"Versus XIII" -- Themes of FFXV

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Ikkin

SeeD A-Class
Oct 30, 2016
696
802
#1
FFXV is a thematically fascinating game.

It's kind of funny, really. Of all things to keep under wraps, a game's theme is probably one of the most unlikely. But FFXV nee FF Versus XIII has somehow managed to keep its true nature under wraps for what must have been nigh-on a decade.

Because, really, when it comes down to it, FFXV's ending revealed it to be a game that is intrinsically opposed to FFXIII in a way I'm not sure any of us saw coming. It's a game about willing submission to a divine plan and the burden that imposes on the chosen. And, as such, it exists in direct contrast to FFXIII's theme of defiance of fate, even if its pre-release media would have us believe otherwise.

Consider Regis, for instance. Prior to the revelation of Bahamut, it was generally assumed that he was attempting to defy fate to save his son, and the voice Regis spoke to in the Omen trailer seemed like an antagonist who Noct would eventually have to confront. But, in the end, that wasn't what was going on at all. Regis didn't sacrifice Insomnia so that Noct would live; he sacrificed Insomnia to free Noct to offer himself as sacrifice when the time came. And while he was clearly disturbed by what was being asked of him, he accepted his own death, the slaughter of his people, and the sacrifice of his son as the price of the world's salvation.

(This is why I find comparisons between the destruction in Kingsglaive and the inappropriate destruction in Zack Snyder films to be rather silly, in retrospect. The lack of concern for the devastation of Insomnia on the part of the Lucii was entirely intentional, and even Nyx was only able to gain their support by adopting a similar mindset.)

Or how about Ravus, whose role requires a bit of piecing together but seems to represent the flip side of the core theme. His insistence that Regis was responsible for his mother's murder seemed a bit odd in Kingsglaive (even if it was in line with the motives of some of the Kingsglaive traitors), but it actually makes a lot more sense when you consider him to be the game's embodiment of defying fate. Because, really, there's a certain logic to Ravus blaming the royalty of Lucis for his mother's death when she died offering Regis and Noct the service required by her role as Oracle. Combine that with him knowing that his sister is also effectively guaranteed to die for Noct's sake, and you can see why he might try to defy fate and cut them out of the "chosen one" thing.

It doesn't work, of course, and he seems to abandon his ambitions entirely as a result, which only really makes sense if his goal was to sidestep the prophecies and fill Noct's role in the world's salvation (presumably without Luna having to die). He actually does want the world to be saved, and when defying fate fails, he's willing to set his feelings aside to ensure Noct has what he needs to succeed. (It's too late, unfortunately, and he becomes something unarguably reminiscent of a Cie'th, which strongly suggests heavy ties to the original Versus XIII lore to me.)

Then there's Luna, who, like Regis, fills her role willingly, even if that means total self-abnegation. Luna's sense of self is almost entirely subsumed into her role, to the point that even the things she wants for herself (i.e. a personal connection with Noct) are all tied up in who she is as Oracle. She knows that her life will be demanded of her but acts anyway, and in doing so she is able to model the path Noct will inevitably take for him.

Noct himself is the final piece of the puzzle, the protagonist whose arc culminates in finding the courage to die for the sake of the world. Through him, we're able to experience the personal cost imposed on those called to sacrifice.

The end result of all of this is something that's both unusual in and of itself and a direct contrast to everything FFXIII tried to be. And while one can argue about implementation, it's certainly an interesting tack to take for a mainline FF game.
 
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llazy77

Warrior of Light
May 27, 2014
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#2
Im sure characters like Ravus and Luna are completely different than they were in Versus. I have a strong feeling they were completely rewritten. I also feel Noctis was rewritten as well in Nomuras version he was described as being scared and arrogant and stuff and he really isnt like that in XV hes more laid back. Ardyn I can kinda see being about the same character he was in Versus.
 
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Ikkin

SeeD A-Class
Oct 30, 2016
696
802
#3
Im sure characters like Ravus and Luna are completely different than they were in Versus. I have a strong feeling they were completely rewritten. I also feel Noctis was rewritten as well in Nomuras version he was described as being scared and arrogant and stuff and he really isnt like that in XV hes more laid back. Ardyn I can kinda see being about the same character he was in Versus.
Luna is definitely completely different from whatever Stella was meant to be. My suspicion is that, when Tabata said that Stella ended up not being important enough after the lore changeover, he could have been referring to a thematic irrelevance on her part, with Luna being created with the express purpose of directly reflecting the game's themes.

