Final Fantasy XV’s end goal is in sight, says director Hajime Tabata. Speaking with 4Gamer, he outlined a bit of the game, stating that – despite Nomura’s departure – the fundamental game systems are more or less already implemented. He doesn’t expect the game to take much longer after the release of the demo, and certainly not years and years.
Tabata’s plan since taking up the director’s chair is simple: have progress continue with a set release date in his mind. He was able to demonstrate the game at this year’s Tokyo Game Show because of the progress made since July of 2012 during the platform shift. Now, his team will only work on things after much discussion in an effort to avoid wasting resources and time. With this framework in place, Tabata doesn’t expect his schedule to shift in any major way going forward.
The development team is currently around 200 to 300 members, and while yes, this is a AAA game, Tabata doesn’t want there to be 1000 or more staff working on it like some Western studios do as he’d rather a smaller team leave their own individual marks. Tabata joined Final Fantasy XV in July 2012 when then-CEO Yoichi Wada ordered Final Fantasy Type-0’s team to assist in development. It was around then that the game became a mainline title and underwent its switchover from PS3 before Tabata’s involvement was finally announced in E3 2013.
Tabata says that FFXV can be considered an open world RPG since areas are seamlessly connected – although not literally everything is “open world.” The world is vast with plenty to explore. This is related to the game’s focus on narrative and traveling in a car – meant to evoke the feeling of road trip movies. The open environments will not come at the expense of character and story progression, however. While the design documents call it an “open world-style Final Fantasy,” it is not purely such because the point isn’t to just wander off without any direction. The world can be fully explored, but there is still a specific path players need to go down. Tabata looks to Skyrim as the sort of game Final Fantasy XV isn’t. He claims it’s more like Red Dead Redemption in that there will be clear objective markers on the map to keep players progressing the main scenario without getting lost in side content.
With a vast world comes more realistic weather. Tabata told 4Gamer that weather patterns will change with time and weather actually has an impact on battle conditions with different types of magic having different effects based on the current game weather. Using fire on a clear day will not only hurt monsters, but also ignite surrounding area, making allies susceptible to heat. As a result, using magic can also have friendly-fire impacts on Noctis and his friends as well.
One day in the game is around 30 minutes in the real world, said Tabata. Similar to games of Final Fantasy’s past, you’ll go camping and it will be important. Characters who don’t sleep will actually do worse when it comes to battle. After a day is completed, gathered experience will be calculated to show players how much they’ve progressed within that amount of time. Monsters found in dungeons will also wander around at night, which gives further incentive to make use of a camp.
Final Fantasy XV’s gameplay is less about menus and more about playing about 3D spaces with predetermined abilies – similar to Final Fantasy XII’s Gambit system. There aren’t actually any menus in combat. The game will control similar to an action game where players switch between offense and defense to attack or avoid enemies. You don’t select from a list of commands. In battle, you switch from offense to defense and vice versa. The only character that the player is in direct control of is Noctis, however, the other characters will act according to tactics that the player set beforehand. Of course, there will be a screen with settings that you can use to control the entire party to attack or change the various weapons. Because this is a RPG, you can also play more strategically, and during combat you can pause the game into a menu and adjust party behavior, change weapons, and more. The weapon system in the game is treated like a deck. You set weapons on the deck in the menu, and during combat the most appropriate weapon in the deck will be used based on the situation.
The battle will be real time, seamless action. However, you will constantly be fighting alongside your party members. It is an action battle that emphasizes party teamwork. This battle system is a somewhat streamlined version of FF Type-0’s.
Your party members will automatically coordinate their attacks with you. There are many different elements such as weapons or abilities that make it easy to achieve coordination so you might try one combination out and then try another one. It’s this sort of trial and error system that Tabata believes players will have a lot of fun messing around with. Noctis also has the ability to teleport around by throwing his sword and there are existing conditions (markers) that limit how it can be used – though they do change depending on combat conditions. Your party will remain male characters only, Tabata confirms. This has been true since the existence of Final Fantasy Versus XIII and the idea of the road trip movie vibe.
On the demo that will be releasing next year, Tabata confirms that the PS4’s Share function will definitely be in, although he still isn’t sure about Remote Play. Both features will of course be in the final release.