The “Final Fantasy” franchise has produced several notable villains in its nearly three decades of existence; just mentioning names like Golbez, Kefka, Sephiroth, Jenova and Edea, is bound to summon forth countless memories of frustrating antagonists and teeth-gritting battles. Final Fantasy XV intends to be no different and has its fair share of villainous and antagonistic NPCs for Noctis and his band of bros to contend with. Here is a rundown of the major players in opposition of Noctis and his home kingdom, as well as an assessment and theorizing about them.

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iedolas-aldercaptIedolas Aldercapt

This aging statesman is the ruler of the Niflheim empire. As the game starts out, Iedolas seems to have taken a position of ruling behind the advice of others. While the man gives special deference to the remarks of Chancellor Izunia when it comes to policy, he has hardly checked out from the politics of running an empire.

Assessment: Looking at the franchise’s previous installments, Emperor Aldercapt seems to convey a similar vibe as Final Fantasy VI’s Emperor Gestahl. Both characters are elderly men seeking to maximize their grip on the planet while they are still capable of enjoying the privilege of controlling a super power. While he may be billed as a leading villain, it’s highly doubtful that he will be the game’s final boss.

chancellor-ardyn-izuniaChancellor Ardyn Izunia

As the most trusted member of Emperor Aldercapt’s court, Izunia holds the lion’s share of actual political power in Niflheim. It is this man who instructs the soldiers and encourages the nation’s endeavors in weaponizing “Magitek” technologies.

Assessment:This man may very well be intended as the second coming of Final Fantasy VI’s iconic villain, Kefka Palazzo; not only does Izunia have a questionable approach to matters of state, he is the penultimate authority within his nation’s activities and has a fascination with Magitek power. The only major difference between the characters of Izunia and Kefka would be their physical design; Kefka is a spastic clown and Izunia resembles some amalgam of a gunslinger, the wrestler known as “The Undertaker,” and Irvine Kineas from Final Fantasy VIII. While he could potentially serve as the game’s final boss, especially if the comparisons to Kefka are as on the nose as they seem; it’s more than likely such an encounter would involve an Izunia greatly augmented by either Magitek engineering or some supernatural force related to crystals. Other fans might see traces of Final Fantasy XII’s Vayne Carudas Solidor in his demeanor and influence.

ravus-nox-fleuretRavus Nox Fleuret

This guy is an ex-royal of Tenebrae, the older brother of Noctis’ love interest, Lunafreya, and a prolific officer within the Niflheim military. In addition to being present for a treaty-signing as a representative of his nation, he joins the Lucis invasion force in its goal of obtaining the last known crystal on the planet.

Assessment: While it is incredibly unlikely that this guy will be Noctis’ final challenge, his interests and behaviors greatly sync up with the trope of the”dragon.” A dragon character is intended to be the chief lieutenant of a game’s true antagonist, Judge Gabranth from Final Fantasy XII seems like a good model for this character; Gabranth was also the next-to-last boss of that game. The fact that his character design resembles an amalgam of Templar and assassin designs from the Assassin’s Creed series, especially in the mixture of black and white coloring, seems to indicate that this Ravus will be a man that serves while struggling to satisfy a code of honor or some moral conflict; he’s poised to be at odds with his future brother-in-law should Noctis and Lunafreya become wed.

aranea-highwindAranea Highwind

This snarky mercenary captain continues Square-Enix’s trend of giving the Highwind surname to dragoon-classed characters, especially when this particular character is referred to in-universe as “The Dragoon.” It’s no surprise that with the move toward machinery over magic, that this character is involved with an air force-she’s the captain of an entire airborne unit hired as mercenaries by the Niflheim empire. While it is known that Aranea will be a recurring irritation in Noctis’ side, Noctis is still royalty and there could come a time where he might simply buy the loyalty of Aranea and her underlings in order to regain control of his kingdom.

Assessment: Aesthetically, the various black metal bits of Aranea’s armor bring to mind aspects of Raiden from “Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots” onward. In the context of the Final Fantasy franchise, she could strike the same sort of spot as a less-perverse version of Final Fantasy VI’s Ultros or even Gilgamesh from Final Fantasy V-both of these characters had more than enough personality for you to relish multiple rematches.