What Naoki Yoshida is most excited about in Final Fantasy XVI are the eikon battles.
in conversation with The edgeYoshida, the game’s director, talked about how earth-shattering, knock-down, drag-out combat between some of the franchise’s most prominent and popular monsters played a big part in this latest single-player, non-remake in the 35-year-old -old JRPG series.
Summons – aka espers, aka aeons, aka eidolons, aka GF (lol) and now eikons – were a fixture in the Final Fantasy series and represent a sort of “emergency break glass” – option in combat. Over the years, players have had varying levels of control over them with the power to summon them for a one-time big hit as in Final Fantasy VII and IXgive them direct commands as in Final Fantasy X, or to summon them as NPC battle allies as in FFXII† But Final Fantasy XVI seems to offer more to summon fights than just making a big dude appear to beat other dudes in front of you.
“We have this epic summon versus summon battles,” said Yoshida, speaking through a translator. “And these won’t just be in cutscenes. The players will be able to actually step into those battles and control their own eikon and feel the excitement from within, not just from the outside.”
Eikons are at the heart of all the trailers, media and knowledge we’ve seen Final Fantasy XVI so far, and focusing the game on these creatures of immense and awesome power is key to Yoshida’s vision.
“We introduce ourselves” Final Fantasy XVI like a giant, super-fast roller coaster that takes players on a thrilling ride, both in story and gameplay.”
Final Fantasy is in the midst of a “hot Garuda summer period”. Final Fantasy XIV continues to enjoy worldwide popularity as fans eagerly await the arrival of not only a Crisis Core remake but the launch of the second episode in the Final Fantasy VII Remake trilogy† It doesn’t matter if you are a single player or MMO Final Fantasy fan, you eat well. But the arrival of XVI revives concerns about Square Enix’s ability to craft a successful, original, single-player Final Fantasy title.
The annoyingly titled Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin made waves for his a weird “cringe but make the camp” game outside the traditional action-RPG format, but it didn’t enjoy widespread success. Additionally, Final Fantasy XV was a commercial hit, but a critical failure plagued by delays† range changesplatform changes and leadership changes creating a messy mishmash of a game (though sprinkled with some truly brilliant series defining moments) with a back half that is almost indefensible.
React to XVIYoshida and his team were aware of the problems that persisted FFXV‘s production.
“One of the first things we did in the early days of Final Fantasy XVI development, when we were just a small team, the first focus was on what kind of game system we have,” said Yoshida. “And once we had that, we completed the flesh of the script and story.”
The result, Yoshida says, is a game that is currently fully playable from start to finish, hopefully without the worries of DLC needed or books to fill in gaps or to better express the game’s story afterwards.
Fans rave about XVI in a way they may not have been to others Final Fantasy games because of Yoshida. He’s a big reason why Square Enix was able to make it Final Fantasy XIV of a barely playable mess in the critically acclaimed game that was just last year, so popular sales and free trials had to be suspended to ease server congestion. I wanted to know what, if any, of his secret FFXIV sauce made it FFXVI†
But Yoshida said that working on… Final Fantasy XVI did not rely too much on his experience with Final Fantasy XIV because they are two very different games for players who want very different things.
“Working on a main title and learning who the fans are Final Fantasy and what those fans expect from the series has proved invaluable,” said Yoshida.
Yoshida explained that the experience of developing these games is the difference between a marathon and a 100m sprint. He is a marathon runner, used to stretching a story to keep the fans interested and playing continuously, and he had to train himself to run much faster over a much shorter distance, as it were.
“Compared to an MMO, single-player games are more about providing instant gratification,” he said. “They’re short bursts of extreme excitement and then when you get to the finish line they end with a bang that makes people think, ‘Wow, that was a great game.'”
Yoshida is not the only person from the FFXIV team at work FFXVI. Fans are equally excited to see XIV‘s composer Masayoshi Soken working on XVI‘s music. I asked if Yoshida had any insight into how Soken handled the new assignment.
†Final Fantasy XIV has always been considered a Final Fantasy theme park, and this has allowed for many different kinds of music styles,” said Yoshida. †Final Fantasy XVI, however, is a more focused experience that focuses firmly on Clive Rosefield and his journey. As such, I envisioned a more focused experience when it came to music.”
Yoshida shared that Soken confided in him that he was actually having a hard time adjusting to working on a single-player game.
“Focusing on one theme was actually quite challenging for him,” Yoshida said. “It’s been a long time since he’s had to do that and isn’t able to just do what he wants.”
Yoshida feels that Final Fantasy XVI is kind of growing up for him. He talked about his time playing the first Final Fantasy as a kid and how his fantasy made him feel like he was playing a movie. Now, with all the technological advancements, he no longer has to rely on his imagination.
“I’m watching Finals Fantasy XVI like taking the best part of a movie and the best part of a game and putting them together to make a really interactive type of game/movie,” he said. “The most exciting thing about developing this game was the eikons with the sheer size and scale of their battles When I was a kid playing Final Fantasy IIwith its pixelated graphics, this is what I imagined they would look like and to be able to see them now was really exciting.”