Last month, Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata spoke at Game Developers Conference 2017 in San Francisco, where he talked about the high stakes at play in making the game. A slide from Tabata’s presentation, outlining how all the components of the FFXV universe fit together, has continued to generate discussion within the game’s fan community. Of particular note are the three types of narrative that constitute the FFXV timeline: Storyline, Flashback and… Alternate Reality?
A warning to those who haven’t finished FFXV: this article will discuss the ending of the game. If you haven’t completed Noctis’ main story yet, turn back now.
A couple audience members from Tabata’s presentation at GDC 2017 managed to snap quick photos of the FFXV timeline slide. See for yourself how the team broke down the storyline, accounting for every trailer, demo and spinoff title that has anything to do with the adventures of Noctis and the chocobros.
The most eye-catching aspect of this image is the fact that both the game’s time-skip sequence in Chapter 14 and the Omen Trailer are considered ‘Alternate Reality.’ One could assume this classification simply means the Omen Trailer draws from an earlier version of the FFXV story, widely known to have undergone numerous substantial changes in the game’s decade-long development period. The simplest explanation is that Luna and Noctis’ happy reunion in the final scene takes place in the afterlife, which is itself a kind of “alternate reality.”
But there’s a growing chorus of FFXV fans who aren’t happy with that simple explanation. Instead, this has deepened speculation the happy reunion shown at the end of the game instead proves Noctis’ sacrifice somehow reset the timeline; their “wedding” isn’t in the afterlife, but literally happens. After all, even Square Enix doesn’t refer to this moment as a fantasy or dream, but specifically as part of an “Alternate Reality.”
YouTuber Final Fantasy Peasant predicted the Omen Trailer constituted an alternate / parallel reality from the in-game events of Final Fantasy XV well before GDC 2017. In a video in which he mentions the GDC chart, he discusses the possibility that future updates of the game could incorporate alternate FFXV timelines, new outcomes to familiar events, or even multiple endings. He delves into some of the finer points of this FFXV Alternate Realities theory in the video below.
This theory’s got us feeling like Fox Mulder: it’s probably really unlikely, and the simplest explanation is probably the correct one, but we want to believe. It would be absolutely fascinating to delve back into FFXV’s main story all Chrono Trigger-style and change how things pan out (like using the Regalia to force Ardyn’s car into a lake, instead of politely following your fiancee’s murderer to the Disc of Cauthess, for instance). But it seems awfully hard to swallow the notion that the spotty story development in the game’s second half was all part of some grand master plan. We’d love to be proven wrong, though!
If you want to rewatch the Omen Trailer for more speculation fodder, we’ve posted it below. FYI, parts of the Omen Trailer also appear in an in-game cinematic the first time the party visits Lestallum, so if you haven’t seen it before, some parts may seem familiar.
Wouldn’t it be fun to have Umbra as a companion? Why did Altissia turn into a desert? What was in the Cartanica mine that was worth taking on a garrison of soldiers all alone? Can I purchase a topless Noct DLC? So many questions.
What do you think about this Final Fantasy XV alternate realities theory? Do you think Square Enix will introduce such a major plot device through DLC? Feel free to expound on your wildest FFXV theories in the comments!