Final Fantasy XVI (or FF16 if Roman numerals scare you) launches on PlayStation 5 on June 22, and assorted previews of the game and interviews with its Square Enix developers came out today, with Producer Naoki Yoshida getting frank about some topics. Speaking with RPG Site, the producer explained that the story was both his biggest focus and “biggest worry” for FF16 after Final Fantasy XV struggled to tell a complete and satisfying story.
“My biggest thing, and I guess it’s my biggest worry — but the one thing that I’m looking for is how people think of the story,” Yoshida said of Final Fantasy XVI. He went so far as to say, “Final Fantasy is about the story.” (Clearly, this confirms he is a Final Fantasy IV and VI guy over a Final Fantasy V guy.) Elsewhere, he said that the team focused on story “even more” than on the action. Yoshida elaborated on how much he cares about how people react to the story of FF16:
I want to know how people think when they get to the end of the game and they’ve finished watching all the way to the end of the credits, and what they feel at that moment. How will they feel? That’s what I want to know. I want to know if they’re going to say, ‘this was the greatest thing ever’, or ‘this was a really interesting story’. I’m just waiting to see how the fans react to the story, because that’s what we’ve put so much effort into.
He views the story as the key differentiator between Final Fantasy XVI and other high-octane action games, especially since other action games have already incorporated RPG elements in recent years. And the pressure to course-correct is higher after Final Fantasy XV left a bad impression with some players, about which Yoshida was surprisingly honest:
… FF15 – they had their story, but it wasn’t complete. And then they try to make it complete, and then they promise some more story, but then they don’t give us the story…
And so you had a lot of people that went into the series wanting us to give them a great story, and they didn’t get that. And a lot of people were disappointed in that. Like, even if they liked the game, they’re left wanting because one of those main pillars of the Final Fantasy series, stories, was not given to them.
It’s comforting to hear Producer Naoki Yoshida emphasize so hard that FF16 will be all about its story. Personally, I was pretty underwhelmed with Final Fantasy XV, and as an old-school cranky turn-based RPG purist, I have derived no excitement whatsoever from video clips of the combo-heavy combat system of Final Fantasy XVI. I have been holding out hope that this game can at least deliver a quality story, since it’s been years since we had an excellent single-player Final Fantasy story. [Insert Lost Odyssey joke.]
I’m going to place my trust in modern Final Fantasy one more time. Let us know where your feelings are at for this game.