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Promotional artwork featuring several of the main cast of Final Fantasy XV. From right: Gladiolus Amicitia, Noctis Lucis Caelum, Ignis Scientia and Prompto Argentum.

Final Fantasy XV, an action role-playing video game released in November 2016, is the fifteenth main installment in the Final Fantasy series, and is thematically connected to Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy, a subseries of games linked by a common mythos which includes Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Type-0. The world and main characters were created by Tetsuya Nomura, the game's original director. Nomura also designed the main characters, with later revisions and additional characters being designed by Yusuke Naora: other character designers involved with the game included Roberto Ferrari and Yusaku Nakaaki.

The story revolves around a conflict between Lucis, the last free kingdom in the world, and the expansionist empire of Niflheim. The main protagonist is Noctis Lucis Caelum, sole heir to the throne of Lucis. On his journey, he is accompanied by three companions: Gladiolus Amicitia, a brother-figure from a noble family sworn to Noctis's protection; Ignis Scientia, Noctis's strategist; and Prompto Argentum, a friend of Noctis from a lower-class family. A key character is Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, Noctis's fiancée through an arranged marriage. Other characters include Noctis's father Regis, the king of Lucis; Cor Leonis, a famous warrior of Lucis; Gentiana, Lunafreya's companion and attendant; Cindy, who with her grandfather Cid acts as mechanic for Noctis' car; and Iris, Gladiolus's sister. The game's main antagonist Ardyn Izuna is supported by the forces of Niflheim under emperor Iedolas Aldercapt and his chief scientist Verstael Besithia, Lunafreya's brother Ravus Nox Fleuret, and the mercenary dragoon Aranea Highwind.

Originally a spin-off game titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII, the game changed multiple times during its ten-year development cycle, including the redesign or removal of characters and story elements. Additional media and merchandise based upon the world and characters of XV have been produced, with its expanded media being dubbed the "Final Fantasy XV Universe": these include the original net animation Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV and the CGI feature film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV.

Concept and creationEdit

The concept and setting of Final Fantasy XV, initially a spin-off titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII (ファイナルファンタジーヴェルサスXIII, Fainaru Fantajī Verusasu Sātīn), was created by original director Tetsuya Nomura.[1] Initially in development for PlayStation 3, Versus XIII was shifted to the eighth generation consoles PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. During this transition, Final Fantasy Type-0 director Hajime Tabata became co-director; later in development, he assumed full directorial duties from Nomura.[2][3] The development period ultimately lasted about ten years, although Tabata now refers to Versus XIII and XV as different games.[4]

The game was originally part of Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy, a collection of games united by a common mythology and shared themes.[5] When it was renamed, XV "disconnected" from Fabula Nova Crystallis; although the mythos was retained, its role in the story was reduced and its unique terminology was removed to aid with marketing and provide Final Fantasy XV with an individual identity.[6][7][8][9][10] A surviving theme from the mythos was the struggles of humans chosen by a divine crystal.[11] The central concept behind the world of XV is "a fantasy based on reality": the setting is based on the real world and the fantasy elements grew out of familiar settings. Realizing this aspect of the game was quite difficult for Nomura before the game's move onto eighth-generation hardware. While the story was similar to other entries, he wanted to create more realistic characters.[12] His ambition was to make XV "about man in the real world", including less fantasy elements. He also described Final Fantasy XV as the darkest entry in the series, acknowledging that this atmosphere might narrow its target audience while feeling that the time was right for such characters.[13] Nomura wanted to depict a story centered on a group of men traveling the world, much like that of a road movie. This approach was inspired by experiences from his youth, in which he often witnessed single-gender groups taking extended trips. Nomura also did not want the protagonists to be drawn together by a grand destiny, instead being natural friends confronted with bizarre and dangerous situations.[14][15] To help convey the road movie theme, the team created towns featuring both strange and familiar elements, taking inspiration from the opening scenes of Back to the Future Part II.[16]

The initial story themes were "misery" and "bonds", with all characters representing these themes through their actions and circumstances. It was intended to be a painful story that emphasized the power of friendship.[17] The theme of bonds was represented in Final Fantasy XV by the relationships between Noctis and his comrades, as well as Noctis and his father, Regis.[18] A key narrative element was Noctis' personal journey from prince to king.[19] The original script was written by Kazushige Nojima, who described his story for Versus XIII as "Myth vs. Reality".[20][21] When Versus XIII became FInal Fantasy XV, multiple aspects were changed. A scene that was removed was the original opening, in which Noctis met another character at a treaty-signing party, then had to escape Lucis when the forces of Niflheim attacked; those scenes were changed to have the group being away at the time of the invasion. However, other characters revealed during earlier trailers were retained and would have important roles in the story. When consulted over how his original draft could be reworked, Nojima said that he would be content as long as the overall concept remained faithful to the original. This gave the team the confidence to rework and realize the original story within XV.[21] This rewriting was primarily done by Saori Itamuro, who was credited as "Lead Scenario Designer".[22] The story takes place over a ten-year period, and the characters' appearances were altered as they aged: this bucked the trend of many similar JRPGs, with the team wanting to properly represent the characters growing through their journey.[23] The game's opening depicts a scene late in the game; this approach was inspired by Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, which featured a conclusion linked to the original Final Fantasy VII. In both cases, the developers wanted players to experience a sequence of events leading up to a known conclusion.[24] The ending was left deliberately ambiguous so that players could develop their own interpretations.[11] For both Versus XIII and XV, game staff stated that it would likely be the saddest Final Fantasy story to date.[1][25] Alongside the serious plot, several elements of light comedy were added as a counterbalance. A large amount of dialogue was conveyed using in-game conversations instead of cutscenes. Nomura also wanted the dialogue to sound "natural and not game-like or lofty".[26]

