Episode Prompto Confirms He's More Of A Bad-Ass Than Gladio

8
  • Playstation 4
  • Xbox One
  • Action
  • RPG
2017-06-27
episode prompto final fantasy 15 xv
Final Fantasy 15's second major DLC, Episode Prompto. How does it stack up against its predecessor, Episode Gladio? (c) Square Enix

Not to dump on Gladio, whose straightforward DLC involved little more character development than “I tackle my insecurities by smashing pillars into turtles,” but Episode Prompto’s DLC is on another, higher level. It’s the first Final Fantasy 15 DLC to ground us in a strong sense of character, it brings us another fan-favorite cast member as a party member, and the uncanny power of Prompto’s solo mechanics give us a whole new understanding of Noctis’ best pal.

The DLC takes place during the stretch of time in Final Fantasy 15 after Noctis, manipulated by Ardyn’s illusions, pushes Prompto off the train. After days of wandering in the snow, he’s close to collapse; Episode Prompto starts us off by forcing a failing Prompto through the snow drifts towards what looks like shelter.

But Prompto is emotionally devastated by what’s happened, not yet knowing that Ardyn was behind Noctis’ actions. We immediately understand that Prompto’s fears of rejection are bubbling at his surface because he tells us in a monologue as the player looks at sad, chubby little kid Prompto, sitting alone on the steps of the Palace in Insomnia. It’s a real heartstring-tugger, and that’s just the opening.

Episode Prompto ’s purpose appears to be the Woobification of Prompto, which is not difficult to accomplish. Prompto’s cheerful soul and love of Noctis and his friends are effectively contrasted with the despair and horror he finds in the Magitek facility where most of the DLC’s action takes place. There’s plenty of tears swimming in those baby blues, plenty of voice-cracking declarations of both horror and purpose, revulsion and identity.

We start out with Prompto’s fear of rejection and inferior self-image, but end knowing that he’s accepted his origins for what they are and will be as open and honest with his friends as he’s always been. We know Noctis would never hate Prompto for where he came from, and the DLC confirms that in a touching scene at the very end. Coming after Episode Gladio , whose dearth of character insights made me wonder whether Gladio himself is just not that deep, Episode Prompto felt emotionally juicy.

As for the gameplay mechanics, who knew that Prompto was some kind of stealth assassin/shadow killer who could dart and weave in circles around bigger, stronger, tougher opponents while picking them off with little more than a dinky revolver and a wish? While Prompto starts out with merely his little revolver and two crappy Techniques (Selfie Shot is cute, but would be way cuter if we actually got to see the selfies, while his little debuff grenade is useless considering how easy the enemy waves are to pick off without it), he is able to pick up weapons around the facility and from stealth-killed Magitek soldiers, including an SMG, a sniper rifle and a bazooka. Hell yes.

I need to circle back and talk about the stealth-killing mechanic, where Prompto sneaks up on an enemy and cracks their neck with those twinky little arms of his. Who knew he had all this badassery in him? Where was this Prompto back in the main game, where he was always the first to die on the field? This is a Prompto whose contribution to the team I really, really believe, as opposed to Prompto in the main game, whose continued presence seems more like a princely whim than anything. Sure, that princely whim is a fortunate one because Prompto’s good humor, willingness to pitch in and cheerful attitude are an integral part of the team’s dynamic, but I have to admit, Prompto’s selfies and pew-pews just didn’t seem to match up to Gladio’s beefcake bodyguard strength or Ignis’ formidable quartermaster-like abilities.

But watching Prompto strangle Magitek soldiers in a death-cuddle and rip sniper rifles and SMGs off their backs to take down their buddies too? Damn, Prompto! The only part of Prompto’s new kit that I hated were the light grenades, which were so impossible to aim that the times I came closest to death were from standing there trying to finagle the grenades up or down stairs. Skip the grenades and go with a bazooka, y’all. Neither of them are hitscan, but at least you won’t be down to 200hp because the grenade targeting refused to work with you.

