“Aim for the sky, but move slowly, enjoying every step along the way. It is all those little steps that make the journey complete.” Renowned banking executive Chanda Kochhar may not have meant to say this for ‘Final Fantasy XV’, but for those who have had the privilege of playing this, it rings true for every step of the way. Needless to say, there will be spoilers for the game in this article, so proceed at your own risk from this point.
‘Final Fantasy XV’ was one of the most anticipated games of all time. Historically, gamers have always eagerly anticipated the instalments of the long-running role-playing game series. The game was developed and published by Square Enix, and initially released in November 2016 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, with the Windows release happening in March 2018. Fans of the JRPG genre, in particular, have rightly considered the ‘Final Fantasy’ series to be the most prominent influencer in the entire history of the celebrated genre.
‘Final Fantasy XV’ was ten years in the making, and consisted of an elaborate plot with well-drawn characters who all had rock-solid motivations for what they did throughout the course of the massive game. Indeed, the length of the game spanned as wide as its gorgeous open world, with a run time of 25-plus hours at the very least. This is just for the main story at its barest essentials, with the entirety of the game going to hundreds of hours, especially after this main story is long finished.
It is evident, right from the outset, that a lot of sense needs to be made of the game’s ending, what with the intricate plot and the multilayered nature of the plot itself. It should be known that to make better sense of the game’s ending and how the events shape up afterwards, ‘Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV’ should be seen. The Japanese computer-animated film acts as an immediate sequel to the game’s main story. However, the game’s ending itself requires quite some explaining before we can head towards that film.
Plot: Unravelling the Epic Tale
‘Final Fantasy XV’ is set in the world of Eos, which is mostly under the control of the Niflheim, with the notable exception of the kingdom of Lucis. The Niflheim’s main objective is to obtain the magical Crystal under the protection of the royal family of Lucis. Under the pretence of peace negotiations, the Niflheim attacked the capital of Lucis and stole the Crystal. Players then adopt the role of Noctis Lucis Caelum, the heir to the throne of Lucis, who goes on a quest to head to Nilfheim and retake the Crystal back to its original place. However, in the course of the story, our hero, along with his companions, his guardian Gladiolus, his mentor Ignis, and his friend Prompto, realises his true role in preventing all of Eos from plunging into darkness. We get to know that he can accomplish this Herculean task by harnessing the powers of the Crystal, which of course takes centre-stage in the difficult ordeal.
The game begins with the aforementioned peace negotiations, with King Regis and Niflheim’s Emperor Iedolas Aldercapt about to sign the peace treaty. Before this happens, however, Regis sends Noctis off to marry Lady Lunafreya. This isn’t a surprising development, as this union has been decided years in advance, and Noctis and Luna have known each other ever since they were children. The four are on a journey to Altissia across mesmerising landscapes, but before they can reach there, they receive the news that Insomnia, their capital, was attacked by Niflheim forces. They also hear that the king was killed in the attack and that Niflheim used the peace treaty negotiations as a trap to steal the magic crystal that protected and powered the kingdom of Lucis.
Nyx, one of the Kingsglaive guards, emerges as a hero after he tries to ward off the attack on the capital. However, he and three of the six magical guardians die in the attack, but not before Nyx killed a particularly brutal daemon and the leader of the Kingsglaive, Titus Drautos, who proved to be treacherous to his king.
Noctis finds help in Marshal Cor, another member of the esteemed Kingsglaive. He gives him instructions to harness enough power to take on the Niflheim Empire and rid the land of all the daemons. The ancient tombs of Lucis prove to be key as it is from there that Noctis needs to obtain such immense power. Ardyn, a mysterious Chancellor of the Empire, also assists them along the way.
The Niflheim Empire forces our ragtag group to be constantly on the run since they are on the hunt and looking to eliminate them. But they do manage to get their back, inflicting damage to small pockets of the Empire whenever they can. The group’s mission changes along the way, as Noctis realises that he doesn’t just have to obtain the powers of the previous kings of Lucis. He also needs to prove himself worthy of the power of the age-old beasts. This sees him attempting to ‘control’ a Leviathan, the goddess Shiva, a Titan, and Ramuh. While he passes his tests for both Ramuh as well as the Titan, but when he ventures to Altissia to deal with the Leviathan, things don’t go as planned.
In the encounter with the hulking Leviathan, our hero teams up with Luna, his beloved, to take it down. They are on the brink of success, but just then Noctis gets knocked out, and Ardyn uses the opportunity to show his true colours. He flies his ship down and stabs Luna in the stomach. The loss hits the whole group hard, most particularly Noctis. Before dying, Luna bestows the ring of power upon her love, the same ring that was on King Regis’ finger before he died in the Niflheim attack on Insomnia. Luna’s brother Ravus had initially failed to obtain the ring for himself after the guardians rejected his request and took his arm for his efforts. Regis was determined to obtain it and trusted Luna to give it back to his son, which in her last moments, she did.
The group continues their mission of gaining the ancient power from the tombs, but a significant blow in the form of Ignis’ blindness strikes them hard. He lost his eyesight during the battle with the Leviathan, and that battle did prove to be an adverse turning point for our heroes. An important train battle follows soon; when the Imperial forces attack the train, they are on. During this battle, tragedy befalls the group yet again, when the treacherous Ardyn tricks Noctis with a spell. As a result, Noctis attacks Prompto, who falls out of the train, and is later captured by Ardyn and his forces. Noctis has been robbed of his powers by the cunning Chancellor as well, and the depleted group has to make their way to Gralea, the capital city of the Niflheim Empire.
