The first portion of the game is on the open world, but the latter chapters are linear, as the player takes the train and the game's structure changes. The train travels through the continent on imperial lands, passes by Tenebrae, and stops at Gralea.
After the events at Altissia, Prince Noctis and his friends take a train toward Gralea in a grim mood. Ignis Scientia was blinded in the evacuation of Altissia, and Noctis's bride-to-be Lunafreya Nox Fleuret was killed after she delivered the Ring of the Lucii to Noctis. Noctis is overcome by grief and becomes even more withdrawn than usual. Though he now possesses the ring that would let him wield the full powers of his ancestors, Noctis doesn't wear it.
Noctis's inability to cope with his losses infuriates Gladiolus Amicitia, who demands Noctis to pull himself together. Cor Leonis has tipped them off to a location of a royal tomb in Fodina Caestino along their route, and Noctis and Gladiolus argue in the train on their way there, Gladiolus calling him a coward. This disturbs some of the other passengers, although they try to ignore the commotion. As the train stops at Fodina Caestino, an abandoned mine northeast of Cartanica, Noctis and his friends brave its depths to collect another Royal Arm before returning to the train to continue their journey. Ignis speaks up to heal the rift that has formed between Noctis and Gladiolus.
They continue toward Tenebrae, but in the wake of Luna's death daylight is vanishing from the world and Noctis and Ignis discuss the issue on the train. The train is attacked by Niflheim forces at a train yard in Eusciello, even though it is full of regular passengers. Noctis is tormented by the chancellor of Niflheim, Ardyn Izunia, whom Noctis pursues down the train cars, but Ardyn disappears whenever Noctis is about to strike. (Whether this "Ardyn" is actually Noctis's friend Prompto under an illusion by the real Ardyn is ambiguous.) While Ignis and Gladiolus try to get the train running again, Noctis and Prompto fend off the attackers to protect the passengers. They demolish the magitek troopers firing at the train and Noctis warps to the imperial airships above to down them.
Noctis catches the train as it takes off, but finds Prompto held at gunpoint by Ardyn. Noctis falls into Ardyn's trap, using a stitch in time to change places with Prompto, and accidentally pushes Prompto off the train. Ardyn knocks Noctis out and disappears. When Noctis comes to moments later, he calls Ignis to tell him to halt the train. They are unable to do so while escaping from the imperial forces, and must assume Prompto has been captured by Niflheim.
As they stop at Tenebrae, they find the Fenestala Manor, home of House Fleuret, aflame as Niflheim's revenge for Ravus Nox Fleuret's supposed high treason. The station is swarmed with Tenebraen refugees, and Noctis gets a chance to talk to the locals. He also meets Aranea Highwind again, a commodore in the Niflheim Army's airborne division, who has recently quit the army and is now helping the refugees. Deeming the trip to Gralea too dangerous, the party decides to not let the other passengers continue with them. They take the train with Biggs and Wedge, Aranea's subordinates, who agree to escort them to Gralea.
Days are rapidly shortening and daemons begin to spawn during daylight hours, even aboard the train. As they cross into imperial territory they come upon a furious blizzard at Ghorovas Rift, where Shiva's corpse lies, and the train is halted by daemons. After dispatching the daemons they get the train moving again, but Ardyn appears as the entire interior of the train car they are on is engulfed in a snowstorm. Gladiolus and Ignis slump to the floor, and Noctis approaches Ardyn when Shiva appears and freezes the chancellor. Ardyn's frozen body shatters, and Noctis forges a covenant with the Glacean, surprised to find she is Gentiana, the mysterious messenger of the gods who had stayed by Luna's side. Despite his encounter with the Glacean, Ardyn returns, revealing that he is immortal before disappearing again.
Noctis, Ignis and Gladiolus continue to Gralea, but the train comes under heavy fire and they abandon it. The party escapes the train in the Regalia, which had been stowed in one of the train's cars, and Noctis drives the remaining distance to Gralea. The party wonders what will happen to Biggs and Wedge, but are certain they can fend for themselves, as they are experienced soldiers.
In Chapter 10 the player can explore the train until it reaches Cartanica. They can listen to NPCs' conversations, and find newspapers and items. The newspapers found in the train are:
- The Passing of the Oracle
- The Oracle, Lady Lunafreya of Tenebrae, lost her life when her summoning of the Hydraean went terribly awry. Lady Lunafreya was swept under the Altissian waves alongside her fiancé, Crown Prince Noctis of Lucis. Despite falling unconscious for several days, the prince made a miraculous recovery and is currently being treated.
- The Tree in Caestino
- Scientists have yet to provide a sound explanation as to why the resource-rich Fodina Caestino has been overrun by an enormous tree. Some experts insist, however, that this floral phenomenon may have been a paranormal prelude to the awakening and annihilation of the gods.
During Chapter 11 the player must protect the train from the imperial magitek forces. The train's health gauge is displayed at the top of the screen, with a warning that the player will lose if the train is destroyed. The player must battle imperial forces by the train as Noctis when Gladiolus and Ignis are restarting its engines, and after the train starts moving, the player must point-warp to it, and battle the imperials being deployed from the dropships that begin to follow the train. The player must point-warp between the dropships and kill the MTs inside to down them.
Creation and developmentEdit
The development team wanted to create a transcontinental railroad, and brainstormed ideas to make it stand out. "When you simply recreate them with the same sort of size and volume, they turn out like toys," explains artist Kouta Niihara. "We create a sense of size, scope and power by creating them in the likeness of real-life jumbo jets."
- A train car appears in the Omen short film for Final Fantasy XV, but it is a subway car and not the continental train that appears in the game.