Final Fantasy XV’s Map Is One Giant, Connected Land Mass
Those road trip memes weren't far off.
Final Fantasy XV, the highly-anticipated next entry in the Final Fantasy franchise, is set in a world with one giant land mass, meaning players can stick to the ground and walk, train, or drive across the entire world.
In a recent interview, director Hajime Tabata told GameSpot that the idea was to make players really feel all locations in the game are connected--so they were connected, literally. This idea feeds back into something shown earlier on in XV’s development: a trailer beginning with the phrase, "This is a fantasy based on reality."
"The towns and the cultural references that you see throughout the world, you’ll get a sense of realistic towns and cultures," Tabata said. "That’s one aspect that has remained since the title was first named Versus XIII.
"The first town that was showcased was based on Shinjuku in Japan, and one area we showed in December [in the most recent trailer] was based on Havana in Cuba," he explained. "And the other watery town we showed is based on Venice. So those are some cultural references that have been made within the game."
So the trailer we saw last September featuring four main characters on a road trip is not far off from what we’ll be seeing in the main game. Yes, you can choose to drive everywhere, if you so choose.
"The world is connected by continuous land," Tabata said. "If those areas were disconnected, it would feel distant from reality. You’ll find that you’ll be able to walk or drive or take a train and travel through this world seamlessly. I feel you’ll be able to experience something similar to a real trip."
Final Fantasy XV was announced in 2006 as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, and it’s here that the "Versus XIII" name comes into play. Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels, XIII-2 and Lightning Returns, take place on a planet and its orbiting satellite, two fantastical worlds that are literally and culturally disconnected. This time, for Versus XIII, now XV, Tabata said Square Enix wanted the world to be different from the original Final Fantasy XIII, it’s complete opposite in presenting one whole, connected world.
But does that mean there will be no airships--a franchise staple--in Final Fantasy XV?
"To be completely honest, that’s still to be determined," Tabata said. "But the development team does understand that this is something everyone is looking forward to. It is a huge technical challenge; as mentioned earlier, all areas are connected. We are trying to tackle that challenge. So at the moment we can’t say yes, they will be included, but we do want to and we’re ready to take on that challenge and see what can be done."
Also different from the Final Fantasy XIII games---and spin-off title Final Fantasy Type-0--are the l’Cie, humans with powers assigned duties by higher beings in power. In Final Fantasy XIII, they were strange, sometimes half-mechanical demigods. In Type-0, they are people chosen as vessels to carry out the will of and protect crystals that supply power to four warring countries. These power-endowed beings will not be present in Final Fantasy XV.
However, Tabata hinted that summons, large mystical monsters and beings that have appeared in nearly every game in the Final Fantasy franchise, will have a large role in XV. These summons will be protectors of the planet, guarding parts of the world from annihilation.
Summons will be protectors of the planet, guarding parts of the world from annihilation.
Tabata also noted that classic-style dungeons will be featured in Final Fantasy XV.
"In the most classic Final Fantasy title category, for me, dungeons [were] very scary things that were chaotic and uncontrollable," he said. "In the dungeons, there is this kind of strangeness where something that shouldn’t necessarily be there in real life is existing. That kind of strangeness, the non-normal, that feeling you get in those circumstances, will be experienced in XV."
Tabata brought up one very clear example that we’ve already seen in action: an early trailer for XV showed protagonist Noctis hiding behind a wall in a stone dungeon as a large Behemoth walks by in the background. He also brought up the idea of having a Behemoth appear in the Shinjuku-based environment. It’s this feeling of something not belonging, of running up against "strangeness" in your environment, that Tabata wants to capture in XV.
Although his ideas for Final Fantasy XV sound grand, Tabata himself is humble about directing the latest big Final Fantasy title. When asked how he came to lead the project, he said he is still not sure himself.
"In XV, having very many challenges moving forward, including responding to fans and the technical updates required, the company structural changes… There are so many factors and I’m unsure of the reasoning behind being given the opportunity to pick up and lead the project. But it is what I was tasked to do," Tabata said. "I really believe I’ve been given a big challenge, and in that respect I am very honored for the opportunity."