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Tabata Teases That Final Fantasy XV Will Reflect Gaming’s Move Online

At PAX Prime 2015, I spoke with Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata and art director Tomohiro Hasegawa about a variety of elements and inspirations that are forming the upcoming Final Fantasy XV. Tabata displays infectious enthusiasm as he chats about his upcoming project, and has no qualms firing back questions my way during the course of the pleasant conversation. There are a lot of interesting hints and takeaways over the discussion that range from Steam, the community, Tonberries, and enjoying regional delights during road trips.

GI: Looking at the new footage, can you tell me a little more about the car elements? Is this a huge element of the game? Does the car level up like a character would?

Tabata: So the game was built upon the idea of a road movie to some degree, converting that concept to a game and being able to experience it. The concept follows around taking a journey. The player really feels the world, experiences the world, along with your companions that you’re traveling with. The biggest point is that the players themselves will feel the connection to the characters and the journey, like they’re experiencing it firsthand. So, the car mechanics follow this in the game itself, but we’re really aiming to make the character feel like they are part of this larger journey – the car mechanics support that feeling as a secondary element. The gameplay will feel much different than typical offline Final Fantasy games in that sense, it’s not just following a story, you’re really thrown into a world to experience it in the form of a trip.

With his father’s car, Noctis and his companions travel around from destination to destination. You’ll have auto or manual controls to steer the vehicle and deal with other travel issues like running out of gas, like a realistic road trip. We feel it’s a unique game experience, as the car is more of a modern, realistic element that’s placed into a fantasy environment; it’s a unique take and balance. The car is really just an item that will help you enjoy the world to its fullest. You’ll be able to customize the car so you can change up the specifications of the car, and the paint job, really make it your own.


Above: Hajime Tabata

Outside of Final Fantasy XV, what’s your favorite Final Fantasy game and why?

Tabata: Final Fantasy VI. A high-level fusion of sci-fi mechanics like the Magitek armor blending into the fantasy world, a cool environment that could only be done in Final Fantasy.

Hasegawa: Final Fantasy V. I felt the drama was very strong, and I designed a lot of monsters that left a lasting impression on me.

Tabata: What’s your favorite?

My favorite is actually IV. 

Tabata: We all like the classic Final Fantasies! The way that we’re creating Final Fantasy XV is kind of drawing upon all the good aspects of the classic Final Fantasy games and trying to create them in a modern landscape with the latest technology. So there should be a lot of elements to enjoy in Final Fantasy XV from these – especially from say, Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI, one of the crucial elements we felt were the dungeons. The dungeons had less order, and you could come across especially vicious monsters. So there were frightening elements to it, you may be in a water dungeon or a cave but come across creatures you may never expect, it’s an element that we loved from the classic games. The amazing, spectacular world exists above ground, but underground anything can happen.

Okay, so we’ve got your favorite games, what about your favorite monster from the series and why?

Tabata: Odin. It’s a summon but yes, I like Odin.

Hasegawa: The Ultima Weapon, because it always transforms and you never know what’s coming.

Tabata: How about you, what is your favorite?

The Tonberry!

Tabata: We’re sort of evaluating whether or not the Tonberry will show up in FFXV. What is your memory  of the Tonberry?

Well it’s just sort of a really strange and unique enemy the first time you encounter it. You ask yourself what is this enemy doing; it’s not really doing anything, it’s just this little green guy with a lantern and then BAM, and someone is instantly killed. Like you mentioned earlier, it has something to do with sort of a vicious surprise in the dungeons with monsters you’re not really prepared for.

Tabata: What do you think the appeal is of Final Fantasy?

I’ve always really liked the combat systems, the summons, the characters, and the job systems. I’m not really a story-oriented kind of guy, but I think the classic style stories are just really strong, especially in the older games, backed up with excellent environments, music, and design.

Tabata: Does that mean you’re more interested in the classic Final Fantasy games than the more modern ones? I’m sorry; I shouldn’t be interviewing you!

