Final Fantasy XVI developer Naoki Yoshida recently discussed the evolution of video games and how many games incorporate RPG elements. He also delved into how this latest installment in the Final Fantasy franchise differentiates itself from its competitors.
Speaking with RPG Site, Yoshida first commented on the evolving state of the video game genre and the incorporation of RPG elements to things like first person shooters and action elements into classic RPGs.
He said, “It’s interesting, but I think that everyone is kind of aiming for the same sort of things. So you have these very classic hardcore games that are like ‘okay, we need to make ourselves a little more modern, we need to bring in those action elements. Then you have those action games that are like, ‘yeah, but people really like these RPG elements, so we kind of need to go this way…’ And so everyone’s kind of like – there’s this window of that perfect blend that everyone’s aiming for.”
Yoshida then detailed what he believes sets Final Fantasy XVI apart, “I think what sets Final Fantasy XVI apart is that we focused… Again, while we’re moving to action and we put a lot of effort into creating action, it’s got to be about the story. Final Fantasy is about the story. We put our main focus, even more than action, on that story.”
He then pointed to previous mistakes in the franchise, “And you look back at the previous games, at FF15 – they had their story, but it wasn’t complete. And then they try to make it complete, and then they promise some more story, but then they don’t give us the story… And so you had a lot of people that went into the series wanting us to give them a great story, and they didn’t get that. And a lot of people were disappointed in that.”
“Like, even if they liked the game, they’re left wanting because one of those main pillars of the Final Fantasy series, stories, was not given to them,” Yoshida explained.
He doesn’t want to make the same mistake, “And so we wanted to make sure that we had our first and foremost focus on the story and we think that is going to set us apart from all those other games out there.”
“In those games, yes you’re going to have action, you can have those RPG elements… But are they going to have a story that is as engaging as FF16’s story? I think that’s what sets it apart,” Yoshida declared.
Later in the interview, Yoshida would also note that the story is also his biggest worry when it comes to player reaction. He detailed, “My biggest thing, and I guess it’s my biggest worry – but the one thing that I’m looking for is how people think of the story. I want to know how people think when they get to the end of the game and they’ve finished watching all the way to the end of the credits, and what they feel at that moment. How will they feel? That’s what I want to know.”
” I want to know if they’re going to say, ‘this was the greatest thing ever’, or ‘this was a really interesting story’. I’m just waiting to see how the fans react to the story, because that’s what we’ve put so much effort into,” he elaborated.
He continued, “Of course it’ll be interesting to see what those hardcore action gamers think of the systems, what Final Fantasy fans that maybe don’t like action make of this new style of play… those are all things that I’m also interested in learning about. But when it comes down to it, all I really want to know is what people think of the story.”
While he’s looking forward to seeing the reactions of players, Yoshida also noted that he approached the story the same way he approaches the story in Final Fantasy XIV.
“I kind of approach the FF16 story the same way I approach expansions for FF14,” he relayed. “I think a good script is something that doesn’t give all the answers at the end. It invokes a lot of feelings. It makes people think… it leaves a little bit of doubt there at the end.”
He continued, “You’re going to have finality in the main beats of the story, and you’re going to get those answers. But there’s always going to be that door left open a little bit to get people thinking.”
“Moving forward, when people get the game and they play it, and they love it enough that they want to see more… We’ve left the door open a little — just enough so that we can continue and can show more. But for what you’re going to get on June 22nd, it’s going to be a complete experience that you’re going to be able to enjoy from beginning to end,” Yoshida noted.
As for what the story is actually about, the official description of the game from Square Enix states, “FINAL FANTASY XVI introduces players to an all-new story in the FINAL FANTASY universe, an epic dark fantasy that takes place in the realm of Valisthea – a land blessed in the light of the Mothercrystals, and where peace falters as the spread of the Blight threatens to destroy their dominions. The fate of the land is decided by the Eikons, mighty summoned beasts and their Dominants, men and women who have been blessed with the ability to call upon and wield them.”
“This is the tale of Clive Rosfield, a warrior granted the title “First Shield of Rosaria” and sworn to protect his younger brother Joshua, the Dominant of the Phoenix, Eikon of Fire. Before long, Clive will be caught up in a great tragedy and swear revenge on the Dark Eikon known as Ifrit, a mysterious entity that brings calamity in its wake,” the description concludes.
The game arrives exclusively on PlayStation 5 on June 22nd.