It’s been a few weeks since Final Fantasy XV finally hit store shelves after ten long years. Players have had quite a bit of time to process the story, but the general consensus amongst both reviewers and gamers is that while the story is fairly straightforward(Perhaps too straightforward.), it’s also extremely confusing at times which is an unfortunate result of content being cut to save on development time. The purpose of this article, for those of you who choose to read further, is to explain in detail the plot of Final Fantasy XV so that upon a second playthrough you have a better understanding of the story and notice things that perhaps you may have missed the first time around.
THIS IS THE POINT OF NO RETURN!! IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO SPOILED ON EVERYTHING TURN BACK NOW!! I HAVE SPOKEN!!
You still here? Cool. You’ve been warned.
1) A Great War was Waged 2,700 Years Before the Story Begins
To understand the story of the future, you must understand what happened in the past that set everything into motion. The world of Eos was created by six Astrals: Titan the Archaean, Ramuh the Fulgarian, Leviathan the Hydraean, Shiva the Glacian, Bahamut the Draconian, and Ifrit the Infernian. Long after the founding of the world-spanning empire of Solheim, Ifrit came to despise humanity for unknown reasons and unleashed the Starscourge which turned humans into demons which then slaughtered the population of Solheim. It was during this time that Bahamut descended from the heavens and bestowed the power of the Oracle upon the Fleuret family, allowing them to commune with the gods, he also gifted them with his trident. The Astrals then selected a member of the Caelum family as their champion, destined to defeat Ifrit and end the Starscourge using the power of the Crystal of Light, the only thing capable of reversing the effects of the Starscourge.
And the Chosen King’s Name Was...
Ardyn Lucis Caelum was the gods Champion, tasked with defeating the Infernian and ending the Starscourge. And accomplish his task he did, but at a cost. He absorbed Ifrit and the Starscourge into himself, ending the eternal night and banishing the daemons that had wiped out most of the human population. This had the unintended side effect of making him part daemon and immortal as a result. He when he tried to ascend to godhood as he had been promised, the Crystal rejected him due to the daemonic presence inside of him, making him impure. The Astrals then turned their backs on him and he was demonized and betrayed by a man named Izunia, relation unknown(One of them plot holes that needs filling. Best guess is that Izunia was Ardyn’s brother.). Ardyn, the savior of humanity and the gods Chosen King, was cast down, cursed to wander Eos for all eternity and stricken from the history books.
Because the Starscourge now resided within Ardyn, it had now truly been ended and thus would one day return. The Astral Bahamut took refuge inside the Crystal and awaited the day that one he deemed worthy would arise. He gifted the Caelum family with a special ring that linked them to the Crystal, allowing them to channel its power at the cost of their own lifeforce as its power was too much for humans to handle normally. As Solheim crumbled into dust, the Fleuret family, with the power of the Oracles, established the nation of Tenebrae, and far to the east on another continent, the Crystal’s chosen kings, the Caelum family, established the Kingdom of Lucis. Together these two families safeguarded the world from the return of the Starscourge and imparted the wisdom of the gods unto the people. And in the shadows, Ardyn plotted his revenge on all those who had wronged him.
The New World Order
After the fall of Solheim, two other nations were formed: Accordo, a nation of traders, and Niflheim which resided to the west of Tenebrae. 2,500 years after the founding of Niflheim, an Emperor came to power with the ambition to create a new Solheim. Under his rule, Niflheim conquered the nation of Accordo, but was heavily resisted by both Tenebrae and Lucis. 100 years later, Emperor Iedolas Aldercapt came into power, attempting to continue the work of his predecessor’s. But he wanted more than land, he wanted the Lucian Crystal. As the war dragged on and he grew, he could not run the country alone, and so he appointed a Chancellor: Ardyn Izunia. It was Ardyn who taught Niflheim’s head researcher, Verstael, how to capture and control daemons, turning them into the feared Magitek Troopers that make up the bulk of Niflheim’s military might. Through sheer numbers and advanced technology, Niflheim launched a blitzkrieg attack on Tenebrae while King Regis Caelum of Lucis was visiting. Queen Sylva Nox Fleuret was executed by Niflheim’s General Glauca during the attack, and as the Lucians fled, Tenebrae fell under Niflheim control. Niflheim quickly launched a full scale assault on the Lucian continent and conquered most of it, but were denied total victory when King Regis used the power of the Crystal to erect a magical barrier around the capital of Insomnia. And so most of Lucis came under the Niflheim rule, and for the next 12 years King Regis awaited his fate.
