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FFXV Episode Ardyn key art

Key art.

Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ardyn is a downloadable extra episode for Final Fantasy XV. It takes place 35 years before the events of the main game and follows its main antagonist Ardyn Izunia following the events of Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ardyn – Prologue. Ardyn's part of Final Fantasy XV -The Dawn of the Future- novelizes the events of Episode Ardyn, albeit with a slightly different ending.

It was released on March 26, 2019, and is available for purchase via the PlayStation Network store and the Xbox Live marketplace for $9.99.

This episode is the only one not included in the game's Season Pass, and it is the last DLC for Final Fantasy XV after more than 2 years since the initial launch.

SynopsisEdit

CharactersEdit

StoryEdit

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow. (Skip section)
Ardyn and Aera in FFXV Episode Ardyn

The healer Ardyn with his fiancée Aera.

Two thousand years ago, Ardyn Lucis Caelum was the firstborn son of his family. He had the power to heal others by transferring their ailment into his own body, believing it a blessing from the Astrals, but the Starscourge corrupted him. He was rejected as tainted by his own family as well as the gods and his ascension to the throne of Lucis was denied. He was chained up in Angelgard while virtually all traces of him were erased from history. Now immortal, Ardyn stays a closely-guarded royal secret and becomes known as the fabled "Adagium."

In M.E. 734 Ardyn arrives in Insomnia under the guise of Mars Sapientia, an Insomnian border patrol officer whom he presumably daemonified to take on his appearance. As Ardyn arrives in the metropolis, he thinks back on what set him on this quest.

After 2,000 years of captivity, in M.E. 721, Ardyn was freed by Verstael Besithia of Niflheim. As he was escorted out of his prison he was attacked by the Lucian Royal Guard, and amid defending himself discovered that he could daemonify others while experiencing their memories.

Seven months later Ardyn came to at the imperial lab Verstael had brought him to, having lost all concept of passage of time. Verstael informed him of everything that had transpired, including the results of the various tests he had performed on Ardyn. Ardyn had no interest in aiding Niflheim in its war against Lucis, but learned about the extent of the empire's influence in Eos along with its research on daemons, monstrous life forms the Starscourge eventually transforms the afflicted. Verstael showed Ardyn the frozen body of the treacherous God of Fire, Ifrit, deep in slumber at the lab after Niflheim had salvaged him from the Rock of Ravatogh. Ardyn was horrified when Besithia asked him to daemonify the deity, alluring him with Ifrit's memories. The lab was attacked by the Royal Guard, whom Ardyn destroyed when his hallucinations made him see its members as Somnus Lucis Caelum, his brother who had demonized him and taken the throne in his stead.

Ardyn daemon in FFXV Episode Ardyn

Ardyn declaring war on the Lucis bloodline.

When the enraged Ifrit awakened, Ardyn subdued and daemonified the deity who was stunned to see a member of the Caelum line present. Glimpsing the Infernian's memories, Ardyn saw how he was meant to be the king before experiencing an intrusive flashback to Aera's last moments. The Aera of Ardyn's memories revealed she had told Somnus that the gods had chosen Ardyn as king, blaming herself for her unintentional role in Somnus's usurpation, and begged Ardyn to punish her. While Ardyn could not bring himself to harm her, he ended up being forced to watch her die by his memory of Somnus.*(If the player fails the quick time event when Somnus and Ardyn struggle, Ardyn will be forced to stab Aera. If the player succeeds, Ardyn casts the knife aside, but Somnus strikes her down with his Armiger.)[1] Consumed by hatred for his brother, Ardyn submitted himself to the Starscourge and decided to craft a path of darkness to satiate his revenge, not caring if it defied the gods.

Now going by "Ardyn Izunia" and an imperial citizen, Ardyn allowed the Starscourge to spread and the imperial lands were ravaged by a "vanishing disease", Ardyn using the epidemic to absorb the memories of the infected to learn as much of Lucis as he could. However, doing so warped him into a shadow of his original self, no longer able to separate the memories of those he daemonified from his own.[1]

Episode-Ardyn-Armiger

Ardyn confronting Regis.

