Final Fantasy XV’s ending is a trainwreck, so it’s fitting that the game lets us choose to make it even goofier.
Spoilers for the ending of Final Fantasy XV follow.
Really, I shouldn’t say ending. Like many a JRPG before it, Final Fantasy XV has several endings, some of which are good, some of which are bad, and some of which could have been good if they’d only been given more of a chance.
The main storyline’s conclusion is actually fine on paper: 10 years after the world has fallen into darkness, King Noctis teams back up with his four buddies to finally put a stop to the undying Ardyn once and for all. There’s even an appropriately melodramatic (and sweet!) coda where Noctis, sitting around the campfire with his bros just before the final battle, tearfully tells them how much they all mean to him.
Just before Noctis heads up to fight Ardyn, he stops his photographer buddy Prompto and asks to go through his photos. You get to choose your favourite from all the photos you told Prompto to save throughout the game. That photo carries on as the memento of your triumph.
Then, in a ridiculous and wholly unnecessary final cutscene, we see Noctis clean-shaven on the throne with his bride Luna, living happily ever after. They sit in the midst of a joyful celebration, and Noct gives his bride the photo we picked out earlier.
When given the opportunity to pick my favourite photo, I knew I should’ve picked something stupid. Instead, sap that I am, I picked a corny picture of Noct and the whole gang before they departed for Altissa. I figured that was the moment right before the story took a nosedive, so I might as well memorialise it.
Corny McGee, that’s me.
So, Noctis gave Luna a photo of him and his friends, and it was sweet, and blergh.
There are, of course, other options. YouTuber Rifza Gamer nobly took the time to capture several other vastly superior options. For example, you could have Noct give his bride a picture of another woman:
…or have him give her a pic of him with his buddy Gladio’s thirsty little sister:
My favourite basically turns the final scene into an awkward advertisement for instant ramen:
If I ever replay the final sequence, I’ll probably choose this pic of Gladio’s butt:
The whole “choose your favourite picture” idea is a great way to put a bow on such a flawed yet beguiling game. I loved Prompto’s photography in the main game, and thought that incorporating it into the ending was really smart. As I flipped through our photos, I felt nostalgia for the lovely road-trip first half of the game, even as I was frustrated by how much more effective it all would’ve been if the second half had held together better.
If only the story’s back half hadn’t been such a tattered patchwork! If only most of the important story developments hadn’t happened off-screen! If only Luna hadn’t died before I even got to know her, if only the awful chapter 13 had been better executed, if only the World of Ruin chapter had lasted more than 20 minutes! If only, if only, if only…
It’s fitting that a great idea like Prompto’s photos can be used to completely undercut the game’s ending. Final Fantasy XV was probably never going to have a perfect storybook ending anyway. Might as well give players the opportunity to make it even weirder.