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The 15th main installment in the Final Fantasy series came out in November 2016 after a protracted development period. Despite its struggles at the studio, the Final Fantasy XV game was an instant hit at release and became a classic with the release of the Royal Edition in 2018.
Bottom Line Up Front: Final Fantasy XV is a beautiful fairy tale told through the eyes of a young but hesitant prince forced to come to terms with his calling. The storytelling and world-building are an emotional journey through the land of Eos guaranteed to captivate any player. Easily one of the best Final Fantasy games ever released.
Final Fantasy XV is set in the world of Eos, divided between the lands of Lucis, Niflheim, Tenebrae, and Accordo. The protagonists hail from the Lucian leadership’s inner circle.
In ancient times, the gods blessed the Caelum dynasty with a powerful Crystal and the Ring of the Lucii. These magical artifacts were intrinsically attached to Lucian monarchs, and legend said their properties protected the people against their enemies.
The Caelum rulers were not all-powerful alone. Their safekeeping of the world relied on the union of their kings and the Oracle. According to the tales, the Astral gods bestowed upon certain members of the Fleuret dynasty of Tenebrae the power to commune with them.
The Oracle’s duty was to cleanse the world and keep away the Starscourge. This nocturnal malaise ate into the days and gave birth to heinous daemons away from the light.
Eos has not seen peace for centuries. The Empire of Niflheim was envious of the celestial powers given to the other lands. Intent on restoring the single original land from which the Astrals created others, emperors have launched multiple wars against their neighbors.
Niflheim annexed Accordo. Tenebrae’s fate could have been similar, but the province had limited independence due to the Oracle’s presence.
The Kingdom of Lucis fared better than others against Niflheim but steadily lost ground in battle. The only holdout under the Caelum dynasty was the capital, Insomnia. The Crystal projected an impenetrable wall around it, keeping the Empire at bay.
After seemingly endless wars, the hope of peace appeared on the horizon. Rulers of the Kingdom of Lucis and the Empire of Niflheim agreed to meet in Insomnia to sign an armistice. As part of the treaty, young Prince Noctis Lucis Caelum would to Tenebrae and wed his childhood friend and Oracle, Lunafreya Nox Fleuret.
Key Characters (Role and Motivations)
Noctis Lucis Caelum
The Crown Prince of Lucis. Noctis is a hesitant heir to the throne. He is uncomfortable with the expectations placed on him but makes up with perseverance and faith in his friends, who support him at his moments of weakness.
The Shield of the King. A strong fighter with an impressive muscular build, Gladiolus is selfless but expects those around him to be ready to make the same level of sacrifice when their calling comes.
The Hand of the King. As an advisor to the Royal Family, Ignis acts as the brain. His analytical approach balances out his friends’ impulsiveness.
Noctis’ best friend. A playful man with a kind heart, Prompto lightens spirits next to his serious companions.
Regis Lucis Caelum
The King of Lucis. Once a fearsome warrior, his battlefield injuries resigned him to more official duties as a leader in Insomnia. Regis protects the people of Lucis with the same love he has for his son Noctis.
Lunafreya Nox Fleuret
The Oracle of Tenebrae. Lunafreya is Noctis’ childhood friend but has not seen him since due to her obligations as the healer of Eos.
A man of no consequence. Before their meeting, Noctis and his friends knew nothing about Ardyn. His origins or motives are unclear, but Izunia slowly volunteers them over time.
Also known as the Six Gods, the Astrals are gods worshipped by the people of Eos. They have elemental affinities: Titan (stone), Ramuh (lightning), Shiva (ice), Leviathan (water), Bahamut (iron), and Ifrit (fire). The lands of Eos came when Ifrit broke with the other five and destroyed Solheim, consumed by his loathing of humanity.
Despite falling under the same umbrella, Final Fantasy XV’s gameplay and mechanics are a stark departure from previous entries in the series.
The Open World
Final Fantasy games have embraced the freedom of movement since the 1990s. Players could travel freely across the world map to visit key locations. Final Fantasy XV follows this tradition but goes beyond its predecessors.
Instead of a miniaturized map, Eos is present in full scale. The world has a level of detail never seen before, and it stays consistent from core locations to remote wastelands.
The principal method of travel is the Regalia, a custom-made car once owned by King Regis Lucis Caelum and passed down to his son Noctis. As a luxury car, it is only able to travel on roads. Exploring areas outside these routes can be done on foot or by riding chocobos, a classic recurring animal in the series.
