There are transmedia content that fleshes out the Final Fantasy XV outside of the video game. And there are all essential to understand more of the world, characters and plot of Final Fantasy XV.
Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is a full-on action movie sporting Hollywood casts. Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV are a series of anime shorts that explores the past of the four main boys (all available here). Then there’s also an audio drama that takes place right before the start of the game, and before the start of Kingsglaive. The official English script can be found here. It’s worth reading, even if you’re not planning to play the game yet or afraid of spoilers.
Because the problem is, since the game itself did not do justice on delivering the plot, all these transmedia content are essential to understand what is actually going on. There’s plenty of things either left unexplained to be explored in DLC content (the season pass alludes to the Noctis’s three friends all playable in their own special chapters) or not given the proper delivery.
The upcoming story patch news namedropping a very specific character needed more attention is enough to say that FFXV failed to deliver a compelling overarching plot- but the roadtrip, coming of age angle of the story was delivered beautifully the ending still came out as a strong one.
So, if you haven’t watched (and read) all the extra media, go do it. Especially the audio drama script. It should give you a better fill if you’re looking for more explanation of the whole plot. But granted the main storyline is easy to follow and rather simple. If you never cared about stories in a Final Fantasy game, this should be no issue.
Since we will delve into why we think these three pieces of transmedia content is essential to your FFXV experience, expect spoilers of all the three, and minor spoilers of the main game. You have been warned.
Kingsglaive may have gotten bad reviews from the average movie-goer, but it explains a bit more of the time Noctis was in Tenebrae and basically hang out with Lunafreya. There are flashback moments in the game of this, but you’re missing a lot of context. Like why Ravus had a vengeance with the Lucian kingdom and eventually had a cool-looking armour on one of his arm- it was burned since the Old Kings deemed him unworthy of wearing the Ring Of Lucii.
Speaking of that, with Kingsglaive you will understand how powerful and dangerous the Ring of Lucii actually is. We see Noctis struggling to ever try and wear it, and it was an intense moment when he eventually put it on, but without the context of the movie, it could be seen as just a ring that somehow made Gladio angry at Noct. (This is not true, there were plenty of things going on there on the train)
(The plot twist here is pretty bonkers, however)
Then you have Brotherhood, that sets up the character relationship of the main four. Why Noctis is all quiet and reserved (to the point of being judged as a mopey emo kid at first glance by most people), actually has an explanation. Prompto’s origins was most endearing to watch, and it alluded to one of the plot twists that just came out of nowhere if you just play the game (the barcode thing- and the absence of his family).
Then there’s Gladio’s sister Iris that I personally thought would have been a game spoiler if shown in the review. I clearly missed the many hints that she has an interest with Noctis- thinking it was just playful banter. But the anime short, and especially the audio drama script, certainly shows her true feelings and how it started to develop. In the game, she just appears and then went on for story reasons.
Also, the audio drama script ties up most of the things you discover from the various media. There’s a scene where they cleaned up Noctis’s apartment (as shown in Ignis’s Brotherhood short), played King’s Knight together (a recurring dialogue/animation in the game), rode in the Star Of Lucis once (the Audi R8 featured in Kingsglaive) as well as seeing the Kingsglaive setting up for the eventual meeting-gone-wrong with the Niffleheim empire.
It would have been a better experience if some of these points explored in the various other media actually makes it to the main game. Square Enix is trying to do this by inserting some parts of the Kingsglaive movie into the game, and they will be doing further improvements to the story delivery. It is odd to see a story being patched, like how critical pundit Jim Sterling compares it to having a book being patched by giving away free pamphlets. (Ironically, the strategy book for FFXV has addendum to address changes made by the day 1 patch)
But rest assured, given more time, the lore and stories around the plot of the FFXV universe will be explored. So if you played the whole game and watched nothing of the extra media like we did, it’s worth going back to get a better understanding.