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.
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.
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.
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.
- + 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.