Final Fantasy XVI producer Naoki Yoshida innovates the series in a new record

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The Final Fantasy series is a staple in RPG culture that has helped standardize the tropes that have defined the genre for decades. Though unrelated, the turn-based battle of each game, the fantasy worlds and the colorful, strange characters struck similar chords. You can always find out when you play Final Fantasy.

This brings us to Final Fantasy XVI. While Sony State of Play game trailer showed familiar summonses that have become icons in the franchise, showed little else to feel that players are about to enter the game of Final Fantasy. The slower and more methodical combat system, based on gait, has gone in favor of something that seems to have been ripped straight from Devil May Cry. The fantastic setting has also disappeared, in favor of a more realistic medieval setting with dark nuances similar to playing Souls.

The project is being worked on by Naoki Yoshida, a producer who for the first time saved the critically acclaimed Square Enix developer in the MMORPG genre, “Final Fantasy XIV”, and who is often cited as saving not only “FFXIV” but potentially the entire franchise. . With this latest series, he said he had to balance fans’ expectations with innovation.

“When you think about the future of the Final Fantasy franchise, you have to focus on this generation of players who have never touched Final Fantasy before,” Yoshida told The Washington Post. “Maybe they think the show is too old, too classic. [So you] create something to show them that this can be an exciting game.

“But I don’t want you to think I’m abandoning these veterans, players and fans of the series because we definitely aren’t. We want to create something that everyone considers epic. ”

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Square Enix has been battling an identity crisis with the series for more than a decade. or turbulent production cycle defeated “Final Fantasy XII” in 2006, “Final Fantasy XIII” appeals to a more action-based combat system, polarized fans, and “Final Fantasy XV”, which deviated even further from the battle, involves a tangled a story that unfolds in several DLCs, a spinoff beat-em-up style gamean anime miniseries and a movie.

When “FFXIV” was originally released in 2010, it was heavily criticized for its lack of content, numerous bugs and server errors. Yoshida, himself an avid MMORPG fan, has been hired to lead a team that will essentially restore the game. The result was “FFXIV: A Realm Reborn” in 2013, a much more streamlined experience that corrects mistakes and provides rich content that speaks not only to newcomers but also to longtime fans desperately looking for signs of the franchise they once were. knew.

Yoshida, now the producer of FFXVI, due out in 2023, incorporates the lessons he took from FFXIV into FFXVI’s design philosophy. FFXVI’s combat system is a great example of this: it’s action-oriented, emphasizing screaming combinations and read-and-response battles that the Final Fantasy series targets FFXII, but tries to incorporate elements from longtime fans. recognizes.

The battle will not be an experience in itself, contrary to what it looks like in the trailer. The main character, Clive, will be accompanied by several AI-controlled members of the group who will joke and connect during the game, similar to previous Final Fantasy games. Yoshida is also annoyed that he will have a “loyal friend” to whom Clive can give specific commands during the battle, although most of the player’s control is focused on Clive.

While specific details of the battle will be revealed at a later date, Yoshida is confident in the direction the system is heading. He believes that Square Enix, now with titles such as “Final Fantasy XV”, “Final Fantasy VII Remake” and the Kingdom Hearts series, finally has the expertise to create a captivating action combat system that players, despite their knowledge of the series , you will enjoy.

“The Kingdom Hearts team at Square Enix was particularly helpful in contributing to these real-time battles and boss battles,” Yoshida said. “It can be said that the battles in FFXVI are, in a sense, the culmination of the company’s past experience.”

The team led by Battle Director Ryota Suzuki, a former Capcom, who helped design Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Devil May Cry 5 and Dragon’s Dogma feel just as confident, according to Yoshida. The problems that plagued previous games in the franchise – around battle animations, combat smoothness and cluttered user interfaces – have all been streamlined thanks to Suzuki’s guidance.

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Yoshida also believes that the story of the game – which he says will not be a happy tale and includes a setting, Valisthea, which is much darker than previous recordings – will have comprehensive themes reminiscent of what fans of the series expected.

“One of the main themes explored in the story of Final Fantasy XVI deals with the clash of ideals. What is right and wrong? Should people live the life that is chosen for them, or should they have the right to choose the path they take? Said Yoshida.

Square Enix has made sure that one of the first screens to load when playing Final Fantasy XV is a message saying that the game is “A Final Fantasy for fans and for the first time”. Yoshida believes that “Final Fantasy XVI” will also benefit from this message.

“Personally, I think all games should be like that,” he said. “You can see the same thing in Final Fantasy XIV. So our foundation [for ‘Final Fantasy XVI’] is to build something that will be enjoyable for veteran fans as well as new players. ”

Gene Park contributed to this report.

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