Since it’s launch in November 2016, Final Fantasy XV has received constant free content updates and paid DLC. Some of this content was stuff that was left on the cutting floor during the games rushed final years of development, while others were added on a whim by the developers. After over a year, we’ve seen DLC episodes for each of the main party members, a multiplayer expansion that explores the 10-year timeskip between Chapters 13 & 14, and we’ve been given new scenes that explore the lore of the world, Ravus’ concern for his sister and her acceptance of her doomed fate, along with an alternate Chapter 13. And now, with the release of the Royal Edition, we’ve gotten even more story content which is available to owners of the original game for $15. Some of the content added in this expansion was sorely needed.
Final Fantasy XV’s ending was as tragic as it was always meant to be, with main protagonist Noctis sacrificing his life to save the world from eternal darkness. He became a true king worthy of the throne of Lucis. But the final assault on the Lucian capital of Insomnia in a bid to retake it... felt a bit anticlimactic. Noctis and his newly-christened Kingsglaive head into the ruined city to confront Ardyn, the games main antagonist. The path through the city is a short one, leading to a confrontation at the royal palace’s gates, a battle with the god Ifrit beyond them, and then the final battle with Ardyn. Out of all of this, one crucial thing was missing: The gods that you so painstakingly gained the favor of throughout the game, that your love interest Lunafreya sacrificed herself for, were nowhere to be found except when you called them into a battle. The Royal Edition changes that.
As Noctis and company approach the Citadel’s gates, the building is surrounded by a wall of energy erected by Ardyn. Even with all of his power, Noctis cannot break this wall, and a horde of daemons are descending upon them. Far too many for them to defeat. In a deus ex machina moment, Lunafreya appears as a spirit and calls forth the Astrals. Ramuh strikes down the daemons with his lightning, Shiva freezes the magical barrier, Leviathan wraps around the barrier and constricts it, weakening it further, and finally Bahamut swoops in and barrages the barrier with a swarm of blades, destroying it.
But it doesn’t end there. The developers added one more moment to tug at players heartstrings. Noctis, knowing that Luna is still forever lost to him, thanks her for her help. She bows and refers to him as her king. Noctis steps toward her, hand outstretched, and she runs to him. But at the final moment before they can touch, she vanishes. So many more words could have been said. But they both only said what they needed too, giving into their feelings at the last second, only to lose what could have been their final moment together. It’s a love that was destined to never bare fruit.
While this doesn’t really solve the issue of Lunafreya’s relatively small amount of screentime throughout the game, it was nice to finally get a moment where these two are together, if only briefly.
The other two moments are even shorter, but needed none the less. While sitting around, Noctis receives calls from Cindy and Iris. Cindy was completely absent from the latter part of the game and is only mentioned as having become somewhat of a recluse. She runs Hammerhead all by herself now and stays cooped up with her work. Prompto protects her like a knight in shining armor throughout the 10 years that Noctis is gone, even if she’s far too busy to think about life away from her work.
And during that same ten year span, Iris grew up from a 15 year old city girl with a crush on the prince, to a heroic 25 year old daemon slayer who protects the people of Lestallum in the king’s absence, unsure if she’ll ever be able to confess her feelings.
The Royal Edition, as mentioned, adds to very brief phone calls with these characters, who obviously have their own responsibilities now. Cindy mentions that she’s working on something that can produce lots of light with a lot less energy. She hasn’t been wasting those 10 years, even if it came at the expense of poor Prompto’s love life. It’s nice to hear from her, even if you don’t see her.
As for Iris though, she gets the most tear-inducing phone call. It’s obvious during the course of the game that Iris, Gladiolus’ little sister, has a one-sided crush on Noctis. The origin of this crush is explained in the Final Fantasy XV: Brotherhood episode centered around Gladiolus. Iris wanders into a garden and slips down a hill, hurting her leg. A young Noctis, who happened to be passing by, helps her and brings her back to the palace safely. He takes the full blame, but this moment was enough to spark Iris undying love for him. It was also the moment that Gladiolus finally warmed up to Noctis. Years later, Iris still has feelings for him, while he remains completely oblivious to it or at least pretends to be. Gladiolus is also fully aware, and does what he can to make his sister happy, even if he knows it just can’t be, like having Noctis give her flowers. And in the 10 years that Noctis was gone, Iris got older, became the defender of the people, and never once gave up hope that she would see him again. And with Lunafreya having passed away 10 years earlier, Iris had the faintest glimmer of hope that the happy future she wanted was within reach. But anyone who had played the game already, knew that her prayers would never be answered. In her call, she mentions that she has something she wants to tell him, but she wants to do it in person. She doesn’t know that he won’t be coming back. Gladiolus, Prompto, Ignis, not even Noctis, told her the truth. So after that call ends, she will await the return of her King, only for him to never return. Noctis gets his happy ending in the afterlife with Lunafreya, but Iris will never get a chance to make her feelings known.
Over the last year, Final Fantasy XV has produced a lot of “What if’s.” One such scenario came to fruition in Episode Ignis, where an alternate chain of events led to Noctis defeating Ardyn without sacrificing his life and living on as King of Lucis. And recently, the games director has expressed an interest in creating new endings for the game. A Super Good ending and/or a Super Bad ending. Should the former even become a reality, one can only speculate about the possibility of Iris finally getting her wish.
(Author’s Note: None of the above footage was recorded by me.)