As with most Final Fantasy titles, most cities and settlements act as safe-havens. Its inhabitants interact with the player and sometimes request your assistance with various tasks. These side quests are not exclusive to urban areas, however. Farmers, stranded drivers, and hunters, among others, dot the wilderness of Eos. You never know when you will find someone in need of a hand.
The fauna of Eos makes a strong presence between settlements, but it is in no way uniform. Different geographic conditions host matching animals and insects.
These can be peaceful types that only attack in self-defense or vicious predators that will treat you like prey. You can see animals before they spot you. My advice is to come prepared when venturing in the wilderness and err on the side of caution if you are not sure you can handle strong foes. You can always explore an area after leveling up if the locals are not friendly.
Day cycles are a crucial part of your journey in Final Fantasy XV. Eos may seem like a calm land under the sun. However, the Starscourge rears its ugly head when night falls. Away from the light of populated areas, darkness allows for the spawn of daemons.
These evil spirits appear spontaneously and hit much harder than any foe encountered during the day. Even for good fighters, battling daemons is a high-risk affair. The time spent defeating any of them can be enough for others to spawn. It is easy to find yourself fighting more enemies than your party can handle.
The only failsafe strategy against daemons is to track time and plan accordingly. By default, the headlights on the Regalia are not enough to keep them away. In other words, you can have enemies rise from the road and stop you on your tracks, potentially forcing you to fight or abandon the car for the night in search of safety.
The city lights protect against the daemons, but there are sacred sites called havens scattered around the wilderness with the same role. Try and keep their location in mind in case you need to make a run for it. Once unlocked, chocobos are a great way to avoid nasty encounters by dashing to the nearest haven or town. Dungeons are the opposite of those: daemons appear there regardless of time.
Combat is what sets Final Fantasy XV apart from previous titles. Enemies roam wild areas and will engage based on their traits. If undetected, players have the option to flee before a fight starts. Each enemy has an engagement radius. Running away is a viable strategy.
Final Fantasy XV uses hack and slash mechanics aided by Noctis’ magical abilities and mutual support between party members.
You have some freedom to customize the equipment your party wears, though each member is limited to certain weapon types based on their skills and physiques. Those familiar with Square Enix’s Kingdom Hearts series will feel right at home with Active X Battle.
Some may find it surprising, but my favorite aspect of the gameplay in Final Fantasy XV is managing daily life. Developers at Square Enix created characters that feel very much real.
The game places their well-being in your hands. Characters in Final Fantasy XV may be powerful fighters, but not everything falls from heaven in Eos. To keep the main party in good fighting shape, they need rest and food. How you get this is up to you, and many game mechanics lead to it.
Rest comes in many shapes and sizes, but also prices. If you are not in the mood to spend gil or are far away from a settlement, you will be glad to hear that the cheapest lodging is free. Havens, marked by tents on the map and easy to spot due to their ethereal aura, allow the party to make camp.
Party members pitch up a tent, whip out a field kitchen, make delicious meals by the campfire and get a good night of sleep. Dreamy, right?
Camping is not a daily solution, and this is reflected in-game. After a few days of sleeping in the wild, the party will complain about wanting a shower. They can do this at hotels, motels, or trailers located in settlements around Eos. Renting sleeping quarters for the night can cost anywhere from 30 to 30000 gil.
The expensive options have perks beyond room service. Paid lodging comes with experience multipliers. Sleeping at a caravan yields an x1.2 EXP bonus, but the Royal Suite at a hotel can reach up to x3.0! If you have been up for a long time, fought powerful enemies, or completed quests, it may be worth dishing out the money to reap the rewards.
You may have noticed I did not mention the food here, and that is because hotels indeed do not include dinner. If you want to keep the party well-fed, you will have to seek food elsewhere.
A good diet is imperative to thrive in Eos. Each dish applies special effects to the party. When you know what to expect, it helps to eat something advantageous in the fight to come. Eating in Final Fantasy XV happens at campsites or restaurants. The two complement each other.
While camping, food is prepared by Ignis. Recipes available depend on the ingredients in your inventory and his knowledge. Ignis learns recipes through cookbooks, available at certain convenience stores, or tasting new meals at restaurants. The cost of eating out varies with both dish and venue. You only need to try something new once to make it available at the campsite.
To eat out or sleep under a roof cost money. Despite its nobility, the party is not well-off in its voyage. To make it outside of Insomnia, you need to work!
There are many ways to earn money in Final Fantasy XV, so you can choose one (or many) that suit your playing style. The most straightforward one is hunting.