Character designEdit

In contrast to many previous Final Fantasy titles, the playable cast of XV is all male. This concept was chosen by Nomura from the outset, and agreed upon by Tabata despite some later reservations on his part. Women still have significant roles in the story, and Tabata noted in an interview that it is "not healthy to have a bias in genders".[14] The game's main cast was designed by Nomura.[1] The clothing for characters was designed by Hiromu Takahara, lead designer for Japanese fashion house Roen.[1] Takahara's involvement principally came due to the detail needed for the costumes, which were inspired by western fashion: designing them himself would have been time-consuming for Nomura to do along with his other duties, which included designing characters for Final Fantasy XIII. He also wanted to continue to express the game's realism through the character outfits.[27] The design trait for the main characters was "jet-black", while all the character clothing in the game utilized Roen's distinctive asymmetrical styling.[1][28] Roen's designs were kept in the game when it became XV, as the team felt it would be wrong to remove them.[25] The changeover from Versus XIII to XV resulted in the redesign of characters such as Regis, and the replacement of the previous main heroine Stella with the similarly-named Lunafreya.[21][29] A result of the shift onto new hardware was that the art style moved away from the "stylized" look required by earlier hardware limitations.[30] To help maximize the realism of the characters, their hair was first created by a hairstylist using a mannequin's wig, then rendered into the game using the technology of the Luminous Studio engine. The same technique was used for Agni's Philosophy, the engine's demo at E3 2012.[31]

The characters of Ardyn, Gentiana, Iris, Aranea, Umbra, Cindy, Cid, and Verstael were all designed by Roberto Ferrari, who had previously done work on Type-0 and was involved with the project from its earlier development as Versus XIII. These designs were completed by 2010, when the project was still known as Versus XIII.[32][33] Ferrari was brought on board the project in 2010 after an unidentified female designer resigned from the project as her art was repeatedly rejected by the developers.[34] The change and subsequent alterations to the game's content meant that many of Ferrari's character designs went unused, something he was openly frustrated about as he considered these unseen characters more visually striking than his surviving designs.[33] Many of his surviving character designs were altered during later development, including those for Gentiana and Umbra. Ardyn and Aranea remained mostly unchanged.[34] Another contributing artist was Yusaku Nakaaki, who helped design the character Cindy.[35]

LocalizationEdit

Final Japanese voice casting for the game began in 2010.[36] The English localization of XV was led by Dan Inoue.[37] One of the aspects of the localization was using different accents to show the characters originating from different regions of the world: a cited example was Ignis, who spoke with a British accent while the other main characters spoke with an American accent.[38] One of the early issues—which drew public attention with the release of Episode Duscae—was Noctis's voice in the English dub; it was pitched rather low, making the character seem older and less energetic than his Japanese counterpart. This was explained as being due to tight scheduling removing the opportunity for Tabata to catch the issue and re-record before it was time for release. After Episode Duscae, the voice work was redone to better convey Noctis's personality.[39] Different issues raised later included Ignis's localized lines, which changed aspects of the character interaction, and the alteration of Cindy's name from the original "Cidney".[37] In an interview with Famitsu during Gamescom, Tabata revealed that the main reason for the delays in XV's release were related to the game's localization and debugging, as the team wanted to bring the game out in the west close to its Japanese release.[6] In addition to being released with French and German dubs and text translation for those respective regions, it was also localized for Latin America with Latin American Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese text: this was the first time a Final Fantasy title was localized into these languages.[40]

Main charactersEdit

Noctis Lucis CaelumEdit

Voiced by: Tatsuhisa Suzuki (Japanese); Ray Chase (English)[41][42]
Motion capture: Takuma Harada[43]
Young Noctis
Voiced by: Miyuki Satō (Japanese); Hyrum Hansen (English)[41][42]

Noctis Lucis Caelum (ノクティス・ルシス・チェラム, Nokutisu Rushisu Cheramu) is the protagonist and sole playable character of XV. The crown prince and protector of Lucis, he was chosen by the Crystal as the legendary True King when he was five years old. At the game's beginning, he is en route to the city of Altissia for his arranged marriage with Lunafreya when he receives the news of Lucis's invasion by Niflheim.[44]

Regis Lucis Caelum CXIIIEdit

Voiced by: Tsutomu Isobe (Japanese); Jim Pirri (English, XV);[41] Sean Bean (English, Kingsglaive)[42]
Motion capture: Jon Campling (Kingsglaive)

Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII (レギス・ルシス・チェラム113世, Regisu Rushisu Cheramu Hyakujūsansei) is the king of Lucis and Noctis's father, being a key character in Final Fantasy XV and Brotherhood, as well a protagonist in Kingsglaive and an antagonist in Episode Ardyn. As the ruling king of Lucis, he safeguards the Crystal and protects Insomnia using a magical barrier called the Wall using the hereditary Ring of the Lucii. Maintaining the Wall drains Regis of his life energy, causing him to age rapidly.[45][46] In Brotherhood, it is revealed that Regis fought off the Daemon that almost killed Noctis, but the two become estranged due to Regis's failing health to meet the Wall's energy demands.[47][48][49] When Regis accepted Niflheim's peace offer despite knowing it is a trap, he sends Noctis away from Insomnia from the chaos that would ensue in the events of Kingsglaive.[50] Losing the Ring of the Lucii when it was cut from his hand by Niflheim's General Glauca, Regis dies fighting the general despite Lunafreya and Nyx Ulric trying to save him.[51] Regis reappears as one of the Lucii—the spirits of past Lucian kings bound to the Ring of the Lucii—when Noctis sacrifices himself to end the Starscourge and destroy Ardyn, delivering the final blow that destroys Noctis' life force.[52]

A character carried over from Versus XIII, Regis underwent a major redesign during development, becoming an older character in appearance. This was due to Regis's expanding role in Kingsglaive and the new technology available. The development team wanted to create a more expressive character and aged him to properly convey his stature as a king. Due to this, his in-game incarnation was redesigned to better fit with his portrayal in Kingsglaive.[29] The redesign was also chosen as his original design no longer fit into the reworked story of Final Fantasy XV.[53] As with the rest of Lucis' royalty, he is dressed in black due to its specific significance.[54] Regis' motion capture and physical model were provided by British actor Jon Campling.[55]

