When Final Fantasy 16 was first revealed, many fans immediately assumed that it would follow in the footsteps of its predecessor and be a large-scale open world RPG. According to producer Naoki Yoshida, though, that won’t be the case.
Instead, Yoshida says, Final Fantasy 16 will focus on area-based design in a manner that sounds similar to Pokémon Legends: Arceus, which was likewise assumed to be a pure open world world game when it was first announced last year. But while Final Fantasy won’t be a traditional open world game in itself, Yoshida does say that it will take a lot of inspiration from triple-A open world RPGs, though he doesn’t name any specifics.
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“We’ve found in our extensive user research that many of the younger generation of gamers have never played a Final Fantasy or don’t have any interest in the series. To create a game that might excite and resonate not only with our core fans, but also with that new generation, we played a LOT of games ourselves, and so yes, in [Final Fantasy 16] you’ll find inspiration from recent triple-A open world RPGs,” Yoshida says.
“However, to bring a story that feels like it spans an entire globe and beyond, we decided to avoid an open world design that limits us to a single open world space, and instead focus on an independent area-based game design that can give players a better feel of a truly “global” scale.
Square Enix offered a better picture of that world in an update that went live last October, when it introduced Final Fantasy 16’s six realms. Modeled after traditional European fantasy, each nation will have a “Dominant” – a special person who holds the power of an Eikon, a special summon that “can level nations.”
The Eikons were showcased during Sony’s recent State of Play event, and Yoshida also revealed more information about how they will figure into the combat and more.
Square Enix’s decision to avoid going with a traditional open world is surprising in light of current trends, but fans will also recall that Final Fantasy 15’s open world was generally criticized as barren and under-developed (even if the fishing was pretty fun). Final Fantasy 16 might have been an opportunity to address those criticisms, but as is so often the case with this series, Square Enix opted to go in a different direction.
Final Fantasy 16 was first announced for PS5 back in 2020, but despite “basic development” already having been completed, it quickly vanished from the collective radar. It finally reappeared earlier this month with a new trailer, screenshots, and a post introducing the development team.
Final Fantasy 16 is currently set for Summer 2023, but for series fans who can’t wait that long, Square is also rolling out a Crisis Core: Final Fantasy 7 remaster, which is due later this year. In the meantime, check out everything new we learned from our interview with Yoshida in the wake of the new trailer.
Kat Bailey is a Senior News Editor at IGN as well as co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Have a tip? Send her a DM at @the_katbot.