Final Fantasy XVI will not be an open-world game, according to producer Naoki Yoshida, who shared new details regarding the sixteenth installment of Square Enix’s long-running RPG franchise in a recent interview with IGN and suggested that the game could differ significantly from its predecessor. Unlike FFXV, which finally released in 2016 following a decades-long development process, Yoshida’s attempt will instead focus on what’s being described as an area-based design, something that would make FFXIV more in common with recent releases like Pokémon Legends: Arceus, which features a partially open world. The producer admitted that he has taken inspiration from triple-A open-world RPGs for FFXVI, however, although he declined to name any specific titles. Square Enix confirmed earlier this month that FFXVI would be released globally next summer, seemingly as a timed exclusive for PlayStation 5 consoles. A PC version of the game is unlikely to arrive until 2024 at the earliest.
“We’ve found in our extensive user research that many of the younger generation of gamers have never played a Final Fantasy or don’t have any interest in the series,” Yoshida said. “To create a game that might excite and resonate not only with our core fans, but also with that new generation, we played a lot of games ourselves, and so yes, in [Final Fantasy XVI] you’ll find inspiration from recent triple-A open world RPGs.”
“However, to bring a story that feels like it spans an entire globe and beyond, we decided to avoid an open world design that limits us to a single open world space, and instead focus on an independent area-based game design that can give players a better feel of a truly ‘global’ scale.”
Square Enix’s decision to avoid going with a traditional open world is surprising in light of current trends, but fans will also recall that Final Fantasy 15’s open world was generally criticized as barren and under-developed (even if the fishing was pretty fun). Final Fantasy 16 might have been an opportunity to address those criticisms, but as is so often the case with this series, Square Enix opted to go in a different direction.
Final Fantasy 16 was first announced for PS5 back in 2020, but despite “basic development” already having been completed, it quickly vanished from the collective radar. It finally reappeared earlier this month with a new trailer, screenshots, and a post introducing the development team.