Imperial infantry is a branch of military within Niflheim in Final Fantasy XV consisting of human and cyborg members who fight with magitek-powered firearms. They are sometimes referred to as "cybersoldiers" in the bestiary.
Niflheim deploys two types of soldiers: magitek infantry and imperial infantry. While the commanders seem to deploy both types (besides Aranea, who only works with human infantry), the units in the infantries are different. Magitek troopers have proved superior to human troops, and thus Niflheim's human infantry has largely been replaced by magitek units.
Magitek rifle distributed to marksmen in the imperial infantry. Able to snipe enemies from afar, the rifle has received praise from military officials of all ranks. Its ease of use has made it the most widely wielded weapon in the entire infantry.
The soldiers with glowing eyes—the infamous magitek infantry—are humanoid machines powered by magitek cores, produced in imperial magitek laboratories. The soldiers referred to with titles like "Imperial Rifleman" or "Imperial Sniper", who make up the imperial infantry, appear to be human cyborgs. The terms "magitek infantry" and "imperial soldiers" are often used interchangeably, but the magitek types greatly outnumber the soldier types, having largely replaced them. Another type of magitek weapon the empire deploys is the magitek armor, usually large bipedal robots, though recently the empire has developed new forms from the monstrous Diamond Weapon to the wormlike Immortalis. All three types of units are often deployed together, and sometimes the empire even deploys daemons.
The infantrymen have their faces covered and wear old-fashioned chainmail suits of armor with red imperial insignia. Their headgear appears based on the great helm, a helmet of the High Middle Ages which arose in the late twelfth century in the context of the Crusades and remained in use until the fourteenth century. Because imperial soldiers are never seen without their face plates it is unclear whether they are really human underneath. Unlike magitek troopers, which are specifically engineered for engaging enemies, the infantry serve a variety of military functions. Imperial infantry are commonly sighted guarding blockades in Lucis after the imperial takeover, and support the magitek troopers deployed from assault craft to hunt down Prince Noctis and his retinue. Though not powered by magitek cores, the infantry uses magiteknology in their weapons, such as the infantrymen's rifles, High Commander Ravus Nox Fleuret's magitek arm and Aranea's Stoss Spear.
How human the cyborg varieties of imperial soldiers are is ambiguous. The soldiers who follow Aranea have a different insignia on their armor to the other Niflheim riflemen, and appear to be human, as Aranea doesn't work with magitek soldiers. Ravus could be considered a cyborg for his magitek arm prosthetic, and thus the cyborg soldiers could be similarly enhanced but otherwise human. Brigadier General Caligo Ulldor converses with imperial infantrymen, whereas the MTs are silent. Imperial infantrymen never wield impossibly large weapons a human could not be expected to be able to handle, whereas some of the MTs do. However, the cyborg soldiers disperse into smoke when defeated, the way daemons tend to die, and in Final Fantasy XV: Episode Prompto are found at the magitek facilities even if the research notes there suggest there are no human staff left in these places. According to the bestiary, the Imperial Rifleman was created using technology introduced by Ardyn Izunia and they have been mass produced.
In Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ardyn, the soldiers are unmistakably human with parts of their body not covered in armor. However, they remain silent and cover their faces.
The imperial infantry is the remnants of the original imperial army before magitek troopers were introduced in M.E. 723. Niflheim has been using magiteknology for centuries, but during this time some its applications became powered by the essence of daemons due to influence from Ardyn Izunia. Imperial infantry units have been replaced by the "soulless" MTs powered by magitek cores. In M.E. 745 the Astral goddess of ice, Shiva, awoke as a giantess and attacked the imperial territory. The imperial army slayed her, but was decimated, prompting the development of magitek soldiers that would be strong enough to fight Astrals. The human infantry has never recovered its numbers from this event.
Ravus Nox Fleuret is appointed the leader of the Imperial Army after Niflheim invades Insomnia in M.E. 756. He deploys it to attack Noctis and his allies, as well as in attempts to kill the Astrals. Imperial generals Caligo Ulldor and Loqi Tummelt command forces of their own when they attempt to take over the Lucian outlands. Many of Ravus's infantrymen are lost in the battle against Leviathan.
The Starscourge engulfs Eos in an eternal night, and the empire collapses. Aranea absconds with many infantrymen following her, and they begin to help refugees to migrate to Lestallum. When Noctis and his friends are in Gralea, they can listen to a radio broadcast of an imperial soldier who laments how everyone else has already turned into a daemon. When Noctis and his friends return to the ruins of Insomnia to fulfill the prophecy of the True King, they find Insomnia still swarmed with Eternal Troopers, imperial infantrymen who fight like daemons. When they take damage, their robotic skeletons are revealed from underneath their suits of armor.
The human cyborg soldiers who wield rifles are confronted at blockades and story quests throughout Lucis, in Niflheim, and in the final dungeon. Neither the cyborgs nor the magitek soldiers are ever fought in hunts. Both MTs and the cyborgs commonly drop boost items like Muscle Stimulants and defensive accessories. The infantry only ever use physical attacks. They commonly use ballistic fire from afar, which can be defended against with certain accessories and attires, as well as Noctis's royal arms when he has one as an active weapon and the player holds the defense button. Imperial troopers can be defeated in one hit with the Cerberus sniper rifle when wielded by Noctis in scope mode.
The imperial infantry yield less EXP in the game than what the official guide indicates.
There are two two types of enemies: the cyborgs are weaker than the axe-wielding green-faced magitek troopers that are more commonly fought in the main game. They shoot at Prompto unless he is right next to them, in which case they will attack with melee attacks. They deal normal damage, whereas the axe-wielding troopers—though restricted to short range attacks—also damage Prompto's max HP that recovers slowly and can only be healed by Elixirs and Hi-Elixirs.
Non-Final Fantasy guest appearances
Creation and development
The imperial infantry has appeared in trailers ever since the game was known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII. They appeared to be entirely human during this phase. Imperial troopers also appear in the Final Fantasy XV E3 2013 trailer, and appear identical to how they are in the final game, although again appear to be fully human and are being deployed with tanks to invade Insomnia. In the final game, the empire only uses aircraft.
Magitek troopers seem to be a later addition as they did not appear in the E3 2013 trailer. The humanity of the imperial infantry has also been reduced, now being referred to as "cyborgs" in the bestiary, them even dying the same way MTs do. The medieval influence on the soldiers' attire has been kept for the final game, although the technological disparity between the empire and the kingdom seems narrower than what was implied in some of the early footage; the juxtaposition has always been that Noctis from the the technologically modern Insomnia wields swords against firearm-wielding soldiers in chainmail armor.
- The soldiers met in Angelgard and magitek research facility in Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ardyn are human and have a slightly different design than the infantry seen in the main game, with exposed skin showing.