Final Fantasy XV

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Final Fantasy XV
FF XV cover art.jpg
Developer(s) Square Enix Business Division 2
Publisher(s) Square Enix
Director(s) Hajime Tabata
Producer(s) Shinji Hashimoto
Artist(s)
Writer(s)
Composer(s) Yoko Shimomura
Series
Engine Luminous Studio
Platform(s)
Release
  • PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • November 29, 2016
  • Windows
  • March 6, 2018
Genre(s) Action role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player

Final Fantasy XV [lower-alpha 1] is an action role-playing game developed and published by Square Enix as part of the long-running Final Fantasy series. It was released for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2016, and for Microsoft Windows in 2018. The game features an open world environment and action-based battle system, incorporating quick-switching weapons, elemental magic, and other features such as vehicle travel and camping. The base campaign was later expanded with downloadable content (DLC), adding further gameplay options such as additional playable characters and multiplayer.

Action role-playing video games are a subgenre of role-playing video games. The games emphasize real-time combat where the player has direct control over the characters as opposed to turn or menu-based combat. These games often use action game combat systems similar to hack and slash or shooter games. Action role-playing games may also incorporate action-adventure games, which include a mission system and RPG mechanics, or massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs) with real-time combat systems.

Square Enix Japanese video game developer, publisher, and distribution company

Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd. is a Japanese video game developer, publisher, and distribution company known for its Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts role-playing video game franchises, among numerous others. Several of them have sold over 10 million copies worldwide, with the Final Fantasy franchise alone selling over 115 million. The Square Enix headquarters are in the Shinjuku Eastside Square Building in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The company employs over 4300 employees worldwide.

Final Fantasy is a Japanese science fantasy media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, and developed and owned by Square Enix. The franchise centers on a series of fantasy and science fantasy role-playing video games (RPGs/JRPGs). The first game in the series was released in 1987, with 14 other main-numbered entries being released since then. The franchise has since branched into other video game genres such as tactical role-playing, action role-playing, massively multiplayer online role-playing, racing, third-person shooter, fighting, and rhythm, as well as branching into other media, including CGI films, anime, manga, and novels.

Contents

Final Fantasy XV takes place on the fictional world of Eos; aside from the capital of Lucis, all the world is dominated by the empire of Niflheim, who seek control of the magical Crystal protected by Lucis's royal family. On the eve of peace negotiations, Niflheim attacks the capital and steals the Crystal. Noctis Lucis Caelum, heir to the Lucian throne, goes on a quest to rescue the Crystal and defeat Niflheim. He later learns his full role as the "True King", destined to use the Crystal's powers to save Eos from eternal darkness. The game shares a thematic connection with Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy , a subseries of games linked by a common mythos which includes Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Type-0 .

Noctis Lucis Caelum main protagonist of Final Fantasy XV

Noctis Lucis Caelum, "Noct" for short, is a fictional character from Square Enix's Final Fantasy series. He is a playable character and main protagonist of Final Fantasy XV, originally a spin-off titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII. The crown prince and protector of Lucis, Noctis and his allies must defend their country when the empire of Niflheim attacks Lucis in an attempt to take control of its magical Crystal. Alongside Final Fantasy XV, Noctis has appeared in the game's expanded media, including Final Fantasy crossover titles, and other game titles including Puzzle & Dragons and the fighting game Tekken 7.

<i>Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy</i> video game series

Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy is a series of games within the Final Fantasy video game franchise. It was primarily developed by series creator and developer Square Enix, which also acted as publisher for all titles. While featuring various worlds and different characters, each Fabula Nova Crystallis game is ultimately based on and expands upon a common mythos focusing on important crystals tied to deities. The level of connection to the mythos varies between each title. The series title translates from Latin as 'The New Tale of the Crystal'. Each development team was given the freedom to adapt the mythos to fit the context of a game's story.

<i>Final Fantasy XIII</i> 2010 role-playing video game

Final Fantasy XIII is a science fiction role-playing video game developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles and later for the Microsoft Windows operating system. Released in Japan in December 2009 and worldwide in March 2010, it is the thirteenth title in the mainline Final Fantasy series. The game includes fast-paced combat, a new system for the series for determining which abilities are developed for the characters called "Crystarium", and a customizable "Paradigm" system to control which abilities are used by the characters. Final Fantasy XIII includes elements from the previous games in the series, such as summoned monsters, chocobos, and airships.

The game's development began in 2006 as a PlayStation 3 spin-off titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII. [lower-alpha 2] Tetsuya Nomura served as the original director and character designer. After a development period of six years, it was changed to the next mainline title in the series in 2012; Nomura was replaced as director by Hajime Tabata, and the game shifted to eighth generation platforms. Due to the changes, the story needed to be rewritten and some scenes and characters were repurposed or removed. The setting of Final Fantasy XV was "a fantasy based on reality", with locations and creatures based on elements from the real world.

