Promotional artwork by Yuki Matsuzawa featuring the core and supporting cast of Final Fantasy XV and its expanded media. Top from left: Aranea Highwind, Ardyn Izunia, Idolas Aldercapt, Iris Amicitia, Nyx Ulric, Regis Lucis Caelum, Ravus Nox Fleuret, Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, Gentiana/Shiva, Cid Sophiar, Cor Leonis, Gladiolus Amicitia, Noctis Lucis Caelum, Prompto Argentum, Ignis Scientia, Cindy Aurum.
Promotional artwork by Yuki Matsuzawa featuring the core and supporting cast of Final Fantasy XV and its expanded media. Top from left: Aranea Highwind, Ardyn Izunia, Idolas Aldercapt, Iris Amicitia, Nyx Ulric, Regis Lucis Caelum, Ravus Nox Fleuret, Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, Gentiana/Shiva, Cid Sophiar, Cor Leonis, Gladiolus Amicitia, Noctis Lucis Caelum, Prompto Argentum, Ignis Scientia, Cindy Aurum.

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 the nations of Lucis and Niflheim for control of the magical Crystal. 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; 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 , the CGI feature film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, numerous pieces of story-based downloadable content (DLC), and a novel The Dawn of the Future based on a cancelled second series of DLC.

Reception of its characters has been mixed; while the playable cast and its interactions met with frequent praise, underuse of its supporting cast and lack of female characters were frequently faulted. It also saw commentary on its portrayal of gender roles and character disability. The additional media saw a mixed reaction; Brotherhood was praised for its character development, while Kingsglaive met with frequent criticism. The DLC episodes met with varied reactions, though many critics praised their expansions on each character.

Concept and creation

The concept and setting of Final Fantasy XV, initially a spin-off titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII,[a] 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][b][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] Around two thirds of the planned scenario ended up being cut.[22] This rewriting was primarily done by Saori Itamuro, who was credited as "Lead Scenario Designer".[23]

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.[24] 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.[25] 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][26] 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".[27] Final Japanese voice casting for the game began in 2010.[28]

Character design

In contrast to many previous Final Fantasy titles, the playable cast of Final Fantasy 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.[29] 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][30] Roen's designs were kept in the game when it became XV, as the team felt it would be wrong to remove them.[26] 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][31] A result of the shift onto new hardware was that the art style moved away from the "stylized" look required by earlier hardware limitations.[32] 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.[33]

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.[34][35] 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.[36] 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.[35] Many of his surviving character designs were altered during later development, including those for Gentiana and Umbra. Ardyn and Aranea remained mostly unchanged.[36] Another contributing artist was Yusaku Nakaaki, who helped design Cindy.[37] The party's black garb were retained as a reference to the concepts of "death worship" present in Versus XIII, which were cut to avoid changing too much for regional censorship laws. Black remained an important color in-game due to its connection to the Lucian royal family.[38] The later characters of Aera and Somnus were respectively based physically on Lunafreya and Noctis, while a young version of Verstael was physically based on Prompto.[39]

Expanded media

To avoid spreading the narrative of Final Fantasy XV into multiple games, the team created a multimedia universe surrounding the game; these included a special prequel demo titled Platinum Demo, the feature movie Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, and the original net animation Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV.[31][40] The central theme for the overall story of Final Fantasy XV was the bond between father and son: Kingsglaive represented the theme from the father Regis' point of view.[40] The movie also salvaged a large section of the original narrative that was cut from the game.[22] Brotherhood focuses on themes of brotherhood and friendship, and includes interpersonal scenes that could not be included in the game.[41] Lunafreya was highlighted as the "keystone" connecting the game, the movie, and the anime series together.[42] While the media universe was expanded, Tabata divided the two phases between pre-release media and post-release downloadable content (DLC) and spin-off titles.[43] The story also continued in Comrades, a multiplayer-focused expansion set during the ten-year narrative gap and focusing on the titular faction from Kingsglaive.[44][45]

