The Final Fantasy series’ summons have always been by our sides. In each game, we’ve had opportunities to call upon supernatural spirits who’ll aid us in extraordinary situations. This additional offensive aid is something we’ve come to count on, especially when the games give you characters who fit into specific classes and you might have a summoner to rely upon. Final Fantasy XV shakes up that tradition by still making these otherworldly characters important parts of the story, but not necessarily major participants in every battle.
Summons have gone by many different names. In Final Fantasy XV, Eos’ are known as Astrals. They’re referred to as The Six and considered deities. As Lucian royalty, Noctis has the ability to forge pacts with the Astrals. Lunafreya, the current Oracle, is the one person on earth able to properly communicate with and awaken The Six. The process of getting these beings on his side is a huge story element, as their power and recognition bears great importance on the story and Noctis coming into his own as he transitions from prince to king.
In a way, Final Fantasy XV seems to take cues from Final Fantasy X. When it comes to Astrals, acquiring them is an import part of the story. They can’t be skipped. Just like Yuna needed to visit temples and defeat colossal beasts to forge a friendship, Noctis must make pacts by completing certain tasks or defeating specific foes. In the case of Titan, the first Astral Noctis befriends, you have to actually prove your might by surviving a fight with him. Ramuh requires you to visit certain locations in Duscae. Hurdles must be cleared, making them seem more like intelligent individuals who require you to prove your worth. It’s fitting in a game where Noctis is always being tested. A more conventional approach, like say Final Fantasy VII’s materia, may have felt out of place.
Unconventional is a good way to describe the actual summoning of Astrals. Final Fantasy XV isn’t like other entries. Summons don’t happen every day, even though Noctis is royalty and made the pacts. You have to have a certain number of circumstances for things to work out. Titan will only appear in a large, open area after Gladiolus, Ignis, or Prompto is knocked out. Maybe. You have to hope someone falls, then wait for the prompt that tells you to hold the left trigger. Leviathan is similarly picky, as she only shows up when Noctis is in danger and about to die in a space open enough for her to appear. I’ve only had the option to summon her once near Galdin Quay, where there’s the huge body of water. In a way, I appreciated this. It made sense for such huge characters with specific needs to only show up when fates align. Though, at the same time, it was disappointing to have these gods on my side, then never see them.
There are only two standard summons in Final Fantasy XV that I’ve noticed appearing more often. Ramuh and Shiva seemed quite fond of my party in my experience. Ramuh can be summoned anywhere, though his Judgement Bolt is far flashier in an open space. If a battle is dragging on, you may get a note telling you to press the left trigger to summon him in. Shiva is similar. She has relaxed space requirements, like Ramuh. She also can appear due to any of the other summon requirements. If Noctis is about to die, the rest of your party has fallen, or the battle has been taking a long time, you might get the opportunity to make her appear. Both appeared far more consistently in my adventures, showing up to aid Noctis during tough times.
Carbuncle is an exception to the rules. He’s the Easy Mode Astral. People who played the Final Fantasy XV demo can earn him, and he’ll join Noctis from the very beginning. When Noctis’ health gets low, Carbuncle might run up to heal him. He can only do this once per battle and it is a very rare occurrence, just like the other Astral summons. Though, people playing on standard difficulty levels will see Carbuncle in tutorial segments or perhaps photos. I never ended up seeing the little guy, due to the difficulty level I selected, but it is nice to know people who did go for a more casual approach had someone else to count on.
Then, there’s Bahamut. Out of all the Final Fantasy XV summons, I feel like he was handled best. Granted, he’s just like the others Noctis will use. There’s a specific trigger for using him. He’s obscenely powerful. When you see him, you can’t help but be impressed, and he plays a very important role in Noctis’ life and Eos’ lore. He also isn’t going to show up all the time, like previous Final Fantasy summons. But, the part he plays is so crucial that the limitation doesn’t feel as restrictive as it does with Ramuh, Shiva, Leviathan, and Titan.
We don’t get to call on Astrals anytime we want in Final Fantasy XV. There’s no opportunity to pull in the big hitters on demand. These are godlike individuals, and the game treats them as such. This means you could go hours without seeing someone like Ramuh and Shiva. If you’re a skilled enough player, you might not even see summons like Titan and Leviathan, which I found rather unfortunate. I only saw Leviathan once, and would have loved to have had more opportunities to call upon her. But then, this is a situation where, as far as the story is concerned, knowing Noctis has their support and blessing could be enough.
Final Fantasy XV is available for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.