Lunafreya Nox FleuretEdit

When the transition was made from Versus XIII to XV, multiple story elements and characters were changed or removed. One of the major changes was the replacement of Stella Nox Fleuret (above) with the similarly-named Lunafreya (below) as the main heroine.[21]
Voiced by: Rina Kitagawa (Japanese); Amy Shiels (English) (XV)[41]
Voiced by: Shiori Kutsuna (Japanese); Lena Headey (English) (Kingsglaive)[42]
Motion capture: Yumi Yoshitatsu (XV);[43] Amanda Piery (Kingsglaive)
Young Lunafreya
Voiced by: Liliana Chomsky (English)[41][42]

Lunafreya Nox Fleuret (ルナフレーナ・ノックス・フルーレ, Runafurēna Nokkusu Furūre, Lunafrena Nox Fleuret), "Luna" (ルーナ, Rūna) for short, is the main heroine of Final Fantasy XV and Kingsglaive, and one of the central figures in Noctis' journey.[11][56] A princess of the royal family of Tenebrae, Lunafreya forms an early connection with Noctis when her mother, Queen Sylva, cures him of a Starscourge infection.[11] During Noctis' stay, Lunafreya tells him of his role as the True King who will save Eos, and her future role as Oracle acting in support of him.[57] Following the death of Sylva during Niflheim's attempted assassination of Regis and Noctis, Lunafreya becomes the youngest Oracle in history, her position granting limited autonomy to Tenebrae.[11][46] During the events of Kingsglaive, Lunafreya unsuccessfully attempts to reach Noctis and Regis, then becomes central to Niflheim's infiltration and eventual invasion of Lucis's capital Insomnia. Lunafreya escapes with the Ring of the Lucii as both Regis and Kingsglaive member Nyx Ulric sacrifice themselves to ensure her safe escape.[51] Lunafreya then travels ahead of Noctis, waking the Astrals and preparing Noctis' covenants with them while guiding him through her companion Gentiana.[57][58] After successfully awakening the Astral Leviathan, she is fatally stabbed by Ardyn, managing to give the Ring of the Lucii to Noctis before dying.[59] It is later revealed that her Covenants with the Astrals were slowly killing her, and she had been counting on her brother Ravus to finish what she started.[60] Lunafreya continues to support Noctis in spirit form, aiding him directly in his final confrontation with Ardyn in the afterlife before finally reuniting with Noctis.[52][60]

In the alternate ending depicted in the novel Final Fantasy XV -The Dawn of the Future-, Lunafreya is resurrected by Bahamut when Ardyn chooses to defy the Astral's will, and given the same powers Ardyn possessed as a healer. While she is told that she was brought back to save Noctis, she soon discovers Bahamut's true plan to destroy all life on Eos, with the Astral having her infected with the Starscourge in order to use the accumulated darkness within her to fuel Teraflare. Lunafreya survives the ordeal, cured by Shiva before marrying Noctis in the epilogue.[61]

Lunafreya's place in XV was originally held by the similarly-named Stella Nox Fleuret (ステラ・ノックス・フルーレ, Sutera Nokkusu Furūre), the main female protagonist of Versus XIII.[21] The relationship between Stella and Noctis was originally designed to be platonic rather than romantic, as Nomura felt a preference towards portraying a different kind of relationship between male and female protagonists. He also wanted to make her the first female character to "stand out from all previous [Final Fantasy heroines]".[62] A key scene for Stella was the meeting and conversation with Noctis during the game's opening.[63] While Nomura deliberately designed her against his usual tastes, he grew fond of her design over the years. Stella's design underwent alterations between 2011 and 2013, mainly to make her more beautiful.[28] She was intended to be a very polite person, with that politeness conveyed through specific dialogue traits in her speech.[64] During the transition from Versus XIII to XV, the developers envisioned a different type of heroine which did not fit with Stella's original role, but Stella was already known to and expected by fans who had followed the game's development.[30] Stella was initially redesigned to play a more active role in the story, but Tabata was uncomfortable about this.[65] Faced with the scenario of fans being disappointed if Stella's personality or role were changed, the developers instead opted to replace her entirely.[30]

Stella's replacement Lunafreya was conceived by Tabata; he wanted a heroine who would properly portray the darker and more somber elements of the rewritten story of Final Fantasy XV.[65] Lunafreya was described as the "keystone" linking the narratives of Final Fantasy XV, Kingsglaive and Brotherhood.[56] While she did not have an active role in Kingsglaive, her character strength was conveyed through a single-minded determination.[66] During the design process, it was decided that Lunafreya would assume and accept responsibility from a young age, putting her in direct contrast with Noctis; this required Lunafreya to be older than Noctis, which influenced elements of her character design.[67] According to Tabata, the relationship between Noctis and Lunafreya was not a typical love story despite their being engaged.[68] He also defined Lunafreya's personality as being stronger than either Stella or Noctis.[69] Lunafreya was designed by Naora.[70] Her appearance was defined by Tabata as "strong and heroic", which would be conveyed by her expressions and actions.[67] Lunafreya was designed to give off the look of a strong-willed woman. To achieve this, the designers focused on the shape of her eyes and mouth, blending her appearance in Final Fantasy XV with that in Kingsglaive so she could project an air of grace and strength even when standing still. Her expressions reflected a notably wide range of emotions born from her goals, which resulted in her expression being "serious and somewhat sad".[67] To convey Lunafreya's strong will and her high-born status through her appearance, Naora consulted a professional hairstylist and makeup artist; the way makeup was applied to her eyes and mouth was changed accordingly, and her hairstyle was done to resemble "something that would require the assistance of a handmaiden". Care was taken not to make her too prim, so that players could relate more to her.[70]

Gladiolus AmicitiaEdit

Voiced by: Kenta Miyake (Japanese); Chris Parson (English)[41][42]
Motion capture: Makoto Obata[43]