Now in Insomnia during the Founder King's Day festivities, Ardyn infiltrates the city and summons Ifrit to cause carnage before disabling the Wall amplifiers. Ardyn defies Besithia's withdrawal orders to go after King Regis, intent on forcing him to summon the Old Wall to settle the score with Somnus. After Ardyn nearly kills Regis, the king's Ring of the Lucii summons Somnus's Lucii form. The ring is a magical heirloom given by the gods and the past kings' souls are collected inside it rather than "passing on". While trading blows, Somnus gradually admits his regret for what he did to Ardyn and confesses that he was jealous for being outshined. After losing to his brother, Somnus tries to explain himself, but Ardyn is outraged at his brother's audacity in asking to be understood after taking everything from him. Somnus wishes Ardyn will find peace as his spirit disappears.

The still-furious Ardyn is about to kill the unconscious Regis when the Astral Bahamut intervenes and pulls Ardyn into his domain where he reveals the Astrals' new purpose for him: to cover the world in darkness and be killed by the True King as a sacrificial lamb, allowing him to find peace in death while also satisfying his revenge. Ardyn can either reluctantly submit, or defy his fate. If he submits Ardyn demands to know if Aera and Somnus knew of his fate. He receives no response and screams in anguish over the betrayal. If he rejects that fate he is tortured into accepting it by Bahamut.

Once back on the mortal plane, Ardyn finds himself in Angelgard. He laments that nothing matters anymore and accepts the role he is to play in plunging the world into darkness, his plan to kill the True King once he comes. He envisions himself murdering the cooperating Aera and Somnus.

Spoilers end here.

Gameplay Edit

The player takes control of Ardyn Izunia, who wields the royal arms, and his Rakshasa Blade, a one-handed sword, for his basic attack combo, with the final hit sending most enemies into a vulnerable state. Tilting the analogue stick while attacking has him sideswipe. If Ardyn stops attacking just before the finisher sword swing, he will leap back and an attack prompt will appear, which launches the enemy upward into a vulnerable state. While attacking, Ardyn may be able to parry nearby attackers, summoning a button prompt for each. After being knocked down, he can knock enemies back with a sword swing.

Instead of free-warping, Ardyn can daemonify vulnerable enemies with the warp button, instantly finishing them off and granting AP for Descension, and can rapidly daemonify groups of vulnerable foes in succession. Blindsiding an enemy will send them into a vulnerable state. The final attack of his blitz combo won't finish off enemies, instead setting them up for easy daemonification. Against bosses, he will instead unleash a strong blow.

When Ardyn daemonifes an enemy/boss, his phantasmal meter fills up, granting additional passive attacks during his blitz combo, turning his sideswipe into a spinning saw, and having his aerial attack send sword projectiles forward. The meter strengthens his warp-strikes, and depletes it fully when executing one. If it maxes out, Ardyn's warp becomes Royal Retribution, a barrage of royal arm attacks that restore his HP. When fighting Somnus, the meter fills automatically. Warp-striking an object outside of battle won't deplete the meter, and Royal Retribution may turn into a standard warp if used high above a target.

Rather than phasing, holding the dodge button lets Ardyn Shadowstep, rapidly draining up to 30 MP while pausing time and allowing him to zoom across the battlefield intangibly. He can do this in mid-air as well, with a small cooldown. Similar to point-warping, he can freely shadowstep directly towards specific locations with Phantasmal Leap, letting him recover MP.

Ardyn has a technique bar, reserved for unleashing three different unique attacks from Ifrit. Doing this will summon Ifrit and allow him to attack alongside Ardyn in battle for roughly a minute, causing the arena to engulf in flames and the screen turn orange. Ifrit will phase in and out of battle to deal strong blows.

The player can purchase various hats around Insomnia that grant different effects. Ardyn can rest at benches, granting three buffs that slightly boost HP, Vitality, and critical hit rate for roughly 5 minutes. Ifrit also gains these buffs. During the infiltration, the player can destroy props around the city, such as billboards and flag poles, to increase the total score. Occasionally, Ardyn will get ambushed by troops while wandering around, and with them an attack prompt that will stun them, allowing easy daemonifications.

