Set to be released for PlayStation 5 on June 22, Final Fantasy XVI is the next mainline installment of the Final Fantasy series, which follows Clive Rosfield, the protagonist, as he harnesses the power of multiple summons to overcome his tragic destiny. The game is the first full-fledged action RPG in the Final Fantasy series and features high-speed battles in which players switch between the powers of various Eikons, as well as large-scale Eikon vs. Eikon battles.
We spoke with the main director, Hiroshi Takai, about how the game harnesses PS5’s power and how it was optimized and developed for PS5.
As a developer, what were your first impressions of the power and technology of the PS5?
Hiroshi Takai: The two main things that struck me were the size of the memory and the speed of the SSD. I’ve worked with a lot of different hardware over the years, and many have failed to strike the right balance between the capabilities of the hardware and the size of the memory. However, the PS5 is different—it comes with enough memory installed to take full advantage of the hardware. As for the SSD, as we were building the game, I was simply blown away by how fast it was.
The Final Fantasy franchise is known for the quality of its graphics. Final Fantasy XVI was developed as a PS5 game first and foremost, so how did you take advantage of the power of the hardware when it came to the graphics and the gameplay?
Naturally, we wanted the graphics to be the best that they could be, so we put a lot of focus on the fine details of the character and environmental models, as well as the quality of the lighting and the shadows, to really make them shine. It’s really resource-intensive just to render these models on screen, and the lighting and shadow effects are then layered on top of that. We’re only able to do this thanks to the size of the PS5’s memory. Clive, the protagonist of FFXVI, can unleash a wide range of attacks, and the animations and effects for them can all fit in the memory, too. And the way that the game seamlessly flows between resource-intensive gameplay to equally intensive cutscenes and back again wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the speed of the SSD.
Could you explain a little bit about how FFXVI makes use of the PS5 DualSense controller’s adaptive triggers and haptic feedback in battle and exploration?
There are certain sections where the player will have to open heavy doors or lift up portcullises, and we use the adaptive triggers there to put across that feeling of effort and resistance. They’re also used when riding chocobos. The haptic feedback can produce extremely subtle vibrations, which we use to create a heightened feeling of presence in cutscenes. We converted the sound effects used in each scene into haptic data, which let us portray details that we’ve never been able to before, like the movements of the air.
Final Fantasy XVI will be the first fully-fledged action RPG in the history of the series. It’s a bold move to abandon the command system entirely. What was your aim with this?
That’s right, when it came to designing FFXVI, we wanted to see what would happen if we took it in a new direction and made it a full action RPG. We fine-tuned the gameplay so that when you take the DualSense controller in your hand, your every input produces a reaction that you can really feel. One of the main features of the battle system is the wide range of Eikonic abilities that Clive can unleash, and this results in a great deal of freedom in how players can approach battle. There are also the Eikon-on-Eikon battles, where the player controls the series’ famous summons directly, to add to the action. It’s a non-stop, white-knuckle ride from start to finish.
While the details of every Final Fantasy game might differ, they are always centered around a captivating story. The story of Final Fantasy XVI has a sense of tragic heroism at its heart, but could you tell us more about its themes?
When we started thinking about making a game for the PS5, we wanted to create a world where there was no disconnect between the graphics and the story. While it might go to some pretty dark places, it’s a world where that darkness only exists because light exists too, and our heroes go through the trials that they do precisely because they have hope that things can get better. A world where every man, woman, and child has their own sense of what a “just” world should look like.
What other PS5 games have impressed you? From a developer’s point of view, how did you feel that they took advantage of the PS5’s capabilities?
I think God of War Ragnarok is a fantastic game. It’s a seamless experience from beginning to end, and paints a perfect picture of the relationship between a father and his son.