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Final Fantasy XV

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Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy XV Logo
ファイナルファンタジーXV
Fainaru Fantajī Fifutīn
Developers Square Enix, XPEC Entertainment[1], HexaDrive[2]
Publishers Square Enix
Release dates 2016 (current target)[3]
Genre Action role-playing
Game modes Single player
Ratings
Platforms PlayStation 4, Xbox One
This is a fantasy based on reality.
—Tagline

Final Fantasy XV, originally known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, is the fifteenth installment in the main Final Fantasy series. While originally regarded as another installment of the Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy series alongside the Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Type-0 games, it was removed from the canon because it is thematically too different, although some design elements remain.[4] The game is currently under development for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It is set to have a simultaneous worldwide release[5] in 2016, and the release date will be revealed in March, 2016.[6]

Final Fantasy Versus XIII was announced at E3 2006 alongside Final Fantasy XIII. Final Fantasy Versus XIII was originally developed with the Crystal Tools engine for the PlayStation 3, but it was announced in December 2011 the game had been moved to a game-specific engine for the gameplay mechanics with the lighting being done by the Luminous Engine and the Crystal Tools still doing the real-time graphics.[7] At E3 2013, the game was revealed to have been rebranded as Final Fantasy XV for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

The story centers around Noctis Lucis Caelum, Crown Prince and protector of Lucis, the last remaining kingdom in the world with control over crystals. The game's focus is to examine the characters' humanity and distinguish it from the fantasy setting in other titles in the series. It was originally said the game would take around 40 hours to complete, excluding other content,[8][9] but in an interview in January 2015 Tabata said that due to the ever-increasing content of the game it seems less and less likely players would be able to clear the game in that time.[10]

GameplayEdit

FFXV-Battle

The combat system.

The game is set in a world with one giant land mass, meaning players can cross the entire world.[11] The player party's car can be either driven manually or put on autopilot, although walking is also possible. Trains are available and players can explore them freely when riding them.[12]

Monsters wander throughout the field and sometimes hostile ones suddenly appear to ambush the player. The battles are real time action with the player controlling one person, Noctis, the other party members being controlled by the AI with the player able to issue them commands. The system has been described as streamlined rather than full of button-smashing, and readily accessible in that with obtaining good weapons and leveling up players will be able to clear the main scenarios, but further challenges are implied to lie waiting in the optional content requiring more player skill.[13]

Summons are called Archaeans and are based on a ranking system with their size influencing their rank. For example, Leviathan is one of the top-ranked summons, as shown by its massive size.[14] Titan plays a role in the story.[12] Archaeans are a symbol of the power of stars and only Noctis can summon them.[15] Some Archaeans must be defeated in battle to obtain them as summons.

The game will support the new-generation consoles' features, such as sharing, but the remote play function on PlayStation 4 is yet to be decided. With the remote play, the players can play their PlayStation 4 games on PSVita anywhere as long as their internet connection is fast enough. The feature is not in the Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae demo, but it might be added to the retail game.[16]

Battle SystemEdit

FFXV-Battles

Battle from TGS14 trailer.

The battle system is called Active X Battle (AXB).[13] Battles are seamless with no load times, taking place in real-time environments using all regions of the field from up-high buildings to down-low streets. Battles can take place in areas with great differences in height, and players have to fight using the full environment. This means fighting what's both in front of the player and above and below (vertical battles). Battles against huge enemies are carried out in the same fashion as standard battles, but enable exclusive party co-op actions.[15] Players can jump during battles. Smaller enemies are easier to aggravate, but the bigger ones have "aggro radius", meaning one can approach them within reason without them immediately attacking.[9] Even within the same monster species, the creatures come in different physical sizes, and can have different move sets. What monsters spawn depends on the time of day. Monsters fought at night are tougher, and the battle music is different in the dark as well.

A red encounter gauge appears on the screen when enemies are close. It also has an audio cue. When the red encounter gauge fills, battle starts, but the player will be able to run before it does. Even if a battle begins, the player can still run. The combat system utilizes three buttons: an attack button, a defense button, and an interactive button for abilities and interactions between different party members.[17] Using abilities expends MP. Abilities are tied to equipped weapons. Defending also uses MP, so keeping track of MP use is important. The longer the battle draws, the more chances there are that other enemies will join the fray, and the more damage the party deals to some enemies, the more their bodies fall apart.

Players can continuously dodge while holding down the block button, and auto-attack by holding down the attack button, or perform combos by tapping the attack button. A manual warp dodge is also available, as well as a roll-dodge that takes no MP to use. Both styles have their pros and cons, e.g. timing the button presses allows the party to insert parries and co-op moves.[15] Holding a button to continuously guard or evade drains the user's MP, and thus the player won't be able to do that indefinitely, and not all attacks can be evaded.

Players will be able to move around while defending. Holding the attack button will invoke the standard combo and the player can change the actions by using it in coordination with the directional buttons. The actions depend on the circumstances—such as when guarding, there might be a chance to counterattack, or whether other party members are close by;[13] it is said this combat feature is easy to pull off as long as Noctis has allies nearby. If the enemy flashes the following attack is going to be an extra strong one. This is a chance to counter or defend. After parrying, "partner attacks" can kick in automatically. The counter feature lets the player turn some enemy attacks back on their originators if timed correctly. Each counter is unique depending on the foe and the type of reversal. For some enemies the nature of the counterattack is decided by which ally is nearby.[18]

As the party grows closer, new partner moves are unlocked while they are talking at camp. The player can switch position quickly with another character for strategic gameplay and there is also a cover system where players can take cover to avoid attacks and recover before returning to the battle. The player can take cover behind large objects, or by teleporting Noctis somewhere so high up enemies cannot reach him.

When a party member falls to 0 HP they fall into a "danger" status and are unable to attack or use abilities, and damage instead depletes the character's maximum HP. A character can "rescue" another character from danger status by interacting with them. If the gauge depletes completely the party member will be Knocked Out. If all party members fall to 0 HP, the party can only run away to recover, and Noctis will recover from danger status after a certain amount of time. The game is over if Noctis dies. The party's HP and MP regenerate when behind cover, and MP also regenerates by attacking enemies. If the "max HP" has been damaged then the player may need to camp to heal it.

FFXV Gladiolus In-battle

Gladiolus shields Noctis from a Behemoth.

According to Tabata, the combat isn't about pressing a button once for a single action to happen, but a continuous flow of movements associated with the buttons, and building upon them for actions through the combat system. The gameplay is less about focusing on menus and more about navigating 3D spaces with predetermined moves, similar to the Gambit system of Final Fantasy XII. There are few menu commands in combat. The game controls like an action game where players switch between offense and defense. The player can give orders to other party members and swap weapons on the fly.[19]

All team members will have different approaches and specialties in battle unique to them. There will be situations where the party will perform co-op attacks, such as Noctis fighting an Iron Giant and teaming up with Prompto and Gladiolus to take it down. Party members will automatically react to situations differently according to the circumstances, but certain abilities, equipment and weapons may encourage the characters to cooperate more likely when the circumstances are right.[16] The co-op moves can be pulled off continuously and although invoking them is automatic the player must aim their mark. For example, to connect a co-op move while avoiding an enemy attack, the player must keep an eye out for an indication when to invoke it.[13]

FFvXIII-mech

Noctis piloting a tank cannon with footage of when the game was still called Versus XIII.

