Final Fantasy 16 ditches the divisive open world of its predecessor

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Despite the changes made by its predecessor, Final Fantasy 16 won’t be bringing us a large open world.

We’ve seen a big marketing push earlier today, in the form of a series of interviews with Final Fantasy 16 producer Naoki Yoshida. Speaking with IGN (opens in new tab), Yoshida confirmed that the upcoming PS5 exclusive diverges significantly from Final Fantasy 15

“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,” he says. 

However, Yoshida explains that his sequel will still contain “inspiration” from such games, so anyone who enjoyed 15’s approach won’t be left behind. “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.”

Final Fantasy 15's cast hit the desert trail.

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Moving beyond a troubled legacy

Many are hoping for a fresh start with Final Fantasy 16, and it’s not hard to see why after Final Fantasy 15’s troubled history. Beginning life in 2006 as a spin-off entry, Final Fantasy Versus 13, it soon fell into development hell before getting rebranded, effectively restarting development in 2012. Come 2016, 15 finally launched and though it reviewed well, fans weren’t quite as enamoured. 

I’m a fan of 15 but when I played it at launch, those development troubles were evident. When looking at the open world, you’ll find a beautiful place filled with fantastic scenery, but only for half the game. 15’s second half then moves away from this open format, placing the story on a linear path, and you can clearly see how design ideas clashed during development.

Worse still, there’s hardly anything meaningful to do across it. When Ignis wasn’t driving the car for you, it was a chore to navigate. 15’s open world wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t brilliant either. The Royal Edition added extra quests but by that stage, it felt more like catch-up. With all this in mind, I can see why Yoshida’s taking a more reined in approach for 16, and I believe it’ll be a stronger game for it.

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