Final Fantasy is going to have a big next few years. Recently, the future of the Final Fantasy VII Remake series was revealed during the Final Fantasy VII 25th Anniversary Celebration with Crisis Core – Final Fantasy VII Reunion coming later this year and Final Fantasy VII Rebirth slated for next year. There is also the next entry in the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XVI. Square Enix and the developers revealed during the latest State Of Play that Final Fantasy XVI will be released in Summer 2023. Now, Producer Naoki Yoshida has revealed new details about the game including how combat works, why the game won’t be open-world, and more.
With the long history of the Final Fantasy series, the game has gone through various changes throughout the years from the style of gameplay to the story and characters, to the world that the game takes place. The last game in the series, Final Fantasy XV was open-world which is why many assumed that XVI would follow, but as Yoshida explains, “we’ve found in our extensive user research that many of the younger generation of gamers have never played a Final Fantasy or don’t have any interest in the series. To create a game that might excite and resonate not only with our core fans, but also with that new generation, we played a lot of games ourselves, and so yes, in [Final Fantasy 16] you’ll find inspiration from recent triple-A open-world RPGs. However, to bring a story that feels like it spans an entire globe and beyond, we decided to avoid an open-world design that limits us to a single open-world space, and instead focus on an independent area-based game design that can give players a better feel of a truly ‘global’ scale.”
The latest “Dominance” trailer released during State Of Play showcased more about the story and characters of Final Fantasy XVI but also a better look at combat which features the Eikons battles. In this world, Eikons are akin to weapons of mass destruction, that are wielded by “Dominants” – a special person who holds the power of an Eikon, a special summon that “can level nations.”
“Eikons appear in many different situations and iterations. There is no one design concept that covers all of them. Some will face Clive as fierce enemies, some will be friends and come to Clive’s aid,” Yoshida explains. “There will also be times where the player will control an Eikon in real-time, battling other Eikons. The battle type and scale are somewhat fluid, and change seamlessly in real-time depending on the battle… keeping things at maximum excitement while maintaining immersion. These varied types of Eikon-driven action-oriented battles are one of the main selling points of [Final Fantasy 16], and we’ll be bringing more to you in the coming months about them.”
Talking about how the combat differs from the previous entries, Yoshida said “[Final Fantasy 7 Remake] would not exist without the original [Final Fantasy 7], and those original systems ultimately influenced what Remake became. [Final Fantasy 16], however, is a completely new game with a completely different concept. In order to take the series in a new direction, rather than build off old battle systems, director Hiroshi Takai and battle director Ryota Suzuki made real-time action their focus,” Yoshida explains. “Translating traditional summon abilities into player actions, and allowing for the real-time swapping and chaining of these abilities in battle has allowed us to create a system that not only looks great, but feels really good to play.”
In addition to talking about the gameplay, Yoshida also brushed on the story and what kind of themes the game will try to express. The story and narrative of the game progresses and follows “the life of Clicw Rossville through three different stages: his teens, his 20s, and his 30s.”
With the game’s emphasis on the Eikons and the Dominants, Final Fantasy XVI “deals with the inevitable clash of values and ideals when you get multiple different people with different ideals in the same room; what is truly right and what is truly wrong? Again, because we focus so much on their Dominants, and they have such a large part in this story, you’re going to see how they think the world should be and what they think is right for the world,” Yoshida explains. “You’re going to focus on those motivations and those struggles, and then, you’re going to delve even deeper and into darker themes when it comes to how people should live; should people live the life that was chosen for them or fight to break free from that kind of destiny?”
Naoki Yoshida also spoke on working with PlayStation 5 and what the hardware has allowed them to do that wasn’t possible in previous console generations. “With the boost in processing power, we can obviously make the graphics even richer than we could before, but it’s the super-fast loading times that really impress me. In Final Fantasy XVI, you jump straight from story cutscenes into real-time battles and back again without any loading times, making the gameplay flow at a breakneck pace. It’s only thanks to the power of the PlayStation 5 system that we can make Final Fantasy XVI the roller-coaster ride that it is.”