The development of Final Fantasy XV, a Japanese action role-playing video game, began in 2006 shortly before its announcement at that year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. Square Enix handled primary development on Final Fantasy XV, and the game was released worldwide in November 2016; the total development time covered approximately ten years. The game was originally announced as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, a PlayStation 3-exclusive spin-off title. It was part of Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy, a subseries of games linked by a common mythos: while retaining thematic links, specific references were removed to aid with marketing. Additional media was created to portray the world of XV without using sequels; dubbed the "Final Fantasy XV Universe", it included a feature film, an original net animation, a virtual reality simulation game and multiple mobile projects including a version of the game.

PlayStation 3 seventh-generation and third home video game console developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment

The PlayStation 3 (PS3) is a home video game console developed by Sony Computer Entertainment. It is the successor to PlayStation 2, and is part of the PlayStation brand of consoles. It was first released on November 11, 2006, in Japan, November 17, 2006, in North America, and March 23, 2007, in Europe and Australia. The PlayStation 3 competed mainly against consoles such as Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles.

Tetsuya Nomura is a Japanese video game artist, designer and director working for Square Enix. He designed characters for the Final Fantasy series, debuting with Final Fantasy VI and continuing with various later installments. Additionally, Nomura has helmed the development of the Kingdom Hearts series since its debut in 2002 and was also the director for the CGI film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.

To supplement the game, Square Enix created a multimedia project called the "Final Fantasy XV Universe", which includes a few spin-off games, as well as an anime series and feature film. Gameplay and story-based DLC is also set for release up until early 2019. Upon release, Final Fantasy XV was well received by journalists. Praise was given for its gameplay, visuals, and emotional weight, while reception towards its story and presentation was mixed. By November 2018, the game had sold over 8.4 million copies worldwide.

<i>Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV</i>

Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV is an original net animation series directed by Soichi Masui, produced by Akio Ofuji, written by Yuniko Ayana, and composed for by Yasuhisa Inoue and Susumi Akizuki. Co-produced by Square Enix and A-1 Pictures, it is based on the setting and story of the 2016 video game Final Fantasy XV, which is thematically connected to the Fabula Nova Crystallis subseries. Brotherhood is set within the events of Final Fantasy XV, and details the backstories of main protagonist Noctis Lucis Caelum and those closest to him.

<i>Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV</i> 2016 film by Takeshi Nozue

Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is a 2016 Japanese computer-animated fantasy film directed by Takeshi Nozue and scripted by Takashi Hasegawa from a story by Kazushige Nojima and Saori Itamuro. Developed primarily by Square Enix's exclusive CGI studio Visual Works, Kingsglaive is based on the setting and story of the 2016 video game Final Fantasy XV, which is thematically connected to the Fabula Nova Crystallis subseries. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV released theatrically in July 2016 in Japan by Aniplex, and received a limited theatrical run in August in North America by Stage 6 Films. Digital and physical home video versions were released in October 2016, and the film was bundled with different editions of Final Fantasy XV alongside Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV.

Gameplay

Final Fantasy XV is an open world action role-playing game where players take control of main protagonist Noctis Lucis Caelum during his journey across the world of Eos. While accompanied by his three companions Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto, Noctis is the only character directly controlled by the player: he can navigate through simple movement, jump over small obstacles, sprint for a limited time, and perform context-based actions such as taking cover behind objects. [1] [2] The kingdom of Lucis is a large connected landmass that can be explored on foot, by using the party's car "Regalia", or chocobos, recurring galliform birds in the Final Fantasy series. [3] [4] Both the Regalia and chosen Chocobos can be customised by the player, and Chocobos can join in battles if their connection to the characters is strong enough. While Chocobos are controlled manually, the Regalia can be either manually or automatically controlled. The party can also fast-travel to areas unlocked on the world map. The Regalia must be refueled periodically at petrol stations. [5] [6] [7] In towns the party can visit, there are inns and hotels where they can stay, shops where items and equipment can be purchased with the in-game currency gil, and local tipsters, non-playable characters (NPCs) who provide information on quests, from main story missions to side quests. Side quests are also available from individual NPCs found in towns. [1] [7] During some story sequences, dialogue choices appear for Noctis, with the selected option altering the response from NPCs. [7] The game also contains two difficulty modes, with players being able to switch between the two. [1]

In video games, an open world is a virtual world in which the player can explore and approach objectives freely, as opposed to a world with more linear gameplay. While games have used open-world designs since the 1980s, the implementation in Grand Theft Auto III (2001) set a standard that has been used since.

Chocobo

The Chocobo is a fictional species from the Final Fantasy video game series made by Square and Square Enix. The creature is generally a flightless bird, though certain highly specialized breeds in some titles retain the ability to fly. It bears a resemblance to casuariiformes and ratites, capable of being ridden and otherwise used by player characters during gameplay. Chocobos first appeared in Final Fantasy II and have been featured in almost all subsequent Final Fantasy games, as well as making cameo appearances in numerous other games. A spin-off Chocobo series featuring chocobos has also been created.

