Final Fantasy 16: We wanted it to be a gateway for players who aren’t good at action games

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Final Fantasy 16: We wanted it to be a gateway for players who aren’t good at action games

In Final Fantasy 16, the Square Enix development team aims to provide accessible action, epic cinematic battles utilizing the capabilities of the PS5, and a story and setting that returns the series to its high fantasy origins. Moving away from traditional turn-based systems towards real-time action – partly due to technological advancements – the game features a “twin-tiered battle system” as described by producer Naoki Yoshida, with two distinct battle types.

The first type involves controlling Clive Rosfield and utilizing a range of abilities channeled from various summons called Eikons. The second type consists of large-scale battles where Clive transforms into a colossal Eikon and confronts another Eikon. During my hands-on experience with the game, I witnessed just how spectacular and cinematic these latter fights are, incorporating multiple stages that smoothly transition into intense QTE sequences. Yoshida-san explains that scaling up battles in real-time was a goal from the beginning.

Yoshida-san states, “I initially instructed the team that we wanted to create battles with different levels, starting with Clive versus an enemy of similar size, then scaling up to Clive against a large boss, followed by Clive versus an Eikon, and finally an Eikon against another Eikon. All of this should occur in real-time, seamlessly, and with a fast-paced sense that there are no breaks in between.”

The concept of the Eikon, one of the game’s central themes, revolves around the traditional summons of the Final Fantasy series. As long as this core focus is maintained, the game retains its Final Fantasy essence. Additionally, inspirations were drawn from Japanese Tokusatsu (live action) series, anime, and manga, such as Ultraman, Kamen Rider, Evangelion, and Attack on Titan, which have undoubtedly influenced the game.

Cinematic Clashes

During the media preview session, I had the opportunity to experience a fight that showcased the seamless scaling of battles, transitioning from battling an Eikon as Clive to becoming an Eikon and engaging another in real-time combat. The fight was grand and cinematic, with clear inspiration from anime fights, particularly Attack on Titan due to the enormous size of the summons. It also reminded me of modern action games like God of War (2018), which feature QTE sequences that punctuate the battle in memorable ways. Main director Hiroshi Takai explains that the cinematic approach and inclusion of QTE sequences aim to integrate the battles into Clive’s story seamlessly.

Takai-san admits, “We were influenced by modern action games like God of War because we wanted battles to feel like part of the story, seamlessly connecting the narrative and the battles. To achieve this, we have battle scenes interspersed with cutscenes. However, we didn’t want players to remain idle during cutscenes, so we considered how to involve them while still providing a break and maintaining the sense of engagement.”

“We didn’t want the game to involve random button pressing; we wanted it to feel like a natural part of the battle. For instance, when Clive punches, we use the same button for attacking, and when Clive evades, we use the same button for dodging in regular battles. The final blow involves button mashing to deliver a powerful punch.”

In battle cutscenes, players will encounter Cinematic Strikes, Clashes, and Evasions, which correspond to the same inputs used for attacking and dodging as Clive during combat. This makes the experience feel more natural, and as Takai-san explains, the QTEs are not intended to be overly challenging or surprising. However, a timer is present for each QTE, allowing for the possibility of failure. Takai-san even suggests that players intentionally fail to witness the different outcomes, as “the failures can be just as interesting as the successes.”

Stylish Support

I am eager to engage in more Eikon battles and explore the unique experiences offered by the immense power of these colossal summons. What stands out the most, however, is the team’s commitment to creating a real-time action combat system that is both enjoyable and accessible. By incorporating ‘Timely Accessories’, players can equip various rings that provide different types of support, such as automatic healing or extra time to evade incoming attacks. Combat director Ryota Suzuki-san, with his extensive experience working on titles like Devil May Cry 5 and Dragon’s Dogma, brings his expertise to Final Fantasy 16’s system.

Suzuki-san states, “Throughout my career, I have focused on action games, and I believe I understand what action gamers and hardcore action gamers desire. However, the core design concept for this game is not solely for those gamers, but also for Final Fantasy fans and those who may not be familiar with action games. Our goal is to create an experience that is inclusive and enjoyable for all players. Developing a system that is fun for everyone was my top priority.”

Based on my experience with the combat system, the Timely Accessories proved to be incredibly helpful, enhancing my enjoyment of the action as I could focus less on certain aspects of the fight. The ability to swap out accessories allowed the team to introduce a support system that makes the action more approachable and enables players to find a comfortable setup.

Yoshida-san emphasizes, “The most important aspect when designing this battle system was to ensure that players who may not be skilled or comfortable with action games can still feel like they are genuinely playing and excelling in an action game, and we aimed to create a system that evokes that feeling.”

Suzuki-san adds, “We wanted the support system to not only make players feel engaged in the game but also to have fun while participating. We believe that the support system and accessories achieve this goal. Our intention is for this game to serve as a gateway for players who may not be adept at action games, showing them that the genre can be enjoyable, and they can become skilled and have a satisfying experience.”

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