Without his formidable weapons, Noctis’ only recourse is the ring of power which he uses to attack the daemons that attack them. The group happens to come across Ravus, killed by Ardyn and his robotic arm severed from his corpse. King Regis’ sword lay by his side, which he had taken during the Niflheim invasion. Noctis recovers the sword and gains a crucial weapon in his quest to rescue his friend and bring back the magical crystal.
After going to the daemon-infested capital and rescuing Prompto, Noctis is taken inside the right crystal in a surprising chain of events. Here Bahamut, the Dragon King, and one of the most powerful summons in all of ‘Final Fantasy’, explains to him the real purpose of his lineage. Noctis’ ancestors were meant to protect the world from the daemons, but things took a wrong turn. Ardyn’s real name isn’t Ardyn Izunia, but in fact, Ardyn Lucis Caelum. He belongs to Noctis’ family line but was used by the king to heal people by exorcising their daemons and storing them away in his soul. Due to the power of the daemons accumulating inside him, he naturally grew more powerful over time, but the king banished him, and he was left on his own. Because of his immense power, Ardyn gained immortality but was refused entry into the afterlife owing to his tainted soul because of the daemons inside him. The same daemons he gave his life towards, to save the people. Ardyn’s character was given ample development which showed him as a deserving, well-drawn antagonist with whom players could sympathise. His motivation of revenge upon the Kingdom of Lucis was well-founded, and he spent his time getting close to the Niflheim Empire, the only legitimate opponent of all of Lucis.
Ardyn’s master plan forms the key to how the game shapes up to be, in its final stages. His strategy was excellently planned and almost perfectly executed. His initial ambiguity tied into how he wanted Noctis to be absorbed by the crystal, and how he led him to the ring of power that would allow him to be absorbed as such. This is because Ardyn couldn’t bear the sight of Lucis, and wanted to do away with its entire lineage, the ring and the crystal, all at the same time. Ardyn believed that with Noctis merging with the crystal, he would have the best opportunity to finish them once and for all.
Bahamut has other ideas, of course. He explains to Noctis that while it is incredibly difficult and a seemingly insurmountable task to finish off Ardyn, it is also possible. However, eliminating him will require a great sacrifice. The chosen warrior who can absorb all of the crystal’s power and harness it into the ring can defeat Ardyn, despite the presence of countless daemons inside him. The cost of this victory would be the warrior’s own life, but this victory will ensure that Ardyn is finally done away for good, especially when the Lucean guardians will assist the chosen warrior of Lucis from the world beyond life and death.
Both his father and his beloved knew Noctis’ inevitable fate. Regis knew that his son would have to sacrifice his own life to save the land and Luna knew the fact that he will die because she was an oracle. Neither told him about his impending fate, and he was led to believe that he was being prepared for a king’s life: taking over the throne of Lucis from his father, and marrying Lunafreya. In reality, he was being prepared to die.
It takes quite a lot of time for Noctis to combine with the crystal, ten years in fact. After it is done, he finds himself on Angelgard. He goes back to Galdin Quay and meets up with the group who are now all considerably older than the last time we saw them. In this intervening period, Ardyn has managed to extend his reign of darkness over all of Lucis. Now, the once glorious capital is scourged by never-ending night infested by daemons. Noctis’ reunion with his ragtag group is touching and how poignant it makes us feel is the testament to their superb characterisation. They come together to launch one final assault on the now-dark capital of Insomnia, where Ardyn lies, having usurped the throne of Lucis.
After fighting their way through groups of bloodthirsty daemons, the three companions of the Prince, Ignis, Gladiolus, and Prompto, get to the throne room. It is presumed that while they are protecting the room from a swarm of demons, they all perish. Noctis then engages Ardyn in a direct, one-on-one duel to the finish. Owing to the newfound powers and abilities that Noctis has gained due to his absorption of the crystal, he manages to defeat the daemonic Chancellor. This isn’t the end, however. To completely do away with the massive daemon infestation that is plaguing all the lands, Ardyn’s deeply stained soul needs to be purified in the afterlife, the realm beyond. For this to happen, Noctis gives up his own life, as was written in his destiny, to call upon the power of the Lucean ancestors from the realm beyond. His efforts are helped by all his loved ones who have all invariably been killed, such as Regis, Luna, and his three companions, Ignis, Gladiolus, and Prompto. Ardyn’s soul is cleansed of all the daemons, and Lucis is freed from their deadly clutches, where the endless night is finally broken through. After this, the credits start rolling, but this isn’t the end either.
The Secret Ending
A mid-credits scene shows all four of our heroes in a touching moment together, as Noctis finds difficulty in expressing what he truly feels for the three of them. This is their final night together before their attack on Ardyn, and one that genuinely tugs at the strings of our hearts. A post-credit scene has Luna and Noctis happily married and ruling over the land of Lucis. This is almost certainly a dream sequence, taking place in the afterlife after the gruesome battle was over. This magnificent vision is shattering, since it didn’t take place, but was supposed to have. This was Luna and Noctis in their final fantasy.