I would say that’s accurate, I consider perhaps I-VII to be my favorites in the series, but I’m extremely curious as to where Final Fantasy XV will take the series.

Tabata: In that sense, XV does carry on a sort of a simpler narrative. Rather than focusing on human drama, it takes a step back to draw you in as a player to look at the big picture. But obviously technology has significantly advanced, so we’re trying to add more value to the experience and make you feel like you’re traveling with your companions. XV is kind of a major turning point for us, it’s our chance to make the best RPG with the best technology. So you know, in the classic games you’d play it at home and then you’d go to school and talk about it with your friends. Today, the community has shifted, it’s online. Regardless of it being console or Steam, the importance of the community has changed, and even though this is a standalone title, we want elements that play to the community that they can draw on.


Above: Tomohiro Hasegawa

So what do you like to do with your time when you’re not making games?

Tabata: I like to go on drives! Sort of what we’re creating right now. I like going into nature, experiencing the outdoors, and cooking. In the world of XV, there’s the concept of time. It’s constantly moving from morning to night  there’s a time cycle. So when it’s night you can camp, and enjoy eating the regional specialty. Honestly speaking though, we haven’t had a whole lot of time to do anything but work on this title. There’s no personal time, it will come after.

What’s your favorite character from the Final Fantasy series?

Tabata: Zack from Final Fantasy VII. Post Final Fantasy VII there was Crisis Core and I liked diving deep into his character in that game.

Hasegawa: I like Tidus from Final Fantasy X. I worked on the team for X, and it was the first title that was voiced so I think it was easier to become more emotionally attached to the characters.

So what about XV, what’s your favorite character in XV?

Tabata: Regis. As the father of Noctis, the main character, he plays an important role in the story. Also with that you start to think about the bonds that you may have with your own father. I think he’s turning out to be a really great character.

Hasegawa: My opinion may change, but in the game, as it is currently – I like Ignis. He’s someone you can count on (he’s the driver), he cooks for you, and you can count on his friendship.

Tabata: One kind of unique aspect of XV is that not one particular character is superhuman, we’re taking it as the group itself and that relationship and how they come together – that’s sort of the “main” character, so it’s a new perspective on Final Fantasy. Because they’re depicted so humanly, they’re more believable in that sense. As more story becomes available, I’d like to talk about other characters, but I can’t right now.

Will there be any mini-game such as Triple Triad available in XV?

Tabata: We will have a few mini-games, we’ll be mentioning this at the earliest during Tokyo Game Show. One thing that’s kind of already been communicated is the fishing aspect; you can fish up things and eat them at your camp. There will be something else you’ll be able to play at a facility, and another available on smartphones. Also, it’s not really a mini-game, but you’ll be able to ride chocobos and jump around for leisure.

Last one! Outside of the Final Fantasy series, what’s your favorite game, and why?

Hasegawa: It’s a really old game: Romancing Saga 2. After I joined Square Enix, I really wanted to be part of the development of this game. It’s a unique title even to this day – it stands on its own and has its own characteristics.

Tabata: It’s hard for me to identify one title. Currently, I don’t have a real reason why, but I’d say it’s Legend of Zelda. But there was a time in the past where it was Civilization. I really like core PC titles.

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Final Fantasy XV PAX Panel Shares New Concept Art And Gameplay Footage

Square Enix showcased some new details about Final Fantasy XV last night during its PAX panel, and the full stream of the panel is now archived for viewing online.

You will find some uninterrupted gameplay starting at the 40:54 mark. It focuses mostly on the car driving aspect of the game and includes interesting tidbits like the fact that your car can run out of gas, and you will have to push the car to the nearest gas station if that happens. Additionally, you will see lots of new concept art, as well as some behind the scenes development footage and early work done on the game.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

The big news from the PAX panel was revealed when the panel wrapped up
last night. Final Fantasy XV releases next year and its exact date will
be revealed in March. You can find more on those details here.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Final Fantasy XV Arrives In 2016

At a panel today at PAX Prime 2015, Square Enix announced that the long-awaited Final Fantasy XV will be released in 2016. Square elaborated on this release window by stating that the actual release date in 2016 will be unveiled at a special event in March 2016. It's time to start guessing when we'll actually be able to take our jazzed up car for a road trip, Final Fantasy style!