Noctis has a number of different weapons with different methods of attack, and some will be usable as shields.[4] Weapons will have some sort of customization element. Weapons are set in a deck to up to five weapons and during battle it will choose the most appropriate weapon based on the situation. The player can set the weapons before battle considering what actions can be used with each weapon. The player can determine one weapon to be the main weapon, and that weapon will come with techniques that can be invoked at the player's discretion in battle. The player can also change weapons mid-battle in the menu, e.g. if they want a different skill.

Besides the basic attack button, the player can invoke techniques with the technique button. The player can cycle through the available techniques with the left and right D-pad buttons. Combos are automatically formulated based on which weapon is currently being utilized out of the ones equipped. Abilities locked to weapon categories exist, as do weapons with no abilities. Rare weapons acquired from dungeons will have unique properties, some examples being those with hack-and-slash aspects.[15] The player is able to allocate different weapons to different positions in a combo chain to suit their play style, enabling one to prioritize speed, damage or range based on the player's preferences and the current foes.

Armiger Arsenal is Noctis's "Limit Break." During Armiger all abilities cost 0 MP and Noctis's damage output is increased, but it drains MP until it reaches 0, and Armiger ends. When Noctis unleashes his power, swords will fly around the area attacking enemies and guarding against the damage Noctis takes. In that state his Attack rises greatly and, on top of automatically guarding enemy attacks, he can move at high speed. There will a powered-up state even beyond that.[20] The phantom swords used during Armiger are different from the normal weapons, and give different abilities Noctis can use when Armiger is active.

Noctis can warp around the field and throw his sword and warp to that location. The player can only teleport to certain locations and depending on the circumstances, there is a glowing icon denoting a warp spot. Noctis can teleport to certain places in the environment, and also to all enemies. Warping, along with special moves and dodging, requires units of MP to perform, but the Warp command will be exclusive to Noctis. While using Armiger Arsenal, Noctis can get special warp-related abilities.

A "Link Form" command has been seen in use during the E3 2013 material, which allowed Noctis to grapple with a soldier and slam the enemy into the side of a car, and climb up a Behemoth's horns to reach a more favorable position. This suggests Link Form could be an invaluable function for interacting with enemies and vehicles alike.[21]

Magic-Fire-FFXV

Noctis casts a fire spell on a behemoth, setting it ablaze.

Magic is available and is cast through special rings.[22] Spells have unique effects and manifestations among each team member. Magic doesn't use MP.[15] Weather has a tactical impact on battle conditions, with different types of magic having varying effects depending on weather patterns. Using fire spells on a clear day, for example, not only hurts monsters, but also ignites the surrounding area, and monsters afraid of fire will be sent fleeing, but it can hurt party members as well. As such, using magic can be a liability, too.[19]

Game WorldEdit

The creatures in the world are properly depicted as alive. If you think about fighting something, you can fight it. Just watching the way everything moves is pleasant. Making a virtual world that is so alive is important in making the player feel absorbed in it.
—Hajime Tabata in a Dengeki interview[8]
Restalm-FFXV

Lestallum in the Jump Festa 2015 trailer is modelled after Bahamas[15].

The world of Final Fantasy XV is similar to the real world with modern technology, such as cars and highways, but also contains countries with medieval elements, such as castles and armored soldiers. According to the developers the game's locations are based on real world places. So far, the following replicas have been seen or confirmed by the developers: Piazza San Marco and Basilica (from Venice, Italy), Manchester (England), a U.S. gas station and Shinjuku (an area of Tokyo, Japan), and the Bahamas.

The game is seamless open world with vast fields able to be explored as far as the eye can reach, although currently Square Enix can't guarantee the entire game will be entirely seamless as important scenes will likely require some loading.[12] The player can drive the party's car, Regalia. In early information on the game it was said the party would be able to fly airships like in older Final Fantasy titles,[23] but in January 2015 director Hajime Tabata said the airship issue was "still to be determined".[10] The development team is aware airship travel is something everyone is looking forward to, but recognizes it as a huge technical challenge.[11] The player can rent chocobos.[15]

Depending on the terrain, characters' walking and running animations change and running long distances sees party members tire and catch their breath. Some developers even climbed a mountain to make the mountain portions of the game more realistic.[24] At lakes or rivers the party can fish, and in the woods the party can find sheds where NPCs live. Objects and terrain are said to be destructible.[9]

Final Fantasy XV Quest

Behemoth quest.

Sometimes the player can find hints in the environment on where to find bosses, such as large footprints. Party members point things out, and say they want to go to certain places to let the player discover optional stuff organically. The player can set their destination marker, making it easier to navigate. Items found on the field appear as blue shiny things and some items can be traded for cash. Even if the player is free to explore far and wide and possibly stumble upon optional content, such as dungeons, the objectives are laid out clearly so players won't get lost in the vastness of available area.[16] The player can earn gil by taking quests.

The day and night cycles and cloud formations are done by physical calculations, the lighting and the shadows changing as the day goes on. At night towns are lit up, with people turning the lights on in their homes.[16] It was decided to be made this way to have a smooth change between the cycles and to have a more dynamic lighting system, reflecting the mood of a certain region/place. One in-game day lasts a real-life hour with 40 to 45 minutes being daytime, and the rest being night time. This bit is currently in development, and is subject to change. There will be events where the party must fight for days at a time.[12]

FFXV-Camping

Party camping.

Camping out is important. Camps are safe havens, making them ideal headquarters when setting out to explore new areas. Camps can be set up at any time of the day, but can only be set up on safe" areas marked on the map. Using a camp to rest progresses the time to the next day and when a day is over, accrued experience is calculated to give players an idea of how much they've accomplished over that stretch of time. If the party forgoes sleeping the stat boosts obtained from food will lose effect.

Players can eat meals at camp for status buffs and obtain ingredients to cook at camp from monsters and shops. The party's "Cooking Level" determines what dishes they can cook. In the Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae demo Ignis cooks independently, but in the final game the player can pick what meal to make. Different meals boost different stats. The "Victory Fanfare" plays when the party levels up as the stat boosts kick in and the dawn arrives.

By properly sleeping, the party will maintain the buffs obtained this way, such as bonus multipliers applied to EXP gain. The party needs to take a break to level up as experience points earned in battle are converted towards level progression whenever the party sleeps. Not sleeping makes it possible to to attempt low-level challenge runs. If the player is knocked out in battle, they lose the accrued EXP.[18] The party can go three days without sleep, but any longer than that will lose the status buffs.[12] Camps also function as fast travel, as the player can return to the last camp they rested at. After camping party members sometimes suggest for Noctis to go on a tour with special objectives. Tours are sidequests and the main quest cannot be progressed during them.

Tours will have an active role in developing Noctis's relationship with Ignis, Prompto, and Gladiolus. The strength of their bond will depend on doing activities together, which will in turn affect the strength of combo attacks Noctis can execute with his companions.[4]

Monsters in dungeons wander above ground during night, adding extra impetus to camp. The party can camp out in the open, or stay at a hotel while in town, or in a caravan at different outposts. Staying at a caravan or hotel doesn't allow the party to cook, but EXP is earned in an expedited rate.

CharactersEdit

Main article: List of Final Fantasy XV Characters
Final-Fantasy-XV-Main-Cast-CG

Noctis and his comrades. From left to right: Prompto, Gladiolus, Noctis, Ignis, and Cor.

Playable CharactersEdit

  • Noctis Lucis Caelum - A childhood affliction endowed Noctis, heir apparent to the throne of Lucis, with the mystical power to see a heavenly light, through which he can sense others' deaths. Noctis rejects rigid royal conventions and acts as somewhat of a renegade, much to the dismay of those who tend to him. Yet while "Noct" may act brash at times, he does so in defense of those loyal to him.