The DLC was split into three episodes covering Gladiolus, Prompto, and Ignis during periods they were separated from Noctis.[46][47][48] The online multiplayer expansion filled the ten-year gap in the narrative[44][45] A second series of DLC episodes was commissioned under the title The Dawn of the Future, which was intended to create an alternate series of events and allow a better ending where the lead characters defy their fates.[49] Prior to this, an anime short centered around Ardyn's past was also planned, expanding into its own DLC episode.[50] The basic scenario were written by Toru Osanai.[39] Due to several factors, only Episode Ardyn was released, with the other three episodes being cancelled.[51][52] The scrapped content was instead turned into a novel of the same name, written by Emi Nagashima based on the draft scenario;[39] the novel released in 2019 in Japan and 2020 in the West.[53][54]

Localization

The English localization of XV was led by Dan Inoue.[55] One of the aspects of the localization was using different accents to show the characters coming 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.[56] For the game's lore, the team made a conscious effort to move away from the esoteric terminology Final Fantasy had gained a reputation for. They used understandable names like "Astral" and "Daemon". To stop the lore becoming uninteresting, the divine beings' speech was made very impersonal—such as Gentiana not using "I" or "You" during her dialogue—and using interpretive dialogue for simple concepts.[57] Different issues raised later included Ignis' localized lines, which changed aspects of the character interaction, and the alteration of Cindy's name from the original "Cidney".[55]

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] The decision for a simultaneous release meant the localization had to happen alongside the game production, with no extra time for tweaks and corrections.[57] 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.[58]

One of the early issues, which drew public attention with the release of Episode Duscae, was Noctis' English voice actor. In Episode Duscae, his voice 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' personality.[59] The team needed to deal with the clash between normal dialogue and the fantastic elements, which threatened to undermine the narrative. This forced the different pieces of media to take different approaches, and some scripted character interactions to join up the different sides of the narrative. The game's localization methods ended up backfiring after release due to the dialogue matching mechanism for characters causing line repetition or omission.[57]

Main characters

Noctis Lucis Caelum

Main article: Noctis Lucis Caelum

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.[60] He eventually becomes the True King, a figure who saves Eos from a plague of darkness called the Starscourge at the cost of his life.[11][61] In The Dawn of the Future, Noctis ends up rebelling against his role, succeeding in both saving Lunafreya and purging Eos of the Starscourge while surviving.[62] Noctis is voiced by Tatsuhisa Suzuki in Japanese and Ray Chase in English.[63]

Lunafreya Nox Fleuret

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 (above) with Lunafreya (below) as the main heroine.[21]

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 one of the central figures in Noctis' journey.[11][42] 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] Following the death of Sylva during Niflheim's attempted assassination of Regis and Noctis, Lunafreya becomes the youngest Oracle in history.[11][64] 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—a magical ring key to the prophecy of the True King—as both Regis and Kingsglaive member Nyx Ulric sacrifice themselves to ensure her escape.[65] Lunafreya then travels ahead of Noctis, ensuring the Astrals grant him their power while guiding him through her companion Gentiana,[66][67] the human form of the Astral Shiva.[68] As she is persuading with the Astral Leviathan, she is fatally stabbed by Ardyn, giving the Ring of the Lucii to Noctis before dying.[69] It is later revealed that speaking with the Astrals was slowly killing her, and she had been counting on her brother Ravus to finish what she started.[70] Lunafreya continues to support Noctis in spirit form, aiding him directly in his final confrontation with Ardyn before reuniting with Noctis in the afterlife.[61][70][71] In The Dawn of the Future, Lunafreya is resurrected by Bahamut to become a replacement for the rebellious Ardyn; initially falling in line, Lunafreya decides to rebel in turn against his wish to purge Eos of life, ultimately surviving and reuniting with Noctis.[62]

