Final Fantasy XVI developer Creative Business Unit III — an internal studio at Square Enix — set out to try something new with the series' latest instalment. The team's goal was to create a Final Fantasy title that could attract a "new generation" of players, and the main thrust of its plans manifested as an all-action combat system.
In an interview with Game Informer, producer Naoki Yoshida admits that crafting the combat system was the hardest part of development. After all, the mainline games have stuck with turn-based or command-based battles for decades. The only outlier is Final Fantasy XV, but even then, its comparatively simple system has nothing on Final Fantasy XVI, which takes inspiration from fast-paced, more complex action titles like Devil May Cry.
"Probably the biggest challenge had to do with designing the battle system and going into full real-time action," Yoshida says. "Instead of going back to turn-based, we said, ‘Okay, this is a chance for us to challenge ourselves to try to do something that the series had never done but that we want to really try to do, and that’s moving to the full action-based system.'"
But what about something like Final Fantasy VII Remake? Square Enix's well received revival managed to successfully combine both action and command-based mechanics, to create a rather unique (and satisfying!) battle system.
Well, Yoshida does bring it up: "There was always the option to maybe try a hybrid type of system where we have action and turn-based elements, but again, rather than trying that and having something that’s not complete and not satisfying, we decided to focus fully on just bringing the action."
The team took its pursuit of all-out action seriously, of course. One of the project's key members is combat director Ryota Suzuki, who had a hand in creating some incredible action games at Capcom, such as Devil May Cry 5 and Dragon's Dogma.
Not everyone will be enamoured with Final Fantasy's move into the action RPG genre, but it's clear that Creative Business Unit III had a vision right from the start — and it appears to have executed on it very well.
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