Every new Final Fantasy game, there’s always the conversation about what exactly a Final Fantasy game is. And yet, that’s the beauty of the series. It’s spanned so many themes and settings and stories that “which Final Fantasy is your favorite” continues to be a heated debate among fans of the franchise. Barring quite a few other differences, one of the biggest conversations is between Final Fantasy games that embrace modern tech alongside the magic, and those that sit in a more “classic” high fantasy setting. The newly revealed Final Fantasy XVI is taking things back to those original fantasy themes, a huge departure from the prior game that literally included a car that could fly.
But there’s a lot more evidence aside from just the visuals seen in the trailer that fans of Final Fantasy XIV and Final Fantasy Tactics should pay attention to Final Fantasy XVI. Summed up in a thread by @Dreamboum on Twitter, the team working on FFXVI is very different than those who have made the last decade or so of Final Fantasy games.
I’m going to give an overview on the people working on FFXVI, where they come from, their experience, and speculate on the people that might also be working on this game but have not been confirmed yet.
TL;DR: FF Tactics/FFXIV fans, you should be excited pic.twitter.com/HxHycuWeIR
— Bring Peanut Butter (@Dreamboum) September 17, 2020
First of all, they point out the team behind Final Fantasy XVI: Creative Business Unit III. No, it’s not a catchy developer name at all. But it’s also the team responsible for Final Fantasy XIV, and yes, while that is an MMO, those who have played it agree it is arguably the best Final Fantasy narrative ever. This isn’t the Hajime Tabatas, Tetsuya Nomuras, or Yoshinori Kitases of the Square Enix world. Creative Business Unit III comes “from a very different lineage in general.” This is a different breed of Final Fantasy developer. Basically no one involved in Final Fantasy XIII or XV is making creative decisions on this project.
Heading up CBUIII is Naoki Yoshida, famed for turning Final Fantasy XIV around with A Realm Reborn and its continued expansions and support. It was that very feat that put in charge of this studio. Yoshida has specifically said he prefers that fantasy settings of Final Fantasy over the modern tech integration, evident in Final Fantasy XIV’s development. The Twitter thread explains, “He wants to go back to a time of sword and sorcery and summons the series used to be known for (Think FF3, 5, 6, 9, Tactics).”
Some of Yoshida’s favorite games and inspirations? Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, and FFXII. The Twitter thread points out that these are all “dark, political stories mostly focusing on a medieval setting.” The lineage of development from Final Fantasy XII that was so influential on XIV is being further pulled through to XVI. So if these are your favorite Final Fantasy games too, rest assured that not only is the studio headed by someone who agrees, its team is filled with experienced people who have worked on these very projects.
While Yoshida helms the studio and acts as a producer, Final Fantasy XVI is being directed by Hiroshi Takai, who helped Yoshida with the big FFXIV turnaround. He’s been with the Final Fantasy series since Final Fantasy V, through all of it’s ups and downs, but the thread reminds us that he was “involved in the SaGa series and “also directed The Last Remnant” to get a better understanding of outside influences beyond just Final Fantasy. Again, it’s experience in medieval high-fantasy.
These are the only two confirmed figures on the project right now, but @Dreamboum goes on to give educated projections of who else is most likely working on Final Fantasy XVI. First up is Ryota Suzuki, who they say is “most assuredly the battle director of FFXVI.” Suzuki was originally at Capcom for two decades and has worked on both Devil May Cry 5 and Dragon’s Dogma, if that gives you an idea for his battle system experience.
His experience on character action games are shining in the battle sequences in the trailer. You can see air combos, special attacks, juggles, and more. pic.twitter.com/Mpw76QYPCm
— Bring Peanut Butter (@Dreamboum) September 17, 2020
The thread further speculates that the team behind Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward was transitioned to Final Fantasy XVI development once the expansion was shipped. They base this assumption on the fact that Takai is involved in the project. This team may include Final Fantasy XIV writer Kazutoyo Maehiro, assistant director Mitsutoshi Gondai, illustrator and concept artist Kazuya Takahashi, and character designer Tsubasa Masao. @Dreamboum points out again that this is speculation and unconfirmed. Going further into speculation, they say the trailer music sounds like Final Fantasy XIV composer Masayoshi Soken’s work, again, unconfirmed at this time.
The rest of the thread goes on to talk about Yasumi Matsuno’s influence, the mind behind Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre, and progenitor of Final Fantasy narratives taking a darker and more political turn. It’s clear from the trailer that Final Fantasy XVI is both quite dark and political, so while Matsuno may not be directly involved, his influence is certainly carrying through in its DNA. It’s well worth reading through those additional details in the thread to see how Final Fantasy XVI compares so far to games like Vagrant Story.
The short of it is, if you’ve enjoyed what the team has done with Final Fantasy XIV since A Realm Reborn, and yearn for the dark political themes and high-fantasy settings of classic Final Fantasy games like Tactics, Final Fantasy XVI should be one to keep on your radar. Gone are the flying car roadtrips of Final Fantasy XV and the bright over-indulgent settings of Final Fantasy XIII. This is a return to classic Final Fantasy in a way single-player Final Fantasy games haven’t seen in decades.