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]".[72] A key scene for Stella was the meeting and conversation with Noctis during the game's opening.[73] 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.[30] She was intended to be a very polite person, with that politeness conveyed through specific dialogue traits in her speech.[74] 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.[32] The team considered redesigning Stella to play a more active role in the story, but Tabata was uncomfortable about this.[75] Faced with the scenario of fans being disappointed if Stella's personality or role were changed, the developers instead opted to replace her entirely.[32]

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.[75] Lunafreya was described as the "keystone" linking the narratives of Final Fantasy XV, Kingsglaive and Brotherhood.[42] While she did not have an active role in Kingsglaive, her character strength was conveyed through a single-minded determination.[76] 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.[77] According to Tabata, the relationship between Noctis and Lunafreya was not a typical love story despite their being engaged.[78] He also defined Lunafreya's personality as being stronger than either Stella or Noctis.[79]

Lunafreya was designed by Naora.[80] Her appearance was defined by Tabata as "strong and heroic", which would be conveyed by her expressions and actions.[77] 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".[77] 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.[80]

Lunafreya was voiced by Rina Kitagawa in Japanese and Amy Shiels in English.[63] Shiels described the role as interesting due to the character's combined strength and vulnerability.[81] In Kingsglaive, the character is voiced by Shiori Kutsuna in Japanese and Lena Headey in English.[82]

Ardyn Izunia

Ardyn Izunia (アーデン・イズニア, Āden Izunia) is the main antagonist of XV, and the protagonist of Episode Ardyn. He is initially 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.[83] 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 healer who cured the Starscourge by taking it into his own body. The growing Starscourge caused him to be ostracised by his brother Somnus and rejected by the Crystal, an event compounded by the death of his lover Aera Mirus Fleuret during his fight with Somnus.[84][85][86][87] Imprisoned for 2000 years, he is recovered by Niflheim and eventually embraces his dark powers, gradually losing his sanity and taking on the "Izunia" name.[88] During an assault on Insomnia 30 years prior to the game, he learns that he was chosen by the Astrals to become a sacrificial vessel for the Starscourge; he reluctantly submits to this fate in exchange for revenge against Somnus's bloodline.[39] 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.[66][89][90] Ardyn reveals his motives by fatally wounding Lunafreya after she summons Leviathan, then harassing Noctis first by tricking him into attacking Prompto, then revealing the truth of their kinship when Noctis reaches the Crystal.[84][91] After ten years, Ardyn faces Noctis in single-combat after setting the infected Ifrit and Lucii—embodiments of past Lucian monarchs—on him. Noctis destroys first Ardyn's body and then his spirit, completing his role and purging Eos of the Starscourge.[61][71] In The Dawn of the Future, Ardyn instead rebels against Bahamut's will, prompting Bahamut to plan the destruction of Eos. Eventually Noctis and a revived Lunafreya convince him to perform the ritual of Providence in Noctis's place, allowing him to kill Bahamut, erase the Starscourge, and make peace with Somnus and Aera.[62]

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][34] 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.[92] Ardyn was designed by Roberto Ferrari, remaining nearly unchanged throughout development;[34] 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.[31] 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.[27]

Ardyn is voiced in English by Darin De Paul.[63] As Paul was used to playing deeper-voiced characters, he almost did not audition for the role, but changed his mind as he "got [the] character". He did a single take for the voice, which landed him the role.[81] Ardyn makes a cameo appearance in Assassin's Creed: Origins as part of a franchise crossover between Square Enix and Ubisoft in 2017.[93] He was added as a playable character for the crossover mobile title Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia in 2019, and the fighting game Dissidia Final Fantasy NT in 2018.[94][95]

Gladiolus Amicitia

Gladiolus Amicitia (グラディオラス・アミシティア, Guradiorasu Amishitia), or Gladio to his close friends, is the protagonist of Episode Gladiolus. 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.[96] During the course of the story, Gladiolus serves as both Noctis' most loyal companion and a foil for his impulsive nature.[67] 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 grow his strength.[66][97][98] The events at Altissia and Ignis' injury drive a brief wedge between Gladiolus and Noctis until Ignis forces a reconciliation.[91][99] Gladiolus and Ignis later make their way through the Niflheim fortress Zegnautus Keep after being separated from Noctis, encountering the Daemon form of Niflheim's emperor Iedolas Aldercapt and seeing footage of Ravus' death.[84] Gladiolus, along with Noctis' other companions, become Daemon Hunters until his return, and accompany him to the final battle against Ardyn.[61][71]