2) Noctis Lucis Caelum is Bahamut’s Chosen
Now, I went over the history of Eos because all of that context is needed to understand the rest of the story, which begins with this. Prior to the fall of Tenebrae, Noctis was on his way home from... something... that took place outside the city when the car he was in was attacked by a Marilith that had been set loose by Niflheim in an assassination attempt. This nearly resulted in his death and he fell into a coma. Regis took him to Tenebrae to heal and it was in his dreams that he met the Astral Carbuncle who protected him from the daemons that were trying to prevent him from waking up. It was at this time that Bahamut decided that Noctis would be the next Chosen King of Light, just as Ardyn had been 2700 years earlier. Regis mourned his sons fate, and did everything he could to prepare his son for the future, and Luna, as the next Oracle, was tasked with helping him fulfill his destiny.
So this is why Luna wakes up the Astrals over the course of the game. If Noctis is to defeat Ardyn, he needs the blessing of the Astrals, their acknowledgment that he is the true king. Cor Leonis, the leader of the Lucian Crownsguard, is tasked with guiding Noctis to the tombs of his ancestors in order to claim their powers, collectively referred to as the Armiger, a magic power not tied to the Crystal and unique to the Caelum family.
Those are just the first two steps that Noctis must fulfill in order to stop Ardyn and the Starscourge. The third and final step isn’t revealed until the latter part of the game and, quite frankly, is poorly explained. In Chapter 13, Ardyn tricks Noctis into reaching out to the Crystal in an attempt to use its light to destroy the daemons. However, rather that drive back the daemons it pulls him inside. Here he meets Bahamut who recounts Ardyn’s tragic tale to Noctis and tells him that he must collect the light of the Crystal into the Ring of the Lucii as it is needed to end everything. That was well understood. Why it took 10 years is not explained, but that can easily be hand-waved by saying that it took 10 years for the light of the Crystal to be fully absorbed into the ring. The other crucial tidbit that was glossed over is that Noctis must sacrifice himself to permanently defeat Ardyn. People somehow missed that crucial little detail which was also given out by Bahamut: Many had sacrificed themselves for the King, so the King must sacrifice himself for the good of all. It’s a blood price that must be paid. But the reason it must be paid is because Ardyn’s daemon soul resides in a place known as the Void, which is basically a purgatory inside of the Crystal itself that can only be accessed in death. That is why Noctis is given a choice: He can either slay Ardyn’s physical form and rule Lucis, dispelling the Starscourge temporarily leaving Ardyn to return again in the future, or sacrifice his life to end the Starscourge once and for all by releasing Ardyn from the daemon that has consumed his soul. Unlike Ardyn, Noctis accepts his destiny and gives his life to save not only his Kingdom, but the world. With the light of the Crystal already inside of the Ring, Noctis collects the power of thirteen past Kings of Lucis into the Ring as well, the final blow being dealt by his own father. He takes all of them with him into the Void to confront Ardyn.
3) Lunafreya Bears an Even Heavier Burden
Luna is probably the biggest casualty that the game suffered due to a massive amount of content being cut prior to release. Going by developer statements over the last two years, Luna’s role in the game was played to be much, much bigger than it ended up being. At one point she was a guest party member, which implied that she accompanied the party at some point in the game, but obviously this didn’t make the final cut.
