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Final Fantasy 16

Final Fantasy 16’s Summons Brought The Series Back To Its High Fantasy Roots

Final Fantasy 16

Final Fantasy 16

I was able to participate in a group interview with Final Fantasy XVI’s producer, Naoki Yoshida, as well as the game’s director, Hiroshi Takai, and combat director, Ryota Suzuki, during a recent hands-on preview (you can read my impressions of the game after playing it for two hours here). Some have wondered why Final Fantasy XV is so drastically different in tone from the most recent games in the series, and why it returns to the series’ high fantasy roots.

Takai claims that a summons was the initial spark.
When development first began, Yoshida consulted me and a few others before announcing the project as Final Fantasy XVI. Through a translator, Takai explains, “When he first came to me and asked, ‘Will you be director?,’ he had this very grand idea that he wanted to focus on the summons. Furthermore, have a system in place where summons can engage in combat with one another. Finally, he instructed that the Final Fantasy fanbase should be treated with respect because its members have been with the series for a long time and are getting older.

“We aimed to make a story and a narrative that would appeal to longtime, seasoned fans. Finally, the third reason was that we aimed to attract a wider audience than just series and RPG diehards. And to that end, turn it into an action game, as we have faith that this genre will attract a new audience for us.

After settling on these three primary tenets, Takai claims the next step was to form a small core group that would spend the next year working on development to create these ideas. A high fantasy backdrop was initially considered for the story and main scenario in order to incorporate Yoshida’s summon wishes. The developers next tackled gameplay, determining that there would be open zones rather than a truly open world, and a lot more. Takai claims that this was all accomplished by a relatively small team within the first year of the game’s development.
After that, they asked the three what they think is necessary in a new Final Fantasy game to keep it consistent with the rest of the series. Not one of the three gave the same response.

Yoshida: “For me, the story depth is essential in a Final Fantasy game. That high-level gaming experience is required. It must have a novel method of combat. Final Fantasy 16 boasts cutting-edge visuals and a booming soundtrack, not to mention lovable creatures like chocobos and moogles. Therefore, I believe we have created something that, at least to me, has the feel of a Final Fantasy.”

Takai: “That compelling narrative is essential to my definition of a Final Fantasy. In addition, you consistently push the limits of the technology at your disposal, making the most of it at all times. And I believe that’s what happened in Final Fantasy 16. Moreover, I believe that the point of Final Fantasy is to test oneself in novel ways. Final Fantasy after Final Fantasy takes on new challenges and tries new things. Yes, I do believe we have achieved this goal in this location as well. And lastly, a minor detail is that all magic names must be consistent throughout the entire spell.”

Suzuki: “Even as a youngster, I was hooked on Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III. These are the games I spent my childhood enjoying in real time. But again, with such a large audience, it’s a series that spans so many years, and because the game world’s setting changes with each entry, everyone is bound to have a different idea of what constitutes a Final Fantasy depending on where they start and what their first Final Fantasy was.

Since I came of age with Final Fantasy II and III, the experience is essentially the same for me. The story itself must be the focus. The stunning visuals must be the focus. The state of technology at the time also plays a role. Plus, there’s always the incentive to test your limits by doing something novel. Moreover, I believe that we were able to challenge something that no other Final Fantasy had done by switching from a turn-based to an action combat system in Final Fantasy 16.”

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