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.[100] 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.[80][100]

Gladiolus is voiced by Kenta Miyake in Japanese and Chris Parson in English.[63] 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.[101] Parson found voicing Gladiolus odd, as his physique and personality were almost the exact opposite to the character.[81]

Ignis Scientia

Ignis Scientia (イグニス・スキエンティア, Igunisu Sukientia), or Iggy to his close friends, is the protagonist of Episode Ignis. Raised alongside Noctis to be his advisor and provided with an extensive education, he developed a collected composure and tactical instinct.[60][102] 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.[103] Ignis is blinded during the battle 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.[99][91] Like Noctis's other companions, Ignis becomes a Daemon Hunter, and accompanies Noctis to the final battle against Ardyn.[61][71]

Ignis' personality was designed to be expressed in 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.[104] Out of the main cast, Ignis went through the fewest changes despite the technological improvements that occurred during the shift from 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.[80] For Ignis' English version, Inoue wrote him to be a suave and logical character like a younger version of James Bond or Sherlock Holmes.[101] Ignis is voiced by Mamoru Miyano in Japanese and Adam Croasdell in English.[63]

Prompto Argentum

Prompto Argentum (プロンプト・アージェンタム, Puronputo Ājentamu) is the protagonist of Episode Prompto. He 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.[60][102] Initially a shy and obese child when he first met Noctis at school, a chance encounter with one of Lunafreya's messenger dogs prompted 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.[105] During their journey to Niflheim, Ardyn tricks Noctis into knocking Prompto from the train, leading to his capture by Niflheim's forces.[91] 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.[84] Like the other companions, Prompto became a Daemon Hunter during the ten-year wait and accompanied Noctis to Insomnia for the final battle.[61][71]

A major element of Prompto's character is his humble origins when compared to Gladiolus and Ignis's aristocratic families, with his less cultured mannerisms being an obvious embodiment of that.[106] 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.[107] 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.[32] Tabata later defined Prompto's camera as a manifestation of Prompto's wish to record Noctis and Lunafreya's journey.[106] 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.[108] For Prompto's English performance, Inoue based him on the titular protagonist of Ferris Bueller's Day Off.[101] Prompto is voiced by Tetsuya Kakihara in Japanese and Robbie Daymond in English.[63] Prompto’s younger self is voiced by Aki Kaneda in Japanese and Griffin Burns in English.[109]

Other characters

Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII

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. 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.[110][64] In Brotherhood, it is revealed that Regis fought off the Daemon that almost killed Noctis, but the two become estranged as Regis's health failed to meet the Wall's energy demands and Noctis had to come to terms with his future as Lucis's king.[111][103][112] He fought against Ardyn in Episode Ardyn, almost dying at his hands.[88] When Regis accepted Niflheim's peace offer despite knowing it is a trap, he sent Noctis away from the chaos that would ensue in the events of Kingsglaive.[113] 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 wanting to save him.[65] Regis reappears as one of the Lucii when Noctis sacrifices himself to end the Starscourge and destroy Ardyn, delivering the final blow.[61]

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 exhaustion that came from his use of magic to uphold a protective barrier surrounding the kingdom. Due to this, his in-game incarnation was redesigned to better fit with his portrayal in Kingsglaive.[31] The redesign was also chosen as his original design no longer fit into the reworked story of Final Fantasy XV.[114] Regis's motion capture and physical model were provided by British actor Jon Campling.[115]

Regis features as the lead playable character in the spin-off title A King's Tale, portrayed as a fairy tale told by Regis to a young Noctis.[116] Regis is voiced by Tsutomu Isobe in Japanese and Jim Pirri in English; in Kingsglaive, Regis's English voice actor was Sean Bean.[82]

