Coming just over one year after Final Fantasy XV’s initial launch, the final piece of its season pass has been released, and Director Hajime Tabata was not kidding when he said that this last chapter would be the most impactful to the main story yet. After playing all of Episode Ignis, I firmly agree that it is the best DLC episode to date.
Both of the DLC episodes for Prompto and Gladiolus were somewhat lackluster, with the latter focusing on a bland series of combat areas with a struggling story while the former had disparate gameplay in a narrative that felt more like fan-service (although it was nice to see more of Aranea).
Episode Ignis, on the other hand, steps things up. Ignis’ combat is still very similar to that of a dagger-wielding Noctis, but with a nice twist. While you cannot change between daggers and lances on the fly, you choose what element you want to imbue your daggers with – Fire, Ice, and Lightning. If you are focusing on a singular enemy, fire is your best choice to deal the most damage. But if you are surrounded by enemies, it better to use ice for its area-of-effect damage. Finally, if your enemies are scattered around the battlefield, you might just want to try using lighting to zip around and hit them quickly. The combat is not all that complex, but it does feel different enough to be refreshing.
The other main aspect of Episode Ignis is its story, which is by far the best of the three episodes released. Here we are able to explore a segment of the game that is essentially skipped over in the main narrative, and its filled with spoilers for everything from Chapter 9 onward. After Noctis passes out from fighting the Leviathan in Altissia, we find his three friends looking for a way to get to him and keep him safe. In the main game we just see a small pre-rendered cutscene of Luna and then Noctis wakes up to find Ignis blind. Even knowing this outcome, it still has a couple of twists and plot points that kept me interested throughout.
The main story itself is quite short and only takes around an hour or so to complete, but upon completing it you can head to a branching point and access a “what if” scenario. This non-canon story is just as interesting if not more-so than the main one, giving further lore behind antagonist Ardyn Izunia and more besides. If you’re a fan of the game but wanted more out of the setting and characters, this can’t be missed.
You cannot talk about Episode Ignis without making special note of its guest composer, Yasunori Mitsuda. After not working on a Square Enix game in almost 20 years, the famed composer of Chrono Trigger and Xenogears returns to compose some amazingly beautiful pieces for the DLC. My favorite piece in particular is a new mix of Apocalypse Noctis that plays during a side mode where you can try out your new combat techniques against Noctis himself.
— Final Fantasy XV (@FFXVEN) December 10, 2017
All in all, Episode Ignis is a must play for fans of the main game. While I feel as if each episode would work much better if it were blended into the main game, added together they are a nice way to learn more about each party member. While some have bland combat or a bland story, they do help provide more context to some of the more confusing parts of the game. And with new, more unexpected character based episodes on the way, I am looking forward to seeing what Square has to offer next.