As for Ravus, I'm sure his actions were different, but there's way too much Cie'th left in his fate and his boss design for those not to have carried over.

With regards to Noct, here's a description of him I found from the Versus days:

He’s not a dark character and laughs at things usually with his friends but has an enigmatic face and a whole lot of mystery surrounding him. He’s a shy character to strangers and doesn’t talk too much but he is a pretty confident man and sometimes he lets it show.

He is very calm and feels embarrassed when his words don’t express the feelings in his mind. He can become extremely moody when this happens and he lets it show on his face.


That sounds... pretty much like our Noct. Much of what we saw in the trailers didn't really match that, to be fair, but those parts were also intended to show Noct reacting to a combination of massive stress and newfound power, so that might be expected.
 

SonOfEtro

Keyblade Master
May 2, 2016
774
615
#5
I was quite shocked at the themes of submission to fate. But it's also a good analogy for life, where you have to face facts about what the world is and the burdens it places upon you. Until I realized how much Luna had submitted herself to the Astrals' plans, I was disappointed by her portrayal in both Kingsglaive and XV, but it takes a strong character to willingly face all of that and know that she wouldn't get what she wished for at the end without paying the ultimate price. At least it's only Noctis that died for sure at the end, the fate of his companions is likely to help rebuild the world.

On the whole, it felt like the wrong conclusion for what Versus XIII was trying to be, but it's the right conclusion for what XV is.
 

Ikkin

SeeD A-Class
Oct 30, 2016
696
802
#6
I was quite shocked at the themes of submission to fate. But it's also a good analogy for life, where you have to face facts about what the world is and the burdens it places upon you. Until I realized how much Luna had submitted herself to the Astrals' plans, I was disappointed by her portrayal in both Kingsglaive and XV, but it takes a strong character to willingly face all of that and know that she wouldn't get what she wished for at the end without paying the ultimate price. At least it's only Noctis that died for sure at the end, the fate of his companions is likely to help rebuild the world.
With regards to Luna, I think the biggest mitigating factor for her portrayal isn't that it takes a strong person to do what she did (it's pretty common for the strength of female characters to be found in sacrifice, for whatever reason), but that her willing submission is a model for Noct to follow. The implications are a bit different when the theme applies to everyone including the male lead. xD;

On the whole, it felt like the wrong conclusion for what Versus XIII was trying to be, but it's the right conclusion for what XV is.
How so? When you look back on some of the things Nomura and Kitase said about Versus XIII, it seems likely that the ending retained the spirit of what they originally intended:

"It’s a dark and sad story which aims to show how heavy and painful the burden that the heroes are carrying is, how painful their paths can be, and how important flashes of happiness are in a world ravaged by greed and despair. The keyword for Versus XIII story is misery, and it can be applied to all main characters."

Nomura: “Don’t be fooled by the dark mood the trailer leads you to, what you’ve seen is merely a representation of what’s to come but I can disclose that the character (Noctis) is not solitary or dark even though the burden he carries is very heavy.”

Nomura: “I would say misery and worry play a huge part in the story and when the plot was being first considered I spoke with Mr. Kitase and we decided to take an even more “sad’ direction for the story.”

Kitase: “People will cry because of the story, they will get involved into it and will be crying for a whole week and on!."

Nomura: [When asked, 'It’ll be that awful?') "We’ll balance it very well because playing and seeing those unpleasant sad scenes for hours could become a problem for avid players so we’ll work on that.”

Then there's the fact that the ring existed at least as far back as 2010, Versus was consistently shown to have motifs of death and sleep (which Nomura clearly associates with death -- see "Birth by Sleep" and the concept of "dead" characters sleeping in Sora's heart), and Yoko Shimomura's continued believe that Versus XIII and XV are pretty much the same in the end.

In light of all that, my presumption is that the one thing from Versus XIII that was considered untouchable was its theme, even if a new story had to be created around it using different lore to make it work in a single game. I wouldn't be surprised if, say, Nomura intended to have a full game of the party attempting to fight fate and failing, for instance, but I do think that a lot of the endgame stuff was taken directly from Versus.
 

LeonBlade

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Oct 25, 2013
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#9
Oh, slightly off topic, but do you notice something about the image below? The symbols within the golden sigil are startlingly similar to the symbols used for Royal Arms in XV.
View attachment 629
This comes from a scripture used in XV that I have yet to see any sort of chart for to explain what the characters mean. I'm surprised the guide doesn't have an alphabet or anything for these characters.
 
