Final Fantasy XV: The Dawn of the Future
Cover artwork featuring leads Noctis Lucis Caelum and Lunafreya Nox Fleuret
AuthorEmi Nagashima
Original title小説 FINAL FANTASY XV -The Dawn Of The Future-
TranslatorStephen Kohler
CountryJapan
LanguageJapanese
SeriesFinal Fantasy
GenreFantasy
PublisherSquare Enix
Publication date
April 25, 2019
Published in English
June 23, 2020 (Square Enix)
Media typePrint (Ebook and Hardcover)
Pages408
ISBN1-6460-9000-4

Final Fantasy XV: The Dawn of the Future is a fantasy novel by Emi Nagashima (as Jun Eishima), published by Square Enix and based on the universe and characters of Final Fantasy XV, an entry in the company's long-running Final Fantasy franchise. It was first released in Japan in April 2019, before being released worldwide in June 2020 as one of the debut titles in the company's newly formed Western publishing house.

The story follows four characters from the game—main protagonist Noctis Lucis Caelum, lead heroine Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, supporting character Aranea Highwind, and main antagonist Ardyn Izunia—through a series of events which alter their destinies and bring them into conflict with Bahamut, leader of the world's deities. The Dawn of the Future was intended as an alternate finale to and definitive ending of Final Fantasy XV and its additional media.

The novel's narrative was originally planned as a downloadable content tetralogy for release through 2019, but due to internal restructures and the departure of project leader Hajime Tabata, only the first part Episode Ardyn was completed. The team wanted to release the planned narrative, so opted to have Nagashima turn their draft storyline into a novel. Both the staff and Nagashima, who had written novels for both Final Fantasy and Nier: Automata, were skeptical about the project. In Japan, the novel saw higher-than-expected sales. Western reviews were mixed; several praised the character portrayals, but its thematic changes from the game saw negative reactions.

Background

See also: Development of Final Fantasy XV

The Dawn of the Future began as a tetralogy of downloadable content (DLC) episodes for Final Fantasy XV; the parts were provisionally titled Episode Ardyn, Gaiden Episode Aranea, Episode Lunafreya and Episode Noctis.[1] Following the success of the original wave of DLC in 2017, developer Square Enix greenlit The Dawn of the Future as a final closure to the game's universe, tying up loose ends in the narrative and lore.[2][3] The Dawn of the Future was to expand upon the base narrative and offer a new scenario where the group defy their predetermined fates to create an ideal future.[4] Development was being handled by internal studio Luminous Productions, which had taken over production of post-release content in 2018.[5][6]

The DLC's main theme was "grand finale", with the aim being to provide a happy ending for the characters. The dark tone and exposition of Episode Ardyn was intended to contrast with the lighter tone of Episode Aranea and the last two episodes. The entire scenario draft, written by the DLC's narrative director Toru Osanai, was settled on by March 2018.[7] Each episode was being handled by different writers. Episode Ardyn and Episode Aranea were being written by Koichiro Ito who had worked on the playable teaser P.T., while Episode Luna was being co-written by Osanai, Tomoyoshi Nagai and Yuichiro Takeda. Takeda, known for his work on the Xenoblade series, was also writing the scenario for Episode Noctis.[8] Some of the narrative reused concepts that had to be cut from early brainstorming sessions for Final Fantasy XV.[9]

During this point, the game's original director and now producer Hajime Tabata was losing interest in the project and wanted to go on "his own path" without inconveniencing anyone. After internal discussions, Tabata decided to leave Square Enix and form his own studio. The company parted with Tabata on good terms, but the decision was made to cancel the original plan and end post-release support for the game.[1][10][11] At the time of cancellation, Episode Ardyn was almost complete, the scenario for Episode Aranea was finalised, the narrative of Episode Luna was almost finished, and Episode Noctis was still in the drafting stage.[7] As the decision was being made, there was doubt as to whether Episode Ardyn would release at all, and discussions as to whether the public should be told. It was eventually decided to announce their cancellation publicly.[12] Episode Ardyn was released in March 2019.[13]