Local restaurants have a list of the monsters harassing their town, and its owners will pay a pretty penny if you can eliminate them. If you prefer to have no strings attached, items acquired while exploring can be traded in for gil. Certain quests will reward you with money upon completion as well.
A Peaceful Start
After centuries at war, the rulers of Niflheim and Lucis have negotiated a peace treaty at last. The armistice shall be signed in Insomnia, the capital of the Kingdom of Lucis.
Prince of Lucis, Noctis, and the Oracle of Tenebrae, Lunafreya, are to wed in Altissia, the capital of Accordo. Noctis travels in the company of his best friends and members of the Crowndsguard. Noctis, Ignis, Gladiolus, and Prompto receive the keys to the Regalia.
The four youngsters have never left Insomnia before setting off and find themselves unprepared for the surprises beyond the Crystal’s wall. The car breaks down before their first stop, forcing them to push it until Hammerhead.
The area is home to a repair shop run by Cindy and her grandfather Cid, an old friend of King Regis. Noctis has no money to pay for the repairs, but Cid agrees to fix the Regalia for favors in the Hammerhead outskirts.
With the car in working order, the party heads down to the port resort of Galdin Quay, expecting to board the ferry to Altissia. The plan does not come to, however. They learn from a mysterious stranger that no ships are running. Noctis and friends explore the neighboring area before settling down for a night at the resort hotel.
The morning after brings grim news. The true purpose of the imperial delegation to Insomnia was to bring down the shield wall. With the capital of Lucis defenseless, Niflheim forces launched a full-scale assault. King Regis and most of the royal court died while resisting the invasion. After bringing the Kingdom to its knees, the Empire took away the Crystal.
News broadcasts say both Noctis and Lunafreya died in Insomnia as well. The distressed Noctis must come to terms with the loss of his father, his fiancée, and the unexpected burden of becoming the King of Lucis. The four board the Regalia and try to make it back to Insomnia but find the city firmly under siege.
As the group watches over the ruins, the Marshal of the Crownsguard, Cor Leonis, contacts Noctis to debrief him on the situation. King Regis suspected the treaty was a ruse and sent his son to wed Lunafreya to spare his life. Cor lays out how Noctis can reclaim the throne, starting by visiting the royal tombs of the Lucian Kings to collect their weapons and powers.
Noctis and his party visit two of the tombs in the area, retrieving the royal arms in the process. Afterward, they and Cor team up once more. Imperial troops have blocked all travel to the Duscae region. The Marshal, the Prince, and the Crownsguard raid the Norduscaen Blockade to reopen roads.
The Lestallum Legend
Noctis and his friends drive to the green lands by Lestallum to meet with Gladiolus’ sister Iris. She escaped the destruction of Insomnia with the help of Jared Hester, the Amicitia family butler. On the way to the city, they spot the Disc of Cauthess, a meteorite crater blockaded by the Empire.
Iris tells Noctis that Lunafreya has visited them in Lestallum, and confirms she is safe. The prince suffers strange headaches connected with tremors from the Disc of Cauthess.
Explanations come from an unexpected source. At the Lestallum outlook, they meet the same stranger encountered in Gauldin Quay. Introducing himself only as Ardyn, he hints that the headaches are a call from the Titan. According to the legend, this Astral still holds the meteorite on his back, waiting for the King of Lucis to wake him.
Short of options, the party is forced to accept help from the charismatic man. Ardyn provides them with safe passage to the Disc of Cauthess but refuses to wander in himself. After Noctis reaches the Titan, the god awakens, crumbling the ground and separating Noctis and Gladiolus from Ignis and Prompto.
As the prince and his bodyguard make their way through the shifting terrain, Gladiolus grows frustrated with his friend’s hesitation towards his duties as the new King of Lucis.
The Titan engages Noctis to test his strength and forges a covenant with the prince after this. As the Astral disappears, Noctis reunites with his friends. They evacuate with the help of Ardyn, who reintroduces himself as Chancellor of Niflheim.
The Storm Calls
After the Titan awakening, Lestallum finally finds itself free of tremors, and Noctis’ headaches subside. The Duscae territories fall under a new problem, however. A seemingly perpetual storm settles over the region, and the Empire blocks all road traffic.
Noctis receives a visit from Gentiana, the messenger of the gods, who instructs him to follow the trials of the Astral Ramuh. When the prince succeeds, the storm clears.