Her backstory is that she belongs to the Fleuret family and is next in line to become Oracle, someone who can commune with the gods and heal people. However, after the death of her mother, Luna was left at the mercy of the Niflheim Empire, specifically Caligo Ulldor, an Imperial commander with a nasty temper. Remember this scene?
You might not if you didn’t watch the Dawn trailer from Gamescom 2015. It was by far one of the darkest trailers the game had and more or less all of the scenes in the trailer did not make it into the final game. This scene in particular showed what Luna’s childhood was like under Niflheim’s rule. It was not pleasant. Physical abuse, near death, the whole works. Very different from Noctis’ childhood which was relatively peaceful and carefree beneath Insomnia’s barrier. The only comfort she had was seeing the smiles on the people of Eos’ faces when she visited them, and the letters she and Noctis secretly exchanged over the course of 12 years. It wasn’t until later that she was made aware not only of Noctis’ destiny to sacrifice himself for the good of all, but also that she was to give her life for the King as well. It was a cruel fate, for both of them, but especially for Luna who had already suffered so much and would be denied a happy future. The announcement of her engagement to Noctis was the happiest moment of her life, she hoped that she could at least spend a small amount of time with him, and King Regis tried to ensure that she would get that chance. Alas, it was not meant to be. Just as they were reunited after twelve, long years, Ardyn ensured she would die for no other reason to watch Noctis suffer. As a later flashback reveals, she was growing weaker and weaker with each Astral that she awakened. Titan and Ramuh alone was enough to push her to the breaking point. She could barely stand, but she pressed on because the future of the world was more important than her own future. Even if Ardyn hadn’t stabbed her, she would have died regardless, she was simply deprived of one last moment with Noctis.
And that is the tragedy of her character. So much potential, but it was all for naught as players were not given this crucial information about her prior to her death. They barely got any cutscenes of her, barely any information, no time, and then she dies and we are supposed to feel sad for her and Noctis. But rather than weep for her, we weep for the character that could have been. Sadly, if a “leaker” is to be believed, all of her scenes were cut, not because of time constraints, but because they deemed problematic as they depicted her as a physically weak character and the games director had boasted that she was a strong character. They were also afraid that she would be viewed negatively by social justice advocates. The leaker claims that this is why we see so little of Luna in the first half of the game. It was all removed because they were afraid of how it would be perceived. And I can believe that, but at the same time those that would be mad about that are a very vocal minority and the vast majority of players would have probably come to view her as a great and tragic character. It’s a shame really, and I hope they reconsider and eventually add her scenes back into the games, just like how they’ll be adding more cutscenes of Ravus, Luna’s brother, later next year to explain his change of heart.
4) Essential Information is in the Collector’s Guide
Unless you watched the Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV anime series, the backstories of Gladiolus, Iris, Ignis, and Prompto are mostly a mystery. But even after watching all five episodes, one character still remains somewhat of an enigma: Prompto Argentum. If you’ve played the game, you’ll know that Noctis and Prompto have been best friends since high school, and if you managed to get the optional hidden cutscene of him and Noctis having a heart to heart chat on the roof of a Motel, then you’ll also know that, as the only member of the group that came from common birth, Prompto feels inferior to everyone else and his past is pretty sad. His past, of course, is mostly explained in his Brotherhood episode. He lived alone his entire life and he had no friends. He was a chubby kid that kept to himself. After he treated Pryna, one of Luna’s dogs, she sent him a letter thanking him both for taking care of Pryna and being Noctis’ friend... except he wasn’t. The revelation that Noctis was also lonely, and his admiration for Lunafreya, spurred him to get in shape and become Noctis’ friend and as we all know, that’s what happened. But why is he all alone in the first place and why did he not even try to make friends whatsoever? Well the game won’t tell you that, at least, not yet. His DLC episode is likely to do just that, but for those that can’t wait, that information is in the Collector’s Guide.