Gladiolus Amicitia (グラディオラス・アミシティア, Guradiorasu Amishitia) is the eldest son of a noble family pledged to the protection of the Lucian royal family, being Noctis's guardian as his father Claris was to Regis. While initially Gladiolus disliked Noctis for his cold attitude when they first met as children, he warmed up to Noctis keeping his sister Iris safe and the two developed a brotherly relationship.[71] During the course of the story, Gladiolus serves as both Noctis' most loyal companion and a foil for his impulsive nature.[58] He is briefly demoralized when he is easily defeated by Ravus and left the party to go on a personal quest in Episode Gladiolus to face the Founder King's Shield Gilgamesh to regains his confidence while recognized as the Shield of the Chosen King.[57][72][73] The events at Altissia and Ignis' injury drive a brief wedge between Gladiolus and Noctis until Ignis forces a reconciliation.[74][75] Gladiolus and Ignis later make their way through the Niflheim fortress Zegnautus Keep after being separated from Noctis, encountering the Daemon form of Emperor Aldercapt and seeing footage of Ravus' death.[76] Gladiolus, along with Noctis' other companions, become Daemon Hunters until his return, and accompanies him to the final battle against Ardyn.[52]

Gladiolus' design and role was established from an early stage: as the King's Shield, he was more than a part of Noctis' entourage, having trained all his life to protect and at times chastise the current Lucian king. With this in mind, he was given a muscular design and an outspoken personality, with his other hobbies and quirks fitted in around that.[77] Gladiolus's original design was dubbed a "straight muscleman" by Naora, but was redesigned to appear more intellectual for Final Fantasy XV. His eyes were also narrowed to give him a "sultry gaze off into the distance". For the musculature of his chest and midriff, which was designed to appear realistic and in keeping with his lifelong training, martial artists and other similar real-life figures were used as references.[70][77] As with the rest of the party, he is dressed in black due to its specific significance to the Lucian royal family.[54] When deciding upon Gladiolus' English vocal performance, Inoue's guideline was to make him sound like a young version of John McClane, the main protagonist of the Die Hard film series.[78]

Ignis ScientiaEdit

Voiced by: Mamoru Miyano (Japanese); Adam Croasdell (English)[41][42]
Motion capture: Naoki Terui[43]

Ignis Scientia (イグニス・スキエンティア, Igunisu Sukientia) is a man raised alongside Noctis to be his advisor. Provided with an extensive education, he developed a collected composure and tactical instinct.[44][79] Ignis acts as Noctis' confidant and helper, forming a deep connection to Noctis during their youth when Noctis begins realizing his eventual fate of becoming king.[48] Ignis is blinded during the Covenant ceremony with Leviathan, when he wields the Ring of the Lucii to drive Ardyn away from an unconscious Noctis. His blindness causes tension within the group until he forces a reconciliation.[74][75] Ignis and Gladiolus later make their way through the imperial fortress of Zegnautus Keep after being separated from Noctis, encountering the Daemon form of Emperor Aldercapt and seeing footage of Ravus' death.[76] Ignis, along with Noctis' other companions, become Daemon Hunters until his return, and accompanies him to the final battle against Ardyn.[52]

Ignis' personality was designed to be expressed in both his looks, the way he spoke, and his gestures. His role as the party's cook came about when considering which among them would be most likely to take up that duty. His cooking skills are explained in-game to exchanges with Noctis during their early lives.[80] Out of the main cast, Ignis went through the least changes despite the technological improvements during the shift between Versus XIII and Final Fantasy XV. To reflect his position as Noctis's protector from a young age, he was made to look more toned and his musculature was developed, particularly around the neck. Care was taken to retain his intellectual look.[70] As with the rest of the party, he is dressed in black due to its specific significance to the Lucian royal family.[54] For Ignis' English version, Inoue wrote him to be a suave and logical character like a younger version of James Bond or Sherlock Holmes.[78]

Prompto ArgentumEdit

Voiced by: Tetsuya Kakihara (Japanese); Robbie Daymond (English)[41][42]
Motion capture: Yuichi Ito[43]
Young Prompto
Voiced by: Aki Kaneda (Japanese); Griffin Burns (English)[81][82]

Prompto Argentum (プロンプト・アージェンタム, Puronputo Ājentamu) is a friend of Noctis from a lower-class family, dating back to their teenage years. On their journey, Prompto acts to lighten the atmosphere of the party, taking on burdens for others and lifting their spirits with his antics.[44][79] Initially a shy and obese child when he first met Noctis at school, a chance encounter with an injured Pryna prompts Lunafreya to ask him to be Noctis' friend—Prompto slims down and builds up his confidence, ending up firm friends with Noctis when they meet in high school.[83] During their journey to Niflheim, Ardyn tricks Noctis into knocking Prompto from the train, leading to his capture by Niflheim's forces.[75] Upon being found, Prompto reveals that he is actually from Niflheim, a baby designed to become a Magitek soldier but was spirited away to Lucis.[76] Prompto, along with Noctis' other companions, become Daemon Hunters until his return, and accompanies him to the final battle against Ardyn.[52]

A major element of Prompto's character is his humble origins when compared to Gladiolus and Ignis, expressing this in his words and actions.[84] Prompto's facial features and hairstyle underwent multiple redesigns, the more recent ones based on negative feedback from fans, so that he would have international appeal.[85] As with the rest of the party, he is dressed in black due to its specific significance to the Lucian royal family.[54] The character was initially unpopular with series fans, so the team designed Prompto's photography hobby—and its subsequent gameplay and story interactions—as a way of making him useful and enabling each player to chronicle their journey through the game.[30] Tabata later defined Prompto's camera as a manifestation of Prompto's wish to record Noctis and Lunafreya's journey.[84] Prompto proved to be the starting point for Brotherhood, as producer Akio Ofuji conceived the series based around wanting to expand upon a backstory created by staff surrounding his difficult childhood.[86] For Prompto's English performance, Inoue based him on the titular protagonist of Ferris Bueller's Day Off.[78]

Ardyn IzuniaEdit

Voiced by: Keiji Fujiwara (Japanese); Darin De Paul (English)[41][42]
Motion capture: Teruaki Ogawa (XV);[43] Jon Campling (Kingsglaive)

