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Final Fantasy XV Episode Prompto Review By Tony Garsow on June 28, 2017 at 11:30 PM

The second of Final Fantasy XV‘s paid post-release DLC packages is “Episode Prompto”, and features the character in a playable role in a side scenario meant to be a companion to the mothership title’s plot. Each episode, like March’s Episode Gladiolus, features a character and a unique gameplay style. This time, as Prompto is a prolific gun-wielder, the format is a third person shooter.

Before we start, know that we’ll be talking spoilers for the later half of Final Fantasy XV and Episode Prompto.

En route to Gralea, the capital city of Niflheim, Noctis and company are attacked by imperial forces, and in the confusion Prompto is deceived by Ardyn into thinking Noctis has attacked him. Separated from his friends and alone in the frigid wilderness, Prompto is left contend with the sting of what he believes to be a betrayal — and one more little detail: he’s not exactly who he lets on to be.

The last act of Final Fantasy XV’s plot is a muddled whirlwind of things, one of which being a revelation that Prompto actually grew up in Niflheim… and he isn’t exactly human, I think. It disappeared into the blue as fast as it came out and I honestly couldn’t parse its relevance to the plot, despite seeming to be quite an important detail, until I realized “oh, this is where the DLC goes.”

To put it briefly: our hero Prompto was actually born in Niflheim, cloned rather, by Verstael in an attempt to engineer daemons into a fighting force. At some point the Kingdom of Lucis rescued Prompto, and by chance he managed to form a friendship with a young Noctis as he grew up in the city.

This is highlighted in an episode of the Brotherhood companion anime and features a young Prompto who is dealing with his feelings of loneliness and insecurity, and manages to surpass — or surpress them in order to keep that friendship. As he grows into a young man, he becomes something of a class clown — the one to lift everyone’s spirits because the thought of losing his friendships is terrifying.

You and me both, sister.

This is actually a wonderfully endearing character trait, but unfortunately it isn’t explored that much in Final Fantasy XV nor Episode Prompto. In the latter, Prompto convolutes these feelings with not being a native-born Lucian, and being created in a lab. This unnecessarily bogs down the character exploring his need for friendship and validation with a tired take on an identity crisis. It adds remarkably little to the story than it perhaps should. In the end Prompto suffers from the same problems as it’s mother game: plot beats happening with very little to set them up convincingly.

Strip that crap away, and there would have been a better opportunity for Prompto to walk through these feelings in a more meaningful way. It comes through in flashes, like when Aranea Highwind scolds him and tells him to live for himself rather than only for others’ expectations. Sadly, that too gets conflated with him being a Niflheim test tube baby rather than in the context of his actual friendships, and so it all starts to feel limp.

We never learn how Prompto is recaptured, though that doesn’t take a great leap of imagination; it makes the transition back to the main story a bit incongruous is all. A minor problem in the grand scheme.

There are some good moments that pilfer a bit of time thankfully, such as Prompto trying and failing to comfort himself with humor, one of the only things he knows how to do, and pretty much any scene with Aranea.

He’s a real boy.

Gameplay-wise, Episode Prompto is a little jank, but it’s much improved from Episode Gladiolus, which kind of felt like a boring slog in comparison. Prompto will have access to various weapons, mostly firearms, as he travels through the game spaces — it’s a third-person shooter style here and you’ll be able to take cover and move around while trying to take out waves of enemies or bosses.

Prompto starts off with a handgun with unlimited ammo but piss damage and a melee attack. Other weapons with limited ammo must be retrieved off enemies or in caches. This includes automatic rifles, rocket launchers, and sniper rifles. Collecting these powerful weapons will have you moving about quite a bit instead of stockpiling, which is nice, and prompted takedowns of enemies feel satisfying and look cool. While it was a bit awkward that aim and shoot are on the bumper buttons rather than the triggers, it’s not too much trouble to conform. Co-op attacks with Aranea share the same party skill interface as the main game too and look as stylish as ever.

When Prompto escapes on snowmobile, he’ll eventually get to a small hub area where he can undertake sidequests in order to upgrade the snowmobile’s speed, maneuvering, and offensive capabilities. These sidequests offer greater challenges off the beaten path, and I think they’re better reserved for a second play-through as upgrading your snowmobile isn’t necessary to complete the story.

Get acquainted with your new best friend.

