Final Fantasy 15 Director Talks About The All-Male Party and Bringing Type-0 To the West
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Square Enix recently released a demo for Final Fantasy XV titled Episode Duscae, for fans who pre-ordered Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, a high-definition remake of 2011's Final Fantasy spin-off game. Both games are directed by Hajime Tabata, who also led development on Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII.
GameSpot sat down with Tabata to discuss why he wanted to feature an all-male party in Final Fantasy XV, the three pillars that comprise the game, and why Square Enix finally decided to give Final Fantasy Type-0 a Western release.
Lifting The Curtain on Manly Times
Like Type-0, Final Fantasy XV is thematically centred on war and a part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis series. However, the similarities end there. For starters, Final Fantasy XV's playable cast is much smaller. Main character Noctis is flanked by companions Gladiolus, Ignis, and Prompto to form an all-male party which Tabata felt was key to making it feel more accessible.
"Speaking honestly, an all-male party feels almost more approachable for players. Even the presence of one female in the group will change their behaviour, so that they'll act differently. So to give the most natural feeling, to make them feel sincere and honest, having them all the same gender made sense in that way," Tabata said. The game certainly doesn't shy away from the theme of male intimacy, with the party sharing a tent, protecting each other in battles, and holding no qualms about showing open concern for one another.
For Tabata, the journey will have the cast adopting what he dubs a "boys will be boys" type demeanor. "It was the story we wanted to tell and what we wanted to show players," he explained.
"The world might be ready to see the curtain lifted on what boys do when girls aren't around, when they come out of the tent all prim and proper. That's kind of the idea behind it… we think, male or female player, that everyone will feel a certain connection and bond with the four characters."
The Three Pillars of Final Fantasy XV
Back in February, Tabata revealed that development on Final Fantasy XV was 60 percent complete. He followed this up by saying it would not take long to reach 80 percent completion, and that the last 20 percent of the project would "fall into place in a relatively smooth and timely fashion."
While the game is probably closer to 80% completion, the Episode Duscae demo represents the previous, 60% done version.
"To clarify on that 60 percent figure, it's the playable demo that represents the 60 percent, which is what [I] was referring to in February. The main challenge right now is taking all the lessons we learned from making the demo and turning them into something positive to bring to the full game," he said. For Tabata, there are three pillars to Final Fantasy XV which he had in mind.
"In the demo, we were able to focus on one of those pillars and really bring that across to players--you'll be able to see it. But there still remain two pillars that players may not fully appreciate from the demo. As we head towards release of the full game, promotion wise, how we can show this to users what's coming up, and conveying that to our fans, is one of the challenges," he said.
Framing a game based on three pillars is nothing new to Square Enix, as the method was also mentioned by Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn director Naoki Yoshida in an interview. Yoshida listed them as "the great story, the great graphics, and a great game experience."
Still, Tabata remains positive about launching a new journey in the Final Fantasy series. He is confident that bringing the game to the PS4 and Xbox One offers new opportunities to create an immersive experience. "We really think that the feeling of the journey, adventure, and bonding that no other Final Fantasy has been able to do before, we'll be able to achieve that in Final Fantasy XV."
Bringing Type-0 To The West At Last
It's been four years since Final Fantasy Type-0 first launched for the PlayStation Portable in Japan, so why bring the game to the Western market now? According to Tabata, a number of pieces fell into place that made the launch of a remastered version possible.
"Soon after the Japanese version was completed the market for the PSP kind of switched over. We did want to bring it over but it wasn't an option at that point," Tabata said. The market change he referred to was likely the Japanese launch of the PlayStation Vita in 2011, the same year Type-0 was released in the country. In response to the lack of a Western release, fans in the West formed "a large movement" in the hopes of seeing a launch of the game, but Tabata said the idea of a remake only really took hold while the team was making Final Fantasy XV.
"We were underway with FFXV development and got some knowledge of the [PS4 and Xbox One] hardware and realised it was our chance to release Type-0 with a HD remaster," he said.
Making a More Mature Final Fantasy
Type-0 adopts a different, grittier tone than other Final Fantasy games as of late, telling the story of a class of students forced to experience the horrors of war. The opening scene in Type-0 features a lot of blood and death, setting a darker tone than what is usually expected from games in the Final Fantasy series.
"It's definitely a more mature experience than the Final Fantasy games that you see now," Tabata explained, and added that he was "curious how it'll be received by the fans." For him, the theme spawned from the idea that the player would fight beside characters who were born into "a cruel world" that was torn by conflict.
"That was kind of the departure point for the project, and it demanded a more mature treatment. We didn't want it to feel as though there was a wall on the screen and the player was just controlling the characters in the world, but that the player was in the world. To achieve that immersion, it had to take on a more mature tone," Tabata said.
The playable cast spans fourteen characters, a number that had originally been thirteen when the game was still titled Agito-13. According to Tabata, the inspiration for such a large cast came from the traditional Japanese war dramas that were popular and featured several characters.
"The idea was that if you had thirteen characters, each one capable of being the lead, that you would have made a game filled with personality by having that many lead characters present," he explained. Having more characters makes them no less important, though, with Tabata insistent that the game's story was themed around the "fragility of life."
"I'm wondering how the [players] will receive it," he said. Regardless, the Tabata was happy to be able to bring the game to the Western audience at last. "It's really fulfilling to meet the fan wishes," he said.
For more on Final Fantasy Type-0 HD, check out GameSpot's review.