Final Fantasy XVI Producer's "Pride As A Gamer" Influenced New Take On Difficulty Settings

"'Do you want to change the difficulty to easy?' I hate that. I have my pride as a gamer and I hate that."


Final Fantasy XVI is going in a more action-oriented approach than any previous game in the series. To help players who aren't as accustomed to that style of game, it's introducing a new variable difficulty system that is dictated not by selecting options in a menu, but by equipping specific pieces of equipment. Producer Naoki Yoshida said that the spark of the idea came from his own sense of pride as a gamer.

"I'm going to be 50 years old this year," Yoshida told GameSpot, via translator. "That said, I consider myself a gamer and I have my gamer pride. When playing a game, you always get that part at the beginning where it says, 'Select your difficulty: easy, medium, hard.' And again, I have my pride as a gamer, so I'm never going to choose easy. I'm always going to choose medium or hard. But then when you die that first time it says, 'Do you want to change the difficulty to easy?' I hate that. I have my pride as a gamer and I hate that."

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Yoshida explained that he wanted to make a system that didn't put players into a position in which they feel like they're being insulted, so he turned to game director Hiroshi Takai and combat director Ryota Suzuki for a solution. The result was a set of five special accessories--two of which are equipped by default if you choose Story Mode, but all of which are available to equip even if you don't--that each target a specific type of challenge that players might struggle with. One ring automatically uses your potions, for example, while another lets you hit complex combos with just one button. This allows players to change up the accessories at will to make up for any deficits.

"The game still had to feel like you were playing the game," Suzuki said. "We didn't want it to be fully automatic. We wanted to have the players still feel like they're participating in the battles, and not only participating in the battles, but having fun in the battles as well."

Final Fantasy XVI "Timely" Assist Rings

  • Ring of Timely Assistance - dog (Torgul) auto-commands
  • Ring of Timely Focus - slows time before an evadable attack
  • Ring of Timely Strikes - one-button combos
  • Ring of Timely Evasion - auto-dodge
  • Ring of Timely Healing - auto-potions when at reduced HP

That said, there are five rings, and only three accessory slots. You'll need to choose which assists you need the most and prioritize them. Even then, they'll be taking up an accessory slot that you could normally use for other equipment, which the team hopes will gently push players toward removing the rings as they get more comfortable with the combat.

"At the beginning we're going to help you out, but once you've gotten used to the controls and you have confidence in your abilities, then you start taking away those hand-holding ones and start putting in the ones that power up the ones that you have and start focusing more on your abilities," Takai said.

The more action-oriented approach to combat is likely a result of Takai's love of the God of War series, which he also said influenced the structure of this Final Fantasy game. After extensive hands-on time, the action direction for Final Fantasy looks very promising.

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