Ardyn Izunia (アーデン・イズニア, Āden Izunia) is the main antagonist of XV, introduced as Niflheim's Imperial Chancellor and regarded as both its main political force running the empire and benefactor of its advances in Magitek technology.[87] His true name is eventually revealed as Ardyn Lucis Caelum (アーデン・ルシス・チェラム, Āden Rushisu Cheramu), a wandering healer who cured victims of the Starscourge by taking it into his own body. His deeds won him the respect of the ancient Lucians, who preferred him as their king over his ambitious younger brother Somnus. His method of preventing a Starscourge outbreak, however, led to his own infection, which resulted in the Crystal rejecting him and Somnus named as king instead.[76][88] Rendered immortal by the Starscourge, Ardyn was dubbed "Adagium" and sealed away on Angelgard, while all traces of his existence were destroyed. There, his rage and hatred towards Somnus drove Ardyn to madness, leading him to swear revenge against Somnus's bloodline and the Crystal.[76][89][90] Two millennia later, Ardyn is released by Niflheim's Verstael Besithia and is convinced to help the empire conquer Lucis. Ardyn discovers his ability to infect others with the Starscourge while absorbing their memories, using it to enslave the rogue Astral Ifrit. He then manipulates Niflheim into weaponizing the Starscourge into their Magitek army, eventually becoming Chancellor under the adopted surname of "Izunia".[91]

During the Founder's Day Festival in Lucis, Ardyn infiltrates Insomnia and attacks Regis to force Somnus into a confrontation. Just as Ardyn is about to kill Regis after defeating Somnus, Bahamut intervenes and transports him to the spirit realm; there, he reveals Ardyn's destiny as the embodiment of the Starscourge itself to be killed by the True King. Ardyn reluctantly submits under pain of eternal torment, but is embittered by the revelation, vowing to kill the True King to spite the Astrals.[91] To that end he orchestrates the events that lead to Niflheim's invasion of Insomnia, while guiding Noctis in forming Covenants with the Astrals so he can kill him once he becomes the True King.[57][92][93] Ardyn later reveals his true colors by fatally wounding Lunafreya after she summons Leviathan, while continuously harassing Noctis by first tricking him into attacking Prompto and gradually revealing to him the truth of their kinship in Zegnautus Keep.[75][76] After Noctis enters the Crystal to complete his ascension, Ardyn spends the next ten years having the Starscourge overrun Eos from Insomnia, using Ifrit and the enslaved Lucii to test Noctis and his group before they confront him. Ardyn then challenges Noctis to single combat, dying in battle before his corrupted spirit is destroyed by Noctis and the combined power of the Lucian kings.[52] This allows Ardyn to finally enter the afterlife, and—with Noctis sacrificing his own life to end the Starscourge, thus extinguishing the Caelum dynasty—fulfill his revenge on Somnus.

In the alternate ending depicted in the novel Final Fantasy XV -The Dawn of the Future-, Ardyn chooses to defy the Astrals by making himself too powerful for Noctis to defeat, with Bahamut responding by resurrecting Lunafreya as a pawn to wipe out all life on Eos. Ardyn retrieves the Ring of the Lucii from Noctis, despite him knowing the adverse effects it has on his corrupted body; the two put aside their enmity to defeat the Astral. Using the same ritual Noctis himself was to perform, Ardyn succeeds in destroying Bahamut in the spirit realm before ceasing to exist. He is posthumously recognized as the true Founder King of Lucis by Noctis, who holds a grand funeral for him in the epilogue.[61]

Ardyn was created in 2010 while the game was still titled Versus XIII, following the deletion of another character, a Niflheim officer called Safay Roth.[11][32] According to Tabata, Ardyn is an unusual antagonist within the Final Fantasy series as he actively helps Noctis through his quest, even though it ultimately serves his desire for revenge. Both Tabata and Itamuro called Ardyn a character driven by his hatred of the Lucian royal line, with everything in his life serving his quest for revenge and his wish to torment Noctis.[94] Ardyn was designed by Roberto Ferrari, remaining nearly unchanged throughout development;[32] his design stood out from the other cast members', with one notable feature being the fedora he wore. He is described by the staff as "an interesting and strange character", with a unique personality and using his attire to express it, comparing it to the outfit of Kefka Palazzo, the main antagonist of Final Fantasy VI.[29] His red hair color was chosen because his Japanese voice actor, Keiji Fujiwara, had previously voiced red-haired characters Reno from Final Fantasy VII and Axel from the Kingdom Hearts series.[26]

Other charactersEdit

Iedolas AldercaptEdit

Voiced by: Shōzō Iizuka (Japanese); Bob Joles (English, XV);[41] David Gant (English, Kingsglaive)[42]
Motion capture: David Gant (Kingsglaive)

Iedolas Aldercapt (イドラ・エルダーキャプト, Idora Erudākyaputo) is the emperor of Niflheim and an antagonist in XV. At the game's beginning he has withdrawn from frontline politics, delegating the task of administrating his empire to his chancellor Ardyn. Nevertheless, he retains an active role within Niflheim's political scene.[87] Aldercapt sees the Crystal as a prize and his possession of it a symbol of his control over the nations of Eos. Once a benevolent monarch of the people, the deaths of his wife in childbirth and his only son in the war against Lucis greatly affected him, allowing Ardyn to easily manipulate him into becoming a power-hungry tyrant.[61] Ardyn eventually transforms Aldercapt into the gargoyle-like Daemon Foras, who retained his obsession for the Crystal even when finally killed by Noctis's group once they reached the imperial capital of Gralea.

Ravus Nox FleuretEdit

Voiced by: Yūichi Nakamura (Japanese); Trevor Devall (English)[41][42]
Motion capture: Ryusuke Nakamura (XV);[43] David Nutley (Kingsglaive)
Young Ravus
Voiced by: Zachary Gordon (English)[42]

Ravus Nox Fleuret (レイヴス・ノックス・フルーレ, Reivusu Nokkusu Furūre) is Lunafreya's older brother and a former prince of Tenebrae. He bears a grudge against Lucis and the Caelum dynasty for abandoning his homeland, joining the imperial army in order to exact his revenge. During the events of Kingsglaive, Ravus attends the treaty-signing as part of Niflheim's delegation, subsequently participating in the empire's invasion of Lucis. He attempts to wield the Ring of the Lucii, but it rejects him and destroys his arm.[51] Upon the death of General Glauca, Ravus is promoted to high commander of Niflheim's armies, with his maimed arm replaced by a Magitek prosthesis.[11] While appearing antagonistic, it is revealed that he merely deemed Noctis unworthy and resented the fact that Lunafreya's work on his behalf was killing her.[60] After Lunafreya asks him to give Noctis Regis' sword, Ravus is labeled an enemy of the empire for his failure to contain the summoning of Leviathan, leading to his defecting to Noctis's side. Ravus is then killed by Ardyn and resurrected as a partially transformed Daemon which the party defeats.[59][76]

