Coincidentally, this year marks 7 years since the highly controversial Final Fantasy XV was released. A painful project that also marked the end of a chaotic development of more than 10 years, with a change of direction, orientation, objectives, even name, within a Square Enix in full mutation. We had pretty much the same complicated pattern with Forspoken, ever since Hajime Tabata left Square Enix in 2018 from his position as head of Luminous Productions. By leaving with half the talents, Tabata-san left the project unfinished and shaky, for which Forspoken is considered a failed project. To avoid repeating the same pitfalls, Square Enix has decided to secure the development of Final Fantasy XVI by entrusting the project to the Creative Business Unit III. If this name doesn’t ring a bell for you, you may not be interested enough in MMORPGs, or rather MEUPORGs if you prefer. This is actually the team behind Final Fantasy XIV, the goose from Square Enix, rescued in extremis by the game’s director, Yoshi-P, aka Naoki Yoshida. Yoshida had become a living god within the Japanese publisher and had all the powers for this FF XVI, who decided to take his new position: to be a real action game for the general public, even if it meant denying its origins. Because yes, this Final Fantasy XVI looks more like a Devil May Cry than an episode stamped FF, and the choice of its technicians is not unimportant. With combat director Ryota Suzuki, a Capcom survivor who worked on Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Dragon’s Dogma and the latest Devil May Cry V, Kazutoyo Maehiro as screenwriter, who previously worked on The Last Remnant and Final Fantasy XII; and finally Hiroshi Takai, hired as game directorand best known for his work on Final Fantasy V, everything came together to make this Final Fantasy XVI a completely different installment.
YOSHIDA, THE UNCOMPLEXED
If Square Enix still struggled to accept this position, it is assumed today and it is very clear, to the point that Naoki Yoshida took the liberty of explaining during our press conference that action games with real-time combat have become the norm in a regular market. This is what pushed Final Fantasy XVI to embrace this new combat system, even in the spells where we can control our giant creatures in epic clashes. But before we get into the details of the gameplay mechanics, a quick word about the story of this Final Fantasy XVI, set in the new world of Valisthéa. It is an area mainly occupied by mountains and crystalline plains, divided into 6 nations, each of which has a different Crystal Mother: the Archduchy of Rosalia, the Holy Empire of Sangbreque, the Kingdom of Valœd, the Republic of Dalmequia, the Kingdom of Iron and the reign of Crystal. These 6 nations live in peace, but the balance of power is threatened by the arrival of the “Black Scourge”. Each country has its Emissary, the name given to the people who protect the Primordials, who are in fact creatures that live in the organism of these elites and are able to transform into gigantic monsters, capable of destroying everything in an inverted phalanges. In the Final Fantasy series, it’s a classic, as they take the place of summons, which we get to control in battle sequences that aren’t necessarily interesting from a purely gameplay point of view (there are a lot of QTE), but have the merit of being a thunderous to offer a show that will amaze. The story is also based on the war between the Primordials knowing that each represents one of the four elements of fire, water, wind and earth. It is in the skin of Clive Rosfield that the player will discover Valisthéa, he who is the eldest son of the Archduke of Rosalia, and who unfortunately did not inherit the role of Phoenix Emissary. It is indeed his younger brother Joshua who got the beautiful part, except that the latter died in tragic circumstances that will plunge our dark hero into a deep malaise. In addition, like the previous numbered episode, this Final Fantasy XVI will allow us to follow a Clive from adolescence to his well-wrapped thirty years; the chance to delve a little deeper into his undoubtedly haunted personality…
DEFINITELY MAY CRY
If the story promises betrayals, sacrifices and twists worthy of the greatest psychodramas that the heroic fantasy could have carried, it’s time to fight, the great one, the real one, the one who is moreover fully adopted. There is no longer any hesitation possible with a completely uninhibited Naoki Yoshida, here we want to please the general public and it is on the Action-RPG side, or even beat’em up, that Final Fantasy XVI is watching. We don’t know yet if the J-RPG dimension will exist a little bit more in this game, as this demo has been developed specifically for the needs of this Preview session, but by embracing this new era, Final Fantasy XVI is no longer doing things half-heartedly. Completed 2015’s boy band to lead, Clive is the only character we’ll understand, with his skill evolution over the adventure we imagine. He will be joined by combat partners, but it’s the AI that makes sure they’re fully controlled, with the player focusing on Clive and his combo abilities.
If Square Enix still struggled to accept this position, it is assumed today and it is very clear, to the point that Naoki Yoshida took the liberty of explaining during our press conference that action games with real-time combat have become the norm in a regular market. This was the reason Final Fantasy XVI embraced this new combat system.
To do this, the combat system is intended to be simple and easy to understand, with a button for sword attacks (Square), another for magic linked to an element according to the equipped skills (Triangle), but also the possibility to use the powers linked to Primordials (Round), subject to a cooldown to limit abuse. If it is possible to unlock other attacks through a skill tree, only two primordials can be used in combat. The choices, the strategy, a classic. Added to this is a dodge (step to the side), the ability to parry enemy attacks, but also engage in a kind of trans/black rage, making it possible to deal even more damage. Yes, God of War is in the air, and this comparison might even make Yoshida happy. If it takes some time to adjust before you have assimilated all the keys and the different gameplay possibilities, you soon realize that every effort is made to make the confrontations epic and spectacular. The gameplay is lively, Clive moves in all directions, while his attacks are enhanced by pyrotechnics of the most beautiful effect. On the other hand, we’re much less attached to contextual information such as energy points and vital meters that are displayed and tend to clutter the screen and often make the action unreadable. This is also one of the most annoying aspects of this FF XVI that tends to want to do too much to impress us.
In this regard, to continue in the epic and spectacular, Final Fantasy XVI has decided to make the Primordials playable, in the form of boss battles. So far, subpoenas have taken the form of support, but Yoshida clearly wants to show the West that the quality Action-RPG can also be rolled out by Japanese studios. Like Naruto, who puts Kyubi in complete control, Clive can also unleash the omnipotence of his Primordial, the Ifrit, who look like bipedal demons that tear heads off at the slightest misadventure. In these titanic clashes, the scale ratios are adjusted, the movements slower, but the attacks much more powerful. To maintain this ferocity in every battle, the developers opted for an extremely simplified gameplay, based on QTE. While Capcom has decided to ignore it in the next Resident Evil 4 Remake, Square Enix thought that inspiration from Naruto Ninja Storm and other Asura’as Wrath for these boss fights could make it possible to win in cinematography. And it works! Spectacular sequences, perfect for sharing on social networks to promote the game, but obviously less interesting to play. However, Yoshida indicated that there will be 6 titan battles throughout the adventure, all of which are different, including one that refers to a shoot’em up phase. It promises.
Like Naruto, who puts Kyubi in complete control, Clive can also unleash the omnipotence of his Primordial, the Ifrit, who look like bipedal demons that tear heads off at the slightest misadventure. In these titanic clashes, the scale ratios are adjusted, the movements slower, but the attacks much more powerful.
There’s clearly still a lot to discover in this Final Fantasy XVI, which seems to have saved a few more cartridges between now and its final release in June. Yoshida seems proud and confident about the result, to the point that he teased us some extra elements like moves on Chocobo’s back. The Final Fantasy spirit will still shine on a few details here and there, but it’s clear that the time for the concession is over. The hardcore fan base will understand, the general public will abide by it, or at least that’s the feeling that the savior of Final Fantasy XIV seems to imply…