Final Fantasy XV has had a long, tumultuous development cycle. Initially revealed at E3 2006 as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, the game has since seen a change in ideas, story, characters, and even directors, having moved from Tetsuya Nomura’s leadership to that of Hajime Tabata, who directed Final Fantasy Type-0.
In a new Active Time Report stream this morning, Tabata, who is directing Final Fantasy XV through the rest of its development, clarified that this is no longer the game Square Enix once introduced as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, even though it is built upon the same ideas. You can find Tabata’s quotes on the matter below.
Tabata: “Quite some time has passed now… After we had switched from Versus to XV, the first decision we made was to make sure that FFXV would have a complete, coherent story in one game. That was an important decision—one made at the company level, too. So I started thinking about how we could get a full, coherent story in a single game. And the crux of that was which elements from Versus we could carry over and which would not fit into the new structure as XV.
“So I went through everything in detail, seeing which areas we would have to change. By that time, a fair amount of information about the Versus story had already been released, so we tried to keep as many elements from it as we could. We tried hard in a number of areas. But it would have been very difficult to carry over absolutely everything as it was. We considered what was possible with the new-gen hardware, as well as what elements absolutely must be included in XV but might fall through if not given top priority. It was not easy to nail down what was essential for the story to be contained in one title. Everyone involved was very sensitive in dealing with this, and we patiently debated numerous times, but we still couldn’t come up with a definitive answer.
“In the end, we decided to be as faithful as possible to Mr. [Kazushige] Nojima’s story for Versus and focus on realizing the original story as much as we could. It goes without saying that I consulted with him on this. And he said that if I valued his originaly story, then it would still fulfill his vision, even if not every single element he came up with included in the end. So that gave us the confidence to set our goal, which was to create a narrative that utilizes Mr. Nojima’s original story as fully as possible. Given that, I think many of you are concerned about how the story elements we have already shown for Versus have changed in the switch to FFXV. So I wanted to shed some light on them. There are three main points that have changed from the information that we put out previously.”
Tabata: “The first is the presence of the character Stella. Stella was presented as the heroine to play opposite Noctis in Versus XIII. We wanted to keep her as a heroine in FFXV’s story, and pursued ways to tie her in to FFXV’s design as well, but we found it increasingly difficult to make sense of Stella’s character and role within FFXV. So then we thought, do we want to recreate Stella with a different role and image, or do we want to start over with a new hreoine? And after a lot of consideration, we decided not to include Stella in FFXV. Instead, we have a new heroine named Luna, who has a different role within the story. So we will be talking more about her in the future.”
The Final Fantasy Versus XIII trailer:
Tabata: “The second point is about the crown city of Insomnia, which has been shown in the trailer as the opening for Versus XIII. There was a scene of a party taking place in the castle within the city. Now, if you have been following info on Versus, you may already know this, but there was a sequence of scenes right after the party where the city is attacked by the enemy forces of Niflheim. That sequence has been deleted from FFXV. And there is a good reason behind it.
“Scenes like those had to be regressed because of a very critical factor. So now, the sequence is: Noct and his retinue leave Insomnia, and then… What was it? Then the Niflheim army attacks the crown city. There’s an extremely important reason behind this decision. In fact, it could be construed a spoiler, so I can’t tell you about it here.”
Preserving the City of Insomnia:
Tabata: “The third point is not a change. But as I just informed you, we decided to delete the scene of a party in Insomnia, which is a city like Shinjuku. So then we became concerned that the players who were looking forward to some gameplay in that city might worry that they would be losing that gameplay as well. So I thought I should let you know here and now that we are preparing situations that would involve gameplay in the Shinjuku-like city of Insomnia. We had previously released information on Versus saying you would begin combat right after the Niflheim army attacks the city, but the new gameplay would not fall in around the same timeline. As for when and in what kind of situation the combat occurs, we would like for you to wait for future updates, and play the actual game, but we are working on something great, so I hope you will look forward to it.”
Final Fantasy XV is not Versus XIII any more:
Tabata: “Lastly, as we make these major changes that I just mentioned, there are other characters that we have introduced in the past, like a woman with dark hair, and and a dragoon—a female dragoon. I would like to reiterate that these characters are still in the game with their own important roles within the story, so you can look forward to playing FFXV to find out about them. All these things I have been talking about have been the subject of extensive debate, and were decided with a level of utmost resolve in order to make Final Fantasy XV into the best game possible, so at least in our minds, these decisions are making the game better.
“However, we realize there are fans who had been looking forward to Versus, and can’t help but think that this game is turning out to be different from Versus. So I wanted to take this time to tell you before we start promoting FFXV at Gamescom, that this is indeed a different game now, and that we will be taking steps to promote FFXV to you—our fans—with confidence from here on out. We will make absolutely no compromises as we head towards finalizing the best possible game, so I hope you look forward to FFXV. Thank you for your attention, and thank you for your continued support.”
Final Fantasy XV is in development for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Square Enix have also hinted at a PC release, but have not officially announced one yet.