FFXV Episode Ardyn Downed status

Ardyn is Downed

When Ardyn's HP is depleted, rather than entering Danger as in the main game, he enters Overkill, in which he transforms into an undying state. During this state, his MP and phantasmal meter are permanently depleted, and his blitz combo becomes a string of powerful punches. Unlike Danger, Ardyn's max HP doesn't drain over time during Overkill; it will still deplete from taking hits, though he won't be staggered. After waiting a period of time, or after using an item, he will revert to normal and restore his HP. Ifrit can't be summoned in this state. There are no Phoenix Downs available.

Descension and stats Edit

Using Descension from the main menu allows the player to unlock Daemonspheres to learn new abilities and boost stats. On top of daemonification, AP is still gained from warp-strike kills.

Alongside his sword, he can wield the Cerberus-0, a sniper rifle that staggers enemies and can drain MP to pause time similar to Shadowstepping, summon a Dark Tornado in a similar manner to Elemancy that drains his spectral meter to deal repeated damage over an area and inflicts Enervated, or use Spectral Charge to drain his MP enough to recharge his spectral meter while in battle and standing on the ground. The rifle's damage and range are ineffective outside of battle, but can still deliver headshots and destroy objects from a distance. The Tornado can still be summoned with the meter at 0x, but its duration will be brief.

Ardyn can sprint indefinitely (and holds his hat while doing so). He doesn't take fall damage. His MP recharges quickly and stasis lasts a shorter period. While in stasis, he can still dash forward slightly and parry attacks.

Strength affects the damage from Ardyn's Rakhasa blade, Cerberus-0, and punches in Overkill. Magic affects the damage from his royal arms (including Royal Retribution), Dark Tornado, and Rising Phantom, an unlockable skill that can be used after 100 combos are achieved, which sends out a strong area attack, also resetting the combo upon usage.

Strategy Edit

The player is graded for their efforts. They can save at camps repeatedly and reload if too much damage is incurred. Maxing out the spectral meter and spamming sidewipes, especially against bosses with a hat that doesn't boost magic, can easily rack up combos. Using items won't penalize the score, and not all of them have to be picked up. Only the battle time is factored, not the total time.

The Pointed Hat is perhaps the most useful equippable hat, purchasable from the two northernmost shops. The hat costs 56,000 yen, but manacircuits dropped from Guardians sell for 10,000 yen each. It greatly increases Ardyn's MP, Magic, and Spirit, boosting the power of most of Ardyn's attacks, granting more drainable MP for his Spectral Charge skill, and allowing more shadowstepping and warp-strikes for mobility and maintaining a chain while destroying objects. Draining MP to charge the spectral meter can also extend the duration of an active Dark Tornado.

Blindsides and Ifrit are effective against the Guardians. Both Ifrit and the Cerberus-0 (with a Strength-based hat equipped) make short work Guardians' and Regis' barriers. Regis can be headshotted while vulnerable to deal significant damage. Somnus's large body is useful for racking up a large combo, especially with Royal Retribution, and his powerful sword attack and be evaded by immediately leaving the central street.

Datalog Edit

Finding Verstael's documents, slaying different enemies, and destroying different objects fills entries in the Archives. There are 33 entries in total.

Episode completion rewardsEdit

Episode Ardyn Certificate of Completion

Certificate of Completion.

  • The Mutant Rakshasa Blade, a greatsword and that can be equipped by Noctis and Gladiolus in the main game.
  • Ardyn's Ensemble, attire that can be equipped by Noctis in the main game.
  • Three new entries in the Datalog, which are shared between all saves.
  • A new hat shop and hat available for puchase, located on the ground level near the mid-right part of the map. Also unlocked for all saves.
  • The Kingly Clash mode, where Ardyn faces off against Noctis and co. in the ravaged Insomnia.

GalleryEdit

TriviaEdit

Ardyn arriving to Insomnia
Noctis arriving to Insomnia
  • The scene where Ardyn enters Insomnia under Mars's guise is a recreation of an old Final Fantasy Versus XIII trailer where Noctis entered Insomnia in a black car.
  • If the player doesn’t resist Ifrit’s grapple, Ardyn will be incinerated, leading to a Game Over. The same applies to the attack prompt that finishes off Somnus, though Somnus will have to be re-fought.
  • Ifrit's attacks inflict Burnt on Ardyn.
  • The menu description for Ardyn's default Chancellor attire says the empire specifically designed them to protect him from sunlight.


ReferencesEdit

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