Aranea Highwind

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 Unit, a group of Daemon hunters and mercenaries employed by Niflheim. Due to her prowess in aerial combat, she is known as "the Dragoon".[83] Over the course of the story, she becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the empire's actions—particularly in capturing Daemons for experimentation—and ultimately severs ties with them, instead using her resources to aid refugees.[70][97][117] 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.[109] In The Dawn of the Future, Aranea helps imperial citizens escape the capital of Niflheim, Gralea, and takes down a Diamond Weapon brought by Ardyn to destroy it, later aiding Lunafreya and Noctis in their battle against Bahamut.[62]

Aranea was designed by Ferrari.[35] 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.[34] Aranea was voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro in Japanese and Kari Wahlgren in English.[63]

Cor Leonis

Cor Leonis (コル・リオニス, Koru Rionisu) is 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 when a teenager for being the only survivor of a Lucian squad that encountered the supernatural swordsman Gilgamesh and managed to cut off his arm despite losing his sword to him. He fought alongside King Regis against the forces of Niflheim in his youth, being friends with Gladious's father Clarus.[64][98][102] He helps the party early on in Noctis's hunt for the Royal Arms, magical weapons tied to Noctis's family.[66][90] In Comrades, he continues to support the Kingsglaive, halting any search for Noctis on orders from Gentiana.[118] He later rallies the soldiers of Lucis around Noctis when he returns, and helps him directly during the assault on Insomnia.[71]

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 non-playable mentor figure. This was because the team decided to focus on the dynamics within the core group of similarly-aged men, feeling that an older man would not be compatible with their plans. His character went otherwise unchanged.[32] He acts as a temporary party member during certain points, following the party in order to protect the prince and his group, occasionally joining them in battle.[102][119][120] Cor's Japanese voice actor, Hiroki Tōchi, was originally cast as Noctis's chauffeur in Versus XIII before its transition to Final Fantasy XV.[102] The character was voiced in English by Matthew Mercer.[63] Cor, depicted as a mature background figure of authority, was a character Mercer had not played before in his career.[81]

Iris Amicitia

Iris Amicitia (イリス・アミシティア, Irisu Amishitia) is the younger sister of Gladiolus and a childhood friend of Noctis. When she was a child, Noctis shielded her from trouble when she got lost in the grounds of Regis's palace; her later confession to Gladiolus helped soften his view of Noctis.[96] She escaped Insomnia during Niflheim's invasion, taking refuge in Lestallum.[121] 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.[67][90] During Noctis's slumber, Iris becomes one of the most notorious Daemon hunters in the world, being dubbed "the Daemon Slayer".[61] Iris is voiced by Megumi Han in Japanese and Eden Riegel in English.[63]

Iedolas Aldercapt

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 Ardyn. Nevertheless, he retains an active role within Niflheim's political scene.[83] Aldercapt's ambition is to use the Crystal to grant Niflheim world domination.[11] In The Dawn of the Future, it is revealed Aldercapt's attitude was born from the loss of his family during the war against Lucis, and Ardyn's manipulation.[62] Aldercapt is eventually infected by Ardyn with the Starscourge, transforming into the Daemon Foras before being killed by Noctis.[84] Aldercapt is voiced by Shōzō Iizuka in Japanese; in English, he is voiced by Bob Joles in Final Fantasy XV and David Gant in Kingsglaive.[63][82]

Ravus Nox Fleuret

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.[65] 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 Lunafreya worsening her health on his behalf.[70] 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.[69][84] Ravus is voiced by Yūichi Nakamura in Japanese and Trevor Devall in English.[63][82]

