Despite recent trends in triple-A design, it seems Final Fantasy XVI will not be adopting the popular open-world structure. An IGN interview with Producer Naoki Yoshida, who’s heading the project at Square Enix, revealed that FFXVI won’t be an open-world game. Open-world games are typically defined as having one or more very large areas that contain most of the available activities, ranging from narrative quests to optional challenges. Grand Theft Auto, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim are all examples of open-world titles.
The previous mainline Final Fantasy title, FFXV, was also touted as an open-world game, giving the party license to range over its maps and uncover quests and challenges. Its map regions were progressively unlocked as players followed the main narrative, and by the end, players could unlock a free-roam mode for both of its main areas. For its part, FFXVI will not be a “traditional” open-world game but will take inspiration from existing titles that are. Without naming specific games, Yoshida noted that Square Enix’s user research shows that many younger players have never played any Final Fantasy titles and that one of their goals in designing Final Fantasy XVI is to “excite and resonate not only with [their] core fans, but also with that new generation.”
To that end, and also to tell a story that feels “like it spans an entire globe and beyond,” the team is structuring FFXVI based less on an open-world’s single area. Instead, it’ll focus on an “independent area-based” design. This should give players a better sense of a game with events on a “global” scale. This could mean that FFXVI‘s world of Valisthea might have smaller playable areas or more linear stages and maps based on each of its in-game nations. These nations, revealed back in October, are called The Grand Duchy of Rosaria, The Holy Empire of Sanbreque, The Kingdom of Waloed, The Dhalmekin Republic, The Iron Kingdom, and The Crystalline Dominion. The protagonist Clive is from Rosaria.
Final Fantasy XVI is in development and targeted for release on PS5 in Summer 2023. Check out the game’s first full trailer here.