Supporting CharactersEdit

  • Ignis Stupeo Scientia - Ever the unwavering voice of reason, Ignis was weaned on shrewd logic and a classical education from boyhood so that he might one day counsel the would-be king, Noctis. He applies the deep mutual understanding and trust they have built over time to help smooth over Noctis's brusqueness with others.
  • Gladiolus Amicitia - As lord of the noble House Amicitia, Gladiolus continues a line sworn to protect the crown. "Gladio" shares a friendship with Noctis that transcends birth and title, and his loyalty to his liege is born not of duty, but of brotherhood.
  • Prompto Argentum - The puckish playboy Prompto befriended Noctis in his school days. He wears a chip on his shoulder as an outsider to the royal circle, but remains eager to do all he can for the cause.

GuestsEdit

  • Cor Leonis - A living legend of Lucian lore, Lord Commander Cor Leonis's devotion to the art of war is surpassed only by that to his king. Little love is lost between the ill-starred stalwart and Noctis's retinue, yet honor binds him to keep watch over the group all the same.

There might be other guest characters, such as possible female characters who could change the party's dynamics on the field.[25]

SettingEdit

O’er rotted Soil, under blighted Sky, A dread Plague the Wicked has wrought. In the Light of the Gods, Sword-Sworn at his Side, 'Gainst the Dark the King's Battle is fought. From the Heavens high, to the Blessed below, Shines the Beam of a Peace long besought. Long live thy Line and these Stones divine, For the Night When All comes to Naught.
—Biblical verse from Cosmogony 15:2, "Nadir" concerning the crystals and the royal lines.[26]
Amano Goddess of Death

Artwork of the Goddess Etro by Yoshitaka Amano.

Noctis Lucis Caelum—the latest in a lineage of kings, and the heir apparent to the throne—hails from the kingdom of Lucis, a country holding the world's last crystal, which is beneficial to his country's military, political, and economic standing. Because of increasingly apparent industrialization in contrast to neighboring nations, Lucis has isolated itself from the rest of the world.

At one time, all countries possessed a crystal, but many lost them due to fighting over them. They thus pooled their resources into weapons and warfare, granting them firearms along with swords and magic, becoming modern and advanced in only their military power, and in consequence, left regressive in their cultural and societal aspects, severely affecting their standards and quality of life. A cold war has gone on between Lucis and the rest of the world about the use and possession of the last crystal, but recently, a peace treaty was negotiated, ending the standoff.

StoryEdit

In a matter of days, the Kingdom of Lucis is to sign an armistice, ending a long and bitter conflict with Niflheim. Ahead of the ceremony, Prince Noctis, heir to the Lucian throne, sets forth from his homeland to formalize the union of states through his marriage to the Lady Lunafreya of the imperial province of Tenebrae.

The offer of peace, however, is no more than a ruse to lower the Lucian shield, and the imperial army takes the crown city and its sacred crystal in one fell swoop. En route to his destination, Noctis is shocked to learn that he, his father the king, and his betrothed are believed dead.

Overnight, the dream of peace has faded into a distant memory. His world crumbling around him, Noctis has naught but his resolve and his loyal companions to see him through the trials to come.
—Official synopsis[27]

After a years-long war between Lucis and Niflheim, a peace treaty is agreed upon that will end the conflict. As part of the treaty, Lucis' crown prince Noctis Lucis Caelum is to marry Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, a princess from the Imperial province of Tenebrae. After Noctis goes on a journey to meet with Lunafreya, the truth is revealed: the treaty is a ruse engineered by Niflheim's ruler, Idola Aldercapt, to bring down Insomnia's magic barrier so his army can seize control of the city's crystal. Niflheim's forces lay waste to the crown city, apparently killing King Regis Caelum. King Regis's son, Noctis, is pronounced dead, along with Lunafreya. After Niflheim's attack, Lunafreya wanders the streets of Insomnia and eventually makes her way to Altissia.

The report that Noctis has been killed is false. When the prince realizes that Idola Aldercapt and the rest of Niflheim want him dead, Noctis and his vassals—his royal advisor, Ignis; his bodyguard, Gladiolus; and his childhood friend, Prompto—flee across the country. The car is wrecked by Prompto when he and his friends reach the Duscae region and they take the car to Cindy for repairs. They end up needing to take on local bounties to raise the funds for the bill. When the car is fixed, Noctis and his friends begin a road trip towards Altissia to rendezvous with Lunafreya.

MusicEdit

The music is composed by Yoko Shimomura, who was also responsible for the soundtracks of the Kingdom Hearts series, Super Mario RPG, and the first Parasite Eve. She was also one of the composers for Xenoblade Chronicles.

The game's theme song, performed by Aundréa L. Hopkins,[28] is titled "Somnus - Sleeping" (「somnus - 眠り -」). It refers to the Roman god of sleep. The god is often depicted as a young man sleeping, which matches the game's logo art.

The boss theme, "Omnis Lacrima", Latin for "every tear", is the second released track from the game. On May 26th, 2014 it was released as a bonus track from Yoko Shimomura's compilation album, memoria: The Very Best of Yoko Shimomura.[29] Before its release, it was used as the music in three trailers for the game: the 2008 DKS3713 trailer, the 2011 Square Enix 1st Production Department Premier trailer, and the E3 2013 gameplay trailer.

A new track that was used in the Tokyo Game Show 2014 trailer was the collaboration between composer Yoko Shimomura and Video Game Orchestra, a well-known orchestra that had collaborated with composer Masashi Hamauzu for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.[30]

DevelopmentEdit

Development for the game started as Final Fantasy Versus XIII to be directed by Tetsuya Nomura for the PlayStation 3 as part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series, where three games, Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Final Fantasy Agito XIII, were to form a new subseries with shared mythos. In the end, however, Final Fantasy XIII went on to become its own series and Agito changed into Final Fantasy Type-0 and Versus became Final Fantasy XV with a new director and reorganized development team, now for a new generation of consoles. In August 2015 during PAX Prime it was revealed the game is no longer considered part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis canon.[4]

There are 300 people in the development team, working on the PS4 and Xbox One versions for Final Fantasy XV. Because the game was announced so early, a move later deemed a mistake, Square Enix has been unusually open about its development after Hajime Tabata took the reins, delivering status reports on the its progress in a feature known as "Active Time Report."[31]

2006-2009Edit

Versus logo

Logo for Versus XIII during development.

Unveiled at E3 2006, Final Fantasy Versus XIII was said to be "not merely a sequel, but a wholly independent story unfolding in a different world with different characters." The game was going to be developed by the team responsible for the Kingdom Hearts series. Tetsuya Nomura would be the director and character designer, but not costume designer,[32] as Square Enix signed a contract with Japanese fashion brand Roen to promote their clothing designs in the game through different characters, and thus Roen Creative Director Himuro Takahara serves as the game's costume designer.

2009Edit

After nearly a year of silence, Final Fantasy Versus XIII was briefly shown at Tokyo Game Show 2009 in a private theater showcasing the game's first gameplay footage, though Nomura commented it was merely a demo and most footage would not be used in the final game. He said the clip was made to prove the game was still in development.[33]

At Jump Festa 2010 Noctis's new outfit was put on display. It had a more modern look with a jacket and pants, as opposed to his old outfit from past trailers. [34]

2010Edit

FinalFantasyVersusXIII combat 2

An old mock-up of a battle interface from when the game was still known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII.

