayer, mission based games and enjoyed the main game then the season pass may well be a worthy investment. However, if you are interested in game lore, alone, then I would suggest that you just invest a few pounds in Episode Prompto and Episode Ignis, both of which do have significant narrative value. Investing in Episode Gladiolus is not really advised unless you like killing wave after wave of enemies with endless button mashing, occasionally punctuated by a boss to kill with yet more button mashing or unless you have completionist tendencies.

A new season of DLC has already been announced for 2018 with the first instalment announced as Episode Ardyn, so consider this a “to be continued…”