Fans of old Final Fantasy entries have been worried about Final Fantasy XVI’s action-oriented combat. It seems that the series has ditched the old school turn-based system that the series fans have been accustomed to in favor of action-based combat.
Is Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy anymore?
No. At least not the “golden era” Final Fantasy many of us grew up with. Final Fantasy XIII split the fanbase due to its linear “on rails” approach. Consequently, the series went into a strange rebirth mode after that entry. In response, Final Fantasy XV mended some of the inherent flaws of Final Fantasy XIII’s design.
Final Fantasy XV made a 180 degree turn from FFXIII and went the ‘open world’ route. It opened up its map, but not entirely, as its world was split into areas with clearly defined walls and fences. However, the biggest change was that the game ditched the turn-based combat (customary to the series at that point) in favor of an action based one.
Unsurprisingly, Final Fantasy XVI intends to continue this trend. However, the game’s producer, Naoki Yoshida, says that gamers wary about the action combat system should not stress themselves out.
A Mode for Gamers That Only Want to Experience the Story
According to Kotaku, when asked about the fact that some fans were concerned about the game’s focus on combining storytelling with action combat, Yoshida replied, “We strongly want people to enjoy the story, so we’re preparing a mode for those who want to focus on the story.”
While this does not mean that Final Fantasy XVI will have a turn-based mode, it is likely that an ‘easy’ mode is on the cards for those worried about the game’s potential difficulty.
Will Final Fantasy Ever Return to its Turn Based Roots?
It is hard to say if it ever will. Final Fantasy, unlike Dragon Quest, was a global juggernaut (At least after the 7th entry). The series is aimed at the mainstream masses, rather than the hardcore RPG gamer. As a result, sales will dictate what direction the franchise takes moving forwards.
By sales, I mean actual global video game sales, not just the sales of a particular entry. Consequently, part of the reason for Final Fantasy XIII’s linear design (by SquareEnix’s own admittance) was the popularity of Call of Duty in those days.
Final Fantasy XVI’s expected open-world, and action combat mechanics are an answer to the critical and commercial success of open-world action RPGs. Games like The Witcher 3, Horizon Zero Dawn, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Skyrim, Ghost of Tsushima, and more recently, AC: Valhalla dominate the sales charts.
Simply put, Square Enix wants its AAA commercial juggernaut series to get back to the sales pedestal that it stood upon for nearly 25 years before it lost its place during the last console generation to newer, and more exciting franchises.
A Return to Glory?
Whether Final Fantasy XVI can get to the top, or at least back to that level of relative sales again will depend on its critical reception once the game is out. Surprisingly, no Final Fantasy game has broken into the 90s Metacritic range since Final Fantasy XII a decade, and a half ago.
Perhaps, Final Fantasy XVI is the game that will get gamers and critics alike talking about the series in the same light that we view The Witcher 3, and Breath of the Wild today. Let us keep our fingers crossed!
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