During an interview with Famitsu, Nomura stated he was unsure whether Versus would be shown at E3 2010. [35] When E3 took place, the game was not shown.

On May 18, when asked by a Square Enix investor at a shareholders' meeting about a possible Xbox 360 port, president Yoichi Wada stated "We'll be looking into it internally until right before the formal announcement." After some backlash, he clarified his original statement on Twitter: "It looks like the [inter]net is heating up. Versus on Xbox? What I said at the earnings press conference was just that until a formal announcement is made at the announcement time; all points about all titles are not finalized."

On June 23, new in-game screenshots and details about Final Fantasy Versus XIII were revealed[36][37], and it was confirmed the game would appear at the 2010 Tokyo Game Show.

On June 29, an issue of Dengeki PlayStation stated Nomura and the fashion company Roen had completed all character designs and the scenario was finished as well.[38]

On August 9, Nomura announced via Twitter that voice casting for Final Fantasy Type-0 and Final Fantasy Versus XIII had begun along with other bits of news. [39]

On August 25, Yoshinori Kitase announced, during an interview with GamingUnion.net, that Final Fantasy Versus XIII "may not be released until after 2011".[40]

During the 2010 Tokyo Game Show, Square Enix confirmed they planned to present Final Fantasy Versus XIII in their January 2011 conference, which was part of their Fabula Nova Crystallis conference.

On September 17, the 30-second trailer for the game had been leaked onto the Internet along with that for Final Fantasy Type-0. The footage contained Noctis in his new outfit briefly running through the areas shown in previously released screenshots. The trailer ended with Noctis fighting a Behemoth and there were instances of blood shown whenever Noctis slashed at it.[41] On October 8, the combined Final Fantasy Type-0 and Final Fantasy Versus XIII trailer from Tokyo Game Show was officially released on the Internet through the Japanese Square Enix Members website.[42]

2011Edit

On January 18, 2011, Square Enix held the 1st Production Department Premier. It was originally named the Fabula Nova Crystallis Conference and the original date was set on January 11. The event included new trailers and the announcement of official release dates. Fans got to hear Noctis speak for the first time, along with the other characters. Besides Final Fantasy Versus XIII, the event featured new video content of Final Fantasy Type-0, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep Final Mix, and other titles. Square Enix hinted at several new titles to be revealed at this event, such as Final Fantasy XIII-2.

On July 2011, in an interview with Tetsuya Nomura, it was revealed that Final Fantasy Versus XIII hadn't yet entered full production. He went on to say the date for the next showing of the game had been set.

In early August for the 500th issue of Dengeki PlayStation magazine, Nomura stated Final Fantasy Versus XIII would not be shown at Tokyo Game Show 2011 in September.

On August 31, 2011, a renewal for the trademark of Final Fantasy Versus XIII was filed by Square Enix.

On September 10, 2011 during the Final Fantasy XIII-2 fan meeting, producer Yoshinori Kitase was questioned about the development of Final Fantasy Type-0 and Final Fantasy Versus XIII. His answer was: "for Type-0 and Versus XIII we are giving 100% to development."

2012Edit

On the Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu, Nomura announced the game will be a mix between real-time cutscenes and pre-rendered cutscenes with a ratio of 7:3 (70% real-time and 30% pre-rendered). He stated the next time the game would be shown there would be a demonstration using real time footage. Nomura said working on Final Fantasy Versus XIII took priority, in response to fans' requests for a Final Fantasy VII remake.[43]

On July 24th, 2012, the then Square Enix president Yoichi Wada posted a tweet dismissing rumors that arose about the game being cancelled after a long period of media silence, also hinting its progress would surprise its fans, particularly in the game's city environments.

Noctis (FF 25th ANNIVERSARY EVENT)

Sketch of Noctis for the anniversary event.

On September 1st, 2012, in the event of Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary, Tetsuya Nomura did a sketch of Noctis for the event. "Congratulations on the 25th anniversary. Please wait for his turn to appear".[44]

On October 10th, 2012, Nomura said that Final Fantasy Versus XIII was still in development and asked fans to wait for more detailed news regarding the game.[45]

In 2012 it was decided development would shift to next-generation consoles, and the name was officially changed into Final Fantasy XV within the company, although the public revelation of the re-branding would wait until E3 2013.[46] In July 2012, around the time of the cancellation rumors, Wada ordered the Final Fantasy Type-0 team to join the Final Fantasy XV development[19] to create a prototype for the next-gen consoles.[10]

In December 2012 Hajime Tabata became co-director to finish the project[47], which would eventually have him transition as the new director. At the time Tabata joined there was a lot of discussion and hard looking at the project, what the team had planned and what they had made, and a lot of time was spent thinking about how to change the team structure.[47] The game's development was re-examined between the gameplay team, the CG team, and the game engine team and Tabata decided to merge them.[19]

Tabata said that with the change of name and platform and thus the game engine and him taking the reins it would no longer be "the exact same game" as some things had to be re-evaluated to fit the change of circumstances. He assured the game did had not lost its core and that he had sat down with Tetsuya Nomura about the direction of the title to ensure that characters, like Noctis, would be maintained in the best possible way.[19]

2013Edit

On February 21st, 2013, GameSpot reported that Shuhei Yoshida, the president of Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios, said about Final Fantasy Versus XIII that "I have some knowledge, but I'm not in a position to talk about it".[48]

On March 19th, 2013, VG Leaks reported that not only had production been halted because of the failure and subsequent rebuilding of Final Fantasy XIV, but that it has been moved to the PlayStation 4 and was being co-developed by Sony as a PlayStation 4 exclusive, and was reworked into Final Fantasy XV[49]. Square Enix refused to comment[50].

On April 17th, 2013, during the inaugural episode of Square Enix Merchandise Radio, Tetsuya Nomura spoke briefly about the game: "It's a delicate situation within the company. The date for our next reveal is set and we are working toward preparing information for that. Perhaps the details as to why information couldn't be released might be touched upon with the next information announcement".[51]

During this time Nomura briefly envisioned making Final Fantasy XV into a musical after watching the 2012 film version of Les Miserables. He charged into the Square offices the next morning intent on transforming Final Fantasy XV but Square Enix convinced him to continue on the game's current trajectory.[52]

FFXV - Leviathan

Leviathan in the E3 2013 trailer.

During Sony's press conference at E3 on June 10, 2013, a prerecorded video of Tetsuya Nomura was played where he acknowledged that not much information on the project had been released as of late, and that while he couldn't immediately share new details, new information would be revealed in the coming days. Following the message, a new trailer for the game played with the end of the trailer announcing the game has been renamed Final Fantasy XV, with development moved to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Square Enix's Final Fantasy brand director Shinji Hashimoto wouldn't comment on how close to completion Final Fantasy XV was.[53] The game shown at E3 was running on a prototype environment (Ebony), rather than the actual environment (Luminous Engine).[13], and the footage shown was the "prototype" company president Yoichi Wada had tasked Hajime Tabata's team with.[10]

At this time Square Enix was already collaborating with HexaDrive on Final Fantasy XV, with HexaDrive providing technical support.[2]

2014Edit

In February Yoshinori Kitase commented that the game was "quite far in development" and that the game was given a high priority within Square Enix.[54] Final Fantasy XV was not shown at E3 2014, but producer Shinji Hashimoto promised new information would be revealed some time after the event.[55]

In August co-director Hajime Tabata assured development on Final Fantasy XV was Square's top priority, unhindered by the announcement of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD during E3.[56] When new release info on Final Fantasy Type-0 HD arose during Tokyo Game Show, it was revealed every copy would include a voucher for a playable Final Fantasy XV demo.[57] A new trailer was released on September 17th, showcasing the setting, the party and its car, battles, and a new character, Luna, and unlike the E3 2013 showing, the game was running on Luminous Engine.[13] During Tokyo Game Show, Square Enix announced Tabata had taken over directing the game with Nomura focusing on Kingdom Hearts III.[58] Nomura later told Famitsu it had been Square Enix's decision to remove him from the Final Fantasy XV project.[59]

Personally, I'm working on 15 to make it the most emotional Final Fantasy title that I've worked on. My goal is to have people play Final Fantasy 15, and for them to think this is the best Final Fantasy they've ever played.
—Hajime Tabata in an interview with Eurogamer[60]
Adamantoise-FFXV

TGS 2014 trailer.

