I recently previewed Final Fantasy XVI, the new mainline single-player Final Fantasy game coming to PlayStation 5 this summer. You can read my full thoughts on what I think of the game after going hands-on with it for about two hours here. But during this preview, I was also able to participate in a group interview of FFXVI producer Naoki Yoshida, the game’s director Hiroshi Takai, and its combat director Ryota Suzuki.
One facet of FFXVI’s development I was especially interested in is how Creative Business Unit III, the internal studio behind the upcoming game, is able to balance creating this new title while continuing to develop its extremely successful MMO, Final Fantasy XIV. Yoshida, who is FFXIV’s producer and director, says it’s not as different as you might think.
“It’s probably not as different as you’d expect creating an ongoing [game like FFXIV] as well as a standalone game because for Final Fantasy XIV, if you look at the original A Realm Reborn and our expansions, they are all stories that have beginnings, middles, and ends,” Yoshida says through a translator.
He says one thing that is different, though, is that in developing an MMO, you have to create the hook for the next story.
“You don’t have to do that in Final Fantasy XVI,” Yoshida continues. “If we wanted, we could put a hook in there that gets you excited for maybe future content or something like that. But again, that wasn’t our aim with Final Fantasy XVI. We wanted to create a story that had a beginning and that also ended and so we did. We wanted to focus on [protagonist] Clive’s life and so rather than the story being broader, we are focused on him. That’s not to mean that it’s not as deep as well, because we are so focused that we get a deep look into the entirety of Clive’s life.”
On that note, during a presentation before I went hands-on with FFXVI, Yoshida explained that the game will follow Clive in his teens, 20s, and even 30s. Clive’s younger brother, Joshua, is a Dominant, meaning he can tap into the power of an Eikon, which is what FFXVI calls summons like Ifrit and Garuda. It seems the relationship between Clive and Joshua is at the heart of the game’s story. Yoshida mentioned during this preview that Clive’s story is centered on revenge and its effects on people. Takai says the game will end with a sense of closure, too, unlike an MMO that must tee up what’s next for the game.
I was also curious how Yoshida feels about Creative Business Unit III competing against itself with Final Fantasy XVI, considering it’s the same studio that develops FFXIV, a truly beloved MMO. For Yoshida, that pressure doesn’t get in the way of the honor the team feels to have been asked to develop FFXVI.
“When the company approached us to work on the next numbered Final Fantasy, we took that as an honor,” Yoshida says. “It’s something that wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t have the success of Final Fantasy XIV. It was something granted to us because we had that success.
“And we knew right off the bat that it was going to be a very difficult thing. [The opportunity came] at a point in time when we were working on Final Fantasy XIV to grow the game. And understanding that at the same time, to also create another game, that’s going to be very challenging. What we did was prioritized Final Fantasy XIV and made sure that we could grow it to a point that we were satisfied. And that’s why for so long, while XVI development was happening, it was happening with a very small team because we wanted to finish on XIV until we got to the point we wanted to get to.”
With development on the game nearing its end, Yoshida is excited that people are able to preview the title and go hands-on with it.
“We’ve now hit a point where I can actually breathe a sigh of relief.”