Despite the cancellation, Square Enix were looking into alternative ways of releasing their planned scenario.[1] The scrapped content was turned into a novel, written for long-term fans of the game to provide closure for the project and its universe.[14][7] The novel was written by Emi Nagashima (under the pen name Jun Eishima), who had written supplementary materials for Final Fantasy XIII and Nier Automata, based on materials provided by the Final Fantasy XV development team.[14][15] Osanai gave his original draft to Nagashima to work from.[7] There were mixed feelings from staff about turning the DLC into a novel, including from Nagashima herself. Osanai was worried that the narrative would be destroyed by the format change, but he felt Nagashima succeeded in turning the DLC narrative into an effective novel.[16] The English translation was done by Stephen Kohler.[17]

Plot

Setting

See also: Final Fantasy XV and Characters of Final Fantasy XV

Final Fantasy XV: The Dawn of the Future is set on the Earth-like world of Eos, which is overseen by a divine race called the Astrals and populated by humans. In the midst of a war between the Niflheim empire and the free kingdom of Lucis over control of the magical Crystal, a plague called the Starscourge is spreading over Eos, turning native life into Daemons and lengthening the nights. The Oracle, a human gifted with the power to commune with the Astrals, acts as a healer holding the Starscourge at bay.[18][19] According to prophecy, a figure called the True King will cleanse Eos by uniting the power of the Astrals and the Crystal at the cost of his life.[20]

The novel follows four characters during events leading off from Final Fantasy XV and its DLC. They are Noctis Lucis Caelum, heir to the throne of Lucis and the chosen True King, Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, the current Oracle and Noctis's fiancée in a political marriage; Aranea Highwind, a dragoon mercenary working for Niflheim; and Ardyn Izunia—also called Ardyn Lucis Caelum—the Chancellor of Niflheim and the main antagonist.[4] The novel reflects the original narrative until Ardyn's decision to reject his fate; the developers confirmed that the canon option was for Ardyn to accept the Astral Bahamut's decree on his fate.[7]

Story

A Savior Lost

Ardyn Lucis Caelum is a healer blessed by the Crystal to cure the Starscourge; his attitude and disagreement with the militaristic stance of his brother Somnus causes friction between them. This escalates into Somnus staging a coup, with Ardyn's lover Aera Mirus Fleuret being killed. Ardyn attempts to gain aid from the Crystal, but it repels him due to the Starscourge in his body; when he touches it, a piece of his soul becomes trapped in the Crystal, making him immortal. Imprisoned on the island of Angelgard, Ardyn suffers through two millennia of delusions before Verstael Bethesia of Niflheim retrieves him. At Verstael's urging, Ardyn embraces his powers, corrupting the Astral Ifrit, taking on the surname "Izunia" and gradually losing his sanity by absorbing the memories of his victims. An attack he stages in Insomnia is stalled by Bahamut, who reveals Ardyn's purpose is to act as a sacrifice for the True King Noctis to purge the Starscourge. Ardyn rebels, and after being tortured and returned to Angelgard by Bahamut vows to destroy both Noctis and the Astrals. The scene changes to before the intended final battle, where Ardyn waits for Noctis, but is confronted by Lunafreya.

The Beginning of the End

Aranea returns to Gralea from a mission, reminiscing about the growing militarism causing life in Niflheim to become bleak. Aranea finds Gralea under attack from military Daemon troops, with Ardyn announcing the end of Niflheim. Aranea finds Emperor Aldercapt dead, and attempts to fight Ardyn before deciding to help save as many as possible in Gralea and neighbouring Tenebrae. Before escaping, she is entrusted by the Niflheim soldier Loqi Tummelt with escorting a young girl to safety. Loqi sacrifices himself to ensure their escape, and Aranea's unit takes down a pursuing large-scale Daemon weapon. Upon arrival in Tenebrae, she learns the girl is Solara Aldercapt Antiquum, Aldercapt's secret granddaughter. Ten years later, Solara has grown into a rebellious and capable hunter of Daemons.

