“Instead of having the same old guys handle the next one.”
Square Enix’s Naoki Yoshida thinks Final Fantasy 17 should be directed by someone new to make a game “with challenges that suit today’s world”.
Yoshida was interviewed by Sony’s Shuhei Yoshida on the Game Maker’s Notebook podcast (Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences) and candidly discussed development of Final Fantasy 14 and 16, as well as the future of the series.
When jokingly asked if he’s directing Final Fantasy 17, Yoshida replied that nothing has been decided yet. “I’ve had the chance to work on two of these, 14 and 16, so maybe it’s time for someone new, instead of having the same old guys handle the next one,” he said.
“I think in some ways it would be good to look to the future and bring in a younger generation, with more youthful sensibilities, to make a new FF with challenges that suit today’s world.”
Whoever ends up directing the next instalment, Yoshida’s advice was “to just dive in and first put down on paper what you believe would be the most enjoyable FF, before thinking too hard about it.”
“Final Fantasy is about challenging what’s been done before,” he said. “And while I’m certainly not looking to pick a fight with the older games, we all make Final Fantasy games thinking ‘mine will be the most fun!’”
As for what direction the next game could take, Yoshida quipped it could be both real-time action and turn-based battles (alluding to a split in the community), or go to the other extreme of returning to turn-based, pixel art roots.
He then replied more seriously: “I’d like to see Square Enix use this gained experience [from 16] to continue challenging ourselves in the action genre, to make what we haven’t made yet, with even greater storytelling, emotion, and impact.”
“Is our next game going to be another weighty, serious fantasy, or maybe a grand adventure story for a younger audience?” he asked, before concluding it’s “more fun pushing the limits”.
I interviewed Naoki Yoshida-san. The YouTube version has English captions. Please watch if you are interested in video game business and/or FF franchise 😀 https://t.co/z00HNTkO5K
— Shuhei Yoshida (@yosp) January 11, 2024
Elsewhere, Yoshida discussed development of Final Fantasy 16, stating it was a “huge honour” to be asked to lead the team after the success of Final Fantasy 14.
Early development began soon after Final Fantasy 15 was released, with just three members of the team cementing the core story initially.
“We were taking on these huge expectations because it was part of a series, and on top of that, some aspects of the previous game were poorly received, so with this new one, we felt we absolutely had to make a comeback of sorts, too,” he said.
As for the game’s theme, he said: “I wanted to use this new Final Fantasy to depict that the world has some hope in it and that humanity has, in the end, a certain greatness to it”. Plus by showing the unpleasant aspects of the world and its people “the good aspects of this world become believable and real”, hence the mature tone.
Sony’s Yoshida was particularly impressed by the game’s Eikon battles, which Yoshida said were referred to as “mega kaiju battles”.
Next up, CBU 3 is working on DLC for Final Fantasy 16, which Yoshida said is certainly story-driven and not just extra gameplay – as the first part, Echoes of the Fallen, has already proven.
Later this year, the team will release Dawntrail – the next expansion to Final Fantasy 14.