Square Enix debuted a new Final Fantasy XVI trailer during a recent PlayStation State of Play. It was our biggest look so far at the upcoming role-playing game, and the trailer revealed that Final Fantasy XVI will be released sometime during the summer of next year.
Game Informer talked to the game’s producer, Naoki Yoshida, who is also the director of Final Fantasy XIV, about this new “Dominance” FFXVI trailer, including the franchise’s return to a more medieval setting, Eikons, boss fights and much more.
Game Informer: Final Fantasy has a history of experimenting with different combat systems in new mainline entries and Final Fantasy XVI seems to do the same, with probably the heaviest emphasis on action in the mainline series to date. How did the team come up with this fighting style, and what is it like to see it come to life with the help of match director Ryota Suzuki (a designer who includes Devil May Cry 5, Dragon’s Dogma and Marvel vs. Capcom 2)?
Naoki Yoshida: You asked me about the direction of the combat system and to answer that in order to contribute to the overall development of the Final Fantasy series, we decided that instead of building on previous Final Fantasy combat systems, we shift our focus to one of real-time action. . And then, when we had that concept down, that we were going in that direction, it made it easy for our director and our campaign manager, Ryota Suzuki, to take the reins and bring something that was really action-focused.
For the combat system, we have not only given the main character, Clive, an arsenal of powerful attacks and abilities based on these traditional Final Fantasy summonses, but we let him cycle through these attacks in real time, to deal with these attacks in real time. [This allows] for powerful combinations and smooth, stylish gameplay that both looks and feels good.
An example of this is as you saw in it [Dominance] trailer where you have one of the Garuda abilities where you lift the enemy up in the air and then while you are in the air, Clive can switch to Titan and use one of the Titan abilities to knock the enemy to the ground. This type of seamless swapping and swapping of actions and linking them together to create these unique combinations alt is all up to the players’ different playing styles. There is a lot of room to adapt to these types of buildings that Clive has, and the player who finds a building that matches their style of play is one of the fun things about the action system we have.
Many of our developers in our development team in [Creative Business Unit III] had no experience making an action game. It was very challenging for us. And to get the enormously talented action veteran Ryota Suzuki to join our team, which has seen our development progress, only from the combat systems to the animation and everything he has mostly touched his hands on, transformed and become something beyond what we thought it could. has been. We are very, very happy to have him, and we are blessed.
GIVE: Throughout the trailer, there are a number of health posts at the top of the screen, both in battles between humans and humans and battles between Eikon and Eikon. What happens to these, and are they meant to be reminiscent of fighting games?
Yoshida: As for the health bars and the user interface, I saw many comments on social media after the trailer was released about how the user interface is in a way reminiscent of a fighting game. When we started developing the game, and we had our “Clive versus smaller enemies” or “Eikon versus Eikon” battles, when we first developed them, we did them with almost no on-screen user interface at all. But we found that by playing this there was just a little too little information – we needed more information. That said, we did not want the screen to be cluttered, and after much back and forth trying many different things, we came to the design … in the trailer, and that it happens to look like a fighting game is just something that ended up to happen.
However, the overall game design for these Eikon vs. Eikon matches is meant to be unique, and in fact we do not use the same exact system twice. Each game is completely unique in its style of play, so we do something a little crazy.
For example, maybe an Eikon vs. Eikon match, if you have Eikon A vs. Eikon B, that match will resemble a 3D shooter. While another Eikon versus another Eikon, it’s more like a pro wrestling match, and then maybe even a third with an Eikon against another Eikon will turn an entire area into a battlefield. And then again, we did not reuse these systems, and each of these Eikon-on-Eikon matches is unique and will change with each match. Because of that, and because the matches are so different in nature, the user interface must change for each match. So you will see small differences in the user interface between these matches. However, we ended up having to cut a lot of it from the trailer because it ended up being story spoilers, and we did not want that.
Then you ask, “well, if you hid some of the user interface, why did you not hide the entire user interface as the HP bars? Why did you leave them?” and it was quite simple because if you remove all the HP bars and the entire user interface, people start saying, “oh, it’s just pre-rendered, it’s not running in real time.” We wanted to show that what you saw in the trailer was in real time, so we decided to leave some of the user interface inside.