It’ll take a bit finagle the controls of it all, but for a two-hour runtime it’s a pretty smooth effort. The only things I ran into that became a bit bothersome was the final segment’s default camera sensitivity, and it being testy in tight spaces. Oh, and the X-button issue where you jump instead of interacting with an interact-able annoyingly persists, especially when you’re trying to grab a fast ammo pickup.

The Niflheim base interiors and frigid exteriors are quite beautiful to explore, and Naoshi Mizuta’s score definitely helps set the mood well. I’ve personally thought that switching up the composers for these standalone pieces (Keiichi Okabe for Episode Gladiolus) is pretty cool, much like how the gameplay of each episode is a different take built around the characteristics of the heroes they feature.

Luckily, if you want even more Episode Prompto after the credits roll, you’ll be able to compete in a time attack on snowmobile complete with a leaderboard and take on an extra battle with Aranea Highwind. There are a few costume and weapon unlockables for the main game too. It’s a pretty good package for a $5 asking price, though if you’ve sunk $25 on the season pass you might have to wait a while for that to feel like it’s paid off. The next paid DLC involving the character Ignis will release in December.

VERDICT:

  • + Gameplay is pretty solid for a two hour adventure, never lingers on one thing overlong.

    + Naoshi Mizuta’s score, pretty environments and character models.

    + Worthwhile additional content after completing the scenario.

  • – Meaningful character development obfuscated by the game’s messy storytelling.

    – Controls and camera can be combative.

Final Fantasy XV and Episode Prompto are now available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

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  • Vallen

    “We never learn how Prompto is recaptured, though that doesn’t take a

    great leap of imagination; it makes the transition back to the main
    story a bit incongruous is all. A minor problem in the grand scheme.”

    The beginning of the game when he collapses in the snow is set after he goes on leaving Aranea behind. Snowmobile runs out of gas, he continues walking, collapses in the blizzard, gets picked up by Niff soldiers, gets thrown in jail, when wakes up he’s on that cross thing in the jail-cell.

  • SOMEONEWHOSDISSAPOINTED

    The Prompto ”plot twist” is one of the most dumbass, senseless, unnecessary and ridiculous twists I’ve ever heard of, aside from something we never asked for, like what the motherfucking fuck? it doesn’t make him interesting or compelling at all, it just almost ruins his character that used to be at least normally relatable, they tried to break with the stereotypical ”cheerful dude” in the FF franchise, but this weird motherfucking bullshit is NOT how you deal with that issue

    Surprising how even after the game came out almost a year ago, I keep finding out this game is fucking almost everything it touches up in terms of plot, how damn embarrasing

  • Randy Marsh

    Episode Prompto was better than Episode Gladio by a long mile, but I’m somewhat peeved that all of Prompto’s character development was locked behind this and all we got in the main game was like “Hey guys I’m a magitek soldier…” and guys were like “So? I don’t care? Moving on!” It’s a bit frustrating to me.

  • Luke Watts

    It’s fucking ridiculous isn’t it… disgusting even. That scene was the biggest joke

  • Luke Watts

    “Meaningful character development obfuscated by the game’s messy storytelling”
    Saw this coming a mile away.. they really don’t give a shit anymore do they…

  • Games Das

    This DLC is much better.

  • Noctis

    they where like, yeah and? lol but all of the 3 parts when they left

  • Kyle

    Once again the guest character that ends up being the special boss stirs the most interest. I wouldn’t say that the story was horrible, but I actually thought Episode 1 had a more interesting narrative lol. Enjoyed learning more about Cor Leonis. Didn’t learn much about Aranea.

    I like that there are different gameplay offerings, but they have both been pretty mediocre so far, but at least the mechanics really came to use in Episode 1 against Cor and it was fun + challenging.

    Episode Prompto was too fucking easy. If you miss anything with the sniper rifle consider a new hobby because it was impossible to miss. The AI was soooo bad.

    It was nice to look at. Beautiful piece of land to play on. I liked the view a lot… the sequence between Prompto and Aranea at the camp fire in the cave was really good. It reminded me a lot of how a cut scene could pan out in a FF game. The storytelling in the lab was weird… I felt like it was rehash of a bunch of stuff we already kind of knew.

    It was a mix match of good and bad. Episode 1 was shorter, but I definitely liked the gameplay mechanics better. The storyline was an equal playing field.