Battle system

The Active Cross Battle system in action, showing Noctis attacking a hostile soldier in one of the game's environments Final Fantasy XV gameplay.jpg
The Active Cross Battle system in action, showing Noctis attacking a hostile soldier in one of the game's environments

The game uses an action-based real-time battle system, called the Active Cross Battle system. Instead of using a menu interface, the player selects commands directly mapped to buttons on the controller, such as "Attack", "Defend", and "Item". [2] Battles take place within the current environment rather than transitioning to a separate arena, and can range from open plains to enclosed building interiors. [1] [8] When approaching enemies, a threat meter appears on the top of the screen, growing in intensity the closer the party gets to the enemy. When the party gets close and attacks or is detected, the battle begins. Running away from enemies and out of the combat zone in normal battles ends combat. During battle, each character has health points (HP), and Noctis also has magic points (MP). HP is depleted whenever a character is attacked, while Noctis's MP recovers over time when not in combat or when not using associated abilities such as warping or special weapon skills. If a character's current HP reaches zero, they enter Danger Mode, during which the maximum HP cap steadily decreases; the character is defeated when all of their maximum HP is lost. Some enemies, such as Daemons, are able to lower the HP cap with their attacks. If Noctis is defeated, there is a brief period where a revival item must be used. Should the player fail to do so, the game ends. [1]

A warp, also known as a portal or teleporter, is an element in video game design that allows a player character instant travel between two locations or levels. Specific areas that allow such travel are referred to as warp zones. A warp zone might be a secret passage, accessible only to players capable of finding it, but they are also commonly used as a primary mean of travel in certain games. Warps might be deliberately installed within puzzles, be used to avoid danger in sections of a game that have been previously accomplished, be something a player can abuse for cheating or be used as a punishment to a player straying from the "correct" path.

Noctis can perform four actions in battle: the standard attack; defending, which blocks and parries attacks; warping, which takes Noctis to a targeted area such as another enemy or an out-of-the-way warp point, and using items. There is a "Wait Mode" option available, where if all player input stops the battle pauses, and players are able to select new enemies to attack or actions to take within a time limit. [1] [8] An option available for both Noctis and Ignis in Wait Mode is Libra, an ability which displays an enemy's health, strengths and weaknesses. [1] Noctis can find and equip a wide range of weapons, including single and double-handed swords, polearms, axes, shields, firearms, daggers and Royal Arms. The weapons manifest from thin air as Noctis fights, and can be manually shifted by the player. The type of weapon equipped determines the attack speed and the amount of damage on normal attacks. In addition to normal attacks, there are attacks that deal more damage based on Noctis' position such as "Side Strike" or "Blindside", in addition to the Warp Strike attack. Attacks from enemies can be parried, and depending on the quality of the parry Noctis can counterattack. If wielding a shield-type weapon, a successful block staggers an enemy, leaving them vulnerable to attack. Noctis can launch a special attack with the Royal Arms dubbed "Armiger", when the meter fills during combat: while more powerful than standard weapons, Royal Arms consume HP with each use. [1] [5] [6] Noctis can also use two classes of firearms—Guns, which range from handguns like pistols to rifles; and Machinery, powerful weapons that have varying effects depending on the type used, from generating a powerful shockwave to dealing high melee damage. [9]

Noctis's companions, controlled by the game's artificial intelligence (AI), can perform contextual commands. When Noctis successfully parries an enemy attack, or performs a Side Strike or Blindside, cooperative attacks between him and his companions called Link-strikes can be triggered. During battle, a meter called the Tech Bar fills. When full, Noctis can command his companions to perform special moves called Techniques: Gladiolus performs a sweeping attack with his sword, Ignis uses his daggers to mark enemies so Noctis can perform a warp strike attack, and Prompto uses his firearm to fire a powerful shot that pierces through tough opponents. After each of these, Noctis can initiate a follow-up attack. Noctis can also trigger an Armiger Chain, where he splits his Royal Arms between his companions before launching a single attack. [5] [10]

Magic is separated into two types: Elemancy and Arcana. [10] Elemancy is separated into three types: Fire, Ice and Lightning. Elemental energy is drawn from points across the world map, being absorbed into special flasks and used to craft magical bombs that can be used on enemies. Elemancy can also be combined with specific items to add new effects, such as healing party members while damaging enemies. Both Noctis and his companions are able to use Elemancy. [1] [10] Arcana, accessed when Noctis has acquired and equipped a story-related item called the Ring of the Lucii, has access to more powerful magical abilities such as "Death", which drains an enemy's health. [10] After a certain point in the game, Noctis can call upon summoned monsters called Astrals, which aid the party by launching a devastating attack. The summons featured are series regulars including Titan, Ramuh, Leviathan and Shiva. Their types of attack, and even whether they assist at all, is dependent on the environment: for instance, Leviathan can only be summoned in the open when there is a body of water nearby. [6] [10] [11] At certain points in the story, Noctis is joined by guest characters who have their own Link-strikes and Techniques. [12]

Character progression

After each battle, characters earn experience points (EXP), but they do not automatically level up when a certain amount of EXP has been gathered. Instead, the party must go to safe zones called "Havens", namely rest sites like inns or campsites. When the party rests at night, each character gains levels depending on the amount of EXP earned. If defeated in battle, all EXP gained up to that point since the last level up is permanently lost. Activities in the overworld earn the party Ability Points (AP). AP is spent on the Ascension Grid, the game's leveling system, which is divided into skill trees called "Astralspheres". Each Astralsphere is sorted by type, being associated with magic, combat or passive abilities. Spending AP opens up nodes within the Astralsphere, which in turn grants access to further nodes which require higher amounts of AP to unlock. [1] [6]