GIVE: Many players are excited about the prospect of a single player Final Fantasy from the developers behind FFXIV. What learning, mechanics and systems, and storytelling techniques, if any, from FFXIV can fans expect to emerge in some way in FFXVI?
Yoshida: So Final Fantasy XIV was designed as an MMORPG from scratch, while Final Fantasy XVI has been designed as a single player game from scratch, so from the beginning you will have completely different design concepts. MMORPGs, as you know, are about long distance – you put together experiences over a long period of time to maintain that user base.
Single-player games, on the other hand, are much more about, I guess you can say, instant gratification. They are fast, they hit you with excitement. That tension is concentrated in a smaller package. So with that in mind, you can imagine that at least systemically, Final Fantasy XIV will not have affected Final Fantasy XVI that much. But having said that, one of the most unique things about Final Fantasy XIV is the kind of connection the development team has with the community, [and] the amount of communication that goes back and forth between the development team and society. Over the last 11 years, interacting with the community has given us a lot of very, very valuable information about what you know fans want and expect from the series. And then having this 11-year knowledge base, which has helped us and has enabled us to put some of these ideas and incorporate these ideas into the development of Final Fantasy XVI.
GIVE: Mainline Final Fantasy games lately have skewed more towards modern timelines, with a strong emphasis on integrating technology with magic, but FFXVI definitely looks more medieval, or classic FF. How did the team arrive at this setting and the time period when they developed the game?
Yoshida: The answer to that is actually quite simple: it happens to be that many of the core members of [Creative Business Unit III] really enjoyed the classic Final Fantasies as well as the classic medieval European fantasy feel – including myself – and we wanted to make a game that had that feel. When we made this game, we wanted to take that look, the medieval European classic fantasy look, and mix it with our own unique idea that we had, and then take all this and try to express it with the current level of technology and create something that is very, very exciting.
As you know, the Final Fantasy series is in a way known, or infamous, for being different with each entry in the series. That said, after doing some recent user research, we found that many of the users found that much of the recent Final Fantasy [games] became in a way static in that vision, so we wanted to use this as an opportunity to go back from it and try something else; not just for us, but considering the future of Final Fantasy and upcoming projects, we wanted to try something different and maybe show that yes, the series can go in different directions instead of focusing on one.
While we have just released our second trailer, we are currently already working on preparing a third trailer for release this fall. In that trailer, we hope to concentrate a little more on the world and the story and the story, and hopefully bring a little more of that information to the players, and show how the story will be, how the story goes. to be who, and how it is going to fit into the world.
GIVE: You are obviously a very busy person with FFXIV, but now you are producing FFXVI. What is it like to work with a new single-player mainline FF, and what is it like to have Creative Business Unit III to lead the project?
Yoshida: It does not matter what kind of project I am on. As the leader of any game or project, the pressure is always enormous. There are always a lot of people and money involved in it. As you know, in Final Fantasy XIV, I’m both a producer and a director. This time on XVI, however, I’m just a producer. So in that sense, it’s a lot of weight on my shoulders.
Final Fantasy XVI as the newest entry in the series means that all eyes will be on us, as everyone is mostly out there trying to figure out what kind of game it will be, and much of that pressure goes directly to the director. And then again, with all the pressure that does not fall on the producer, but more on, as I said, the director, Hiroshi Takai, or the battle director, Ryota Suzuki, or our creative director and screenwriter, Kazutoyo Maehiro, or even if I fall on me as a localization director and helping with world history and things like that, a lot of pressure falls on us. And as a producer, it’s my job to see that this pressure does not become too much for the people who work under me. To be able to come and do such interviews and talk to the media and make sure that important information comes out so that the burden does not fall on the team. There’s something I can do, again, to take that burden off of them, and for me it’s much easier than being a director.
Again, I was extremely honored when the company came to me and [Creative Business Unit III] and asked us to control the latest numbered Final Fantasy. But again, that possibility would never have been possible if it were not for the time we spent on Final Fantasy XIV and the voice of the users and the voice of the media that has covered us. So I want to thank them for giving us this opportunity to create the latest Final Fantasy.
For more on Final Fantasy XVI, check out the Dominance trailer and admire the beautiful scenery in these new screens. After that, read about how excited I am about Kaiju-style battles it seems to give us, and then check out Game Informers ranking of each mainline Final Fantasy game.
What are you most excited about in Final Fantasy XVI?