  • Serj_Angelo

    I was really surprised by how well directed and written in terms of story, characterisation and events this episode was overall, something the main game and Episode Gladio really lacked.

    Instead of forcing the poorly designed open world I’d very much prefer the main game to be segmented like Ep. Prompto was – focused and filled with stuff to do (although now that I think about it, it would be much more difficult to convey the road trip feel that way).

    The story itself and gameplay were meh, but at least this gets me excited for Episode Ignis.

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  • Noctis Leonhart Strife

    I liked the story, the cutscenes, it was well written. It would have been wonderful if the main game had been like this, but unfortunately the open world caused such slips. The weak point of the DLC is the gameplay a bit harsh and clumsy, should be smoother when firing. But in terms of events and history it was great.

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  • •december

    – Meaningful character development obfuscated by the game’s messy storytelling.

    *looks up the word obfuscated*
    …What does this have to do with the Episode itself lol?
    The Episode itself shouldn’t be to blame for the main game’s sloppy storytelling

  • You’ve nailed it for the not feeling worth it for season pass members. Considering the insane amount of hours I invested in the main game (and the subsequent purchase of a season pass, I think the first time I have bought one so far in advance), I’ve spent hardly any time on this DLC in comparison. Even though the plot ended up a bit crap, FFXV was the most fun I’ve had in a Final Fantasy game since the PS1 era. That’s what pushed me to keep playing and get that gruelling platinum trophy.

    In contrast, the gameplay experience of these two episodes can best be described as awkward. Gladio’s chapter was needlessly limited to heavy weapons, making the combat feel sluggish compared to the main game (yes I know this is technically accurate to his character, but it wasn’t particularly fun using that as your sole weapon for the entire chapter). When that episode should have been reminiscent of God of War/Devil May Cry responsive combat (rather than holding down a button like the main game), it instead felt slow, and that the controls were hindering rather than helping you. Yet, I did enjoy seeing more into Cor/Gladio’s relationship (although their at odds with each other felt disjointed from the main game).

    Similarly, Prompto’s episode was hampered by poor controls (although I appreciated more actual story, even if again it was pretty poor). They should have cut the auto aim for the revolver, and had every weapon handled like a shooter instead. Meanwhile, waiting a second for him to pull out his weapon before he aims was unacceptable for the kind of game it was trying to be. Now at this point you could argue that neither episode was even meant to be an action/shooter, but a Final Fantasy take on it… And that is where the problem lies. As they stand, they both feel like a shooter/slasher awkwardly bolted onto the FFXV gameplay mechanics, meaning they feel fun neither as the respective genres they are copying nor as RPGs.

    I think they could have solved it fairly simply though which I’ll get onto in a minute as it leads me to my biggest complaint: none of the DLC feels like it meaningfully expands the main game (besides a new weapon or ability). It misses the point of DLC in my opinion… If none of it changes something in the main game, then you start to wonder why aren’t they just released as independent games? As, in their current state, they neither do anything to make the whole bigger than the sum of its parts, or particularly stand up on their own.

    So, what is this big idea? Combine these different gameplay styles as part of, finally, a character switch mechanic for the main game… Where each DLC unlocks the ability to take control of that character in FFXV. In that way it would make more sense that they control in their respective ways, and each episode would act as a tutorial for the respective character as much as new story. It could also allow new solutions for main game problems; like sniping magitek troops before they land with prompto, or taking control of Gladio to land a devestating blow. You could even combine that with a rudimentary paradigm system, where choosing Prompto makes the other characters use more long range attacks, choosing Gladio makes the other characters use more physical attacks, and even choosing Ignis makes the party focus on healing and magic. This one feature would add a huge amount of value to these episodes and finally make them more worth it.

    Oh well, I can dream.

  • NoctLightCloud

    Just finished both episodes yesterday, and both were very pretty, but Episode Prompto was far better than Gladio, and much more challenging too. The cutscenes, the snowmobile, the explorable area (I love snow!), the Behemot, and, most important, guys and girls, Aranea. When I think about it, … Prompto is a pretty well made character.
    It would’ve been cool if Shiva/Gentiana were included. I’ve started to really like the female characters of XV. And I wished that the Episodes were in the main game, it would’ve received much better reviews that way. I feel sorry for the team/people who put their effort into XV but some managers then suddenly cut their parts (there’re whole videos on YT showing that the enemy’s continent was supposed to be explorable).