Final Fantasy XV returning to media focus was met with enthusiasm and Tabata showcased a gameplay demonstration showing different weather effects and elaborating on the game's battle system and day and night cycles. In his numerous interviews he mentioned the game was 50-60% done, with the team working on it from the beginning to the end, meaning the beginning portions were more complete than others.[61] He said the release date was still a way off, and lamented on the "Versus era" when the team was not able to reveal any information on release timing because the project had to overcome many problems.

In around 2012 when Tabata officially joined the project the team did a major directional change in deciding to abandon the previous generation, and Tabata hoped people would "reset their timers" from when he joined the team.[61] He mentioned the fundamental parts of the game's systems were implemented, and did not expect "too long a wait" after the demo would be out.[19] The development team was revealed to be around 200 to 300 staff members as Tabata doesn't want a 1000-plus team like for big western releases, as he'd rather have a team with people who can make the most of their individual potential.[19]

On 2nd October Square Enix broadcast a livestream showing the game being played, and Tabata elaborated on its progress and gameplay details. He said the team was in the process of migrating functions from the prototype environment into the actual game environment (Luminous), but it would take time to complete. Despite this, Tabata had wanted to show footage in the actual environment and thus something unfinished was shown, with Tabata stressing it was primitive to what the final game would be like.[13]

Based on fan reactions to the Tokyo Game Show footage, the goal was to shed light on the concerns that had arisen with Tabata receiving daily reports from development staff about what people had been discussing on the Internet. Tabata said he'd like to release development information again in another live broadcast on November 1st, and include information from others in the development team than just himself. Tabata confirmed Final Fantasy XV had entered the phase of mass producing resource material, and after that it would be a fight against the amount of resource material and time. It was said Square Enix was hiring to help make the game. On a lighter note, Tabata mentioned he found the image macros fans had been compiling of Noctis and the party in the car looking out with different backgrounds photoshopped in hilarious, and provided official assets for people to use as a template.[13]

On 1st November lead programmer Takeshi Aramaki and movie director Takeshi Nozue livestreamed from Paris Games Week with new footage of the party traversing the map with enemies and events removed, and a tech demo showing off different environmental effects. The game's transfer from its previous Ebony Engine to its current Luminous Engine was said to be 80% complete with Aramaki noting the engine has surpassed even Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. The next livestream was scheduled for Jump Festa in December.[9]

A part of the reason the team scheduled so many press meetings and gave so much new information on a half-finished game was because the team was well aware there were many fans who had been following the game since the beginning eager for news, and the more open atmosphere with giving new information was set up as a way of "apology" and to quell fans' worries on the game's development.[47]

On 20th December Final Fantasy XV featured prominently at the Jump Festa 2015 convention with a new trailer and new information on summons and the world. The trailer was made by the Square Enix marketing department rather than by the development staff, and thus the omission of some of the material the staff had requested to be in the trailer caused unhappiness among the team, but some of the cut footage was shown separately.[12]

2015Edit

At Taipei Game Show at the beginning of February Hajime Tabata announced Taiwanese publisher and developer XPEC Entertainment as one of the many outside firms pitching in to help develop Final Fantasy XV.[1] An extended version of the snowy train scene from the Jump Festa trailer was shown, as well as a newly revealed area still in development: a big city train station. The footage was given in a "cat cam" format, following the eye-view of a cat, XPEC's take on Square Enix's "dog cam" shown at Jump Festa when exploring Lestallum.[1]

On 20th February director Hajime Tabata streamed himself playing the Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae demo and introduced the battle system. At the Q&A session after playing the demo Tabata said the game was around 60% complete.[62] On the 26th of February Tabata held another Active Time report, this time from London. During it English gameplay was shown for the first time and videos depicting the wildlife encountered in Final Fantasy XV and the party entering a cave were released. On the same day SMU's Guildhall campus hosted a Yusuke Naora lecture on his career at Square Enix. During it Naora shared concept art of old and new games alike, along with some never-before-seen art from Final Fantasy XV.[63]

Many players had reacted negatively to the combat slowdown seen in the live gameplay footage of the battle system known as hitstun or hitstop. The inclusion of this feature was meant to convey a sense of weight and forcefulness to each attack. Hajime Tabata admitted in London that the effect was probably exaggerated at the time, and confirmed the team had already adjusted it and were working out the right balance.[64]

In early March Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae was playable at PAX East in Boston,[65] where two of the game's lead game designers, Wan Hazmer (head of the Culture team working on the civilizations and towns), and Prasert Prasertvithyakarn (lead of the Buddy team focused on the interactions with the player's AI comrades) also talked about developing Final Fantasy XV.[66] Final Fantasy Type-0 HD was released in North America on March 17th, to be followed by other regions couple days later. The first print included a download code for Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae demo. Square Enix set up a survey asking for fans' opinions and the results would be discussed in the next Active Time Report near the end of April.

On 28th April Tabata discussed the survey results, and said the lock-on system, ally AI and frame-rate would be improved and anti-aliasing added to the final game. He talked about adding camera options for players, a minimap, difficulty modes, attack-cancelling with evades and dodge rolling, and how Noctis's western voice direction wasn't quite right and was being re-recorded. Tabata concluded that he wanted the players to experience the improvements. The plan had been to keep improving Episode Duscae and make it available in different events, but said there were also plans to patch the demo so all players could experience the changes. Tabata was unsure if this was feasible as demos are not usually patched, but if it could be done, he would like to see "Episode Duscae 2.0" come out in May, and planned an Active Time Report for around that time.[67]

Tabata described the demo's release a major milestone, calling it a prologue leading up to the big release. Tabata said he would like to begin releasing pertinent information about Final Fantasy XV to all regions where the game will be released to start promoting the main game. He said the E3 2015 wouldn't allow sufficient preparation time and that they were considering Gamescom in August for the next major reveal where the promotion for the main title would officially begin.[67]

Regis-and-Child-Noctis

An artwork revealed during Active Time Report 6.

The next Active Time Report was held on June 4th where the team responded to more concerns on the Episode Duscae demo, such as the role of monster drops, the sound environment and background music. Tabata said programming underwater action would be time-intensive, but they were looking to include the Leviathan segment from the 2013 E3 trailer. It was said that with the feedback on the demo Square Enix has set its sights on what to do during the mastering phase.[68]

Tabata also talked about the changes made from when the game was still known as Versus XIII. After the switch the team wanted ensure Final Fantasy XV would have a complete and coherent story in one game. The team tried to keep as many elements from the original story in as possible, but some of the major changes include removing of Stella Nox Fleuret, who had been presented as the foil to Noctis, replacing her with a new heroine named Luna, who has a different role in the story. Previously shown as the opening for Versus XIII was a scene of a party after which the city of Insomnia was attacked by Niflheim forces. This sequence was deleted because the opening was changed so that Noctis and his crew would leave Insomnia before Niflheim attacks, but the reason behind the change was said to be a spoiler.[68] The patched version of the demo was released few days later with many new additions and improvements.