Prompto Argentum is from Niflheim, a fact revealed in Chapter 13 of the game. The Collector’s Guide elaborates on that further. Prompto is the son of Niflheim’s Head Researcher: Verstael. As a child, Verstael experimented on him with Magitek. He eventually escaped and somehow managed to make his way to Insomnia. That would have made a great plot point, and I’m sure it’ll make for a great DLC episode... but that really should have been in the game already.
Other information, such as what Solheim was, what Emperor Iedolas was trying to accomplish, and even some information on Ardyn, was all omitted from the game itself and placed in the Collector’s Guide. This stuff would have been nice to know in the game, ya know, to make sense of stuff.
5) Thirteen Kings of Lucis = Knights of the Round
Did you watch the film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV? A lot of people apparently didn’t because no one really seems to understand who those ghostly apparitions were at the end of the game, even though Noctis’ specifically refers to them as the Kings of Lucis. I know, it’s strange, but I feel like I have to explain this anyway. In the world of Final Fantasy XV, there have been a grand total of 113 Kings/Queen’s of Lucis. Thirteen of them are for some reason more important than the other 100. The only real reason we get for why only 13 of them show up in the story is because we can only find 13 weapons, as the other 100 have since decayed or been lost somehow(That negligence though.... Seriously, what Kingdom doesn’t keep track of where it buries its past rulers?). Anyway, the Kings of Lucis are something akin to demi-gods. They’re not stronger than the Astrals themselves. but they are very powerful. They consider themselves wards of Eos’ future and it is through them that the powers of the Ring of the Lucii can be granted to people not of royal blood. They first appear in Kingsglaive where they burn Ravus Nox Fleuret’s arm off after he tries to obtain their power, they then burn Luche, the leader of the Kingsglaive, alive because he also tried to get their power and was found wanting. Ravus probably only survived because of the Oracle blood flowing through his veins. And they granted Nyx their power for a single night, but only to guard the Ring.
In the game itself they never once speak like they do in the movie. They simply watch Noctis’ battle with Ardyn, then transfer their full power to the Ring itself to accompany Noctis into the Void to deal the final blow to Ardyn’s soul. This is where you can truly call them the Knights of the Round, because there’s 13 of them and they’re used to wipe out an enemy. Cool way to do that and tie it into the story, but seriously, these guys needed more explaining when they showed up because it was not apparent whatsoever that they were tied to the Noctis’ collected.
6) Ravus Nox Fleuret’s Heel Face Turn
This guy was infamous all throughout Final Fantasy Versus XIII/Final Fantasy XV’s development cycle. He originally appear in some of the early Versus XIII concept trailers as a blonde-haired man wearing a white robe and wielding magical powers similar to Noctis’ powers. In the E3 2013 trailer his design was definitely more detailed than just a plain white robe. It was apparent from the way his hood was designed that he was blind and he came off as a major antagonist of the story. Fans nicknamed him the “hooded man” and also jokingly called him Ezio. That is, until his real name was revealed in the lead up to Kingsglaive’s debut: Ravus Nox Fleuret, elder brother to Lunafreya and the commander of Niflheim’s army.
Ravus had so much potential. He was set up to be this foil to Noctis. A Prince who was denied his right to rule, denied the title of King, all because of what Noctis’ father did. He didn’t believe in the slightest that Noctis was worthy of ruling and he couldn’t figure out what made Noctis’ so special. He’s also a ton stronger than Noctis due to his superior sword fighting skills and supernatural strength thanks to his Magitek arm. He confronted the party once, but before he could strike them down Ardyn interfere’s and whisks him and the military away. Ravus is not seen again until the party reaches Altissia about 5 or 6 chapters later. He appears briefly, and then disappears from the story for some time. In Chapter 11 you hear about him over the radio. He’s set to be executed for the disaster at Altissia. It is then revealed via two separate flashbacks that he tried more than once to convince Luna to abandon her suicidal mission, to forget about her destiny and live a long life. It frustrated him to no end that she would willingly kill herself for Noctis, a man he had no faith in whatsoever. The next time you see him, he is but a corpse gripping your fathers sword. Why did he have Regis’ sword? Because he wanted to give it to Noctis when the time was right. Wait, what? I thought he wanted nothing to do with Noctis? Turns out that’s wrong. There are a bunch of papers lying around Ravus’ body and, well, they tell a very different story. In these notes, Ravus mentions to Luna that he will only accept Noctis as the King if he is able to receive Leviathan’s blessing, which he does, but at the cost of Luna’s life. Ravus had kept Regis’ sword, unable to use it, so that he could turn it over to Noctis.
