The Shield of the King gets his own chapter.
Final Fantasy XV follows Prince Noctis and his entourage all over Lucis, but if you want to spend more time with the "best boys," your best bet is to play the upcoming character DLC chapters. Kicking things off is Episode Gladiolus, which focuses on the biggest, toughest member of the party. We sat down with Haruyoshi Sawatari, main producer on the DLC chapters, to discuss what's new.
GameSpot: In broad terms, what is the Gladiolus chapter all about?
Sawatari: Since you've played the main game, you remember when he got his ass handed to him by a Ravus at that encounter in the base. After that incident Gladio didn't think that he had enough power or strength to be Noctis' Shield of the King. So that's kind of the start of when Episode Gladio takes place.
Then about 30 years before the start of the main story there's a discovery of these ruins. Within these ruins are the bodies and the remains of the past Crownsguard from years and years back. Knowing that this exists and there's a trial there, Gladio left the party for a brief bit to go through that trial to see if he could get more powerful.
For people who are completely done playing Final Fantasy XV, what about Episode Gladio is going to bring them back?
Sawatari: The core of it is that we've made the episode all about Gladio. The cutscenes that are in there are another side to FF XV. People got hundreds of hours of Noctis, and if they want to see a little bit more of the other characters, that's what this DLC is all about. It's a different experience.
Gladio is definitely the "muscle" of the group. How does he play differently from Noctis?
Sawatari: Very good question. Noctis' fighting style is all about mobility. He can do the warp strike. He can do auto-dodging. Easy to maneuver and very quick. Gladio obviously has that big muscle but he needs to be the shield for Noctis. So his battle style is more focused on the action and getting in there, and less reliant on ability sets.
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Sort of like what we would consider a "tank" character?
Sawatari: Maybe not necessarily a tank, but the battle system in Episode Gladio focuses both on offense and defense. There's kind of a duality where you have to take advantage of both to really perform well. So for example, when you defend against enemy attacks, his rage increases, and that rage is his attack multiplier. The more he blocks enemy attacks, the higher his attack output actually becomes.
And he has a special moveset called Glaive Arts. By chaining regular attacks together, that gauge gradually fills up, and each time it fills, there's a higher level Glaive Art that he's able to perform.
The main game features special skills for the party: Noctis has his fishing, and Gladio has his survival. Are we getting any new minigames or stats like that with this DLC?
Sawatari: There isn't anything like that that carries over to the main game, but within Episode Gladio, we've tailored the gameplay. Not even just the battle system, but the UI is different. Then if you complete Episode Gladio, there are a couple of items that you can carry over into the main game.
Are there new enemies or bosses here that we won't see in the main game?
Sawatari: As you can see in the trailer, Gilgamesh is waiting in these ruins to fight. You probably have an image of what Gilgamesh looks like, but this is Gilgamesh from the world of FF XV. He's considered the blade master. So that's an original character for Episode Gladio that's not in the main game.
These three upcoming DLC chapters for Gladio, Prompto, and Ignis -- are they a direct response to the complaint that we only played as Noctis in the main game?
Sawatari: The plans for the character episode DLCs were in place during development of the main game. During that time, we were evaluating which characters to create episode DLCs for, and we thought, "You know what? The three buddies that are with Noctis are with you the whole time. These are the characters the fans want to see more of."
Are there other characters you would like to explore once these three chapters are complete?
Sawatari: Outside of the three current episode DLCs, we don't have anything beyond that. But this year is all about giving back to our fan base, so if we were to continue the DLC, we would probably see what the feedback is. What character would you want to see a episode for?
Or the boy who shows up 10 years later and picks you up in a truck because you're like, "How'd this kid survive?"
Sawatari: [Laughs] You've definitely proven that you've played it if you picked Talcott. The common answer is, "Oh, we want to see an Aranea episode."
Final Fantasy XV: Episode Gladiolus releases on PS4 and Xbox One on March 28.