As for the characters we meet again in Episode Prompto? We get to see more of Ardyn, whose sadistic purr remains a highlight of my existence even if I still don’t understand his whole shtick. We meet Prompto’s dad, a self-obsessed Imperial researcher whose work with daemons drove him to clone himself and use his own clone-sons as daemonic fodder for Imperial Magitek infantry. The scene where he’s being corrupted by daemonic influence and one daemonic eye is twitching around his half-purple face while his other, Prompto-blue eye stares coldly at his young clone? Peak body horror, peak puke moment, and you know Prompto felt the same.

Then there’s Aranea. Sweet Aranea. Wonderful Aranea. Best girl Aranea. Her presence in Episode Prompto was inspired. That husky, practical voice! That slick, wintry redesign! Those sensible, yet kind words! That time when she clambered on top of Prompto to deliver some hard-hitting Real Sense and you inwardly screamed, “Me too! Do me next, Aranea!” Her Technique is a big help as well, as it’s the only one that inflicts real damage, and Prompto’s Tech bar is almost always full.

Finally, there’s the boss fights. One is against a mechanical Yeti with the soul of some researcher attached to it. I can’t lie, I was tense this whole fight, mostly because I spent it running away from the Yeti towards the bazookas and then away from the Yeti again, trying to set up a shot that would actually connect with the leaping, swinging, charging, flame-wielding abomination. Oh bazooka, if only you were hitscan - the fight would be too easy, but I could unclench.

The second boss fight is against your ol’ clone-dad, who fuses his soul with a piece of massive daemonic armor. You, as Prompto, are perched on the back of a snowmobile while Aranea drives and must simply keep rat-a-tat-tatting him until he dies, but like the Leviathan fight, the set is so magnificent and surreal that the fight’s simplicity is kind of okay. It’s more cinematic than strategic, but it looks so epic and so cool. Plus, you just came off the Yeti fight, so you’ve already faced a hard battle. It’s all good.

I’ll reserve a few words for the snowmobile and the music. Snowmobile: I know it’s a Final Fantasy 7 throwback, but I didn’t love it. You can enjoy a few sidequests during part of the DLC and use the results to upgrade your snowmobile, which… I didn’t care about. It’s a fairly plotty DLC, so I was much more interested in pushing through to see what Prompto would go through next. However, I can see how spending more time perfecting your snowmobile skills could extend the life of the DLC, so: fine.

As for the music: WUB WUB WUB. I loved it and am salty there’s apparently no place to officially download it. Classic Final Fantasy-esque music that drops the beat all over the place? It made strangling Magitek soldiers feel even more badass. However, you can play Episode Prompto music while riding the Regalia in the main game, and I expect it makes off-roading feel even more badass. Wub wub wub.

Episode Prompto was much more fun than I expected and made me appreciate Prompto (and Aranea!) a lot more. It shed light on confusing plot points, like how Prompto came to Lucis and how that researcher could possibly be his biological dad, and gave us all the emotional intensity and angst we’d expect from a proper Final Fantasy. The boss fights were massive in scale and the mechanics were a lot of fun to play with. The music was fantastic as well, and I really liked the closing scenes, which focused on Prompto’s rescue and Noctis’ reaction to all this new info about his best friend. Consider my heartstrings tugged.

There’s a lot of good content here for only $4.99, and it’s worth it.

REVIEW SUMMARY
FFXV Episode Prompto
8
Episode Prompto Confirms He's More Of A Bad-Ass Than Gladio
The first Final Fantasy XV DLC to ground us in a strong sense of character, the uncanny power of Prompto’s solo mechanics give us a whole new understanding of Noctis’ best pal.
  • Sheds light on confusing plot points from the main game
  • Fantastic music
  • Fun gameplay mechanics
  • Aiming various guns can be cumbersome
  • Prompto's special techniques don't do much
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