It’s finally over.
Whether that comes with sadness or relief largely depends on what you think of Final Fantasy XV and Square Enix’s push to pump out DLC for the game.
Objectively speaking, the past episodes did turn out OK.
Every single DLC episode, from Gladiolus to Ignis, introduced something new to the world of FFXV. Plus, they also unlocked new weapons and items in the base game upon completion.
Luckily, it’s the same with Episode Ardyn, though your mileage may vary.
What is Episode Ardyn?
Episode Ardyn is the final piece of Final Fantasy XV DLC. It’s a prequel, showing Ardyn’s history, motivations and his initial assault on Insomnia, before Noctis was even born.
It’s SGD$12.90 on the Xbox One store, and that’s the version we’re basing the review on, having played it on an Xbox One X.
Its length is pretty much equal to past DLC offerings; I clocked in at 3 hours and some odd minutes.
In that time, I found all the treasure items, unlocked all of Ardyn’s skills, plus took over every sector of Insomnia. Apart from destroying the celebration items (speakers, banners and the rest), there was nothing left to be done in-game.
Despite it’s short length, I have to admit that I enjoyed myself with the DLC. It’s certainly more fun than Gladiolus’, which I found to be too linear and kind of boring.
The old stomping grounds.
After the initial prologue, you (as Ardyn) are unleashed upon Insomnia to destroy certain magical structures. The order you go about in doing so is up to you, the map’s open so you can wander around and approach things how you want.
Insomnia’s not that big, and Ardyn can teleport and double jump to get around fast. Teleporting is fun but sometimes glitchy (in that it won’t register a destination unless you’re standing in a certain position). Still, it’s the best way to get around the map, and the ONLY way for you to get to the top of building so you can destroy your targets.
Destroying them as soon as you can is paramount for a number of reason; it reveals items, vendors and enemy locations in its sector, plus it also weakens nearby enemies.
It’s not that hard to destroy a single structure. You just blow up the small pillars around the main core, which will then trigger the Guardian for that location to fight you.
Incidentally, fighting is what you’ll be doing most of the time in the DLC.
You’ll fight normal Crownsguard soliders, elite Kingsglaive bodyguards, the Guardians and even King Regis himself (and a final boss). Combat is easy, even on Normal mode, because of how overpowered Ardyn is.
Fights are triggered when you encounter enemies on the world map or when you’re ambushed. Interestingly, ambushes can be over in a flash if you succeed in the quick time event.
The button prompts never change, so it does get a bit boring to keep hitting B every time you’re ambushed. On the other hand, ambushes are fast, and look great so I didn’t really mind.
In regular battles, Ardyn’s attacks are fast, powerful and to top it off, he won’t die easily.
If your HP’s depleted, Ardyn wil just devolve into a daemon-like being, with enhanced powers. The downside is Ardyn moves slower and every hit depletes his maximum HP. Ardyn can be killed in this state too so you only want to trigger this as a last resort.
It’s not too hard to avoid it to be honest. Healing items can easily be bought, cash is rarely an issue and enemies don’t really do that much damage unless you’re careless.
Ardyn himself has a unique ability called Daemonify, which allows him to turn enemies into daemons. They don’t fight alongside you, but it’s still useful in a fight because it can eliminate enemies in one hit if you manage to hit enemies from behind.
Daemonified enemies also give you AP, which you can use to strengthen Ardyn and give Ifrit new powers.
Did we mention Ardyn can also call upon Ifrit to aid him?
Yeah, just fill up a meter (which goes up over time in a fight) and you can call upon the mighty God himself to come down and smite your foes.
He’ll even hang around for a while after, smashing anything in his way with his ferocious sword swings.
Since Ifrit can’t die, he’s a great trump card to use whenever you’re outnumbered (which is usually always) or when you just want to finish off a boss or Guardian.
There’s also a weird twist in the game with regards to hats.
There are hat vendors peppered throughout the map, which sells Ardyn different headgear he can equip.
All of them have different attributes but it’s just so weird to see the debonair Ardyn wearing a hardhat in cutscenes, even if the stat boosts are great.
While I appreciate the customization, I wished there was a way to wear a hat but NOT change the appearance of Ardyn’s headgear, like in some RPGs.
The man who would be king.
Episode Ardyn’s greatest contribution to the Final Fantasy XV storyline is of course Ardyn’s backstory. The 15 minute anime prologue hinted at it, but it’s finally revealed in full detail in the DLC.
We learn how Ardyn fell, betrayed by his own brother. We learn how Ardyn was supposed to be the first king of the land, how his immortality was both a curse and gift from the Gods.
It’s a rather intriguing affair, which opens up a ton more questions I wish were answered (like the origins of the daemons). Luckily, it does manage to deliver on its promise of showing Ardyn’s motivations, from benign to malevolent as the years pass and the darkness consumes him.
Looks good, sounds good.
Episode Ardyn looks as good as the main game does. It being in Insomnia certainly gives the game a different feel, with its towering buildings and paved roads.
The frame rate stays solid, even when crazy stuff is happening on screen and I didn’t notice any texture or object pop-in at all. Shadow draw distance can be an issue, especially if you’re falling from a building. Look down and you’ll see shadows magically stretch out before you as you get closer to the objects.
I’ve always felt that Ardyn (Darin De Paul) was one of the better voiced characters in Final Fantasy XV and the DLC just cemented that opinion. Ardyn is just as whimsical and awesome as he was in the original game, though he does ham it up in certain cutscenes.
I was also pleasantly surprised by young Verstael (Steve Blum), who has such a manly, gravelly voice that it doesn’t fit his youthful, thin guise. If there was a time we needed a huge, buff hulking monstrosity of a man, it’s this time. Sadly, Square Enix has failed us all in that aspect.
Other surprises are the awesome music present throughout the game. Some of them are remixed versions of FFXV’s music but a couple are completely new.
The bottom line.
If you’re still keeping up with FFXV’s DLC, chances are you’re in it for the long haul and nothing I say here will convince you NOT to buy Episode Ardyn. That’s great because despite its issues, Episode Ardyn is a fitting conclusion to the saga.
It provides a great insight into the man, has some great music and fun (if rather repetitive and short) gameplay. The best part of the whole enchilada? It’s the bonus mode you get from beating the DLC; Kingly Clash.
Kingly Clash might sound stupid, but it’s a fun bonus mode that basically has you replaying Final Fantasy XV’s climatic final battle, except this time you’re Ardyn.
It’s an awesome test of skill and one of the best fights in the whole game. It’s a shame it’s locked to this DLC and not an optional mode given to all FFXV players.
But hey, gamers who stuck with FFXV deserve a special parting gift, too yeah? Luckily, Kingly Clash more than delivers.
Episode Ardyn’s great if you’ve always been curious about the character’s past and motivations. Great music, decent combat but short length.
– Great score.
– Fills in Ardyn’s backstory nicely.
– Decent combat.
– Kingly Clash mode.
– Very short.
– Too easy.