Final Fantasy XV
|Final Fantasy XV|
Logo artwork for Final Fantasy XV designed by Yoshitaka Amano
|Developer(s)||Square Enix Business Division 2[a]|
Final Fantasy XV (Japanese: ファイナルファンタジーXV Hepburn: Fainaru Fantajī Fifutīn?) is an upcoming action role-playing video game being developed and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and currently scheduled for a worldwide release in 2016. It is the fifteenth main installment in the Final Fantasy series, and forms part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis subseries, which also includes Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Type-0. Originally a spin-off titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII (ファイナルファンタジーヴェルサスXIII Fainaru Fantajī Verusasu Sātīn?) exclusive to the PlayStation 3, it is a major departure from previous games, providing a darker atmosphere that focuses on more realistic human characters than previous entries. 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 game takes place in a world similar to modern-day Earth. The nations of the world once waged war over control of the world's crystals, and all but the nation of Lucis have lost theirs and regressed to medieval societies. Noctis Lucis Caelum, Crown Prince of the kingdom of Lucis—having gained magical power from a near-death experience—is driven from his home when the empire of Niflheim invades Lucis on the eve of the final peace negotiations between the two nations. Now on the run with his companions, Noctis begins to work towards defeating the forces of Niflheim and rescuing the crystal from their control.
Final Fantasy XV is being developed by a team within Square Enix's 2nd Business Division, and is the first to use the company's Luminous Studio middleware engine. It was originally directed by Tetsuya Nomura, who also designed characters and conceived the concept and base story. In 2014, co-director Hajime Tabata took Nomura's place as director, while Nomura moved to work on Kingdom Hearts III. Final Fantasy XV started production shortly before its announcement in May 2006. The game's long development time and absence from the public eye gave rise to several rumors concerning its possible cancellation or shift to another platform. In June 2013, it was eventually revealed to have been renamed and to have switched systems from PlayStation 3 to eighth-generation platforms.
Final Fantasy XV is an action role-playing game. The characters have the ability to traverse the environment in a free-running style, which also extends to battle with larger enemies. During navigation, markers can be placed around the environment to help with navigation. The world is a large connected landmass which can be explored on foot or by using a car or a chocobo. 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 car can be driven by Noctis, or Ignis can take control, enabling an auto-drive option. It is maintained by the mechanic character Cindy. To ride chocobos, the player must rent them. A day-and-night time system affects the appearance of monsters on the world map. 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. There is a dynamic weather system, with transient effects such as rain affecting things such as the characters' clothing.
Camping during the night is necessary for characters to maintain combat performance and level up: experience points 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 system, is a realistic version of the 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", "Magic", "Technique", 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. Unlike previous titles in the series, the battle scenes are seamlessly integrated into the environments with no load screens or transitions. When approaching enemies, a gauge 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 can freely join 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 MP (magic points) 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' weapons are arranged in a deck set by the player between battles, and can be switched out manually in real-time. The available weapons include swords, shields, axes, lances and guns, offer various attacks and may be customized or used defensively. The weapons have multiple ranks based on their actions, such as "Crush", "Ravage", and "Counter": Crush weapons are generally meant for opening attacks, while Ravage weapons are designed for multiple attacks during battle. The selected weapon is displayed on-screen, and can be freely swapped during battle. One weapon is set as Noctis' default weapon, and special techniques associated with the weapon can be activated. In addition, special weapons referred to as "Phantom Weapons" can be collected. Activating them in battle drains MP until the meter is empty, but the meter can be replenished to prolong the action. 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.
Magic is divided into two types: one type can only be used by Noctis, while the second type focuses on assignable rings that any character can use to manipulate the elements. Unlike in previous titles in the series, using magic does not cost MP. When casting a major magic spell such as Fire, it affects both the targeted enemy and the surrounding area, meaning it is possible to harm allies. Environmental effects caused by the spell can also be used to scare enemy units. Noctis can also call summoned monsters into battle. These monsters are called Archaeans, 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 protagonist, summons must either be defeated in battle, such as Leviathan or Titan, or obtained in some other way.
