“The legacy of Crystals have shaped our history for quite a long time. This line, spoken in the first Final Fantasy XVI trailer in 2020, was real attention. The more we learn about the next main entry in the beloved series, it seems increasingly likely that it will double as a meta commentary on Square Enix’s ambitions for the game. Square Enix and Producer Naoki Yoshida have repeatedly said that Final Fantasy XVI represents a different take on the beloved series that we’ve never seen before. Yoshida recently revealed some surprising news about how the game approaches exploration, and it could be as much a throwback as it is an innovation.

Yoshida said IGN in a recent interview that Final Fantasy XVI removes open world exploration as we saw in Final Fantasy XV. Given the division Final Fantasy XV it’s that it’s not too shocking that his successor doesn’t want to emulate him, but he still bucks a broader industry trend. Final Fantasy XVI draws a lot of inspiration from Western games, which are particularly reliant on open worlds, so it would have been natural to assume that the next Final Fantasy would follow that lead.

Although it doesn’t feature an open-world game design, Yoshida says the Final Fantasy XVI The development team looks to AAA open-world games for inspiration. This could make the game an interesting hybrid, incorporating certain design ideas but not borrowing their structure.

Final Fantasy XIV looks like it will continue the tradition of the Magnificent Cities series.Square-Enix

The team’s reasoning, according to Yoshida, is that dropping the open world will help Final Fantasy XVI achieve “a truly ‘global’ scale”.

Rather than exploring a massive map, players will travel to enclosed areas representing major points of interest. Ultimately, the effect might not be much different from an open world anyway. RPGs like Dragon Age: Inquisition feature several large maps, each large enough to host its own open-world game, but they aren’t actually connected to each other. This allows a game to cover many geographically separate locations without having to make connections between them. Final Fantasy XVI could take a similar route, but probably with smaller maps than those of dragon age.

Removing the open-world structure might seem like a tough pivot, but the trend it’s moving away from only came to Final Fantasy for its latest installment. Not including the critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy XIVthe last main game in the series before XV was heavily criticized for being too linear. Final Fantasy XVThe open world of can be seen as reactionary to this complaint, even though it wasn’t much better received. And so the pendulum can swing even further in the opposite direction.

Final Fantasy XVIThe story of can shine better without the fluff of the open world.Square-Enix

Prior to this, Final Fantasy games were structured in a way that closely resembles how Yoshida describes Final Fantasy XVI. Especially in the early stages of games like Final Fantasy VII through X, you tend to move from place to place without having to play every step of the way. Typically your movement is restricted to just a few places at first, with real freedom only coming later in the game, usually aided by a spectacularly ornate airship. Even then, any sense of a connected world in Final Fantasy is a slim illusion.

Traveling between towns in most Final Fantasy games means navigating a barren world, a largely featureless plain seen from afar where there’s not much to do but fight wild animals that insist on attacking. armed adventurers.

What games offer isn’t really freedom or open exploration; It is an impression of distance implied by a change of scale. Your bird’s-eye view of the world makes it look like one huge map, though it takes less time to travel between cities than to walk from one end of a small town to the other. The joy of discovery in Final Fantasy doesn’t come from having to walk to each new location. It comes from the wild variety of its settings, the thrill of setting foot for the first time in a city built in the branches of a tree or a new side of a city you thought you knew.

A few unique places like this are worth more than any open world.Square-Enix

We don’t even know if Final Fantasy XVI will still have a traversable world map. The action oriented Final Fantasy Origin: Stranger in Paradise removed that convention, which is one of the many things that weren’t well received about it. So many things about Final Fantasy XVISo far, the message of is focused on how it breaks with tradition, and cutting the world map seems like a reasonable albeit risky change.

It’s also worth wondering what open worlds add to RPGs in the first place. Some games use them to good effect, like The Witcher 3, making you feel like the wandering mercenary that you are, with no real home. But there are at least as many examples of open worlds that feel dull and lifeless, nothing more than opportunities to scrounge for crafting materials. Be honest: How much time do you spend enjoying your freedom in the wilderness of Skyrim Where To fall once fast travel is an option?

An open world Final Fantasy could definitely work. Some people (not me) say Final Fantasy XV already done. But when you think of your favorite moments from the show, they probably didn’t happen on the world map. I doubt many people would say any existing game in the series would be bettered if it was an open-world game either. Final Fantasy has always been a series that plays by its own rules and breaks them just as often. If its developers can focus more on the stories and characters that make the series special by sacrificing an open world, I’ll take Final Fantasy XIIIthe slandered hallways of everyday life.

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