Choosing Freedom

Lunafreya, having sacrificed herself to further Noctis's journey, is revived by Bahamut in a tomb on the Niflheim continent, meeting Solara while running from Daemons. As they travel back towards humanity's stronghold in Lestallum, Lunafreya shows her ability to absorb the Starscourge, though it gradually changes her body. During their journey, Lunafreya begins to question her mission through Solara's critical view of the Astrals, and reveals that a conflict-weary Bahamut tried to destroy Eos in the Great War of Old before being stopped by the other Astrals. In her dreams, she is met by Shiva, who attempts to warn her about Bahamut's motives. Returning to the Lucis continent, Lunafreya helps Solara rescue Aranea from an underground tomb, absorbing the Starscourge infecting Aranea. This completes Lunafreya's change into a Daemonic form, but Solara stops her being killed and she is transported to Lestallum. In a dream, Lunafreya is told by Shiva that Bahamut intends to fulfil his plan of purging Eos, using her to gather darkness to empower his "final summoning" Teraflare. Lunafreya escapes with help from Solara and Aranea, intent on convincing Ardyn to work with her to foil Bahamut.

The Final Glaive

During his slumber in the Crystal, Noctis relives the memories stored there, including those of Ardyn. Upon emerging, Noctis is met by Solara and told of Lunafreya's plan. Lunafreya fails to win Ardyn over, but manages to purge Ifrit of the Starscourge and forge a Covenant with him, but doing this overwhelms her. When Noctis arrives, he is forced to fight her Daemonic form, then sees Bahamut use her darkness to begin charging Teraflare. Noctis convinces Ardyn to perform the True King's ritual in his place, then with the aid of his friends Noctis frees Lunafreya and unites with the other Astrals to block most of Teraflare's impact and defeat Bahamut's physical form. Ardyn sacrifices himself performing the ritual, causing the Crystal to absorb the Starscourge before shattering, and destroys Bahamut's spiritual form before his spirit fades. With Bahamut's death, magic and the Astrals vanish from Eos, though Shiva heals Lunafreya before vanishing. The story ends with the world recovering, and Noctis and Lunafreya marrying.

Publication

The novel was released in Japan on April 25, 2019.[15] It released both as a standalone book, and as part of a "Celebration Box" sold through Square Enix's stores which included an artbook, a postcard set, a themed coaster, and a Blu-ray copy of Episode Ardyn Prologue, an original video animation detailing Ardyn's past.[21] Upon release, demand outstripped the supplies Square Enix prepared, prompting both an apology and rapid restocks.[22][23]

An English version of the novel was confirmed as being in production in early 2019.[13] It includes fifty pieces of artwork, including illustrations and concept art.[24] The novel's planned English was June 23, 2020 through Square Enix Books & Manga, a publishing imprint of Square Enix created in partnership with Penguin Random House.[25][26] Due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the physical release was delayed to July 14, while the digital version was still planned for release on the original date.[27]

Reception

James Beckett of Anime News Network was critical of the early chapters due to the writing of their multiple fight scenes, but lauded the narratives of Lunafreya and Noctis as superior to the game and a fine send-off for them despite there being too many plot elements for a comfortable resolution in the final chapter.[28] Anime UK praised the character writing, particularly Ardyn and Aranea, but faulted its alternate take on events which continued to leave gaps in the original game's narrative.[29] RPGFan's Peter Triezenberg enjoyed reading of events from Noctis's perspective, and praised Aranea's personality, but found Ardyn and Lunafreya's chapters lacking; Luna in particular was criticised due to her inconsistent portrayal in both the book and the Final Fantasy XV universe as a whole.[30] Both Anime UK and Triezenberg faulted the thematic changes compared to the content of Final Fantasy XV, drawing comparisons between the theme of sacrifice from the game, and themes of defying fate from Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy which Final Fantasy XV formed a part of.[29][30]

References

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