Final Fantasy XV
|Final Fantasy XV|
|Developer(s)||Square Enix Business Division 2[a]|
Final Fantasy XV[b] is an upcoming open world action role-playing video game being developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and scheduled for a worldwide release on November 29, 2016. It is the fifteenth main installment in the Final Fantasy series, and shares a thematic connection with Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy, a subseries of games linked by a common mythos which includes Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Type-0. It is a major departure from previous games, providing a darker atmosphere that focuses on more realistic environments and human characters than previous entries.
XV takes place on Eos, a world similar to modern-day Earth. All the world's countries—bar the kingdom of Lucis—are under the dominion of the empire of Niflheim. Noctis Lucis Caelum, heir to the Lucian throne, goes on a quest to retake his homeland and its magical crystal after it is seized by Niflheim on the eve of peace negotiations between the two nations. The game features an open-world environment and action-based battle system similar to the Kingdom Hearts series and Type-0, incorporating the ability to switch weapons and other elements such as vehicle travel and camping.
The development cycle of Final Fantasy XV began in 2006, when it was a PlayStation 3-exclusive spin-off titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII,[c] and lasted approximately ten years. Tetsuya Nomura served as the original director and designer, creating the characters and story concept. In 2012, it was internally rebranded as the next mainline title and shifted to eighth generation platforms. Nomura was eventually replaced as director by Hajime Tabata. To expand the story without developing additional video games, a multimedia project called the "Final Fantasy XV Universe" was created: its products included an online anime series and a feature film.
Final Fantasy XV is an open world action role-playing game, with strategic elements. The characters have the ability to traverse environments in a free-running style, which also extends to battle with larger enemies. A day-night cycle and dynamic weather system is in effect across the world, with transient effects such as rain affecting things such as the characters' clothing; magic will also affect the environment. Markers can be placed around the environment to help with navigation. The world is a large connected landmass that can be explored on foot, or by using the party's car "Regalia" or chocobos, recurring galliform birds in the Final Fantasy series. Loading screens are only encountered when the party is entering a city or town. They can visit such locations to rest in hotels or buy equipment and ingredients for cooking during camping. The Regalia can be driven by Noctis, or Ignis can take control, enabling an auto-drive option; however, the auto-drive is not available during night time. The Regalia is maintained by the mechanic character Cindy. Later in the game, the Regalia can be modified to become an airship, allowing the party to fly across the world map. To ride chocobos, the player must rent them.
The day-and-night time system affects the appearance of monsters in the world game. One in-game day equates to one hour real-time, and characters who do not sleep have decreased combat ability. Enemy types, numbers and strength change depending on the time of day. Camping during the night is necessary for characters to maintain combat performance and level up: Experience Points (EXP) earned in battle during the day are converted into new levels during camping periods. Camps form a safe haven during exploration, and cooking in them using ingredients from both towns and the wilds grants character status buffs. The buffs become weaker as time passes, with further meals needed to renew them. Once a camp site has been activated, the player can return to it at any time. Minigames, such as fishing, are also available. Quests can be taken from non-playable characters and bulletin boards for experience and gil, the in-game currency. Items acquired in the world through gathering or combat can also be sold at areas called gathering points.
The game's battle system, dubbed the Active Cross Battle (AXB) system, is a similar spin on the real-time battle systems from the Kingdom Hearts series and Final Fantasy Type-0. Rather than the coursing of a menu interface, the player selects commands directly mapped to buttons on the controller, such as "Attack", "Defend", "Magic", and "Item"; there are also other actions such as jumping. Upon pressing the desired button, the character will then perform the desired move. Key to winning battles is said to be found in maintaining a constant and adaptable flow of appropriate actions done by both tapping and holding down command buttons. The battle scenes are seamlessly integrated into the environments with no load screens or transitions, similarly to Final Fantasy XII. When approaching enemies, a "Threat Meter" appears on-screen: if the player does not run away in a designated time, the battle is triggered and the enemy will pursue the party. A contextual cover system allows characters to shelter from attacks and recover health, or trigger actions with specific weapons. The main protagonist Noctis is the only controllable character in the party, but other than that party members are not fixed, with guest characters freely joining during certain periods of the story. Similar to the Gambit system of Final Fantasy XII, characters can move and act freely while assigned pre-determined action sets by the player. In mid-battle, the player can pull up a menu and change the character's actions and the commands assigned to Noctis. They can also quickly switch position with a character during battle. Helpful actions by other party members such as healing are triggered contextually. In addition to this, Noctis can partner with one character or more to perform combo moves once an enemy or part of an enemy is targeted. Parrying and blocking can be performed, but blocking uses Magic Points (MP) and Noctis is unable to auto-parry, with each parry needing to be matched with the enemy's attack. Noctis can also give specific commands to other party members.