Verstael BesithiaEdit

Voiced by: Jin Urayama (Japanese); Steve Blum (English)[82]
Young Verstael
Voiced by: Noriaki Sugiyama (Japanese)[95]

Verstael Besithia (ヴァーサタイル・べスティア, Vāsatairu Besutia) is the head researcher of Niflheim, and the "father" of Prompto, a promising scientist in his youth who developed the Magitek army from Solhiem's lost technology to reduce casualties in his people's war against Lucis.[11][96] Thirty years before the game's events, Verstael uncovered the dormant Ifrit and freed Ardyn from his prison, seeing them as a means to end the war with Lucis and to acquire immortality.[91] Verstael is then influenced by Ardyn into using Daemons as an energy source for the Magitek army, creating clones from his DNA and infecting them with the Starscourge at a young age, along with the creation of the Diamond Weapons that sacked Insomnia. In the main storyline, Verstael is seen persuading Emperor Aldercapt to capture Lunafreya alive as he believed the Oracle could have potential use in her link to the Astrals.[93] In Episode: Prompto, Verstael reveals Prompto's origins as a his clone who was spirited away to Lucis, goading his "son" into shooting him. Upon his death he uploads his consciousness into his final magitek invention, Immortalis, intending to conquer the world in his new body before being eventually destroyed by Prompto with Aranea's help.

Loqi and CaligoEdit

Loqi Tummelt
Voiced by: Takashi Ohara (Japanese); Jason Spisak (English)[41]

Loqi Tummelt (ロキ・タメルト, Roki Tameruto) is a minor antagonist in Final Fantasy XV, serving as a Brigadier General in Niflheim's army and commanding a unique magitek armor. He is the main antagonist in Final Fantasy XV: Assassin's Festival, a free DLC event.

Caligo Ulldor
Voiced by: Itaru Yamamoto (Japanese); Rick Zieff (English)[41]

Caligo Ulldor (カリゴ・ウルドー, Karigo Urudō) is a minor antagonist in Final Fantasy XV and Episode Ignis. He is a Brigadier General in the Niflheim army. He is killed by Ravus in Episode Ignis during the Niflheim invasion of Altissia.

Cor LeonisEdit

Voiced by: Hiroki Tōchi (Japanese); Matthew Mercer (English)[41]
Motion capture: Koji Kurosawa[43]

Cor Leonis (コル・リオニス, Koru Rionisu) is a guest character in XV, following the party in order to protect the prince and his group, occasionally joining them in battle.[79][97][98] The Marshal of the Crownsguard and a famous warrior of Lucis known as "the Immortal" (不死将軍, Fushi Shōgun), a name he earned at age 15 for being the only survivor of a Lucian squad that encountered Gilgamesh and managed to cut the Blademaster's arm despite using his Genji Blade to him.[46][73][79] He fought alongside King Regis against the forces of Niflheim in his youth, being friends with Gladious's father Clarus. While Cor initially assists the party by organising the search for tombs holding the Royal Arms, he is later referred to as suspending the search to assist the hunters in dealing with particularly difficult Daemons as the nights grow longer. Cor admits to Noctis that he struggles to deal with his failure to protect King Regis, and is last seen sitting alone. He later reappears in the Royal Pack expansion, leading the Kingsglaive in reclaiming Insomnia from the Daemons.

Cor was one of the characters created for Versus XIII, initially designed as the fifth permanent playable character who joined the group during the course of the game. When transitioning from Versus XIII to Final Fantasy XV, Cor was retained, but his role was reduced to a guest character and mentor figure for the group. This was because the team decided to focus on the dynamics within the core group of similarly-aged men rather than have an older man changing that dynamic. His character went otherwise unchanged.[30] Cor's Japanese voice actor, Hiroki Tōchi, was originally cast as Noctis's chauffeur in Versus XIII before its transition to Final Fantasy XV.[79]

ShivaEdit

Voiced by: Sayaka Kinoshita (Japanese); Renee Faia (English)[81]
Motion capture: Kaori Kawabuchi[43]

Shiva (シヴァ, Shiva), also known as the Glacian and the Frostbringer, is the Goddess of Ice and one of the six Astrals who watch over Eos.[99] She has the ability to exist in multiple bodies, one of them being Gentiana (ゲンティアナ, Gentiana), lady-in-waiting to the Fleuret family.[100][101][102] Where the Oracle speaks to the Astrals so that they may know the will of the people, Gentiana acts as High Messenger, speaking to the people—through the Oracle—so that they may know the will of the gods. Once an aloof deity who disliked humans for their fragility and fleeting existence, Shiva gradually warmed up to them due to the kindness of Ifrit, with whom she fell in love. However, she was forced to fight against him when Solheim rose up against the Astrals, which caused Ifrit's betrayal and sparked the Great War of Old. After Ifrit's defeat Shiva fell into a deep slumber, while continuing to guide the Oracles through Gentiana. Two millennia later she awoke upon sensing Ifrit's corruption, but was felled by Niflheim's magitek army when she tried to come to his aid, which transformed the desert around Gralea into a tundra. She reveals herself to Noctis after Lunafreya's death, giving him Lunafreya's trident and forging a Covenant with him;[60] she later appears to aid him in his battle against Ifrit, dealing the finishing blow.[52]

Iris AmicitiaEdit

Voiced by: Megumi Han (Japanese); Eden Riegel (English)[41]

Iris Amicitia (イリス・アミシティア, Irisu Amishitia) is a guest character in XV.[98] The younger sister of Gladiolus and a childhood friend of Noctis and Ignis. When she was younger she got into trouble wandering outside, Noctis took the blame for her; this prompted Gladiolus' respect and changed his views on the prince. After this Iris became friends with Noctis.[71] She escaped Insomnia during Niflheim's invasion, taking refuge in Lestallum.[103] Iris is depicted as having a carefree attitude and is close to all four of the party members; particularly Noctis, whom she has a crush on. While Gladiolus is very protective of her, he acknowledges that she is capable of taking care of herself. Following Ardyn's conquest of the world and Eos' descent into eternal night, Iris becomes one of the most notorious Daemon hunters in the world, being dubbed "the Daemon Slayer".[52]