Noctis' companions each have their own skills which themselves level up based on usage, and affect equipment. Noctis' fishing ability improves the more times he fishes and the better items he uses, which in turn spreads to his equipment. Gladiolus' Survival skills increase based on the distance the party has travelled in a day, which improves the quality of their equipment and items. Ignis' cooking can be improved based on ingredients either purchased at shops or found in the wild, and his meals grant stat boosts to the party. Prompto takes photos during the party's journey, and the quality of his own skills increase over time. [1] [6] A post-release update enables control of all four characters during battle after unlocking a dedicated node in the Ascension Grid; each character uses specific weapon types and abilities tied to them. [13]

Multiplayer

A multiplayer mode called Comrades was released as an expansion, with gameplay and combat lifted from the main game and tailored for multiplayer; rather than a pre-set character, players take the role of a customizable avatar who takes part in a portion of the story skipped over by the main narrative. The game begins with players choosing their gender, hairstyle, clothing and other aspects. Using the in-game city of Lestallum as their base, the player is assigned missions with three other characters—either other players or AI-controlled. During missions, the player fights monsters either on sorties or to defend transports; at the end of each mission, the player is awarded Gil, materials used for crafting and enhancing weapons, and "Meteorshards" which can power up settlements around Lestallum and open up new quests. Some areas unlock Royal Tombs which grant the player a Royal Sigil; these Sigils both increase specific statistics and grant new themed abilities such as healing or increasing combat moves. The player has access to a variety of weapon types from normal swords to maces and shurikens, which are enhanced using materials to increase passive abilities such as their damage capacity. [14]

Synopsis

Setting

Final Fantasy XV takes place on the Earth-like world of Eos, [15] which is divided between four nations: Lucis, Accordo, Tenebrae and Niflheim. Lucis, occupying a whole landmass, possesses a magical artifact known as the Crystal, gifted to the reigning Caelum dynasty by the world's deities in antiquity and accessed through the hereditary Ring of the Lucii. Accordo, located in the southern part of Eos, is an island nation formed through a union of free trading cities. The western continent is home to the technologically-advanced empire of Niflheim and the nation of Tenebrae, which is ruled by the Oracle—a priestess who can commune with the gods. The Oracle's main task is curing the Starscourge, a plague that absorbs all natural light and turns those infected into nocturnal monsters known as Daemons. [16] [17] [18] :318–319

Central to the lore of Eos are the Astrals, six divine beings who serve as the guardians of the natural world and are based on summoned monsters from the Final Fantasy series; [6] [19] [20] and the True King, a legendary figure prophesied to appear when the Starscourge threatens to plunge Eos into eternal night. [21] A key part of Eos's backstory is the Great War of Old, a conflict born when the ancient human civilization of Solheim turned on the Astrals and their patron Ifrit; Ifrit's attempt to destroy humanity defied the Astrals' duty to protect Eos, forcing them to kill Ifrit. The Great War of Old is implied to have caused the spread of the Starscourge across the planet, hastening the fall of Solheim. [18] :318–319 [21]

For centuries, Lucis has been at war with the militaristic Niflheim, who seek to emulate Solheim's glory. To that end Niflheim has subjugated most of Eos, including Accordo and Tenebrae; Tenebrae retains limited political autonomy due to the Oracle's influence. Only Lucis's capital city of Insomnia remains unconquered due to the use of the Crystal's power, which is slowly draining the current king's life force. At the game's beginning an armistice is declared between the two nations due to the king's failing health; as part of the peace agreements, Niflheim will gain control of all Lucian territories outside Insomnia, and a marriage is arranged between the heirs apparent of the royal families of Lucis and Tenebrae. [16] [17] [21]

Characters

Promotional artwork featuring several of the main cast of Final Fantasy XV. From left: Gladiolus Amicitia, Noctis Lucis Caelum, Ignis Scientia and Prompto Argentum. Final Fantasy XV key art; characters in battle.png
Promotional artwork featuring several of the main cast of Final Fantasy XV. From left: Gladiolus Amicitia, Noctis Lucis Caelum, Ignis Scientia and Prompto Argentum.

The two main characters are Noctis Lucis Caelum, the crown prince of Lucis and the sole playable character who loses his father in the Niflheim invasion; and his fiancée Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, the current Oracle and former princess of Tenebrae. Noctis is accompanied on his journey by three others: Gladiolus Amicitia, the scion of a family sworn to protect Noctis's family; Ignis Scientia, a prodigy military tactician and Noctis's advisor; and Prompto Argentum, a friend of Noctis from a lower social class. Guest characters include Cor Leonis, a legendary warrior of Lucis who acts as an early guide to Noctis's party; and Iris Amicitia, Gladiolus's sister. Other key characters are Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII, king of Lucis and Noctis's father; Gentiana, Lunafreya's attendant; and Cid Sophiar and his granddaughter Cindy Aurum, mechanics who maintain the party's car. The empire of Niflheim is ruled by Emperor Iedolas Aldercapt. Aldercapt's allies include Ardyn Izunia, the imperial chancellor and the game's main antagonist; Ravus Nox Fleuret, Lunafreya's brother and the high commander of Niflheim's army; Verstael Besithia, the empire's head researcher; and Aranea Highwind, a mercenary dragoon in service to Niflheim.