 

Our Take
It's tough to predict any meaningful launch windows based on this information, but at least we have confirmation that Final Fantasy  XV will arrive next year. After seeing some more of the car gameplay and features at PAX, I can honestly say I'm quite intrigued, moreso than I have been for any other "modern" Final Fantasy title.

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This Week In Mobile: Final Fantasy, Pac-Man, And Giant Unicorns

This week, Final Fantasy fans are in for a treat. Final Fantasy VII released for iOS, and the Final Fantasy Portal app is available for download as well. Rounding out the list, we've got two understated art puzzlers and Pac-Man himself. First, here's the promised giant unicorn.

Monsters Ate My Metropolis
Developer: Adult Swim Games
Platform(s): iOS, Android
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)

Following in the loud, colorful
footsteps of Monsters Ate My Condo, this game is a sensory overload of
neon, screaming children, and fart noises. Players control one of four
returning monsters from MAMC, this time building a deck of multicolored cards to take into turn-based battle. Each color has a strength and weakness against two other colors, and
cards can have in-hand effects, play effects, or both. Attacks are over-the-top
and smoothly animated, ranging from feline-piloted UFOs to supernatural ghost tornadoes. Players can also build a separate deck to defend their own city from other
players. Come for the fast-paced card combat, stay for the hilarious piano
ballad victory music.

The Guides
Developer: Kevin Bradford
Platform(s): iOS, Android
Price: $ 0.99

Perhaps the exact opposite of
Monsters Ate My Metropolis, The Guides is a quiet, challenging puzzler supported by
an ominous ambient soundtrack. Boasting hundreds of challenges, even the first ten I tried weren't easy. There is some real variety, too. Puzzles range from converting a string of binary into a code word to rotating concentric circles hidden in an image. To give more context to the game's myriad
mysteries, there is a separate app called The Guides Compendium that offers "supplementary detail to the primary game."
The developer promises this companion app isn't necessary to progress, though
it might be a nice purchase if you find yourself enjoying The Guides as much as
I have.

Gathering Sky
Developer: A Stranger Gravity
Platform(s): iOS, Android
Price: $ 2.99

Gathering Sky is a perfect example of an art
game, with gorgeous visuals, a stirring score performed by the San Francisco Conservatory
of Music, and minimal gameplay. Taking control of a single bird, you must gather
a flock over six chapters while avoiding obstacles like predators and rocks.
This is a short experience, and the price might be a bit steep for a game that
doesn't have the most involving mechanics. Anyone looking to decompress with
some soothing music and few penalties for failure should consider picking this
up.

Final Fantasy VII
Developer: Square Enix
Platform(s): iOS
Price: $ 15.99

Square Enix has made a habit of porting their earlier games to iOS, and earlier this week Final Fantasy VII was released for the iPhone and iPad. At a hefty 16 bucks, this is the full PC version of the game with a few extras. The port includes an option to turn off all random battles for players who just want to enjoy the story and boss fights. Using the new max stats command, players can make their party overpowered at the press of a button so they can march through combat unchallenged. If you don't want to play Final Fantasy VII with a virtual controller, consider waiting for the PlayStation 4 port this winter or the remake.

Pac-Man 256
Developer: Hipster Whale
Platform(s): iOS, Android
Price: Free (with in-app purchases)

Inspired by the infamous level 256 in Pac-Man, this game turns the arcade classic into an endless maze where our yellow hero is chased by ghosts and something even more sinister. Players must avoid these ghosts, collect special items, and progress through the maze all while the world is inexorably swallowed up by The Glitch. Each run nets you more and more points; collect enough and you can unlock new abilities like anti-ghost lasers. If you thought being hunted by ghosts in regular Pac-Man was stressful, wait until you're outrunning The Glitch while trying to beat that high score.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Play Triple Triad & More With Final Fantasy Portal App

Final Fantasy VII came to iOS yesterday, and Square Enix has a few more mobile treats in store. The free Final Fantasy Portal app is available now on both iOS and Android, which includes access to a free-to-play variant of Final Fantasy VIII's Triple Triad and a limited-time free download of Final Fantasy I.