So we have this character who went from hating your guts, blaming you for his sisters cruel fate, to cheering you on behind the scenes and going “I knew you had it in you.” This makes zero sense because we don’t see this change of heart coming. It isn’t apparent whatsoever. The only clue we have is a citizen of Tenebrae who mentions something about Ravus and the sword and that he wanted to give it to Noctis. But ya know, that’s entirely in passing so you can completely miss that. Thankfully, this is going to be resolved by the end of 2017 as Square plans to produce new cutscenes for the latter half of the game that flesh Ravus out, even if he doesn’t become the antagonist that he had the potential to be.
The point is, there’s a lot of information that the player should have to make sense of this change, but they aren’t given it. You have to go looking for it and can completely miss the small details that reveal this change of heart. It still needs to be better explained, even I can’t sit here and make sense of it to you. There just isn’t enough information, you can’t even guess all that well.
7) The Big One - Noctis & Lunafreya’s Life after Death
For some reason this one seems to confuse people a lot more than it should. Luna died in Chapter 10, her body dissolved into the ether which is why it was never found. She became one with the Crystal as all who are tied to it do. In the end, Noctis sacrifices his life to end the Starscourge and Ardyn’s madness once and for all, his body then dissolves in the void, passing on to the afterlife. Fast-forward through the credits and we come to a scene where the sun rises on a new day, the eternal night having ended. Umbra(Who I suspect is really Fenrir, a minor Astral.) walks down the main street of Insomnia towards the Citadel. The streets are empty, the city is still in ruins, and the throne room still has a giant gaping hole in it. However, the rubble has been cleared away, there are flowers everywhere, the Crystal has been removed from the room, and there’s a nice big plaque that reads “Noctis Lucis Caelum CXIV.” sitting beneath the throne. As the camera makes its way up to the throne, a 30 year old, clean-shaven Noctis appears, sitting in the throne, and hands Lunafreya who is in her wedding dress, the picture he got from Prompto prior to his battle with Ardyn. They appear happy, they kiss, and then they both go to sleep and the games logo changes to include Noctis.
Now, just about everything points to this being the afterlife. They’re both dead after all. The flowers were likely left by the people of Lucis and the Plaque was made to officially recognize Noctis as the 114th King of Lucis. The reason he and Luna appear is because they are finally able to be together and have the happy life they were deprived of, except in the afterlife. Now obviously you could go a step further and infer from the new logo that perhaps Noctis and Luna ascended to godhood. It was mentioned by I believe Bahamut that Noctis, with the power of the past Kings, the blessings of the Astrals, and the Light of the Crystal, had the potential to become something even more powerful than the Astrals themselves. So perhaps he became a god, fashioned himself a perfect afterlife, and resurrected Lunafreya into it.
For the most part, it’s clear what the ending was meant to imply, but a lot of people got confused by it because nothing is really explained. We just know that Noctis and Luna died, light has returned to the world, and Noctis has been recognized as the 114th King. That’s it. Now, perhaps this will be explained more in the new cinematics that Square is preparing. Maybe. But that is almost a year away.
I think a couple of times throughout this article I got off track. Heck, there are things that I wasn’t able to explain quite as well as I would have liked too and that can be chalked up to the fact that Square royally screwed up when it came to fleshing everything out. That is the main strike against this game. It’s perfect otherwise, but its story being such a convoluted mess despite being simple is just ridiculous. But I hope that I was able to clarify at least a few things for some of you.