Final Fantasy XVI Devs May Have Finally Perfected the Video-Game Dog Buddy
More to come in April.
Final Fantasy XVI developers already revealed plenty about the game in the months leading up to its summer launch, including its old-school God of War-like gameplay. At PAX East 2023, Producer Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida and Writer Michael-Christopher Koji Fox treated fans to a fresh look at the massive battles between Eikons (FF16’s term for classic Final Fantasy “Summons”) all fueled by the power of the PlayStation 5.
Yoshida and Fox presented over 18 minutes of gameplay that showcases several of Final Fantasy XVI’s diverse geographical settings and combo-heavy combat. Then, the panel cut to the juiciest part: answering fan questions. For one thing: Yes, you can pet the Torgal.
The FF16 team recently finished a media tour, where content creators played preview builds of the game and interviewed developers. (Inverse also participated in the tour.) Fans then had the opportunity to submit questions, many of which addressed the same concerns. Developers condensed the questions (and complaints) down to the following:
- Why the hell is everything so dark!? And why is this area so small!!!!1?!
- QTEs!? QTEs!? We don’t need no stinking QTEs!
- Shove your action! I want my ATB!
- These Eikon battles had better not all be the same!
- You took the RPG out of my Action RPG!
Yoshida explained that the media tour was meant to focus on FF16’s action, not its story. And the best example of that just so happened to be in a low-lit environment.
“One of the biggest question marks about Final Fantasy XVI has always been the switch to the full real-time action controls, and so the media tour was set up to be an opportunity to showcase our new battle system and controls,” Yoshida told fans. “It just turns out that the area that we chose for that happened to be a dark area.”
Rest assured: It isn’t indicative of the lighting throughout the entire game — even if the story tone is similarly dark.
“It’s because this is the stage that we had completed first and it was the most ready,” Yoshida said. “Sorry.”
Quick-Time Events (QTEs) challenge players to complete an action like pressing a button or shooting a target in a limited window of time. However, they can be a turn-off for some players, especially if they fail to defeat an enemy because of a few misplaced button presses. Thankfully, they aren’t integral to combat, even if that may appear to be the case thus far.
Boss battles have phases where cutscenes will sometimes interrupt the battle. Instead of sitting back during the footage, the QTEs offer the player some level of agency at the moment so that they feel more engaged during an otherwise idle moment. Also, the game gives the player a generous amount of time to complete the QTE. Yoshida highlights that failing the prompts won’t result in a game over.
What Happened to ATB?
Active Time Battle (ATB) relies on energy gauges charging before a character can attack. In Final Fantasy’s case, this historically looks like turn-based combat. However, FF16 pivots to real-time combat like Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, and God of War Ragnarok. While Yoshida understands the frustration that veteran Final Fantasy fans might have, he stands behind the team’s decision to develop FF16 as an ARPG.
“We wanted to take this opportunity to make the next Final Fantasy into something that was going to challenge ourselves,” he said. “And we wanted to challenge ourselves with making a full action-based Final Fantasy game, something that shows the world the potential of the series.”
Eikon battles are one of the iconic representations of the game’s real-time action. Clive can slash at enemies with his sword, but he can also transform into the Eikon Ifrit. Boss battles greatly differ depending on which Dominant (the Summoner who transforms into the Eikon) he’s fighting. He could be focusing on aerial attacks for an airborne boss or thrusting his sword at an earthbound enemy; Maybe he’s slashing at an enemy with giant claws or shooting at them like a fighter jet. It just depends on the battle.
Yoshida highlighted that the game is meant for anyone and everyone, which is why his team developed equipable accessories for Clive to function as the game’s “easy mode.” You might wear a ring so that prompts appear for perfect dodges or one that slows down enemies so you can more easily time dodges yourself. Equipping just two of these accessories makes the game easy enough to play with one hand, which Yoshida demonstrated live during the panel.
“In the very, very near future, we will be releasing more information about the RPG elements of Final Fantasy XVI,” Yoshida said specifically noting it would be in April.
Bonus: Yoshida confirmed the different ways the player could pet Torgal, Clive’s pet dog. (Only after accidentally slashing at him, much to the audience’s amusement and horror.) It’s as easy as approaching Torgal and pressing the X button. Clive even cycles between different animations like kneeling down to scratch Torgal’s face or tossing him a treat.
Final Fantasy XVI will launch for PlayStation 5 on June 22, 2023.