Reading news stories, watching videos, and playing Triple Triad awards points that can be redeemed for new cards and wallpapers.

The portal version of Final Fantasy I is, naturally, only playable through the Portal app. The free download expires 11:59 PM PDT on August 31.

[Source: Square Enix on App Store and Square Enix on Google Play]

 

Our Take
These past few days have been big for Square Enix in the mobile world. While the Portal app is nothing groundbreaking, fans will enjoy revisiting Triple Triad. A free download of the first Final Fantasy is nothing to complain about, either.

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Final Fantasy VII Launches On iOS Today Complete With God Mode Cheat

Last December at PlayStation Experience, Sony and Square Enix announced a port of Final Fantasy VII for PlayStation 4. Today, we have good news and bad news. There’s a port out today, but it isn’t on PS4.

Square has launched an iOS version that includes a couple of additional features not found in the original. You can completely turn off random battles to hit the story points and narratively critical fights.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Of course, if you do that, you won’t be able to level up. To fix that Square Enix has included a “max stats” option to make your characters unstoppable.

The North American App Store hasn’t updated with the game yet. Based on other Square Enix iOS ports, expect this to be priced in the neighborhood of $ 15.

We’ll update when it becomes available in the States.

 

Our Take
Square Enix isn’t going to stop releasing its classics on mobile devices at ultra-premium prices any time soon. The question is whether you really want to play this now with a virtual gamepad, wait for the PlayStation 4 port, or hold out for the complete remake announced at E3.

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Fans Re-Imagine Final Fantasy VII As 2D Action Game, Release Playable Demo

PD Design Studio, a small indie developer with a great deal of love for Final Fantasy VII, recently imagined what Final Fantasy VII what look like as a 2D brawler, and released a playable proof-of-concept demo.

You can find the game's website here, which includes an in-browser playable version of the game's first level where you can choose to play as either Cloud or Tifa. You can also call in Barret for a special attack. On the game's website the developers wrote about the game, "We re-imagined how [Final Fantasy VII] would be like if it's an action game. Classic 2D Side-scrollers, such as Dragons and Dungeons: Chronicles of Mystara, Streets of Rage, etc, came to our minds. We thought about how we can incorporate some of the FFVII game play elements, such as Materia and summoning of Guardian Force into a Hack and Slash genre."

(Please visit the site to view this media)

PD Design Studio aren't the only ones interested in remaking Final Fantasy VII. Square Enix announced a remake at E3, and you can read our thoughts about it here.

[Source: ffvii-reimagined.com, via Gematsu]

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Final Fantasy Explorers Western Release Confirmed With New Trailer

After some trademark hints last year, Square Enix confirmed today its action role-playing game Final Fantasy Explorers is coming stateside. Square also released a new trailer and gameplay details.

Combat looks fast-paced and focused on co-op, with up to four players joining together wirelessly. In true Final Fantasy form, Explorers takes place in a world where crystals are a scarce and valuable resource. Players become the eponymous Explorers and fight off monsters in search of shards from the legendary Grand Crystal.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

The popular job system is making a comeback, featuring over 20 choices ranging from monk and ninja to ranger and white mage. Eidolons such as Ifrit and Shiva can be fought and later summoned. There is also a system for recruiting and leveling up monsters to fight by your side. Even some familiar faces are in the game thanks to the Trance mechanic. In battle, players use this feature to transform into characters like Cloud, Squall, and Lightning.

Final Fantasy Explorers will be out exclusively for the 3DS on January 26, 2016. For more, check out our wishlist for the Final Fantasy VII remake.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Final Fantasy Explorers Western Release Confirmed With New Trailer

After some trademark hints last year, Square Enix confirmed today its action role-playing game Final Fantasy Explorers is coming stateside. Square also released a new trailer and gameplay details.