Verstael Besithia

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 Solheim's lost technology to reduce casualties in his people's war against Lucis.[11][109] More than 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.[88] 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.[90] In Episode: Prompto, it is revealed Verstael used the Starscourge and his own DNA to create Magitek soldiers, along with other Daemon weapons. Verstael reveals Prompto's origins as a clone retrieved by Lucis, goading his "son" into shooting him. Upon his death he uploads his consciousness into his final magitek invention, Immortalis, intending to destroy the world in his new body before being eventually destroyed by Prompto with Aranea's help.[109] He is voiced by Jin Urayama in Japanese and Steve Blum in English.[63] His younger version in Episode Ardyn is voiced in Japanese by Noriaki Sugiyama.[88][c]

Kingsglaive

The Kingsglaive (キングスグレイブ, Kingusugureibu) is an elite group dedicated to protecting Regis. They are empowered with abilities similar to those of the Lucian royal line. Following Regis's acceptance of Niflheim's peace, there is dissension among the ranks, and several turn traitor.[65] The Kingsglaive survivors are the main protagonists of Comrades, helping defend survivors from the growing Daemon numbers and receiving forgiveness from Bahamut in return for protecting Noctis during his ten-year slumber.[118] They join with Noctis in a final assault on Insomnia during the final battle.[71]

During early production, Ferrari had created a group of similar figures to the Kingsglaive, though they were themed after ninjas. The character Umbra was supposed to be one of the group, but these plans were changed.[36] The characters of Kingsglaive were designed to be relatable, playing into the movie's themes.[76]

Astrals

The Astrals (六神, Rokushin, lit. "Six Gods"), also called the Hexatheon, are six beings worshipped by the people of Eos as deities. The six are Bahamut, Shiva, Ifrit, Titan, Ramuh and Leviathan.[68] In ancient times, the Astral Ifrit acted as a patron of humankind, but when they rebelled against the Astrals, Ifrit flew into a destructive rage that threatened Eos. This triggered the Great War of Old, which only ended after Bahamut felled Ifrit.[70] Ifrit was recovered by Niflheim, and ended up corrupted and enslaved to Ardyn.[88] In her quest to aid Noctis, Lunafreya ensures the Astrals will lend him their power by forming pacts dubbed "Covenants".[66][67][69] In Comrades, the Astrals witness Bahamut's trial of the Kingsglaives on the island of Angelgard, meeting place of the Astrals.[118] Noctis's group fights a corrupted Ifrit, while the other Astrals aid in the assault on Insomnia, then unite their power with Noctis to destroy the Starscourge and Ardyn.[61][71] In The Dawn of the Future, the Astrals turn against Bahamut when he threatens Eos, uniting with Noctis, Lunafreya and Ardyn to destroy him; while the Starscourge is eradicated, Bahamut's death causes magic and the other Astrals to vanish from Eos.[62]

In the original lore of Versus XIII, inspired by the Fabula Nova Crystallis subseries, god-like beings called the fal'Cie existed separately from the summons. The summon Leviathan's design was the earliest completed for the game.[7][123] During production, the mythos terminology was removed and the mythos gradually shifted to become a thematic base for original lore.[6][8] As used in Final Fantasy XV, the Astrals were designed to play integral parts in the story and world as opposed to being simple monsters to be called into battle. They were intelligent beings that Noctis needed to forge a pact with rather than simply commanding them. Due to their key role in the story, the staff chose traditional Final Fantasy summons instead of creating ones unique to the game.[8][9][26] In gameplay, four of the Astrals—Titan, Ramuh, Leviathan and Shiva—act as regular summons during the game, triggered based on the local environment and Noctis's situation.[124][125][126]

Minor characters

Reception

Six characters from Final Fantasy XV ranked in the Top 75 of NHK's "All-Final Fantasy Grand Poll of Japanese players" in 2020, which tallied over 468,000 votes; Noctis, Ignis, Prompto, Ardyn, Lunafreya and Aranea placed #13, #28, #38, #63, #69, and #75 respectively.[133] Game Informer, in its "RPG of the Year" awards, awarded the "Best Cast" category to the leads of Final Fantasy XV and best sidekick to Ignis.[134] In an article for ComicsVerse, Peter Swann noted that Final Fantasy XV's all-male cast helped challenge gender roles, focusing on Ignis's behavior during rest periods and the non-prejudice representation of Prompto's early obesity. He felt that this helped balance out any problems with female representation in the game.[135] An article by the Perkins School for the Blind lauded the representation of Ignis's recovery from his blinding, citing it as a positive example of acclimatising to disability.[136]

