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What Exactly is World of Final Fantasy?

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During the company's E3 2015 press conference, Square Enix announced World of Final Fantasy, a new role-playing game with a chibi art style and an initially confusing concept. What exactly, is it?

Speaking with director Hiroki Chiba, is seems the game is aimed at the younger gaming audience and being developed as a way to bring children into the Final Fantasy franchise. According to Chiba, Final Fantasy XIII marked the moment the series decided to go for full photorealism with its characters and settings. This is alienating to kids, he said, who are more drawn to cutesy and more fantasy-looking art styles.

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"As a new IP, we were trying to figure out a different approach from the numbered Final Fantasy titles, which are going for more realistic visual aesthetics," Chiba said. "[Final Fantasy brand manager Shinji] Hashimoto consulted with me regarding how to incorporate the younger generation, who have distanced themselves from the Final Fantasy series because of that."

World of Final Fantasy is set in the land of Grimoire, where all the Final Fantasy characters live. The two main characters shown in the trailer--Rain and her little brother Lon (Square Enix would not confirm the spelling at this time)--are venturing into the world to battle against and befriend monsters. These creatures have been pulled from all previous Final Fantasy games, giving players a chance to do battle with cute chibi versions of Behemoths and even cuter chibi chocobos. Chiba noted that the monsters featured in The World of Final Fantasy will come from the entire series history, including spin-off titles like Final Fantasy Tactics and Crystal Chronicles.

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At first this sounds a lot like Monster Hunter--battling and capturing monsters--but Chiba said the meat of World of Final Fantasy's gameplay is nothing like the creature capture series. The game will be a traditional RPG with an Active Time Battle system, the classic turn-by-turn combat mechanic used in Final Fantasy games made before this decade.

"The playstyle is like Final Fantasy games before Final Fantasy X, so it's more geared towards an RPG style game," Chiba explained. "Players will be able to input commands or go for a more retro-esque Final Fantasy command system during battles. I want to keep that Final Fantasy feel of previous titles, so there will be random encounter battles but also story-based battles where you will have to fight them to progress the story."

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After collecting your creatures, players will be able to stack them on top of one another in combat for more powerful attacks. "Towers" as Chiba called them can be two or three monsters high, and what monsters you use will determine the kind of attack and how effective it is. For example, if you stack three monsters with the Fire ability, putting them together will create a Firaga spell.

World of Final Fantasy includes two different "worlds" within the main world--one for normal-sized characters and one for chibi characters. The full-sized characters were designed by Tetsuya Nomura, while the chibis were created by Crystal Chronicles artist Yasuhisa Izumisawa. Rain and Lon have come from the full-sized world to the chibi world to befriend and battle its adorable monsters.

"The sizes will come into play in the game system," Chiba said "It will affect stats and abilities of the characters by the size. There will be field gimmicks [overworld events] that you can only do as a certain size, so you'll have to switch between the sizes.

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As for what canon Final Fantasy characters will be joining Rain and Lon, the announcement trailer shows Cloud Strife of Final Fantasy VII fame and the first Final Fantasy's Warrior of Light. Chiba noted that more Final Fantasy characters will appear, including heroes from spin-off titles.

World of Final Fantasy is coming to PlayStation 4 and PlayStatioin Vita. Chiba also confirmed that the two versions will be cross-play compatible.

Alexa Ray Corriea on Google+

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