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Naoki Yoshida (yoshi-P), the Mind Behind Final Fantasy Xvi, Defends Quick-Time Events and Embraces the Action Genre by Way of The Role-Playing Game!

The information displayed on the screen is taken from a special version created for media use, and it may not reflect the final product. Clarity improvements have also been made to this interview.

With a 35-year history, the Final Fantasy franchise has contributed a number of mainstay elements to JRPGs (Japanese role-playing games). Command turn-based battles, Summons, and party-switching mechanics have all evolved into essential components of gameplay that carry over from one mainline title to the next.

But in more ways than one, Final Fantasy XVI (FFXVI) represents a significant break from that tradition. The next JRPG title is not only the first in the main franchise to receive a Mature classification, but it will also probably annoy longtime fans with its introduction of action genre gameplay, including a playstyle that is more akin to Devil May Cry than the traditional Final Fantasy formula.

Also gone is the four-person team structure. Unlike to its predecessors, the game centers on protagonist Clive Rosenfield, who will be aided in battle by Artificial allies. What makes Rosenfield and other key characters unique is that they are all entirely human, but thanks to their host status with Eikons (FFXVI’s version of summons), they have the power to summon mythological creatures and virtually transform into them.

It’s a skill only available to Dominants, like Clive, who are born with an Eikon inside of them. This means that, starting approximately five hours into the tale, players-as-Clive will have their first interactions with Ifrit, a recurring Fire-elemental summon in the series, in all its 20-foot splendor. Ifrit and the goddess Garuda, who both resemble humans more than their traditional counterparts, will face off there. Final Fantasy 16 Yoshida Naoki (2)

In previous Final Fantasy games, a Summoner summoned a different creature; this time, the Dominants are the Summons, and they are the Eikons, so in that way, they will feel somewhat like the person summoning them.

For instance, with Ifrit, we wanted it to feel like you were in control of something satisfying to handle and with the weight and speed that, in my opinion, brings it closer to a typical person.

Its inclusion in the roster is not at all surprising given its numerous appearances throughout the franchise. Yet, this only makes up a portion of the formula, with the other half coming from the industry veteran’s soft spot for the Fire-elemental Summon and his sense of misfortune.

The person known as Yoshi-P highlighted the creature’s predicament in earlier games, from the first Final Fantasy’s early years to the eighth and ninth installments, going back in time.

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Ifrit always arrives first, therefore you always use him first and he gets to be the first. Ifrit is then kind of left out as you learn better summons and never use him again.

The 50-year-old continued, “I felt very sorry for him, so with FFXVI, we wanted him to have the opportunity to shine and be the strongest, coolest-looking Summon out there, before citing FFVIII as the key example of Ifrit’s decline from being a towering, mighty figure.

The worst must be in Final Fantasy VIII, where he was humiliated by some students during their graduation exam and forced to serve them. It’s too bad for him.

After a brief pause, a clever remark that elicited roars of laughter was made: “It’s time for [Ifrit’s] revenge!”

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Along with the well-known icon, other recognizable characters from the franchise’s various games are also present, including Phoenix, Shiva, Ramuh, Titan, Bahamut, and Odin. Similar to Bahamut, this summons were chosen for their notoriety; for instance, FFVII players will be familiar with Odin’s special ability Zantetsuken, which slices up all enemies, while fans will always remember Bahamut. In order to add an extra layer of surprise and excitement, the Square Enix team has taken their models and scaled them up.

As a result, each person’s experience will be unique. Each Eikon-versus-Eikon battle will have a unique feel depending on the story’s development, the circumstances, and the players involved.

Instead of using the same type of battles repeatedly because each Eikon is different, Yoshida said, “we built these battles from the ground up.”

Each of them will feel different and fit that [specific] Eikon differently because they are all distinctive to the one that Ifrit would be fighting.

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He explained that the team used a professional wrestling match as a model for the confrontation between Ifrit and Garuda. As a result, the former is purposefully built to lumber around the battlefield, putting a lot of weight behind its movement and attacks. It would be an unfair matchup for Garuda to fight Phoenix, for example, because of the differences in size and nature between the two—one is built for the land, while the other can fly—between the two.

In the midst of battle, directives that demand players to punch the correct buttons before time runs out both appear in human and Eikon form. Such moments share some similarities with quick time events (QTEs), but with a few minor differences, and the decision might seem a little odd, especially for a game that is trying to shed its legacy. After all, QTEs are usually seen as being extinct, with much of the criticism stemming from the way their mechanisms unintentionally damage immersion.

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Hence, it could seem out of place for them to return to the FFXVI, but Yoshida provides justification for the choice. Part of the justification is to enhance the cinematic quality of cutscenes, but accessibility is really the main focus here. The move to full-time action will involve much more combo-chaining and frenzied on-screen activity than long-time fans of the brand are used to.

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The producer said that this is why QTEs slow down the action and give players a little more time to think and respond.

The use of QTE enables the combat to be more approachable for all players and to have a decent balance of action. It’s a roller coaster, like. He emphasizes that you need to have a nice balance between your highs and lows, and he believes that QTE might sometimes help with that.

The veteran of the business goes on to stress the value of acclimating gamers to a new fighting system by using the Ifrit-versus-Garuda battle as an example.

That goes against our game design philosophy—which is that non-action gamers may absorb the tale without feeling frustrated—to make anything so challenging that players would get stuck and not complete it.

Although the team strives for accessibility, it doesn’t mean that action-genre veterans and fans won’t enjoy themselves. Less QTE sequences will be present in the encounters as the game develops, however, certain items of equipment that enable automatic evading and counterattacks using QTE triggers can be manually disarmed if preferred.

Final Fantasy XVI’s

The initial playthrough of Final Fantasy XV will also unlock more difficult modes and features, such as the lack of leveling up or powerful weapons. In contrast, the more ambitious veterans have space to put up intricate combos on the battlefield. For example, Clive can direct Torgal, his animal friend, to do Ravage, which raises the opponent into the air and enables him to continue performing aerial combinations even as he slowly falls due to gravity. Although they are optional, such elements put the game in a strong position for both genre newbies and veterans.

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The producer is well aware that certain devoted fans may object to these modifications from the standard Final Fantasy formula. Nonetheless, the game will follow a new route, recognizing that there is nothing the team can do to change the circumstances and moving forward without hesitation into uncharted terrain.

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In essence, I wanted to demonstrate to the world and to upcoming generations of developers that although we are doing the Final Fantasy series, we are also capable of producing nonstop action, said Yoshida. We believe that it is crucial to sow the idea of possibilities in the minds of aspiring developers.

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