Plot

Noctis and his three friends begin their journey to Altissia, the capital of Accordo, where Noctis's wedding to Lunafreya will take place. Finding the local boat services stopped, they receive news of Niflheim's attack on the city of Insomnia and theft of the Crystal; the Lucian King Regis has been assassinated, and both Noctis and Lunafreya are declared dead. [22] Meeting up with Cor, Noctis is tasked with retrieving the Royal Arms—the magical weapons of past Lucian kings—to rescue the Crystal and reclaim his throne. [23] While staying in the city of Lestallum with Iris, Noctis is contacted by the Astral Titan; encouraged by Ardyn, Noctis endures Titan's trial and earns his power, learning that Lunafreya is traveling ahead of Noctis to awaken the Astrals from their slumber. [24] [25] The group continues to travel across Lucis, retrieving the Royal Arms and meeting the Astral Ramuh with assistance from Gentiana. He is also confronted by a hostile Ravus, spars with the mercenary Aranea, and receives further aid from Ardyn. [26] [27] [28] The group eventually recover parts to repair Regis's old yacht, using it to travel to Altissia. [29]

The party arrives in Altissia, where Lunafreya has taken sanctuary. Lunafreya awakens the Astral Leviathan so Noctis can obtain her power, only for Leviathan to go on a rampage when Niflheim attacks. Ardyn appears and mortally wounds Lunafreya, disrupting the ritual; however, she succeeds in awakening Noctis's powers, allowing him to defeat Leviathan. While unconscious, he is visited in a dream by Lunafreya's spirit, who gives him the Ring of the Lucii. Noctis wakes to find Altissia in chaos, and that Ignis was blinded during the battle. [30] The party continues towards Niflheim's capital of Gralea by train. Ignis' blindness and Noctis's mourning of Lunafreya cause friction with Gladiolus until Ignis forces a reconciliation. It is also revealed that the nights are growing longer, causing more Daemons to appear. [31] Ardyn then tricks Noctis into throwing Prompto from the train, and holds Prompto and the Crystal captive in Gralea's military fortress Zegnautus Keep, revealing the Crystal's power can destroy the Daemons. [32] [33] Noctis continues to Tenebrae, where Aranea is aiding refugees from across Eos. While in Tenebrae, Noctis learns that Lunafreya was dying from waking the Astrals, and that Ravus now supports him. On the final journey to Gralea, the train is ambushed by Daemons; after defeating them, Noctis receives the Astral Shiva's blessing from Gentiana, revealed as Shiva's human form. [33]

Arriving to find Gralea overrun by Daemons, Noctis is separated from his friends and forced to use the Ring of the Lucii to survive Zegnautus Keep. After reuniting and rescuing Prompto, the party continues through Zegnautus Keep, defeating Ravus and Emperor Aldercapt, who have been transformed into Daemons. Forced to leave his friends behind, Noctis reaches the Crystal, only to be pulled into it. Ardyn appears and reveals himself to be Ardyn Lucis Caelum, the original True King whose infection by the Starscourge led to the Astrals and Crystal rejecting him; rendered immortal by the Starscourge, Ardyn sought revenge on the Caelum bloodline and the Crystal, hastening the onset of the Starscourge while waiting for the True King to appear so he could destroy them both. [34] Within the Crystal, Noctis encounters the Astral Bahamut; he learns that he is the True King of prophecy, who will cleanse the Starscourge and restore light to Eos at the cost of his life. Noctis returns to Eos after ten years, finding the world engulfed in darkness. Reuniting with his friends, Noctis heads for Insomnia, fighting Ifrit—revived and corrupted by the Starscourge—before facing Ardyn. After killing Ardyn in single combat, Noctis ascends the throne and sacrifices himself, using the Crystal and Ring of the Lucii to purge the Starscourge from Eos. In the afterlife, with help from Lunafreya, Noctis destroys Ardyn's spirit. In mid-credits and post-credits scenes, Noctis opens up to his companions before the final battle, and finds rest with Lunafreya in the afterlife. [35]

The journeys of Noctis' friends during their absence in the main story are expanded through downloadable content (DLC). In Episode Gladiolus, Gladiolus tests his strength against recurring Final Fantasy character Gilgamesh following their first confrontation with Ravus. [36] Episode Prompto follows the titular character after Ardyn tricks Noctis into throwing him from the train to Tenebrae, and focuses on his origins as Verstael's cloned son, designed as one of Niflheim's Magitek soldiers. With help from Aranea, Prompto defeats Verstael—who transfers his soul to the Magitek creation Immortalis to conquer Eos—before heading for Gralea. [37] In Episode Ignis, Ignis allies with a disillusioned Ravus in the wake of Leviathan's rampage. After finding Lunafreya dead and Noctis unconscious, they are ambushed by Ardyn; Ignis uses the Ring of the Lucii to save Noctis, which costs him his sight. [38] In the story mode for the multiplayer expansion Comrades, the player controls a survivor of the Kingsglaive, Regis's bodyguard who abandoned him during Niflheim's attack on Lucis. Despite the peoples' mistrust, the Kingsglaive help defend humanity's last stronghold of Lestallum while experiencing visions of Noctis's resting place on the island of Angelgard. Drawn to Angelgard, the Kingsglaive face Bahamut in combat and are absolved of their treachery, dedicating themselves to protecting Angelgard from Daemons during Noctis's slumber. [39]

