For the first time, players take control of Noctis’s greatest foe in this brand-new episode of FINAL FANTASY XV! Delve into the dark tale of scorned savior Ardyn Lucis Caelum and unravel the secrets surrounding his mysterious past.
*Even though it’s a spoiler-free post, this review may contain spoilers pertaining to the main story of Final Fantasy XV story.
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The last survivor of the planned DLC package
Final Fantasy XV made it’s long awaited debut in November 29th, 2016. The game was a huge best seller all over the world and this game was in development for 10 years and under the original named Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Even though the game was released, the game was lacking in story content due to scrapped ideas. To make it up to the fans, game director Hajime Tabata would later release a season pass in which players would have access to play as different characters in their own story besides the protagonist Noctis Lucis Caelum. The first season pass featured three DLC stories focusing on Noctis’ comrades Gladiolus, Prompto and Ignis. In this season pass, players would also be able to get access to an online multiplayer campaign story mode called Comrades in which players would create their own character and tackle missions that took place within the 10 years of darkness. The game would later get an updated edition called Royal Edition which included the past DLC and even an expansive world within the last chapter of the story.
Tabata mentioned a while back that he wanted to do one more season pass called “Dawn of the Future” in which players would have had the ability to play as more characters. The episodes would focus on Ardyn, Lunafreya, Aranea and even Noctis. Unfortunately, Tabata would later leave the team behind Final Fantasy XV and this ultimately led to the team’s decision to cancel this planned DLC. However, they did promise fans that they would still give them the chance to play as the game’s antagonist, Ardyn. In regards to Dawn of the Future, it is planned to be released as a novel for fans in 2020.
Road to Ardyn *Spoilers if you haven’t played Final Fantasy XV*
Episode Ardyn tells the story about the game’s antagonist Ardyn Lucis Caelum and why did he wanted to torment Noctis and his family. When first introduced, he was a mysterious person who aided Noctis when he was in a pinch. However, he later showed his true colors when he killed Noctis’s childhood bride to be and he would later betray his own kingdom. It turns out in the story, he was supposed to be the true king of Lucis and get rid of the starscourge that turned people into daemons. Due to his disobedient to the Astrals, Ardyn was cursed to live forever and never age until the true king killed him in battle. This is from the main story and we don’t get a lot of information about his past. Square Enix would later release a short anime called “Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ardyn – Prologue” showing a brief life story of Ardyn before he got sealed away by his own brother. Now the game DLC is released players can see what Adyn has been through and what did he do after he was freed.
Story: Storming the castle with vengeance
The story begins with Ardyn in disguise of a soldier infiltrating the kingdom metropolis of Insomnia in a Founder’s Day Festival. As Ardyn goes around the town, he creates chaos by attacking the kingdom’s shields and glaives; Joining him in his carnage is the Astral, Ifrit the Infernian.
In a flashback, the kingdom of Niflheim discovers Ardyn’s body in the island called Angelgard. Ardyn gets taken to magitek research laboratory and meets Verstael Besithia. Ardyn finds out that this Verstael person is interested in daemons and he becomes surprised when Niflheim captured one of the Astrals called Ifrit. Ardyn would later side with them when Lucian spies infiltrate the lab and Ardyn gets hallucinations of his brother, Somnus. Together, Ardyn hopes to team up with Niflheim and seek vengeance against Insomnia. Back in the present time of the story, Ardyn plans to take down the kingdom on his own and the only one getting in his way is Regis Lucis Caelum and the past kings.
Gameplay: A dark violent version of Noctis
Ardyn plays similar to Noctis in which he can use his powers to warp to buildings and use multiple blades on his enemies. Ardyn is not as flexible like Noctis so he can’t air dodge, but instead he relies on his evil powers for extra damage. Ardyn has the ability to daemonify on weakened enemies to boost his AP and gain new attacks. Ardyn not only uses his sword to attack but he can also conjure a dark wind attack to wipe out mulitple enemies and even obtains a sniper rifle to shoot from distance. Ardyn can also manually summon Ifrit in combat and help fight together. If Ardyn reaches near death, he goes into overkill mode where the starscourge inside of him rages out of control and grants him incredible power damage.
