Final Fantasy XVI is the most action-forward game in the mainline series’ history, and while it’s been a point of contention between players excited for this and fans of the franchise who yearn for something turn-based, it’s hard to deny the combat looks flashy and fun. And as someone who’s played a few hours of the game, I can say it is.
While I attribute most of that to how great it feels to control Clive, it turns out there might be some tricks developer Creative Business Unit III learned developing Final Fantasy XIV’s action to make FFXVI’s combat feel even more satisfying beyond the actual gameplay.
“For example, in boss battles, when you have an attack and you may see certain areas on the ground that light up to show that’s where the attack’s going to be, that’s something you might recognize from Final Fantasy XIV,” Naoki Yoshida, the game’s producer, tells me. “Moving to this real-time action-based battle system, we wanted players not to be overwhelmed with what was going on on-screen because there’s a lot going on. We didn’t want any situations where players will be playing and think, ‘Okay, I just took damage. Why did I take damage? I don’t know why.’ They wanted to make it very understandable to players so they didn’t feel like they were being ripped off.”
By creating these visual cues, players can see precisely where attacks are coming from during the chaos of combat.
“It reduces that stress level [in combat],” Yoshida continues. “That’s something from the early stages of battle design that we wanted to incorporate from Final Fantasy XIV because it works well and allows players to know what’s going to happen.”
Yoshida says the direction for this kind of design came from FFXVI director Hiroshi Takai, who, before helping direct CBUIII’s efforts in FFXIV, worked as a VFX animator.
“For him, it’s all about having those effects going on on-screen all the time,” Yoshida says. “He wanted something that was visually stimulating, but he also understands that can make the screen very busy and very difficult for players to understand what’s going on at all times. So [we’ve created] this balance, where you can still have the visual cues and all of the excitement on the screen, but also have cues there so players understand what’s going on. Even if things are going off, you’ll know exactly when to evade. You’ll know exactly where the damage is coming from. A lot of effort was put into creating the system.”
I notice other FFXIV-isms within FFXVI after playing through some of the game’s opening sections during my cover story trip. For example, the icons present throughout the game’s UI resemble what you’d find in the MMO, especially as it relates to main scenario quests and side quests. Even starting and completing missions sounds familiar, with a quick Victory Fanfare jingle that plays as the screen says you’ve finished something.
And, I’m told that FFXVI will, of course, feature puns in quest titles just like those present throughout so many of the scenarios within FFXIV.
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