Combat looks fast-paced and focused on co-op, with up to four players joining together wirelessly. In true Final Fantasy form, Explorers takes place in a world where crystals are a scarce and valuable resource. Players become the eponymous Explorers and fight off monsters in search of shards from the legendary Grand Crystal.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

The popular job system is making a comeback, featuring over 20 choices ranging from monk and ninja to ranger and white mage. Eidolons such as Ifrit and Shiva can be fought and later summoned. There is also a system for recruiting and leveling up monsters to fight by your side. Even some familiar faces are in the game thanks to the Trance mechanic. In battle, players use this feature to transform into characters like Cloud, Squall, and Lightning.

Final Fantasy Explorers will be out exclusively for the 3DS on January 26, 2016. For more, check out our wishlist for the Final Fantasy VII remake.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward – Soaring Highs Tempered By Tedious Tasks

Square Enix’s first expansion for Final Fantasy XIV is a mixed bag. While it supplies a ton of new content, including some great endgame challenges, new jobs, and a smattering of other fun ways to spend time after you hit the updated level 60 cap, the journey there leaves much to be desired.

Almost everything of substance related to Heavensward is gated behind the story from Final Fantasy XIV, meaning new players must complete a copious amount of story content in order to begin exploring level 50-plus zones, unlocking flying, and taking on new trials and dungeons. I don’t have a problem with that, as it makes sense that new players should catch up on what’s going on first and be the correct level before diving in to new content. What’s puzzling to me is the three new jobs are also gated – you won’t be able to swap to a machinist, dark knight, or astrologian unless you’ve gained access to the new Heavensward areas.

The new zones look great and have a nice mix of monsters, with most of them featuring vertical exploration to take advantage of the fact that players can now take to the sky in Heavensward zones. The catch is that you have to tag a multitude of aether currents and complete some quests in each zone before you unlock the ability. Flight is essential to have in order to unlock endgame dungeons or to complete Heavensward hunts. This wouldn’t be so bad by itself, but having to track down these locations combined with the questing options leave much to be desired in the high level game.

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Fates, which are random events players engage in for experience and other rewards, were a popular way to level up new jobs in pre-expansion content. Sadly on release, Fates in the new zones are being ignored by the player base because the reward yield was vastly inferior to almost any other activity. The rote quests that make up the leveling fare from 50-60 range from bland to absurdly annoying, sometimes going so far as to just have the player walk from points A to B a multitude of times to talk to the same characters. Maybe you need to find moogles playing hide-and-seek. Whatever the task on the standard quest front, you’re probably not having a good time. Trudging through this busy work is frustrating.

In stark contrast, the dungeon, trial, and story content is the most interesting in available in Final Fantasy XIV. Square includes some excellent nods for old-school Final Fantasy fans to explore, from Matoya’s Cave filled with curious brooms to an awesome library dungeon clearly inspired by the Library of the Ancients in Final Fantasy V. The endgame content is robust and interesting, and you’ll have plenty to do even with current offerings – two level cap dungeons, two EX (Harder versions) trials, crafting, gathering, a meaty Alexander raid, and hunts for seals to upgrade your gear to prepare for even more content down the line. 

The roulette system offers endgame currency on a daily basis for players willing to dive into random content from within the entire game. This is a great way to keep things fresh for level 60 players and ensures that low-level players have people to party with as they come up through story dungeons and trials.

Heavensward offers a ton of content for existing players and has many fun and engaging things to do – once you’re at cap. Until then, get ready to run around looking for lost moogles and, if you’re new, working through a ton of existing content before taking to the skies on your warking chocobo.

Impressions were generated by taking an existing story-complete character as a new job (machinist) through expansion content to level cap (currently item level 168). Gameplay was experienced on PC.

You can check out some gameplay in our Test Chamber or listen/watch us chat about Heavensward in a recent podcast!

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