The main setting of the gameplay has the player fighting in Insomnia in broad daylight. Originally, in the main story, you can only explore this city in the last chapter of the story where the town is in ruins and his filled with daemons. Ardyn can explore the town by warping and he will eventually get ambushed by the glaives. Players can accessorize Ardyn by giving him hats in which will either increase his stats or challenge the player by giving Ardyn a hat which makes him easy to kill. In order to save the game, Ardyn can save by relaxing on a bench.
The DLC also includes a mode called Kingly Clash mode in which players reenact the final battle with Noctis and Ardyn from the main story. The only big difference is that players will play as Ardyn and they will have to fight against Noctis and his arsenal of royal weapons.
Review: It’s fun to be bad
Episode Ardyn serves as the last DLC for Final Fantasy XV? Was this DLC better than the past DLC? In a way, I say the gameplay was fun but I think the story has yet to be desired.
In the positives, it was fun to finally explore Insomnia in daylight. In past tech demos, Final Fantasy XV allowed players to explore Insomnia in the day time with with Noctis’ friends. However, fans were disappointed that once the game was finished, the only way you can explore the town is to reach the final chapter of the game in the eternal dark. In Episode Ardyn, players can explore the town before it was all in ruins. Ardyn is pretty fun to play despite the changes in his style. Ardyn has many dark powers in which players can use to kill the enemies and have fun in the same time. Being able to summon Ifrit in free will was easy and fun to do and way better than how the main story handled the way to summon them. The music in this game was surprisingly good. The two favorite songs I like was Prayer of the Oracle in which can be heard in the start menu and Conditioned to Hate. Conditioned to Hate is a song you will be hearing as you wreck havoc and this fits Ardyn’s gameplay and character. With the anime and the game’s story, we finally get to see a glimpse of Ardyn’s past and where did his hate comes from. Despite him being a sassy villain who likes to torment people, we see him as a man who wants personal retribution. Ardyn’s character has been an interesting choice of topic ever since he was introduced in the game and seeing how he went from neutral to evil. This episode shows the main premise of how a man like Ardyn when from a fallen protagonist to a villain with personal vendetta. At first, some people may despise him for what he has done to Noctis but as players play through his eyes, people will understand the pain and hate Ardyn has been carrying throughout the years. In a way, Ardyn is like Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker of Final Fantasy XV.
As much as it was fun to play as FFXV’s villain, there was some setback to this DLC. Like I mentioned before, the DLC is fun but it felt it could have done better. Personally, I think the story could have gotten further. Ardyn is an interesting character in the world of Final Fantasy XV due to him being an immortal, revengeful character who can only torment the main character. In the anime prologue, we got to see a glimpse of his past and see his relationship with his brother and his girlfriend. In the game though, we get to see both the time when he was invading Insomnia and how he was awakened in the laboratory. While playing Episode Ardyn, it did feel like it was Episode Ignis where it was neither too short nor too long. In my opinion, I wish Ardyn’s story would have been longer due to the fact that his full backstory wasn’t fleshed out properly in the main game. In a way like Final Fantasy VII, the gamer could learn about the villain Sephiroth while traveling and progressing through the story without having to spend money on DLC. In my assumption, Ardyn’s story will probably be more expansive in the upcoming novel. I think another thing that people would criticize is the game’s difficulty. There is an easy and normal setting and even if you pick normal, the game story isn’t too hard to complete. Ardyn is much more stronger than Noctis due to his relying on the royal bloodline powers and his dark powers. With the easy difficulty and Ardyn’s powers, the game progress will be a walk in the park.
Conclusion – the end of Final Fantasy XV
As a way to say goodbye to Final Fantasy XV, Square Enix wanted fans to experience the thrill of being a bad guy and unravel the dark history of Ardyn Lucis Caelum. We finally get to experience and see through the eyes of Ardyn and see his pain towards the kingdom that tried to lock him away forever. Ardyn’s gameplay is simplistically fun and it really gives you the feeling of being over powered. We also do get to see the story of Insomnia of years ago before Noctis was born. In story wise, I feel like we could have gotten more but the only we could see it is with the cutscenes and the anime. The story-telling is moderately short and it will take about at least an hour to complete. Exploring the city of Insomnia was fun but it’s pretty minimal in size due to the fact it is easy to travel and warp around the perimeter. While it is fun to play as Ardyn, I felt like it wasn’t enough to satisfy me in regards to Ardyn unlike playing Episode Gladiolus, Prompto and Ignis. I did like the nods to Final Fantasy Versus XIII.
What do you guys think about Episode Ardyn? Comment down below your thoughts on the last DLC.