In August at Gamescom new footage of a Malboro was shown, said to be from a point beyond the game's halfway point. The developers explained they were looking to implementing an airship, but if they were unable to include it in time, they would consider released it as DLC. Besides comradeship, the bonds between parents and children was said to be a theme in the game, and the new story revelations included Luna being Noctis's fiancée for a political marriage. It was said the game's marketing and release schedule was locked down, but that they would be unable to give further details.[69]Final Fantasy XV appearing at Gamescom was accompanied by a new "Dawn" trailer showing the events of 15 years before the game of Luna being attacked by soldiers, and a young Noctis being held by his father after "the stars had chosen him as their light". The official website was also updated with new story details.

Many fans were disappointing with the lackluster showing and still not having a release date. To reassure fans Tabata said the release date has been decided with a road map lined up to launch, and that the game was proceeding along as planned. He said the release was going to be "before 2017".[3] Starting at Gamescom Square Enix was "putting everyone at the same starting line", meaning the game was now also marketed toward people who had never heard of Final Fantasy XV before. Because this was the start of the "proper" campaign, it was deemed too early to announce the full release date.[70] Tabata admitted they had underestimated fans' expectations and said they would keep improving to have a good relationship with the fans.[71]

Outpost-FFXV-Artwork

Concept art of Caem revealed at PAX Prime.

The next Active Time Report was held at PAX Prime in Seattle on 29th August. Tabata confirmed a 2016 release window, and it was revealed Square Enix will hold an event in March 2016 where the official release date will be announced, among other things. A video was shown highlighting various features being worked on, including Cor Leonis wielding a katana, Noctis wielding a gun, and the main menu. The team also showcased some concept artwork including one new location, Caem, an outpost where the party will board a ship to Altissia. The boat was said to be rendered in real-time and with seamless travel.

Square Enix showed new footage of the game's driving mechanics and a video message from Avalanche Studios' Christofer Sundberg who informed that the collaboration between Square Enix and Avalanche Studios regarding sharing technology for the development of Final Fantasy XV was still in early stages.[72] In the interviews given at the event it was revealed Final Fantasy XV is no longer considered a part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series.[4]

From Final Fantasy Versus XIII to Final Fantasy XVEdit

Noctis

Promotional artwork for Final Fantasy Versus XIII.

In E3 2013 it was revealed Square Enix was thinking Final Fantasy Versus XIII could be made into Final Fantasy XV much earlier in the game's production than what was revealed to the public. Within the company, about one to two years after Versus XIII was announced, discussions were had on its scale and concept and the talks went on for several years.[46]

In 2011, developers began to hear about next-generation consoles, and the team decided to make Final Fantasy Versus XIII into Final Fantasy XV, but this was not public knowledge yet.[46] While the game was rebranded, the ideas of having a different story from previous Final Fantasy games and an action-based battle system did not change. Tetsuya Nomura, who was still directing the game at this time, had to confirm this during talks of the game being rebranded as the next numbered Final Fantasy, but after being told it wouldn't be a problem, the project went ahead.[73]

In 2012 it was decided development would shift to next-generation consoles, and the name was officially changed into Final Fantasy XV within the company, although the public revelation would wait until E3 2013.[46] Nomura was eventually replaced with Hajime Tabata and his production team that would develop Final Fantasy XV on the premise of Final Fantasy Versus XIII, but it would no longer be the exact same game, nor an official part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series. Tabata has described Final Fantasy XV as a bigger scaled game than Final Fantasy Versus XIII was going to be, and said the game still contains the core things to Final Fantasy Versus XIII, but that there would also be more to it.[70]

When the change from Versus XIII to XV happened, the team looked at the elements that were intended to be in the former and the plan for that game, and how they would fit into the new plan as Final Fantasy XV trying to preserve as much as possible. Some things couldn't fit into the new plan and had to be altered, removed, or replaced. Tabata has mentioned they are not ashamed of doing this, because they were deemed things that "really needed to be changed."[71]

Final Fantasy Versus XIII was designed with elements from Fabula Nova Crystallis in mind. Thus the developers felt it better to keep the elements and incorporate them in a very natural way, as removing them would lose a lot of the world and its attraction. Final Fantasy XV, however, does not use the lore-specific terminology from Final Fantasy XIII so that people wouldn't confuse it being a part of the Final Fantasy XIII world and thus lose some of the identity as Final Fantasy XV,[71] and eventually Square Enix stopped associating the game with the subseries altogether.[4]

Tabata has described the situation with Final Fantasy XV as unique, and that he had learned that releasing information about a game early, as was the case with Final Fantasy Versus XIII—a game that never really took shape—forms a different view by the world to what the developers themselves think. The moment it goes out the information stops being just a thing for the developers, but becomes something for the fans who form attachments to things like characters, such as Stella, who was ultimately replaced for Final Fantasy XV. He said that handling the way people relate to the released information is something that will be important for the future.[71]

Development to different gaming platformsEdit

Stella

Stella in the PS3 environment.

At E3 2013 it was said that until a year before the developers were making the game for then current-generation consoles as well, but this was abandoned when it became clear next-generation consoles would have superior quality.[46] Tetsuya Nomura commented that the way of developing games in general has changed and that before, when going multi-platform, a game would be fit to one console's specifications and would be evened out to other consoles, but said he didn't want to make a game that compromises quality.[46] Using a different development method, Nomura chose not to look at consumer consoles to meet their specifications.[46]

The shift in platform had several reasons. The lifespan of the current generation of consoles was starting to pose a problem, as if Square Enix was late entering the next generation, other companies would have had more time to research developing for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and releasing the game against their products on the older generation could have caused Square to look inferior.[74] Nomura also thought they had hit the wall with the power offered by PlayStation 3 due to limitations of having a seamless world and simultaneously having all required actions always available in the memory; world map sized maps that can have elements change and be destroyed during battles, the myriad of weapons, party members' individual actions, magic spells, monsters on a large map, light sourcing, physics, filters and other graphical elements; and that to fully realize his vision they would need to shift the project to the next generation of consoles.[74]

Square Enix is developing Final Fantasy XV on DirectX 11, which is not based on either the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One, letting the team develop full-spec without worrying about individual platforms, then port it to each console in the most appropriate way.[74] The original Final Fantasy XV runs on a high-spec PC, and how close a console gets to the original depends on its specs.[74] Nomura has explained the idea is to keep the options open in case a console comes out in the future that can recreate the original. It is the opposite approach from Square Enix's previous "multiplatform" projects, which were based on the specs of a single console and then ported to other platforms.[75] Nomura even mentioned the possibility of bringing Final Fantasy XV out on high-end PCs if there was ever enough demand.[74]

Hajime Tabata worked both as director of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD and director for Final Fantasy XV. The decision to release the former for PlayStation 4 and XBox One was in part because Square wanted to push the install-base for the consoles to ensure the success of Final Fantasy XV in turn, in Japan as well as overseas.[56]

The game is primarily being developed for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but after the game is out, the team will consider a PC port where things like running the game at 60fps would be possible.[76]

VR support was experimented with for a section of the game. However, it was dropped, as, according to Tabata, "we didn’t feel that having that headset on for the entirety of the game and that experience would match what we were aiming for with XV," and that the player would have worn the headset for hours.[77]