Final Fantasy XV is set in 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 Lucis crystal being lost. Under the protection of the crystal, Lucis develops into a modern, technologically-advanced society, while all the other nations have regressed to medieval-like societies due to focusing on weapons development. The empire of Niflheim becomes Lucis' main enemy; by the game's beginning the entire world save for Lucis has fallen under Niflheim's domination. In the world of XV, people who have suffered a near-death experience are gifted with magical powers from the Unseen Realm, the kingdom of the dead ruled by the Goddess Etro. These powers include being able to foresee people's deaths and communicate with the gods, and has both positive and negative effects on those who wield them. Known as Oracles, these people are the only ones capable of combating the "Plague of the Stars"—a supernatural phenomenon that threatens to plunge the world into eternal darkness.
The only playable character is Noctis Lucis Caelum (ノクティス・ルシス・チェラム Nokutisu Rushisu Cheramu?, voiced by Tatsuhisa Suzuki), the game's main protagonist and Crown Prince of Lucis blessed with power from an incident in his youth. Supporting characters include Gladiolus Amicitia (グラディオラス・アミシティア Guradiorasu Amishitia?, voiced by Kenta Miyake), a brother-figure to Noctis and heir to a noble family that has guarded Lucis's royalty for generations; Ignis Stupeo Scientia (イグニス・ストゥペオ・スキエンティア Igunisu Sutupeo Sukientia?, voiced by Mamoru Miyano), a prodigy military tactician and childhood friend of Noctis; Prompto Argentum (プロンプト・アージェンタム Puronputo Ājentamu?, voiced by Tetsuya Kakihara), a friend of the prince from a lower social class; and Cor Leonis (コル・リオニス Koru Rionisu?, voiced by Hiroki Tōchi), a man renowned in Lucis as one of its three most powerful warriors, who accompanies the younger group and acts as their guardian, and Noctis' loyal supporter in respect of the king, who is a close and longtime friend.
Among other characters in the game are Lunafreya Nox Fleuret (ルナフレーナ・ノックス・フルーレ Runafurēna Nokkusu Furūre?), Noctis' childhood friend and fiancée, and an Oracle from the autonomous imperial province of Tenebrae; Cindy (シドニー Shidonī?, "Cidney", voiced by Ikumi Nakagami), the head mechanic for Noctis' party; Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII (レギス・ルシス・チェラム113世 Regisu Rushisu Cheramu Hyakujūsansei?, voiced by Tsutomu Isobe), Noctis' father and King of Lucis, and guardian of the crystal; Idola Aldercapt (イドラ・エルダーキャプト Idora Erudākyaputo?, voiced by Shinji Ogawa), the Emperor of Niflheim and the game's primary antagonist; Cid (シド Shido?), Cindy's grandfather; Gentiana (ゲンティアナ Gentiana?), Lunafreya's personal attendant, and an unnamed female dragoon.
Final Fantasy XV begins as an armistice is declared between Lucis and Niflheim, ending the cold war which 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. After Noctis leaves on the day the official treaty is to be signed, Niflheim invades Lucis and takes the nation's crystal for its own before launching attacks on Solheim, Tenebrae and Accordo. Noctis and his friends now 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 forms 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 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 artificial intelligence designer Wan Hazama. The game's final staff eventually numbered between 200 and 300 people.
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, XPEC Entertainment helped with the later game design, while Avalanche Studios helped created the game's airship mechanics. Including the initial work on Versus XIII, the game's development spanned approximately ten years from conceptions 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 the more independent Lunafreya.
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 official release date is to be announced at a special event in March 2016. A report by GameSpot in 2015 after Pax Prime indicated that the game had been removed from the Fabula Nova Crystallis canon, but other sources have yet to confirm this.
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