Gaming News Final Fantasy 16: open world, playable characters, summons… The game producer answers all our questions in the interview!
After the new Final Fantasy XVI trailer aired during the last State of Play, we were able to ask the game’s producer, Naoki Yoshida, a few questions to deepen certain aspects that we were able to perceive in the trailer. . Structure of the adventure, team of characters or even powers of Clive, we learn more about the next installment of FF!
- Original battles
- Clive’s motives
- The user interface
- team and companions
- interface design
- enchantment and magic
- Structure and open world
Who is Naoki Yoshida?
Born in 1973, Naoki Yoshida joined Square Enix in 2004 and initially worked on Dragon Quest Monsters Battle Road Victory, a Japan-exclusive arcade game later released for Wii. Then he became one of the main designers of the MMORPG Dragon Quest X, which also never left the Japanese archipelago. After Final Fantasy XIV Online’s disastrous start, he took charge of the project as director and producer and decided to start from scratch to offer a 2.0 version titled A Realm Reborn. Under his leadership, the title has grown into one of the most popular MMORPGs of the moment, rivaling even World of Warcraft. Through this work, Naoki Yoshida will be put in charge of the reins of the next numbered episode in the saga, Final Fantasy XVI, as producer, while Hiroshi Takai, his right-hand man overhauling FFXIV, will take on the role of director.
During the trailer we can see Primordials fighting each other, with health bars at the top of the UI. Can you tell us more about Primordial battles and what these stages look like for the player? QTEs, real-time turn-based battles…?
To answer it very simply, yes, the player takes part in these clashes of the primordials, which are among the most impressive boss fights of Final Fantasy XVI. During these phases the player controls his own primordial and there are different sequences of this type in the game. And the other originality of these fights is that they are all different because each one has a unique design. For example, one of these clashes is very similar to a 3D shooter, while another is more like a wrestling match, and there’s even one that takes place on a battlefield throughout the game.
Each battle is large-scale and benefits from a design created specifically for that battle and only that battle. Also, all of these phases are real-time, whether it’s player actions, cutscenes or even phase changes, everything is connected without interruption, with no loading time. And yes, there will be some QTEs at times to add a bit of spice to the fights. However, QTEs are not the main system as there are few.
Says Clive “I am collecting the emissaries so that together we can end this conflict and establish a new order that will secure our future.“ in the trailer? And if so, what can you tell us about Clive’s motivations at the moment?
No, Clive isn’t speaking at this point, but his motivations evolve as the game progresses through the story. In itself that’s pretty logical, because in Final Fantasy XVI we follow and control Clive at three different points in his life: as a teenager, then in his twenties and finally in his thirties. As for the motivation that animates our hero in the first part of the game, I think we can say that it’s a sense of revenge. How that feeling morphs into something else, you’ll have to play to find out!
The user interface
Can you tell us at the interface level what is the role of the indicator under the lifebar?
As for the tripartite yellow meter under Clive’s health bar, we can’t tell you about it at the moment, but we know that the latter plays a very important role. However, rest assured that we won’t keep it a secret until the game is released and we’ll reveal its usefulness in a while.
On the other hand, you may have noticed the other yellow bar under enemy health bars. Well, most enemies that Clive faces throughout the game, and this even includes some Primes, can be knocked down or put into a state of shock (tiered in the trailer), which allows our hero to attack his target more effectively, which then becomes vulnerable.
Of course, the players can decide for themselves which skills they use to empty this bar. Some abilities, for example, drain this meter more easily, while others can be saved to activate once the enemy is in a vulnerable state. Once the opponent is shocked, deciding what abilities to use and when to activate them to deal maximum damage is one of the most exciting things a player can do on their own in Final Fantasy XVI.
team and companions
Can we play a group of characters in Final Fantasy XVI or is Clive the only playable character throughout the adventure?
With the release of this second trailer, we didn’t want to overload players with a lot of information, so we decided to just focus on Clive this time. That being said, we can’t tell you that companions will accompany Clive throughout the adventure. Many partners join Clive at various points in his journey and most of them come and go within the team. In reality, the characters that accompany Clive depend on where our hero is in the story.
As these characters interact with each other, they are all controlled by the AI, allowing the player to focus on controlling Clive. These partners not only accompany him in battle but also on his journey, leading to conversations and banter between Clive and his companions. In addition to members of his team, Clive is accompanied by a teammate (Buddy in English) for most of the game, who serves as a support in battle. The latter can be controlled manually by giving him commands, but for those who don’t feel like it, there’s also an automated system that lets him fight and heal without being asked.
Finally, there are also a handful of instances where Clive can play another character, but that’s just a tiny part of the adventure.
Many players have reacted to the game’s interface. Can you tell us why you chose this design and not another?
The current design was chosen with two principles in mind. First, we wanted it to be as simple as possible and only provide the necessary information without cluttering the screen. Then, when it comes to the look of the UI, that look was chosen not to blend in too much with the decor, so we tried many different colors and shapes and found that the one we currently have is the best is. That being said, we’re still a long way from release, and of course there will be tweaks and tweaks made along the way.
When we made the trailer, we had the choice not to show the UI. However, the problem with creating a trailer without an interface is that players can tell themselves that what is shown is pre-rendered video and not real-time game images. However, we really wanted to show that the game is playable, that all these images were real-time, and to insist we decided to leave the UI.
enchantment and magic
Also, will there be classic magics in Final Fantasy XVI like fire, ice or lightning, or can Clive only use the powers of the Primordials?
Yes, the traditional Final Fantasy spells will be present in the game. At the beginning of the adventure, while still young, Clive receives the blessing of the phoenix from his emissary, who is none other than Joshua, his little brother, allowing him to cast fire spells to use. As Clive continues his journey, he discovers and appropriates the power of other Eikons, allowing him to learn, acquire, and strengthen new spells and abilities. This gives players the ability to customize their character and choose the playstyle that suits them best.
Structure and open world
What can players expect in terms of game structure, will Valisthea be an open world?
No, Valisthea will not be an open world game and there is a specific reason why we decided against an open world game. To tell a story that spans an entire continent and different nations, we felt a single open world would be too restrictive. We know that many Final Fantasy players expect the story to span different nations and regions. In order to be able to do this without being limited to a single area, we decided not to bet on the open world.
Instead, we viewed our game as a roller coaster that sends the player spinning their heads and spinning around at breakneck speeds, aiming to transport them from battles to cutscenes to story moments and boss encounters. And all this seamlessly and without loading times with the power of the PS5. Our goal was to recreate the playable cinematic effect I dreamed of when I played the first Final Fantasy as a kid. In order to create this game that feels like an emotional movie, we decided not to go the open world route in order to focus on creating that roller coaster-like experience.