An interview in the PlayStation Blog with Final Fantasy XVI Producer Naoki Yoshida revealed further insights into the current development status of the game. FFXVI is now in its last scheduled year of development, just under two years after its announcement in 2020. Though there are multiple months to go until Final Fantasy XVI hits its release window of Summer 2023, Yoshida said that the game is “fully playable from start to finish.”
Elaborating, Yoshida mentioned that there’s much more to be done before it’s ready for the public. Multiple languages of voiceover work still need to be recorded, and playtesting for things like difficulty balance needs to take place. Tweaks on things like narrative cutscenes are still on the docket, as is the “full-scale debugging process.” Though he didn’t use the specific term, the details suggest that Final Fantasy XVI has entered what is typically defined as an “Alpha” stage of completion. Though exact definitions vary, games in the Alpha phase are usually considered “feature complete” with their gameplay systems, technological base, and overall content already settled and implemented in some fashion. At this point, a developer would focus on extensive and comprehensive playtesting to tune mechanics, gameplay balance, and other factors, as well as finding and eliminating as many bugs and errors as possible.
The interview also contained more comments from Yoshida about his and the team’s goals for Final Fantasy XVI. Regarding goals, Yoshida said that when considering what to do with FFXVI, he recalled how it felt to play the original Final Fantasy. He wanted to recapture the feeling of “playing the leading role in a motion picture” using modern game design and technology.
The process of developing Final Fantasy XVI while still acting as director and producer of Final Fantasy XIV was managed by beginning FFXVI‘s pre-production process with a small group of core team members. The team was “slowly and carefully transitioned” over so as not to impact the operation of FFXIV. Yoshida also revealed that the team as a whole is heavily reliant on the work of the Project Managers and Assistant Producers for both FFXIV and FFXVI to keep schedules and tasks organized. Since several FFXIV dev team members besides Yoshida (including composer Masayoshi Soken) are working on FFXVI, keeping things in order to avoid burnout is critical.
Yoshida also noted that Bahamut is his favorite summoned character in the Final Fantasy series overall because his arrival means “something incredible is about to happen.” Bahamut has appeared in nearly every FF game (and a number of non-FF ones) and had an especially prominent role in the story of Final Fantasy XIV as well. When prompted to name his favorite Final Fantasy XVI summon, Yoshida demurred, saying that to do so would invite “a lot of speculation.” He did promise readers that all of FFXVI‘s summons (called “Eikons”) would be “cool as hell.”
Final Fantasy XVI is in development and scheduled for release on PlayStation 5 in Summer 2023.