Development

Final Fantasy XV was primarily developed by Business Division 2 of Square Enix, creators and developers of the Final Fantasy franchise. [40] Additional studios that helped with development included HexaDrive, XPEC Entertainment, Plusmile, and Streamline Studios. [41] [42] [43] [44] Staff included director Hajime Tabata; producer Shinji Hashimoto; main writer Saori Itamuro, who wrote the scenario based on the original draft by Kazushige Nojima; and art directors Tomohiro Hasegawa, Yusuke Naora and Isamu Kamikokuryo. [45] [46] Character designs were by Tetsuya Nomura and Roberto Ferrari, with later revisions by Naora. [45] [47] [48] [49] The main characters' clothing was designed by Hiromu Takahara, lead designer for Japanese fashion house Roen. [47] The soundtrack for Final Fantasy XV was composed primarily by Yoko Shimomura, while both real-time and CGI cutscenes were directed by Takeshi Nozue of Visual Works, Square Enix's in-house CGI production studio. [45] [50] Logo illustration was by regular series artist Yoshitaka Amano. [17]

Development began in 2006 as a spin-off title for the PlayStation 3 called Final Fantasy Versus XIII. It was announced as part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy , a subseries of games linked by a common mythos, and ran in Square Enix's proprietary Crystal Tools engine. Developed by the team behind the Kingdom Hearts series, it was intended to be a darker entry in the Final Fantasy series than allowed in the main series. [51] [52] [53] Nomura was the original director, designer, and created the initial concept and scenario. [45] [47] The project suffered from a prolonged and troubled development, only making fragmentary appearances over the following six years. [54] [55] As early as 2007, the project's scale prompted talks of rebranding it as the next mainline entry. With the internal unveiling of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, it was decided to change it into a mainline entry, with a proposed PS3 version being scrapped due to technical troubles. The game's engine also changed, shifting to the company's new proprietary game engine Luminous Studio. [2] [56] [57] At the time of its rebranding and shift to next-generation consoles in 2012, Versus XIII was described as being on 20-25% complete, with Tabata saying it never took shape. [58] [59]

When Tabata took over from Nomura, the entire development team was reshuffled and development started over again, although he worked as a co-director with Nomura until late 2013 to ensure the project remained as true as possible to its original vision. [2] [54] [60] Among the changes were the removal of the original story's opening, and the replacement of the original heroine Stella Nox Fleuret with the similarly named Lunafreya. [61] [62] The connection to Fabula Nova Crystallis was also reduced, with branding and mythos-specific terminology removed to aid in the game's marketing. Thematic, aesthetic and design elements were retained due to their core place in the world and backstory. [17] [21] :592–597 [58] [63] The main concept behind Final Fantasy XV was "a fantasy based on reality", with the world being very similar to Earth and having fantasy elements gradually intruding into an otherwise normal setting. In pursuit of this, locations in Eos were based on real-world locations such as Tokyo, Venice and the Bahamas. [4] [17] [41]

Final Fantasy XV Universe

Due to the scale of the game's narrative and Tabata's wish to release a single game rather than a series of games similar to Final Fantasy XIII, aspects of the planned narrative were refashioned into supplementary media projects. [64] Known as the "Final Fantasy XV Universe", the projects were split into two parts; media designed to reach a wider audience than the game might manage alone, and additional game-related content such as ports to other hardware and DLC. [65] The project was first revealed at a March 2016 press event called "Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV". [66] Tabata later stated that those who just played the game would miss context for story events shown in other related media. [65]

The two central parts of the "Final Fantasy XV Universe" are the feature film Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV and the original net animation Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV . [64] Brotherhood was produced by anime studio A-1 Pictures under supervision from Square Enix; [67] the narrative focused on the backstories of Noctis and his companions. [68] The series was released online between March and September 2016. [69] [70] Kingsglaive, which received a limited theatrical release in 2016, was a collaboration between Visual Works and Western studios including Digic Pictures and Image Engine; [71] [72] the story, which mainly focused on original characters, recycled story elements cut from the opening narrative of Final Fantasy XV. [73]

Also forming part of the project were Platinum Demo: Final Fantasy XV, a game demo detailing an incident in Noctis's childhood which tied into the events of Brotherhood; [64] [74] Justice Monsters Five, a mobile game based on a minigame from Final Fantasy XV which was active from August 2016 to March 2017; [66] [75] [76] A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV, a promotional beat 'em up featuring Regis as the playable character; [77] Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV , a virtual reality simulation game released in 2017 for PlayStation VR; [78] and Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire , a massively multiplayer online strategy game published by Machine Zone in 2017 and developed by their Epic Action subsidiary. [79] [80]

