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Final Fantasy XVI Interviews With Naoki Yoshida Sheds Light On Game

Final Fantasy XVI and Naoki Yoshida have been in the spotlight lately thanks to the recent Dominance trailer that was included as part of  Summer Game Fest. The series has once again hit a stride that hasn’t been felt in some time and with the next numbered title set to launch in Summer 2023, the anticipation has hit an all-time high given how big of a departure the next game seems to be.

A series of interviews with game director Naoki Yoshida is now online and feature some interesting tidbits about the game, protagonist Clive, the world of Valisthea, and what to expect when the game launches. Square Enix, PlayStation, and several outlets posted their interviews and here’s what we’ve learned.

“When you’re thinking about the future of the Final Fantasy franchise, you have to aim at that generation of players that have never touched a Final Fantasy before,” Yoshida tells The Washington Post. “Maybe they think the series is too old, too classic. [So you] create something that shows them that this could be an exciting game.

“But I don’t want you to think that I’m abandoning those veteran players and fans of the series because we’re definitely not. We want to create something that everyone feels is epic.”

Yoshida decided that the action-based battle system would welcome new players as well as older series fans. This allows a wider breadth of players to experience the story.

Regarding the setting of Valisthea, we now know the decision was made early on because Yoshida and his team prefer the classical medieval games over the sci-fi tropes Final Fantasy games have recently taken on.

The Eikons have a large role to play in Final Fantasy XVI with each realm having its own Eikon and Mother Crystal. Yoshida describes each realm’s Eikon as a nuclear weapon, something that isn’t used unless absolutely necessary. The world is currently experiencing a Crystal drought and their power has begun to dry up, leaving nations to turn hostile against one another to steal the Mother Crystals.

In the Dominance trailer, we are shown how critical the Eikons are to the story and what players will be able to do with them. Yoshida mentions in an interview that each time a player encounters another Eikon, it plays out in a unique way. We learned that these encounters could be a 3D shooter, another may be more like a pro wrestling match, while a third may transform the entire arena into a battlefield. The UI changes for each Eikon encounter as well.

Furthermore, Clive will be the only playable character in Final Fantasy XVI. He will have AI-controlled party members who will assist him depending on where the story is, leaving players to focus on maximizing Clive’s damage output. Speaking of our protagonist, Clive will be able to cycle through the Eikon abilities he unlocks in real-time. In the trailer above we see Clive use a skill from Garuda that sends enemies flying into the air, before switching to a Titan skill that sends them plummeting back to Earth. Once Clive has the power of an Eikon, a corresponding skill tree is added for players to add points to. It is confirmed that you can respec at any time without worrying about being locked into one path.

Players worried about an open world should fret not, today we’ve learned that instead, players will explore “independent area-based game design that can give players a better feel of a truly ‘global’ scale,” says Yoshida. These areas take inspiration from other AAA titles but an open-world design can be limiting when telling a story.

Speaking to IGN, Clive has a puppy it seems. “Well, let’s just say he’s more wolf than a dog—and his name is ‘Torgal,'” says Yoshida. “As for him being a party member, you’ll just have to wait and see. We’ll have more info on parties soon.”

The story will span a large chunk of Clive’s life as it begins in his teens and moves to his 20s and his 30s. Final Fantasy XVI is currently fully playable but there is much work to be done with additional voice-overs in multiple languages. Talking to the PlayStation Blog, Yoshida says the action-oriented nature of the game means there is a lot of playtesting to be done, adjusting difficulty levels, and final touches on cutscenes.