GameplayEdit

The game takes place in a seamless open world. Though the player is free to explore, the game was designed around clear objectives so players would not wander into the world haphazardly. The game is balanced to ideally satisfy fans who like traditional Final Fantasy storytelling for a feel of following an epic story.[19]

When making the transition from a Nomura-led project to a Tabata-led one, the two directors discussed the game with Tabata feeling it should be more realistic. "For example, when you're battling a really strong boss like a behemoth, if you go at it from just the front you're going to get hit with his counter-attacks. You have to think about baiting it to attack forward, but then break its stance and attack it from the side. I wanted to make it so you're fighting a real animal, but with easy-to-manipulate controls as well as dramatic effects. My basis was to keep it grounded in reality."[60]

Tabata wanted to make the game accessible for a broad audience, so both casual and hardcore gamers would find something to enjoy. For example, the party's car can be set to autopilot, or it can be driven manually. The idea of streamlining was used when designing the combat system, made into "a one-button action" with the AI intuitively outputting an action that gives instant player gratification. The idea was not to design a game that requires frantic button pushing, but that still has depth.[60] Despite striving for a game "anyone can immediately be able to play", the game as a whole is said not to be casual, even if it has basic controls.[13]

When the Episode Duscae demo the polarization between two different expectations towards gameplay came clear: the classic Japanese RPG style where people expect to grind on weaker monsters to become strong enough to take on harder enemies, and the Western action game-based style that emphasizes skill to take down harder enemies. Tabata wants Final Fantasy XV to appeal to both of groups while recognizing this is difficult to achieve and doing it half-heartedly would lead to gameplay that doesn't appeal to either group.[78]

FinalFantasyVersusXIII combat 3

Old footage of a player-controlled Prompto.

Previously it had been said players would be able to switch characters on the fly, allowing the opportunity to create multi-character combos, but although it was shown in the E3 2013 trailer, in its current specifications Final Fantasy XV does not allow the player to switch the playable character, allowing direct control of only Noctis. The development team looked into an "Active Cross Battle system" that made free use of attack, guard, and co-op functions, but as a result concluded that changing characters would be too difficult.[13] Early footage showed a third person aiming mode for firearms, exclusive to Prompto, and the player being able to control mechanic structures, such as tanks or robots. The old footage depicted a menu titled "EX Arts," but it has been absent since the 2013 gameplay demonstrations.

It was originally envisioned players could climb onto large enemies to reach their weak points, and to take down specific parts.[79] However, there is currently no plans to include a mechanic where monsters' body parts can be defeated individually.[25]

Originally it had been planned only Noctis would use magic in battle as per game lore but it was changed so all party members could wield it to make the battles more fun.[12] In Jump Festa 2015 it was mentioned the magic system has a prototype as the battle system exists, but its polishing had been delegated to the later stages of development.[80]

The 3rd Birthday, a PlayStation Portable action game also directed by Hajime Tabata, has an Overdrive function where the player could switch position quickly with another character. Tabata drew on that idea for Final Fantasy XV and it can be utilized strategically. He also drew ideas from The 3rd Birthday for the cover system.[81]

Visuals and Art DirectionEdit

Noctis-rendered-FFXV

Final Fantasy XV uses Square Enix's Luminous Studio game engine. There are about 5,000,000 polygons per frame with each character made up of at max 100,000 polygons. The inner hair alone has about 20,000 polygons, which is five times the previous generation. Character models have around 600 bones, roughly 10-12 times greater than what was seen previous generation.[15] About 150 bones are for the face, 300 for hair and clothes, and 150 for the body. There is a bone-based physical simulation technology applied so that clothing reacts to the body's movements.[82]

The capacity of just one character's textures is about 30 megabytes. The team are using 2048×2048 texels and 4096×4096 texels for HD textures. The game's resolution is 1920 x 1080 pixels (1080p), with a target of 30fps frame rate.[82]

The modernistic art direction for Final Fantasy XV derives inspiration from real world locations, as opposed to the more fantasy-futuristic feel of Final Fantasy XIII. The cars driven in the game resemble modern cars rather than the various fantasy vehicles utilized in Final Fantasy XIII and the main characters' clothes are designed by the clothing brand Roen rather than being designed by Nomura. In its strive for a more corporeal-looking world, the style is somewhat reminiscent of Final Fantasy VIII, although darker and more monochromatic. While the beginning of the game takes place in a more contemporary setting, as the story progresses the player will find various fantasy environments and atmospheres similar to what past titles like Final Fantasy VII did.

Knowledge gained from the development of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD and a canned Final Fantasy Type-0 sequel[83] is being used in the development of Final Fantasy XV. The art division was flattened and made less section-based and more task based allowing for more collaboration and feedback from multiple disciplines. The new team went on trips in small groups, undertaking activities like mountain climbing, cave exploring and visiting a zoo to get practical references to draw upon. The challenge of Final Fantasy XV has been said to lie with setting the fantasy within the boundaries of reality as the team wants the world to feel simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar. The towns are designed to walk a balance between delivering a culture shock while still being rooted in familiar culture; the depiction of 2015 in Back to the Future II has been mentioned as inspiration for this style.[66]

This goal required a lot of resources that had to be allocated, or even outsourced. A lot of the game's architecture and feel was inspired by the area surrounding Square Enix's old office in Kyoto and to test the fantasy against the reality, Yusuke Naora painted over a number of photographs taken around Kyoto to see how well the balance would feel.[84]

After the party's final designs were unveiled people compared their looks to a boy band. The developers found it intriguing and Tabata looked into it, coming to understand why some people thought it. He found the feedback valuable, and lamented that Western-style focus testing even on small aspects of a game would be a valuable tool to discern what players want. He said there were not going to be changes to the character designs, but they would aim to dispel the image of "a bunch of pretty guys out on a trip, having fun," and focus on portraying the party as living characters with internal monologues and psychology to show they are "proper characters within a proper story, rather than just this stylized image."[78]

Accordo-at-night-FFXV

Accordo from the TGS14 trailer.

With the improved processing power of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the need for prerendered cutscenes is diminished and thus Final Fantasy XV is set to have fewer prerendered cutscenes than many of its main series predecessors. Former director Tetsuya Nomura has commented that even in considerably dynamic scenes, the player will be in control of their character, and cited the scene where Leviathan is rioting through the city as an example.[85] In Gamescom 2015 Hajime Tabata revealed that conversations had begun about a collaboration between Avalanche Studios to use Just Cause 3 tech in Final Fantasy XV to achieve a vertical element to help implement airships that could fly around in full-scale.[86]

One of the concepts of the game's graphic design is to keep the original monster designs by Yoshitaka Amano from the previous titles and to adapt them in a realistic way.[17] However, director Hajime Tabata has mentioned that in creating a new game, throwing in familiar elements just to please the fans gives an impression of shallowness. Thus, Tabata thinks carefully how Final Fantasy icons apply to the setting and ensures they are included there because they are necessary.[61]

There is a difference with Final Fantasy XV and what Final Fantasy Versus XIII had tried to depict in regards to gory content. This is not just in relation to ratings restrictions, but in relation of what the team wants to do with Final Fantasy XV on its own. Trying to work within the ratings restrictions changed how the team was proceeding with the game in many ways, such as thinking about a menu where the player could choose how much blood would be shown, or a DLC for a different rating. Despite the ratings restrictions Tabata is planning for shocking moments where brutal scenes are necessary.[87]