Release

Initially announced in 2006 alongside XIII and Type-0, the game was publicly rebranded at the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo, with regular updates on the title beginning the following year. [55] A demo titled Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae was released in March 2015 as a limited addition to Final Fantasy Type-0 HD . [81] [82] [83] The game's localization was handled by Dan Inoue, who used different accents for characters to denote their origins on different parts of Eos. [84] In addition to English, Japanese and European languages, the game was 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. [85]

Its initial worldwide release, September 30, was announced at the "Uncovered" event. [66] Despite this intended date, further polishing work resulted in the date being pushed back to November 29. [86] [87] Further fixes were applied to the game through a Day One patch released concurrent with the game. [88] The game was published in multiple editions, called "Day One", "Deluxe", and "Ultimate Collector's Edition". [89] The "Deluxe" edition included a Blu-ray edition of Kingsglaive, while the "Ultimate Collector's Edition" included both Kingsglaive and a version of Brotherhood with additional footage related to Luna. [67] [89] [90] In 2018, a version of the game called Royal Edition was released, which contained both all DLC published to that point in addition to further story and gameplay additions alongside technical improvements. [91]

A version for Microsoft Windows was released on March 6, 2018. Square Enix developed the port with Nvidia using an upgraded version of the Luminous Studio engine, featuring graphical enhancements and all DLC. [91] [92] [93] These improvements and additions were also released as part of the console-exclusive Royal Edition. [91] Another version, titled Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition , was released in February 2018 for iOS and Android. [94] The game was co-developed by Square Enix, SummerTimeStudio, and XPEC Entertainment. [95] [96] Development began in 2015 following the release of Episode Duscae; the game was produced by Kosei Ito, who was producer on Tabata's first major Square Enix title Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII . [96] [97]

Downloadable content

Multiple pieces of downloadable content (DLC) were created for the game by a smaller development team from the core Final Fantasy XV staff. The team was supervised by Tabata and headed by new producer Haruyoshi Sawatari. [98] [11] Both free and paid DLC were announced, with paid DLC being a necessity due to overall production costs. [99] Among the DLC were additional story elements intended to address player criticisms of the game's narrative structure and missing details. [91] [100] The main DLC episodes focusing on filling in narrative gaps related to Noctis's friends—Episode Gladiolus, Episode Prompto and Episode Ignis—were released respectively in March, June and December 2017. [101] [102] [103]

A multiplayer mode called Comrades was released in November 2017, with Final Fantasy XV becoming the first mainline single-player Final Fantasy to include multiplayer content. [104] [105] A standalone version of Comrades was released for PS4 and Xbox One in December 2018. [106] Other DLC included temporary events such as the "Moogle Chocobo Carnival" event and a collaboration with Assassin's Creed Origins . [107] [108]

Episode Ignis was intended to be the last story-based DLC, but positive player feedback resulted in Square Enix wanting to develop further content focusing on other main characters, such as Ardyn. [109] Episode Ardyn will be released in March 2019. [110] Originally part of a tetralogy of story-based DLC episodes dubbed The Dawn of the Future, the other episodes were cancelled due to structural changes within Square Enix. [111] Announced features related to the PC port such as mod support were also cancelled. [106] Episode Ardyn is set to be the final post-release update for Final Fantasy XV. [112] Story material for the cancelled DLC has been turned into a novel, set for a Japanese release in April 2019 and a Western release at a later date. [110] [113]

Reception

Reception
Aggregate score
AggregatorScore
Metacritic PS4: 81/100 [114]
XONE: 83/100 [115]
PC: 85/100 [116]
(Royal Edition) PS4: 77/100 [117]
Review scores
PublicationScore
Destructoid 9/10 [118]
EGM 7.5/10 [119]
Famitsu 38/40 [120]
Game Informer 8.5/10 [121]
Game Revolution Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar empty.svg [122]
GameSpot 8/10 [123]
GamesRadar+ Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svg [124]
IGN 8.2/10 [125]
Polygon 9/10 [126]
Digital Spy Star full.svgStar full.svgStar full.svgStar half.svgStar empty.svg [127]
Hardcore Gamer 3.5/5 [128]

Final Fantasy XV has received "generally favorable" reviews from critics for all versions, according to review aggregator Metacritic. [114] [115] [116] Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu gave both versions of the game a score of 38 points out of 40. [120] Various game designers stated Final Fantasy XV was their favorite game of 2016, including Final Fantasy series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, Atlus' Shigeo Komori, Koei Tecmo's Takashi Morinaka, and Sony Interactive Entertainment's Teruyuki Toriyama and Shuhei Yoshida. [129]