Noctis' available weapons include swords, greatswords, shields, daggers, lances, guns and machinery, which offer various attacks and may be customized or used defensively. The player can select up to four weapons as Noctis' main weapons, which are displayed on-screen and can be freely swapped during battle. In addition, special weapons known as "Royal Arms" can be collected, which can be equipped by Noctis or activated through his Limit Break, "Armiger Arsenal". A special gauge determines how long the Armiger can be used in battle, which can be replenished through various actions such as attacking or defending. Noctis is able to perform a warp, with the distance he can travel depending on his current level. The areas he can warp to are limited, but change depending on the combat situation. In addition to the regular offensive and defensive tactics, mechas and tanks can be stolen from enemies and used against them. Standard difficulty settings are replaced by the ability to alter the speed and tempo of battles: battles can either be paced for players who wish to progress with the story, or made more challenging. There is also a "Wait Mode" reminiscent of the turn-based system in previous entries, where the player can freeze time and select a target of their choosing, allowing for strategizing.
Magic is divided into two types: the first type, "Elemancy", focuses on elemental energy that can be drawn from certain locations and crafted into spells. Similar to Final Fantasy VIII, these spells are stored in a quantified inventory rather than consuming MP, and must be equipped in place of a weapon to be cast in battle. The spells can also be further enhanced to grant them additional effects. The second type, "Ring Magic", can only be used by Noctis, and is accessed via the Ring of the Lucii, the heirloom of the royal family. Unlike Elemancy, Ring Magic requires MP to be cast. The effects of magic are dependent on the environment; for instance, when casting a Fire spell on a clear day, the surrounding area will be set ablaze, meaning that it is possible to harm allies. However, if Fire is cast on a rainy day, the flames will be quickly extinguished. Some environmental effects can be used to scare enemies.
Noctis can also call summoned monsters into battle. These monsters are called Astrals, and include recurring summons such as Ramuh, Leviathan and Titan. They are arranged by class and subdivided into a ranking system, with large summons like Leviathan being among the highest-ranking. Before they can be used by the player, summons must either be defeated in battle or obtained in some other way. Large ones like Leviathan and Titan, however, cannot be summoned underground or in enclosed spaces. The Astrals' actions vary depending on the situation and environment, and each one also has its own conditions for it to be summoned; for instance, Leviathan can only be summoned if there is a body of water nearby.
XV's leveling system, dubbed the Ascension Grid, is a similar spin on the Sphere Grid from Final Fantasy X and the Crystarium system from Final Fantasy XIII. As in previous titles in the series, new abilities can be learned via spending Ability Points (AP), which are obtained either through battles or completing sidequests, and shared among all four party members. Each character has their own skill tree, which is further divided into multiple branches, namely "Stats" and "Combat". In addition, each character also has an exclusive special talent (for instance, Ignis' culinary skills), which can be leveled up over time.
Final Fantasy XV is set on Eos, a world similar to modern-day Earth. The known land is divided between multiple nations, including Lucis, Tenebrae, Niflheim, Solheim and Accordo. Every nation except for Niflheim once held a crystal, giving them substantial political power, but wars waged between them resulted in all but the Lucian crystal being lost. Under the protection of the crystal, Lucis develops into a society based around magic, while all the other nations have evolved into technological civilizations due to focusing on machines and weapons development. The empire of Niflheim becomes Lucis' main enemy; by the game's beginning the entire world save for Lucis has come under Niflheim's dominion. In the world of XV, there exist people gifted with magical abilities, either through a nation's crystal or through other means such as near-death experiences. Among these people are Oracles, priestesses who can combat the "Plague of the Stars"—a supernatural phenomenon that threatens to plunge the world into eternal darkness.
