Exploring Final Fantasy 16’s Action Fight System with Producer Naoki Yoshida

When Clive Rosfield takes to the battlefield in the latest Final Fantasy 16 Dominance trailer (opens in new tab), a barrage of attacks explodes across the screen. It’s a spectacle, where the protagonist flies into the air with an enemy, dealing damage quickly thanks to Geruda’s elemental wind forces. Shortly before that, another series of attacks throws fire-infused blows at enemies by channeling the powers of the Phoenix Call. Final Fantasy 16’s combat looks fast paced, frantic and undoubtedly action packed, with Clive reacting to player input in real time, utilizing a myriad of different interchangeable Eikon abilities. Our first close look at the combat in Final Fantasy 16 showed a marked departure from the classic turn-based and command-based combat of older games in the series.

Developer Square Enix knows this shift will divide opinion, but as producer Naoki Yoshida tells me, it’s impossible to appeal to every fan who’s picked the Final Fantasy series over the past 35 years. “Everyone has a different opinion, which means everyone has an idea of ​​what they think is best for the series,” says Yoshida-san. “And because we have so many ideas about what Final Fantasy should be, and what the fans want a Final Fantasy to be, when you try to put all those ideas together, I mean… some of them are extreme opposites! And so it is impossible to bring together what every fan wants in a single Final Fantasy game.”

New Generation

Final Fantasy 16 PS5 screenshot

Credit: Square Enix

Final Fantasy 16 will take us to Valistea in 2023. It is a world teetering on the abyss of war as six factions begin to struggle for control of Mothercrystals and the divine power they provide to the realms. From what we’ve seen of Valistea so far, it resembles classic Final Fantasy: sprawling environments, beautiful architecture, and beautiful skyboxes. This familiar-feeling world contrasts with what we’ve seen of the combat, with Clive Rosfield wielding a combination of melee-based sword attacks and magical abilities in real time with relative ease.

This fusion of old and new is at the heart of Final Fantasy 16. As Yoshida-san acknowledges, everyone will have their favorite game in the series and therefore think differently about the different combat systems, but he also wants to point out that there are plenty of younger players. players who “have the idea that it’s just one of those older series” that may not appeal to them.

Final Fantasy 16 PS5 screenshot

Credit: Square Enix

That, Yoshida-san explains, is why developer Creative Business Unit 3 has tried to “go back to the series’ roots” in terms of Final Fantasy 16’s world build and tone – a more “classic fantasy feel” – while trying to modern sensibilities through the action. He adds that his team “focuses on creating a setting that is reminiscent of the original Final Fantasy games, but then adding real-time action that is more reminiscent of modern games.”

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