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Ikkin

SeeD A-Class
Oct 30, 2016
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802
#11
I like the idea that "Insomnia" is meant to represent the Lucian Kings' need for vigilance and inability to rest until their calling was complete, but I'm not sure why that needs to relate to Norse mythology...?

Apart from a few names (namely Niflheim and Midgardsormr), FFXV's influence seems to have been heavily Abrahamic. I mean, the cosmological roles played by the key figures in the game's mythos are pretty recognizable -- Regis (the father) knowingly offering the Son as sacrifice, Noct (the son) willingly sacrificing himself to pay the price for the world's salvation, Luna (the forerunner) preparing the path for the King before being martyred, and Ifrit (the fallen angel with blatant visual parallels to Satan/Lucifer) cursing humanity with the scourge that requires said sacrifice. And then there's the terminology, which isn't subtle in the slightest, what with stuff like "King of Kings" and "Providence."

This comes from a scripture used in XV that I have yet to see any sort of chart for to explain what the characters mean. I'm surprised the guide doesn't have an alphabet or anything for these characters.
...so it's not just stylized Roman numerals? I kind of assumed that's what the Royal Arms symbols were. XD;
 
Aug 14, 2016
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All over
#12
The last part of Chapter 13 - the reveal about the origin of the daemons - screamed FNC. And as mentioned by @Ikkin, Ravus' monster form look exactly like a Ce'ith from FFXIII. Bahamut might as well have been a Fal'Cie telling Noctis that restoring the light is his Focus. I guess the insiders were right; Nojima's script was mostly intact.

I'm still curious as to what Stella's role would have been. If WHG from the 2013 E3 trailer was still Ravus, I can see her as an antagonist out of familial duty. I'm of the opinion that if they'd had enough time to make the Insomnia invasion the beginning of the game - i.e. if Tabata was in charge from the beginning - Luna would still be called Stella and we'd have avoided pointless game forum drama.

And Kitase was right. The ending has been in my brain ever since I finished the game. In my pantheon of video game endings, the last campfire scene is enough to vault FFXV to the top.
 

SonOfEtro

Keyblade Master
May 2, 2016
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615
#13
FFXV's influence seems to have been heavily Abrahamic.
We also need to remember that Tabata said the mythos had a deep grounding in Japanese mythology.

The last part of Chapter 13 - the reveal about the origin of the daemons - screamed FNC. And as mentioned by @Ikkin, Ravus' monster form look exactly like a Ce'ith from FFXIII. Bahamut might as well have been a Fal'Cie telling Noctis that restoring the light is his Focus. I guess the insiders were right; Nojima's script was mostly intact.

I'm still curious as to what Stella's role would have been. If WHG from the 2013 E3 trailer was still Ravus, I can see her as an antagonist out of familial duty. I'm of the opinion that if they'd had enough time to make the Insomnia invasion the beginning of the game - i.e. if Tabata was in charge from the beginning - Luna would still be called Stella and we'd have avoided pointless game forum drama.

And Kitase was right. The ending has been in my brain ever since I finished the game. In my pantheon of video game endings, the last campfire scene is enough to vault FFXV to the top.
Yeah, I was reminded of that myself. I was like "What?! That looks like.... Oh poor Ravus..." Then I realized I knew next to nothing about him and was severely disappointed that we didn't get more about his motivations. And again, yeah I thought Bahamut seemed like a fal'Cie in all but name.
 

Ikkin

SeeD A-Class
Oct 30, 2016
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#14
The last part of Chapter 13 - the reveal about the origin of the daemons - screamed FNC. And as mentioned by @Ikkin, Ravus' monster form look exactly like a Ce'ith from FFXIII. Bahamut might as well have been a Fal'Cie telling Noctis that restoring the light is his Focus. I guess the insiders were right; Nojima's script was mostly intact.
The lore in Ch. 13, if you sought out the *coughSecretAnsemReports* log books, was basically FNC x Kingdom Hearts, heh. The MT producing equipment even looked like the Heartless Manufactory in Radiant Garden. I find it incredibly hard to believe that Nomura didn't have a hand in that.

And, yeah, Bahamut's role definitely seemed like it could have been meant for a Fal'Cie. Though it's kind of hard to imagine Nomura choosing to turn Noct into crystal instead of having him die, because it'd reduce the emotional impact by a lot. Maybe he could have taken Etro's role, since I don't think she can actually make l'Cie?