The two main characters are Noctis Lucis Caelum, the crown prince of Lucis and the sole playable character, and Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, Noctis' fiancée and an Oracle from Tenebrae. Noctis is accompanied on his journey by three others: Gladiolus Amicitia, bodyguard and a brother-figure to Noctis; Ignis Scientia, a prodigy military tactician and childhood friend of Noctis; and Prompto Argentum, a friend of Noctis from a lower social class. Other key characters are Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII, king of Lucis and Noctis' father; Cor Leonis, a legendary warrior of Lucis who acts as a guardian to Noctis' party; Gentiana, Lunafreya's attendant; and Iris Amicitia, Gladiolus's sister. Among the central antagonists are Iedolas Aldercapt, the emperor of Niflheim; Ardyn Izunia, Aldercapt's right-hand man and chancellor of Niflheim; General Glauca, supreme commander of Niflheim's military; Ravus Nox Fleuret, Lunafreya's brother and an officer in the imperial army; Verstael, Niflheim's head researcher; and Aranea Highwind, a mercenary dragoon in service to Niflheim.
An armistice is declared between Lucis and Niflheim, ending the cold war that has raged over possession of the world's last crystal. A peace treaty is finally drawn up, and as part of the agreements, Prince Noctis is to marry the Lady Lunafreya of Tenebrae. Prior to the signing ceremony, Noctis—accompanied by his friends Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto—sets out for the city of Altissia, where the wedding is to take place.
Shortly after their departure, however, it is revealed that the peace treaty was a ruse for Niflheim to invade Lucis and steal its crystal. In the ensuing attack, the crown city of Insomnia is laid to waste, and King Regis, Noctis and Lunafreya are reported dead. Now on the run across the country, Noctis and his friends journey to retrieve their kingdom's crystal and defeat Niflheim's forces.
Final Fantasy XV began development in 2006, and was announced as an exclusive title for the PlayStation 3 (PS3) video game console under the title Final Fantasy Versus XIII. It formed part of Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy, a subseries of Final Fantasy games linked only by a common mythos. The game's director, original scenario writer, character and game designer was Tetsuya Nomura, noted for his work on both Final Fantasy and the Kingdom Hearts series. Among the other original staff were script writer Kazushige Nojima, composer Yoko Shimomura, producers Shinji Hashimoto and Yoshinori Kitase, CGI movie director Takeshi Nozue, art director Tomohiro Hasewaga, mechanical designer Takeyuki Takeya, event planning director Jun Akiyama, and regular Final Fantasy image illustrator Yoshitaka Amano. The gameplay was principally based around that of the Kingdom Hearts series, with control of multiple characters through fast-paced real-time battles. Several concepts, including a first-person view and the lack of a heads-up display, were scrapped due to being alien to Final Fantasy. The engine used at the beginning of development was Crystal Tools, an in-house middleware engine created for seventh generation gaming hardware. Later, development was moved to a new environment using a game-specific gameplay engine and lighting elements taken from Luminous Studio, the company's engine for eighth generation hardware. The pre-production period lasted into 2011, with main development only beginning in September of that year.
From early development, the scale of the project gave rise to talks in-company about making the game the next main Final Fantasy title. After the eighth-generation gaming hardware was shown to Square Enix and Final Fantasy Agito XIII received its name change to Final Fantasy Type-0, the game was internally rebranded as Final Fantasy XV. Development prior to rebranding had only reached 20-25% completion before this point. After this change, the staff underwent some major changes: Kitase and Nojima were no longer involved, with Saori Itamuro taking Nojima's place as the main scenario writer. In addition, then-Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada had the production team of Final Fantasy Type-0 transferred to help with XV's development. These staff included Type-0 director Hajime Tabata, and artists Yusuke Naora and Isamu Kamikokuryo. Tabata became co-director with Nomura until 2014, when Nomura was transferred to work on other projects within the company and Tabata became sole director. Hashimoto, Shimomura, Hasewaga and Nozue remained in their original roles. Non-Japanese staff included character designer Roberto Ferrari, game designer Prasert Prasertvithyakarn, and lead culture designer Wan Hazmer. The game's final staff eventually numbered between 200 and 300 people. Including the initial work on Versus XIII, the game's development spanned approximately ten years from conception to release.
