Warning: Please be aware that this article will be spoiling major plot points from Final Fantasy XV, as well as the main villain’s motivations and role in the story. If you have not beaten the game and don’t want to spoil the game’s story and ending, it is advised that you do not read any further.
Final Fantasy XV has officially been released after years of waiting, and although the story is mainly focused on Noctis and his crew, there are some dramatic overarching plotlines. Before the game was released, we knew the Niflheim Empire, and the people within it, to be the main antagonists of the story. One of those characters was Ardyn Izunia, the chancellor of Niflheim, and an incredibly strange man. Ardyn was the one that brought the peace treaty in front of King Regis for the first time, and we’d seen him interacting with the party in trailers.
It turns out, however, Ardyn’s role in the game is huge, basically to the point where he’s responsible for everything. Yes, Ardyn is the main villain, and he has some pretty fascinating pieces of development we find out about. Sadly, the way the game introduces some of these points can be a little confusing to follow
The first time the party encounters Ardyn is at Galdin Quay, where he informs them of the boats not travelling and gives them a piece of advice. Next, we meet him at Lestallum, where he escorts Noctis to undertake the trial of Titan. He then starts popping up time and again until Noctis undertakes the Trial of Leviathan. During the battle and destruction, Noctis sees Ardyn stab Lunafreya, ultimately resulting in her death. Because of all this, Noctis has begun to grow a deep-rooted hatred for the man. In the latter half of the game, Arydn continuously appears to Noctis, tormenting him, and even tricking him into knocking Prompto off of a train.
Eventually, the truth about Ardyn is revealed, and we see he’s the mastermind behind all of the grief for Noctis and the Kingdom of Lucis. Chapter 13 reveals that Ardyn’s real name is Ardyn Lucis Caelum, and he once was a member of the royal family. 2,000 years ago the world of Eos was hit with a terrible plague known as the Starscourge that turned humans into daemons. Arydn, a resident of Lucis at the time, was chosen by the Astrals to save the world of Eos. He went on a journey, not unlike Noctis’, absorbing thousands of daemons into himself and saving countless people.
Unfortunately, the king of Lucis at the time demonized him out of jealousy and denounced him as unclean, preventing him from ascending and entering the Astral Realm. The countless daemons he absorbed and the rejection of the crystal transformed Ardyn into an immortal where he takes the surname Izunia, twisting and blackening his mind in the process.
He then grants Niflheim the knowledge to research deamons and make magitek technology, gaining an influential position within the empire as chancellor. Now he begins plotting his ultimate revenge on the gods, the crystal, and the Lucian royal family. After helping Noctis absorb the crystal’s power, Ardyn re-enacts the Starscourge and plunges Eos into darkness for 10 years, until Noctis finally wakes up and begins the final act of the game.
Arydn is such a complex character with so many different motivations, and he’s someone we desperately need to learn more about. Throughout Final Fantasy XV, he’s an incredibly ominous figure, specifically doing things to torment and torture Noctis. He needs Noctis to be granted the power of the crystal so he can have a fateful battle with the True King, destroying the crystal, Ring of the Lucii, and the royal family in one fell swoop.
Even before we learn his true motives, Arydn is both a charming and unnerving character. You can’t help but be interested in who he is, despite the fact that you know he must have devious intentions. Additionally, Darin De Paul does a great job of voicing the character adding even more depth and mystery to him.
Much of the information we get about Ardyn is dumped on players in chapter 13 and 14, and while it’s all fascinating, there seems like so much more we can learn about him. Arydn, very much like Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII, is a fallen hero. He was the true savior chosen by the gods to defeat the Starscourge, but the jealousy and pettiness of a human king cursed him for eternity. He’s had 2000 years of waiting, with daemons stewing inside of him all of that time.
Arydn’s past is a perfect opportunity to explore more of the history and lore of Final Fantasy XV. Granting the character his own DLC would allow us to not only get to know the character better, but see Lucis 2,000 years in the past as well. While Arydn’s motives are clear, seeing the person he used to be could add even more weight and gravitas to his actions in Final Fantasy XV.
There are plenty of options to take with gameplay, too, as in the final battle we see Arydn using many of the same abilities Noctis possesses. He was a member of the Lucian royal family, so it makes sense. There’s an entire journey the character had to rid the world of daemons, so this could also let us see regions of Eos we didn’t get to in the main game.
An Ardyn DLC could also go further than just his journey, showing us the period of time after he was rejected from Ascension. In stories that Arydn tells Noctis, we hear of how the chosen that absorbed daemons was a benevolent man, healing people across the land.
Arydn’s tale is especially tragic because he did in fact complete his task assigned by the gods, saving the world and destroying the daemons. Yet, in the end, he was denied the one thing he ever wanted: a peaceful existence. No doubt his rejection by the Lucian king was something hard to deal with, and the DLC could let us see the character’s slow descent into revenge and madness.
We know that Final Fantasy XV is going to have three character DLC packs for Ignis, Prompto, and Gladio, as well as a four player co-op expansion. However, the company also announced their update road map for the game recently, which includes adding more playable characters in the future. At this point it’s unclear if these characters will merely be playable in the main game, or if some could also be receiving their own episodes. Exploring more Final Fantasy XV’s world and lore, while also getting context and background on Arydn seems like a sure fit for future DLC.
He is without a doubt one of the most complex and compelling villains the Final Fantasy series has had in years. It’d be a pity to not see more of such a well-thought-out villain, and one that has the potential to be so much more.