The team places emphasis on graphical fidelity and having the best technology because it is used to tell the story.[78]

StoryEdit

Kazushige Nojima wrote the original Final Fantasy Versus XIII scenario and the plot developed during the Versus era served as the basis for the Final Fantasy XV story. The new development team led by Saori Itamuro would adapt Nojima's draft into a more detailed script. Nojima has expressed his support and said he would be waiting for the game to be completed.[68]

The theme of the story is said to be "a road trip" and adventure focusing on brotherhood.[56] Though Noctis is the main character, the party itself, that includes Noctis's friends, could be treated as main characters in all scenes of the game.[19] Tabata has said that an all-male party is approachable for players as even the presence of a female would change their behavior. To give the most natural feeling, having the main party the same gender made sense.[88]

The world might be ready to see the curtain lifted on what boys do when girls aren't around, when they come out of the tent all prim and proper. That's kind of the idea behind it… we think, male or female player, that everyone will feel a certain connection and bond with the four characters.[88]
—Hajime Tabata

Noctis and Luna's story is said to be "not a generic love story" and the characters' childhoods were be used to deepen the story and help players feel more for the characters in the game.[89] The game starts grounded with locations based on reality but further in will become more fantastic and otherworldly akin to previous Final Fantasy.[71]

Tetsuya Nomura said that because he designed his game to have a modern setting and a story focused on human drama, he chose not to use the names in the mythos, such as "l'Cie", instead using the concepts behind the terms and not directly referring to the mythos as Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Type-0 did.[90] Tabata agrees with the sentiment from the point of view of making the game more accessible, and has explained the development feels that the history of Final Fantasy hinders new people getting into the series.[78]

Director Hajime Tabata has cited the ending of Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, namely Zack's Final Stand as an inspiration to writing scenes for Final Fantasy XV, wanting to capture a similar emotion.[87]

Game WorldEdit

The world continuously changes as time passes affecting player experience while journeying through it with day and night cycles occuring naturally. Weather affects the characters' appearance on the field; in wet weather, the party's hair and clothes get a subtle damp look.[91] The game world is seamless with intention of making players feel all locations are connected. The locations are meant to have an air of verisimilitude.[11]

Tabata has explained that in the most classic Final Fantasy titles dungeons were scary, chaotic and uncontrollable with an air of "strangeness" where something that shouldn't necessarily be there would be found, and wanted to replicate this feeling of "the non-normal" with Final Fantasy XV dungeons.[11]

The sound team wanted to program the environmental sounds to change dynamically through AI control to create a system where the sounds that surround the player shift organically as the environment changes.[68]

The creatures encountered out in the field aren't all enemies. Designer Tomohiro Hasegawa has said that all creatures have been designed to belong naturally in the world, so not all will be enemies.[4]

LocalizationEdit

Square Enix is aiming for a multi-regional game, but the details on this are still uncertain as for the full game there's the issue of size and if it can contain everything (Japanese and English voices and all the language subtitles), or if there will be region-specific versions.[80]

The first titbit on Final Fantasy XV localization came on June 15 2013, days after the game was revealed at E3, when Jay Preston, a relatively unknown actor, announced he has received an unspecified part in the localization of Final Fantasy XV, suggesting the localization for the game was further along than previously thought.[92] In February 2014 further details on the English voice acting surfaced, with voice actress Katy Townsend having listed "various" roles in the game as part of her resume. Townsend's resume lists Chris Borders as voice casting director, which indicates the game's voice work will be performed by world leading voice over production company TikiMan Productions, of which Borders is CEO.[93] Soon after the news broke David Yang, Senior PR Manager Square Enix, confirmed English voice casting has yet to begin for Final Fantasy XV. In a later update, Yang stated that voice acting for the final game had yet to begin in all languages.[94] On December 15, 2014, the TGS 2014 trailer with English voice over was released.[95]

In 2014 the English version of the Tokyo Game Show trailer was the first time fans could hear the English voice actors for the cast.

ThemesEdit

Final Fantasy XV was announced in 2006 as Final Fantasy Versus XIII. The "Versus XIII" name comes into play in juxtaposition to Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels that take place in fantastical worlds that are literally and culturally disconnected (Cocoon and Gran Pulse in Final Fantasy XIII; the different eras and timelines in Final Fantasy XIII-2; and Nova Chrysalia and the new world in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.). For "Versus XIII" Square wanted the world to be different from the original Final Fantasy XIII by presenting one whole, connected world.[11] The game is thematically centered on war.[88]

SequelsEdit

During E3 2013 it was talked how Final Fantasy XV would likely have sequels.

In the trailer, there was a line that read 'A World of the Versus Epic,' which suggests that it will be part of an epic. While Final Fantasy XV will have one climax, as a story, we plan to continue it further.
—Tetsuya Nomura[73]

However, in a later interview at Japan Expo 2013 Nomura was more cautious when talking of sequels.

Obviously we haven't decided yet. We don't have any concrete plan for a future sequel of FFXV, it would be good if we could do that but we can't announce it or say anything into detail for the moment.
—Tetsuya Nomura[31]

DemosEdit

A live demo called Final Fantasy XV: The Overture was featured during the Tokyo Game Show 2014.[96]

FFXV-Episode-Duscae-Logo

Episode Duscae logo.

A demo of Final Fantasy XV came bundled as a downloadable code for players who purchased Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. The demo is known as Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae, named after a location, which shows off the early stages of the game. The demo is available for a limited time,[97] offered with the first print editions of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. The demo was available on the day Type-0 HD releases in all regions, and has dual audio and various language options.

Square Enix is planning a free demo set in the same location as "The Overture" tech demo, and they are creating an extended version of it. However, the plans aren't yet finalized.[98]

Production CreditsEdit

StaffEdit

Producer Shinji Hashimoto
Director Hajime Tabata
Original Concept
Main Character Designer
Tetsuya Nomura
Character Designer Roberto Ferrari
Image Artwork Yoshitaka Amano
Mechanical Concept Takayuki Takeya
Clothes Design Hiromu Takahara (Roen Creative Director)
Scenario Writer Saori Itamuro[99]
Original Story Kazushige Nojima
Music Yoko Shimomura
Theme Song Performer Aundréa L. Hopkins
Main Programmer Takeshi Aramaki
3D Graphic Director Akira Iwata
Art Director Yusuke Naora
Lead Art & Art Manager Yuki Matsuzawa[100]
World Art Director Isamu Kamikokuryo[100]
Monster Art Director Tomohiro Hasegawa[100]
World Map Director Yasuyuki Matsunami
Game Design & Battle Director Takatsugu Nakazawa
Game System Director Masashi Takizawa
Lead Game Designer (Culture System) Wan Hazmer[101]
Lead Game Designer (Buddy System) Prasert Prasertvithyakarn[101]
Lead Battle Designer Kenichiro Yuji
Movie Director Takeshi Nozue
Team Development Manager Yasuaki Nasu

Voice CastEdit

Character Japanese English
Noctis Lucis Caelum Tatsuhisa Suzuki
Ignis Stupeo Scientia Mamoru Miyano
Gladiolus Amicitia Kenta Miyake
Prompto Argentum Tetsuya Kakihara
Cor Leonis Hiroki Tōchi
Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII Tsutomu Isobe
Idola Aldercapt Shinji Ogawa[102]
Lunafreya Nox Fleuret
Cindy

GalleryEdit

TriviaEdit

  • The game is said to have many small details, such as Noctis drinking his coffee "properly" because he is a prince, compared to the way his companions do it.[24]

ReferencesEdit

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