The party receives a tip from Cindy that the Regalia is at the Empire’s Aracheole Stronghold. During the raid on the base, they meet Lunafreya’s brother, imperial high commander Ravus Nox Fleuret. Before a fight breaks out, however, Ardyn intervenes.
The chancellor allows the party to leave with their car. Despite another kind gesture, they become increasingly displeased with Ardyn and his mysterious intentions.
Revenge and Departure
Back at Lestallum, they learn an imperial search party killed Jared. To protect Iris and Jared’s grandson Talcott, the group rides to the port of Caem. They come across another imperial base and attack it to avenge their fallen friend.
Imperial Commodore Aranea Highwind ambushes Noctis at the base. The party continues their journey to Caem, where Iris and Talcott stay. The small harbor hosts the boat that once belonged to King Regis. Cid and Cindy volunteer to repair it but cannot do so without mythril.
They visit the Versperpool without Gladiolus, who temporarily leaves. Ardyn points the party towards the Steyliff Grove, the mysterious ruins only accessible at night. The Commodore joins the party to escort them. Aranea opens up about her reservations about the Empire’s harvesting of daemons to make magitek troops. Together they battle a monster and depart after harvesting raw mythril ore. At the entrance, Aranea parts ways with Noctis, Ignis, and Prompto.
Much to their disappointment, they learn from the mechanics that they cannot work with raw materials. Cindy refers them to an engineer in Lestallum who can process it for them. Upon meeting Noctis, Holly first requests that he help her cleanse the local powerplant of daemons.
The prince does this with the aid of a mysterious warrior, who turns out to be his friend Gladiolus. Holly treats the mythril into something Cid can use. With the boat in working order, Noctis and his party part ways with their friends in Lucis.
Across the Sea
At the beautiful city of Altissia, they learn that their semi-autonomous government is sheltering the Oracle, but it is under pressure from Niflheim to surrender her. Noctis negotiates an alliance with its First Secretary. When Lunafreya raises the Leviathan, the prince’s friends will protect the civilians.
On the day of the ceremony, Lunafreya appears in public for the first time since the fall of Insomnia. She reinforces her commitments as the Oracle. While Lunafreya successfully summons the Leviathan, the god refuses to acknowledge Noctis as the rightful king of Lucis.
The Empire of Niflheim launches a surprise attack on the Leviathan. While Noctis and Lunafreya are apart, Ardyn descends from a drop-ship and stabs the Oracle, mortally wounding her. The would-be king fights the Leviathan with the help of Titan and overpowers her in battle before losing consciousness.
Noctis comes to many days later, after visions of Lunafreya and the Ring of the Lucii. He learns that his fiancée has died during the fight, and his friend Ignis’ eyesight is gone.
Behind Enemy Lines
After several weeks at Altissia and with Ignis’ eyesight not showing any signs of improvement, the group boards a train towards Gralea, the capital of Niflheim. They hope to reclaim the stolen Crystal to restore the Kingdom of Lucis. Noctis grieves Lunafreya and argues with Gladiolus.
En route to Gralea, they stop by the abandoned mine of Fodina Caestino in search of a royal arm. The group meets a vicious Malboro, defeated with the help of Ignis. He pushes Gladiolus and Noctis to make amends, and a united party returns to the train. They notice the nights are growing longer without the Oracle.
Around Eusciello, imperial troops attack the train. Ardyn boards the passenger wagons and teases Noctis, who is seemingly unable to strike him. The chancellor then holds Prompto at gunpoint atop the train, but when Noctis attempts to attack him, he sees his friend falling off. Ardyn then hits Noctis, knocking him out.
As they stop at Tenebrae, they find the Fenestala Manor ablaze. The Empire executed High Commander Revus for his failure during the Leviathan attack. Nights continue to grow longer, and daemons appear even in broad daylight. Aranea meets the group again after leaving the Empire.
She sends her subordinates to help Noctis reach the capital. Ardyn visits it once more. Noctis questions his intentions until Gentiana freezes time. She reveals herself to be Shiva and forges a covenant with the new king. Shiva gifts him the Trident of the Oracle.
Upon entering Gralea, the train falls under attack once more. Noctis drives away in the Regalia and pushes his way into town before the car is eventually totaled. Separated from his friends, he discovers he cannot use his weapons or powers. Noctis answers his calling as king and yields the Ring of the Lucii, using its magic to fight his way into the laboratory where the Crystal is.
Noctis discovers that a mysterious disease has ravaged the Empire, turning its citizens into daemons. After reuniting with Ignis and Gladiolus, he tracks down Prompto’s location. Their friend is found alive at the Zegnautus Keep. Prompto reveals that he was born in an imperial laboratory.