Chris Carter of Destructoid enjoyed the playable cast, and felt other characters' presence within the narrative despite a lack of development.[137] Electronic Gaming Monthly's Mollie L. Patterson cited the four lead characters as "the glue that keeps everything together even in the game’s worst periods", saying that they went beyond their stereotypes due to the amount of time spent with them, but faulting the representation of its female cast.[138] Game Informer's Andrew Reiner praised the portrayal of Noctis's burdens, and enjoyed the characters and the portrayal of their hobbies and interests.[139] Game Revolution's Jonathan Leack felt the characters lacked development during the early sections of the game.[140] Peter Brown of GameSpot enjoyed the grounded portrayal of the playable cast, but faulted the minimal representation of supporting characters despite portrayals in additional media.[141] IGN's Vince Ingenito said the relationships within Noctis's party gave the game its only heart, as he felt its supporting cast was underused and its romantic elements poorly written.[142] Philip Kollar of Polygon called Noctis's companions the game's "beating heart".[143] Hardcore Gamer's Adam Beck, while negative on the storyline and treatment of supporting characters, said the main cast "serve strong character building and chemistry".[144]

In article published by Paste Magazine, Salvatore Pane said Final Fantasy XV is essentially a "tender depiction of teenage boy and their complex relationships with each other and with death", much more than its science fantasy tropes.[145] He described Noctis as the "reluctant hero" or Han Solo-type with a "heart of gold"; Gladiolus as the "muscle" who is the self-styled leader of the group he is highly protective of; Ignis as the "brains, the cook, the hipster"; and Prompto as the "heart" of the group.[145] Pane noted how in many ways, the story arcs for each of the characters is relatable to the coming of age life journeys for him and many others who have lost friends either to an early death or simply from drifting apart.[145] He praised the game's characterization of its four principal characters as "one of the first truly human experiences" in the video game genre, and suggested that its storytelling of the characters' struggle against injustice and malevolence to be an example of video games as an art form in its "cathartic and transformative" aspirations.[145]

Reviewing Kingsglaive, Meghan Sullivan of IGN said the voicework helped make the lead cast believable, but faulted its handling of the secondary characters.[146] Wired's Matt Kamen was highly critical of the story's treatment of its female characters, calling Lunafreya a stereotypical damsel-in-distress.[147] In his review of Kingsglaive, Andrew Barker of Variety felt the "throwaway characters" were one of its biggest flaws.[148] Polygon's Ashley Oh felt there was a lack of character development compared to other Final Fantasy narratives.[149] GamesRadar was more positive, praising its cast as relatable.[150] Carter found the anime Brotherhood helped him become interested in the game's lead cast.[151] GamesRadar called the anime "surprisingly well-written", praising its more intimate narrative compared to Kingsglaive.[152] In a feature following the release of the anime's third episode, Michelle Nguyen of Geek.com praised the camaraderie between the leads and how the anime fleshed out Prompto's character, though she disliked the lack of female characters.[153] Jenni Lada, writing for Siliconera, felt that the additional backstory and interactions shown in Brotherhood helped the main game's narrative work.[154]

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Notes

  1. ^ ファイナルファンタジーヴェルサスXIII (Fainaru Fantajī Verusasu Sātīn)
  2. ^ Quote: ――ではもうひとつ。神話や神についての設定は、『FFヴェルサスXIII』から『FFXV』への移行により変更があるのでしょうか。
    田畑: 『FFXV』にする段階で、そこまでに固まっていた設定については、神話とは強く絡めず『FFXV』の設定として取り込んでいます。ファブラの神話として出てくるものではありませんが、ベースとして活きています。
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Cited in credits