Cid and CindyEdit

Cid Sophiar
Voiced by: Nobuyuki Katsube (Japanese); Jack Angel (English)[41]
Motion capture: Tyson Ohya[43]
Cindy Aurum
Voiced by: Yū Shimamura (Japanese); Erin Matthews (English)[41]
Motion capture: Haruka Shibai[43]

Cid Sophiar (シド・ソフィア, Shido Sofia) and his granddaughter Cindy Aurum (シドニー・オールム, Shidonī Ōrumu, "Cidney"[104]) are supporting characters who act as mechanics for Noctis's car. In his youth, Cid fought alongside Regis and Cor against the forces of Niflheim.[46]

Cindy was designed by designers Roberto Ferrari and Yusaku Nakaaki, among others.[35][39] A character crucial to the story and gameplay, Cindy was first introduced in the Episode Duscae demo. Tabata described her as "the kind of girl who is very good at dealing with men".[105] In response to negative comments about her appearance in player feedback for Episode Duscae, Nakaaki stated she had not been deliberately sexualized, but that the team had perhaps put too much "heart and soul" into her design. They chose to make adjustments so players would be more comfortable with her.[39] Originally, Cindy's breasts jiggled so much that Tabata had to ask the team to tone it down.[106]

Aranea HighwindEdit

Voiced by: Miyuki Sawashiro (Japanese); Kari Wahlgren (English)[41]
Motion capture: Haruka Shibai

Aranea Highwind (アラネア・ハイウィンド, Aranea Haiuindo) is the commodore of Niflheim's Third Army Z-Corps 87th Airborne Units, a group of Daemon hunters and mercenaries employed by Niflheim. Due to her prowess in aerial combat, she is known as "the Dragoon".[87] Over the course of the story, she becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the empire's actions—particularly in capturing Daemons for experimentation—and ultimately cuts her ties to them, instead using her resources to aid refugees. She later appears in Episode Prompto, sent by Noctis to find Prompto. She chastises Prompto for doubting Noctis and refuses his help in fighting Verstael until he overcomes it.

Aranea was designed by Roberto Ferrari.[33] Compared to other characters, Aranea—who was designed in mid-2010—underwent very few changes during the game's development. The only notable change was to her weapon, which was altered as it was deemed unsuitable. Two characters closely connected to her, Biggs and Wedge, originally had major roles with unique designs; they were eventually reduced to a minor role with Niflheim NPC character models.[32]

Nyx UlricEdit

Voiced by: Gō Ayano (Japanese); Aaron Paul (English)[42]
Motion capture: Neil Newbon

Nyx Ulric (ニックス・ウリック, Nikkusu Urikku) is the main protagonist of Kingsglaive, and a member of the titular elite guard that defends Lucis from the invading forces of Niflheim. Having lost his mother and sister in his youth when his hometown of Galahd was conquered by the empire, Nyx developed a fierce loyalty to Regis when rescued by the king.[107] During the events of Kingsglaive, Nyx is appointed as Lunafreya's protector and eventually learns of Niflheim's plot to invade Insomnia under the ruse of a treaty; subsequently he sacrifices himself by using the Ring of the Lucii to enable Lunafreya's escape amidst the chaos.

Libertus OstiumEdit

Voiced by: Mitsuaki Kanuka (Japanese); Liam Mulvey (English)[42]
Motion capture: Liam Mulvey

Libertus Ostium (リベルテス・オスティウム, Riberutesu Osutiumu) is a member of the Kingsglaive and Nyx Ulric's childhood friend, hailing from the same town as him. He is among those disillusioned by King Regis's acceptance of Niflheim's offer of an armistice, defecting to the rebels when his friend Crowe is killed. However, upon witnessing the destruction Niflheim has wrought and learning of Drautos's secret identity Libertus returns to aid Nyx, escorting Lunafreya to Insomnia's borders so she can escape.

Titus DrautosEdit

Voiced by: Kōichi Yamadera (Japanese); Matthew Waterson (English, XV), Adrian Bouchet (English, Kingsglaive)[42]
Motion capture: Matthew Waterson (XV), Adrian Bouchet (Kingsglaive)

Titus Drautos (タイタス・ドラットー, Taitasu Dorattō) is a character in Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV who also makes a brief appearance in Final Fantasy XV. The mentor of Nyx Ulric, Drautos is captain of the eponymous Kingsglaive, an elite group of soldiers originally tasked as frontline battle infantry, now being tasked with protecting the king of Lucis, Regis Lucis Caelum, and it is blessed with the monarch's magic. He is eventually revealed to be a double-agent for the Empire of Niflheim under the identity of General Glauca (グラウカ, Gurauka) and the main antagonist of Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV. Over the course of the film, he is responsible for the deaths of Ravus and Lunafreya's mother Sylva, Regis' bodyguard and Gladiolus' father Clarus Amicitia, and Regis himself, as well as the downfall of Insomnia. Ultimately, he is killed in single combat with loyalist Kingsglaive Nyx Ulric after the latter offers his own life in exchange for temporary control of the Ring of the Lucii.