After Noctis’ powers return, they meet the possessed corpse of Ravus, who begs them to end his suffering. A horde of daemons spawns after his demise.
Noctis’ friends stay behind to hold them off while the king races towards the Crystal. He is absorbed by it, listening to Ardyn’s taunting voice revealing his name to be Ardyn Lucis Caelum. His foe was the Chosen King until the Crystal rejected him. Cursed to an immortal existence, he swore vengeance upon Lucis.
Return of the King
Noctis wakes up alone on the deserted island of Angelgard after absorbing the Crystal’s powers. A letter tells him his friends are waiting at Hammerhead. He sails back to Galdin Quay, only to find it in ruins. An adult truck driver picks him up.
He turns out to be Talcott, who reveals that a decade has passed as Noctis rested within the Crystal. The sun no longer shines over Eos, and only Lestallum remains free of daemons thanks to the meteorite. The Crownsguard have become daemon hunters under Cor’s leadership.
As the friends reunite, they go camping one last time before heading into the ruins of Insomnia. Ardyn has destroyed the city and erected a shield wall infused with dark magic. Ifrit, The Betrayer, attacks Noctis and his friends. At the royal palace, they fight the spirits of fallen kings. Ardyn neutralizes Ignis, Prompto, and Gladiolus.
He wants to settle matters alone with the king. After a protracted swordfight, Noctis defeats the fallen Caelum, who ascends to the spiritual realm.
The king sits on the throne and summons the power of the Crystal and the Ring of the Lucii. He and fallen Lucian kings cleanse Ardyn’s soul from the Starscourge. Noctis sacrifices himself, the Ring shatters, and the sun rises once again over Eos as prophesized.
Final Fantasy XV feels like a classic fairytale. The story orbits around the romance between the chosen girl and a kind-hearted prince. The power of friendship and the medieval allegories are present throughout. The impact of grief and loss drives character development. This game is an emotionally darker experience than most of its predecessors.
Development and Release
Square Enix announced Final Fantasy XV at E3 2006, and a dedicated team began working on it shortly after. Leading it was Tetsuya Nomura, renowned for his work as director and character designer in other Final Fantasy titles and the Kingdom Hearts series. A lot changed between 2006 and the release in 2016. The initial plan was a spin-off of Final Fantasy XIII.
This first cycle lasted until 2012 when Square Enix made massive changes to what had now become a standalone title. After Sony’s PlayStation 4 announcement, there was little interest in releasing a game that would be obsolete in less than half a decade. The company shifted focus to the new PlayStation plus the Xbox One. Square Enix dropped Crystal Tools in favor of the Luminous Engine.
The change in priorities also brought about a new team leader. Tetsuya Nomura was relieved to work on Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy VII. Square Enix appointed Hajime Tabata to oversee the FFXV’s completion.
Such capital changes delayed the game for two years. The first news came at the 2014 Tokyo Game Show. The game reemerged at an advanced stage and followed up with a demo in March 2015. Further delays meant Final Fantasy XV only came out in November 2016.
Players and critics awarded the game overwhelmingly positive scores. Square Enix addressed criticism through several updates and add-ons. DLC episodes told the experiences of supporting characters during their absences in the main story, and Episode Ardyn detailed how the game’s mysterious foe came to be.
Question: Is Final Fantasy XV Worth It?
Answer: In my opinion, absolutely. It is possibly the best Final Fantasy game.
Question: Is Final Fantasy XV a Sequel?
Answer: No, but it was going to be.
Question: How Long Does it Take to Finish Final Fantasy XV?
Answer: The main story takes around 29 hours to complete. To finish all quests requires 97 hours.
Question: How Many Chapters are there in Final Fantasy XV?
Answer: 15 chapters in total.
Question: How Many Endings Does Final Fantasy XV Have?
Answer: Two. It is possible to reach an alternate ending, but the player must complete the original one first before attempting that.
Final Fantasy XV may only be a few years old, but it is a classic in its own right. I have completed it multiple times since purchasing it on day one. Coming back to it is a matter of when not if. The game marries a captivating tale to a degree of agency not seen in previous entries.
At many parts of the game, I felt like I was playing Ignis more than Noctis, working hard to keep the party’s spirits up, ensuring they got plenty of sleep, meals, and had enough money. Whether it is the best Final Fantasy game or not is entirely subjective, but I would not name my list of contenders without Final Fantasy XV in it.
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