Opinions on the story of Final Fantasy XV were mixed, although the main cast was praised for its chemistry. [118] [121] [125] [124] [127] Game Informer 's Andrew Reiner praised the change to a simple straightforward plot after the complex lore of Final Fantasy XIII. [121] Peter Brown of GameSpot and Philip Kollar of Polygon praised the mundane activities and character interactions, with Kollar calling Noctis's companions the game's "beating heart", [123] [126] In contrast, Jonathan Leack of Game Revolution found the characters lacked interest during the early parts of the campaign, [122] and Hardcore Gamer 's Adam Beck called the main story and characters a "monumental disappointment". [128] The minimal representation of supporting characters was also frequently faulted. [118] [119] [123] [124] David Roberts of GamesRadar , Electronic Gaming Monthly 's Mollie L. Patterson and Destructoid 's Chris Carter also noted the crucial part played by the game's expanded media in grounding or fleshing out the main story. [118] [119] [124]

The visuals and realistic style were positively received, with IGN 's Vince Ingenito enjoying the unusual use of realistic aesthetic details for the towns and environment. [125] Roberts, Brown, Leack, Beck and Kollar praised the open world design and depth of detail, in addition to its scale and similarity to open worlds from recent Western games. [122] [123] [124] [126] [128] Beck also noted the setpiece moments as beautiful in appearance despite weak narrative elements and confusing or convoluted gameplay. [128] Leack positively noted the main cast's eye-catching design, which he felt helped maintain a connection during the early sections of the game. [122] Shimomura's score was also positively received by critics. [119] [121] [128]

The gameplay was praised for its fast pace and engaging mechanics despite a lack of depth compared with other action games, with several reviewers comparing it to Kingdom Hearts; [118] [121] [123] [125] [126] Patterson positively compared normal battles to the CGI cutscene-exclusive battles of earlier Square Enix titles, [119] while Leack called the combat system "Kingdom Hearts meets Dissidia " and praised its depth and accessibility. [122] Digital Spy 's Kirk McKeand praised the behaviour of Noctis's companions in battle, saying they were effective supporting units. [127] The linear second half drew criticism, with Roberts predicting that it would be one of the game's most divisive elements. [124] [126] [128] The summons were seen as spectacular, but either lacking meaning in gameplay or being too difficult to activate. [118] [119] [123] [125] Several reviewers noted the in-game camera's occasionally erratic behaviour. [121] [122] [126]

Sales

In Japan, the PS4 version topped Japanese gaming charts, selling 690,471 units. The Xbox One version sold nearly 3,800 units. Total sales of both versions came to 694,262 units, with the game's release boosting console sales for the PS4 over the previous week by over 42,000 units. [130] Second week sales in the region were 79,792 units, down 88% from launch week and causing the game to drop to fifth place. [131] Different rankings in January the following year placed the Japanese sales of Final Fantasy XV as between 900,000 and one million copies. [132] [133] In the United Kingdom's all-format gaming charts ending December 3, Final Fantasy XV was the second biggest launch for the series after Final Fantasy XIII. [134] According to the December data released by the NPD Group, Final Fantasy XV was the second best-selling title of the month behind Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare . The game also became the month's best-selling PS4 title, and saw the best console launch month in the franchise's history. [135]

Within the first twenty-four hours, Square Enix reported that Final Fantasy XV had shipped five million units worldwide in both physical shipments and digital sales—a figure which allowed the game to "break even" on development costs. [136] This gave Final Fantasy XV the biggest launch in the franchise to date, the most first day digital sales in Japan for a game up to that point, and set records for physical shipments and downloads in mainland Asia. [137] Commenting on the large numbers, Tabata revealed that the strong sales saved the Final Fantasy franchise as a whole, which had seen declining commercial success in recent years. [138] According to Square Enix, shipments had reached over six million worldwide by January 2017. [139] In May of the same year, Square announced the game and Rise of the Tomb Raider helped to increase sales and profits for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. [140] In a later interview, Enterbrain president Hirokazu Hamamura stated that the game had sold seven million copies worldwide by January 2018, ranking it as a "huge success". [141] By November 2018, that number had risen to over 8.4 million. [142]

Accolades

Final Fantasy XV won numerous awards from various gaming publications, including "Game of the Year" from RPG Site and RPGFan, [143] [144] and "Best RPG (People's Choice)" from IGN, [145] PlayStation Blog awarded Final Fantasy XV awards in the categories of "Best PS4 Game", "Best Use of Pro", "Best Soundtrack", and "Best Visuals"; [146] and in Game Informer's 2017 RPG of the Year Awards awarded the game for "Best Post-Launch Support". [147] At the 2017 National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards the game won Game, Franchise Role Playing and Song, Original or Adapted. [148] It was also nominated for "Best Original Soundtrack Album" and for "Best Original Instrumental" ("Valse di Fantastica") at the 15th Annual Game Audio Network Guild Awards. [149] In 2017, the game was nominated for "Best Visual Design" at the Golden Joystick Awards, [150] and for "Best Role-Playing Game" at The Game Awards 2017, but lost to Cuphead and Persona 5 , respectively. [151] The Comrades DLC was nominated for "Best Add-on" at the Gamescom 2017 Awards. [152] The game was also nominated for "Evolving Game" at the 14th British Academy Games Awards. [153] [154]

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Notes
  1. ファイナルファンタジーXV(Fainaru Fantajī Fifutīn) in Japanese
  2. ファイナルファンタジーヴェルサスXIII(Fainaru Fantajī Verusasu Sātīn) in Japanese