Nomura's original intent was to create a Final Fantasy title that was darker and more emotionally realistic than previous entries in the franchise, with its status as a spin-off giving him the creative freedom necessary for this move. A key phrase within this concept was "a fantasy based on reality": the setting was based on the real world, and fantastical elements would grow out of that familiar setting. Multiple areas within the game were based on real locations, including the various districts of Tokyo, Venice, and the Bahamas. The characters were designed by Nomura. Due to his involvement with Final Fantasy XIII, their clothing was designed by Hiromu Takahara of Japanese fashion house Roen. The central cast, in contrast to previous Final Fantasy games, was all-male. This tied into the central theme of a road movie, with the protagonists being friends traveling the world more than separate people brought together by destiny. Another central theme was "bonds", represented by the group's friendship and the connection between Noctis and his father Regis. During the transition of name and platform, many original story elements needed to be changed or abandoned. Among the losses were the original opening sequence of Noctis escaping from his besieged home, and the replacement of the original female protagonist Stella Nox Fleuret with Lunafreya. One of the elements to survive the transition was the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythos, albeit in a reduced form; specific terminology was removed and its emphasis reduced, shifting its role to a background element. This enabled XV to have its own identity unconnected to XIII while retaining many of its original concepts.
With its official rebranding, the game was designated as a game for both PS3 and the eighth-generation PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles. After some concerns about the PS3's continued viability, development became fully focused on the next generation console versions, which were built around a DirectX 11-based development structure that allowed for easy porting to the next-generation systems. During this transitional period, Luminous Studio became the game's sole engine, although a temporary engine environment called "Ebony" was created for early demonstrations and later merged with Luminous Studio. Development of the game and the engine happened concurrently. Full development on this version of XV began in July 2012. During development, Tabata and Nomura worked closely to ensure XV remained true to Nomura's original vision, while its content was reviewed and adjusted where necessary. When the project had advanced sufficiently, Nomura was reassigned to work on other projects including Kingdom Hearts III, while Tabata became sole director so as to bring the project to completion. During development, multiple studios were brought in to help: HexaDrive was involved with engine development, Asian companies XPEC Entertainment and Plusmile helped with game design and environmental assets, while tech company Umbra licensed middleware for use in the game's engine. The initially announced collaboration with Avalanche Studios for the airship mechanics eventually became an in-depth meeting where the Square Enix team were shown Avalanche's level of detail development methods. They applied the information to their own development rather than directly using the technology due to design differences.
The game was first announced at the 2006 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) through a conceptual CGI trailer. Between 2006 and 2013, when it was re-revealed as Final Fantasy XV at that year's E3, the release of information was highly sporadic. This resulted in the game being labelled as vaporware by many commentators, and in 2012 rumors emerged that it had been cancelled. A demo based around an early section of the game, Final Fantasy XV: Episode Duscae, was announced at the 2014 Tokyo Game Show (TGS). It was released in March 2015 as a limited pre-order bonus with early physical and digital copies of Final Fantasy Type-0 HD. XV's official promotional campaign prior to release began at the 2015 Gamescom event, although its minimal showing garnered negative feedback. Its year of release was officially confirmed at that year's Pax Prime event, while the release day was announced to be September 30, 2016, at the "Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV" event in Los Angeles on March 30, 2016. Another demo, this time not set in the actual game and instead in young Noctis' dream, called Platinum Demo: Final Fantasy XV, was both announced and released at "Uncovered". Platinum Demo features a creature called Carbuncle that protects the young Noctis and completing the demo unlocks Carbuncle for use as a summon in Final Fantasy XV. Day One, Deluxe, and Ultimate Collector's Editions were created for the game, with the latter being limited in quantity to 30,000 copies. Due to the wish to further polish the game and avoid a day one patch, the release date was delayed by two months to November 29.
Also announced at the event was the "Final Fantasy XV Universe", a multimedia project designed by the development team to expand upon the setting of XV without stretching it into a series of games, something the team had firmly decided against. A pin-ball minigame for mobiles based on an in-universe arcade game, Justice Monsters Five, was announced for a release later in the year. A five-episode anime produced by Square Enix and A-1 Pictures, Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV, began distribution after the event, and details the backstories of the main cast. A CGI feature film from the same development team as Advent Children, Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, was first released in July 2016. Featuring an original story taking place parallel to the events of XV and featuring notable actors including Sean Bean, Lena Headey and Aaron Paul, it goes into the backstory of Regis and details Niflheim's invasion through the eyes of original character Nyx Ulric. Platinum Demo also forms part of the media expansion, as it ties in directly with the events of Brotherhood. Another extension of the Final Fantasy XV Universe is A King's Tale: Final Fantasy XV: an arcade-style beat 'em up available as a free pre-order bonus through certain stores. It details Regis telling the young Noctis stories of his past battles.
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