Somnus Lucis CaelumEdit

Voiced by: Daisuke Namikawa (Japanese); Zach Villa (English)[95]

Somnus Lucis Caelum (ソムヌス・ルシス・チェラム, Somunusu Rushisu Cheramu), also known as the Founder King of Lucis, is Noctis's ancestor and the younger brother of Ardyn. An ambitious and charismatic but truly well-meaning man, Somnus took a harsh approach in combating the Starscourge, rounding up all victims—even those he merely suspected of being infected—and burning them. Somnus grew jealous of Ardyn's gift and popularity but above all else he truly believed his brother was unfit to be King due to his idealism and inability to see the reality of the situation; upon learning from the Oracle Aera of who the Astrals had chosen as king, he lures Ardyn into a trap, denouncing him as a traitor while proclaiming himself as king. In the ensuing fight he kills Aera while subduing his brother, ascending the throne thereafter; he then proceeds to seal Ardyn away and erase all traces of his existence from Eos's history.[90] As he reigned over the populace and established a kingdom for the people to live on before his death, Somnus eventually feels remorse for what he did to Ardyn and this is fully realized when he fights and is defeated by his brother in Episode Ardyn when Ardyn attacks Lucis: seeing first-hand how far his harsh actions had embittered and darkened Ardyn made him show deep regret over everything that he had did to Ardyn, having known the Astrals' plan for his brother and the reason of the Crystal's rejection of Ardyn while trying in vain to reason with him, praying that Ardyn find repose.[91] He appears before Noctis during the events of Final Fantasy XV as the Lucii spirit known as the Mystic, who is bound to the Ring of the Lucii, as the final and most difficult test of Noctis in Insomnia, corrupted by his brother to fight against the True King and after being defeated, begs Noctis to right the devastating mistake he had made by causing Ardyn to become the monster he is now. Once the Ring is shattered after Ardyn's complete destruction, Somnus passes on to the afterlife along with the rest of the Lucii and his now saved brother.[52]

In the Dawn of the Future, he appears before Noctis early on after Noctis awakens and pleads for him to save his brother from the fate Somnus himself has condemned him to. When Noctis asks for his permission to give Ardyn the Ring of the Lucii, the Mystic grants it out of a desire to redeem himself in the eyes of his brother and deals the final blow to Ardyn after briefly hesitating when Ardyn summons the power of Providence. Side-by-side with his brother, he would help in the destruction of Bahamut and like he did in the original, moves on to the afterlife as Ardyn finds peace with Aera and is recognized as the one who should have been the Founder King.

GilgameshEdit

Voiced by: Kazuhiko Inoue (Japanese); Tom Taylorson (English)[108]

Gilgamesh (ギルガメッシュ, Girugamesshu) is a formidable warrior who was revered as both Blademaster and the Shield of the Founder King in life, being Somnus's childhood friend and closest ally as he played a role in subduing Ardyn.[90] After Somnus's reign ended Gilgamesh became immortal, making his home in the Tempering Grounds within Taelpar Crag in the Cleigne region, so he may face the Shield of the prophesied True King. As a result, he became infamous for placing Lucian warriors in trial by combat, killing those deemed unworthy while sparing those like Cor Leonis, who managed to cut his arm off. Gilgamesh serves as the main antagonist in the DLC Episode Gladiolus, testing Gladiolus's worth before recognizing him as the True King's protector.[73]

Aera Mirus FleuretEdit

Voiced by: Saori Seto (Japanese); Julie Nathanson (English)[95]

Aera Mirus Fleuret (エイラ・ミルス・フルーレ, Eira Mirusu Furūre) is Lunafreya's ancestor and the first Oracle, and the fiancée of Ardyn. When Aera revealed to Somnus the identity of the chosen king, she was used to lure Ardyn into Somnus's trap, dying in the ensuing fight between the brothers.[90] Her death would play a vital role in Ardyn's vendetta against Somnus's bloodline, worsened once Ardyn realizes she knew the Astrals' plans for him after learning his predestined role and death from Bahamut.[91]

BahamutEdit

Voiced by: Itaru Yamamoto (Japanese); David Lodge (English)[109]

Bahamut (バハムート, Bahamūto), also known as the Draconian and the Bladekeeper, is the God of War and the overseer of the Astrals.[99] Unlike his brethren who are bound to the planet itself, Bahamut resides in an otherworldly realm accessed via the Crystal. While his duty is ultimately to protect Eos, he displays a ruthless streak in carrying out his task, believing fate to be absolute and that the sacrifice of a few for the good of the many is necessary.[91] During the Great War of Old, it was Bahamut who defeated Ifrit and laid his body under the Rock of Ravatogh. When the Starscourge first ravaged Eos two millennia ago, he planned the events leading to the main game to permanently destroy the plague; to that end he gifted the Crystal and the Ring of the Lucii to the Caelum dynasty, and his trident to the Fleuret family. He summons Ardyn—and later, Noctis—to his domain to explain to each their role as sacrifices to end the Starscourge, aiding the latter in his battle against the revived and corrupted Ifrit.[52][76]

In the alternate ending depicted in the novel Final Fantasy XV -The Dawn of the Future-, Bahamut serves as the main antagonist. It is revealed that he had grown disillusioned by the Great War of Old, seeing humans as diseased flowers to be culled and attempting to exterminate all life on Eos with Teraflare. But the other Astrals intercepted the attack, forcing them all to enter a deep slumber to recuperate. When Bahamut's plan to destroy the Starscourge falls into disarray following Ardyn's defiance of him, he attempts once again to unleash Teraflare on Eos, resurrecting Lunafreya to have her serve his purpose as Noctis and Ardyn put aside their enmity to stop him. Bahamut's death causes the other Astrals and all magic to fade from existence, the Crystal absorbing the last of the Starscourge before shattering.[61]

ReceptionEdit

Gladiolus' relationship with the rest of the party members was praised for its portrayal of male bonding.[110] He has been described as the "big brother" of the group and as "a man who knows exactly where his place is in the world and embraces it".[111]

Ignis has been given the 2016 Best Sidekick of the Year award from Game Informer, who cited "...the multifaceted ways he helps the group and the sacrifices he makes to ensure their journey is successful" as their reasoning for their choice;[112] favorable reception also went to the fact he challenges gender roles by expressing emotion and adoration to his teammates, as well as being a healer.[113] Ignis also came in second in USGamer's Best Sidekick of the Year award; USGamer's Kat Bailey, in her reasoning for nominating Ignis for Sidekick of the Year, said that "...Ignis still makes his mark in the latter part of the story. In fact, the turn his character takes and the effect that it has on the party is ultimately why I think he's the most significant of Final Fantasy XV's secondary characters."[114]

Cultural impactEdit

There has been an internet meme focused on Noctis and his friends in the Regalia looking at photoshopped images. Square Enix producer Shinji Hashimoto found it comical and motivated fans to produce more in order to increase people's interest in Final Fantasy XV.[115]

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External linksEdit