It’s been a long time since the game we now know as Final Fantasy XV was announced, all the way back in 2006 as Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Since then, the game has transitioned from the PlayStation 3 over to both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and undergone some drastic design changes in the process.
This puts us right at the release of Final Fantasy XV, a game 10 years in the making with an absolutely unreasonable amount of expectations. But there’s an important question to think about: what happens to the series after XV?
One thing is clear, and that’s the fact that Final Fantasy XV is very different for the series, both in game design and tone. For some fans, this is a welcome change in a series that has been languishing for some time. However, for others this is a big split from what made the series so great in the first place, and a worrisome step. Ever since Final Fantasy XII, some fans have felt disillusioned with the series, and the XIII trilogy certainly didn’t help with that.
Since the game was announced as Versus XIII it’s been an ambitious project, completely different from Final Fantasy XIII, which was unveiled at the same time. The studio is using a brand new engine known as the Luminous Engine for XV, and this plays into the massive world design, and stunning graphical clarity.
XV is a game that has embraced more western design ideas than any other game in the series, boasting an open world, a more focused story on four party members, fast-paced action combat, and a wealth of sidequests and activities to do. These are all things that represent a change for the series, some small and some large. Of course, because of the focus on a large seamless world, the technology behind the game had to be incredibly powerful.
Final Fantasy XV’s director, Hajime Tabata, has talked about how the game needed to have a lot of power behind it in multiple interviews. Tabata said this to Kotaku in a recent interview:
“The thing we really felt like we had to do when we switched over from being Versus XIII to XV was to overhaul the technology behind Final Fantasy XV, to make it a new modern up-to-date game technologically. The way we approached making it was very much to have that technological base that we worked in, include the combat system that we feel the game needs, and the world-building the game needs, have that whole technical base.”
You can see this represented in the sweeping world we’ve seen in gameplay footage, and jaw dropping summon animations and boss battles. Not to mention the environmental effects present in the game. Using a fire spell leaves areas of the earth scorched and will leave burn marks on any party members it hits. This also goes for weather effects like rain and wind. The technology being used for Final Fantasy XV is certainly impressive.
The shift to an action focused combat system is perhaps the biggest changing piece in the new title. Final Fantasy games have always been turn-based, or featured a variation of the ATB (active-time battle) system. This change drastically alters the way a player interacts with the game world, giving them the feeling of having more direct control.