I'm still curious as to what Stella's role would have been. If WHG from the 2013 E3 trailer was still Ravus, I can see her as an antagonist out of familial duty. I'm of the opinion that if they'd had enough time to make the Insomnia invasion the beginning of the game - i.e. if Tabata was in charge from the beginning - Luna would still be called Stella and we'd have avoided pointless game forum drama.
Tabata said that Stella had to be changed because she wasn't important enough, so my guess is that her role was almost entirely limited to the invasion. =/ As for Ravus, his name makes me think he played the same role all along, because it's fully Latin while Luna's isn't.

And Kitase was right. The ending has been in my brain ever since I finished the game. In my pantheon of video game endings, the last campfire scene is enough to vault FFXV to the top.
Same here! That scene, man. ='(

On a related note... does anyone else wonder if Gladio (and probably Ignis) knew that talk was coming? Gladio said something about Noct not becoming King in Brotherhood that went unexplained, and...
 

Storm

Warrior of Light
Oct 26, 2013
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#15
now that i finished the game, it's clear how death is present in the story

basically all the protagonists died.

Nyx, Regis, Luna and in the end Noctis.

althougt the tone is not that heavy during the game, it's a tragic story.
 
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SonOfEtro

Keyblade Master
May 2, 2016
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#16
Maybe he could have taken Etro's role, since I don't think she can actually make l'Cie?
You're right that Etro can't make l'Cie though she has given her blessing to people in some form or other. And having Bahamut as a version of Etro sort of makes sense, though I wish they could have at least put in why black is a special Lucian colour in the game rather than shoving it into a forum post.

As to Etro herself and who might have taken her place/be her avatar, I think Lunafreya is more likely to have become an Etro-like figure after death while Noctis acted as her consort/husband. They did say the logo was supposed to be a Goddess, not a human priestess/oracle figure (still a bit peeved about that quite blatant contradiction).
 

Ikkin

SeeD A-Class
Oct 30, 2016
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#17
You're right that Etro can't make l'Cie though she has given her blessing to people in some form or other. And having Bahamut as a version of Etro sort of makes sense, though I wish they could have at least put in why black is a special Lucian colour in the game rather than shoving it into a forum post.

As to Etro herself and who might have taken her place/be her avatar, I think Lunafreya is more likely to have become an Etro-like figure after death while Noctis acted as her consort/husband. They did say the logo was supposed to be a Goddess, not a human priestess/oracle figure (still a bit peeved about that quite blatant contradiction).
I kind of suspect that some roles from Versus might have been split into multiple characters. Like, I wouldn't be surprised if Ardyn was initially meant to be a Fal'Cie (since he's responsible for the mass transformation of Gralea) and part of his role was given to Ifrit. Likewise, Etro's role could have been split between Bahamut (the deity who reveals Noct's fate to him) and Luna (the guiding force prior to that reveal). I wouldn't be surprised if the "eyes that see the light of expiring souls" thing was the origin of the Eyes of Etro used in XIII-2, though I imagine that the utility would have been different even if the cost was the same.

As for the significance of black, I'm inclined to think it's meant to reflect martyrdom, given the true nature of the King at the center of Lucian mythology. It'd be kind of weird for them to say that when they apparently had to get rid of the more blatant death imagery based on some country's weird age requirements.
 
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Storm

Warrior of Light
Oct 26, 2013
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#18
I think FFXV is a beautiful story of sacrifice, of renegation of one's own life (noctis and luna which barely had one) to get shit done, of honoring the people you cared about; it really resonated with me. It's not about defying the gods this time (like many JRPGs), but accepting your duty and executing it with conviction; noble themes

all the main characters (noctis, luna, regis and nyx) knew they would die, but they had a mission in the first place.
the whole Lucis dynasty is built on sacrifice, the kings life are greatly diminished because of the ring but they were chosen to protect the crystal and they did it till the end.

not sure if Versus XIII would follow the same themes, but i really like it (if only was told better).
 
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SonOfEtro

Keyblade Master
May 2, 2016
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#19
The XV Scenario Ultimania confirms that the core theme of FNC and by extension Versus, the struggles of humans who are chosen by the crystal, is still very much present. Interesting that Tabata seemed to refer to that theme as the "core mythos". Anyway, it shows that the basic foundation for Versus survived into XV.
 

Ikkin

SeeD A-Class
Oct 30, 2016
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802
#20
The XV Scenario Ultimania confirms that the core theme of FNC and by extension Versus, the struggles of humans who are chosen by the crystal, is still very much present. Interesting that Tabata seemed to refer to that theme as the "core mythos". Anyway, it shows that the basic foundation for Versus survived into XV.
Do you have a link to this? I'd love to see what the Ultimania has to say about the connections with FNC.