Exploring Final Fantasy 16’s action battle system with producer Naoki Yoshida

When Clive Rosfield hits the battlefield in the latest Final Fantasy 16 Dominance trailer (opens in new tab), a barrage of attacks explode onto the screen. It’s a spectacle, with the protagonist propelling up into the air with an enemy and swiftly inflicting damage thanks to the wind elemental powers of Geruda. Shortly before, another array of attacks casts fire-infused blows at foes by channelling the powers of the Phoenix summon. Final Fantasy 16’s combat looks fast, frenetic, and undoubtedly action-packed, with Clive responding in real-time to the player’s inputs – making use of a host of different swappable Eikon abilities. Our first proper look at the combat in Final Fantasy 16 highlighted a marked deviation from the classic turn-based and command-based combat of older games in the series. 

Developer Square Enix knows this shift will split opinion but, as producer Naoki Yoshida tells me, appealing to every fan that the Final Fantasy series has picked over the last 35 years is effectively impossible. “Everyone has a different opinion, and that means that everyone has an idea of what they think is best for the series,” says Yoshida-san. “And because we have so many ideas of what Final Fantasy should be, and what the fans want a Final Fantasy to be, if you try to put all those together, I mean… some of them are extreme opposites! And so it’s impossible to put together what every single fan wants into a single Final Fantasy game.” 

New generation

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Final Fantasy 16 is set to transport us to Valisthea in 2023. It’s a world teetering on the precipice of war, as six factions begin to wrestle for control over Mothercrystals and the divine power that they provide the realms. From what we’ve seen of Valisthea so far, it looks like classic Final Fantasy – sprawling environments, gorgeous architecture, and beautiful skyboxes. This familiar-feeling world stands in contrast to what we’ve seen of the combat, with Clive Rosfield wielding a combination of melee-based sword attacks and magical abilities in real-time with relative ease. 

This merging between old and new is at the heart of Final Fantasy 16. As Yoshida-san acknowledges, everyone will have their favorite game in the series, and feel differently about the various battle systems as a result, but he’s also keen to point that there are plenty of younger players out there who may “have the idea that it’s just one of those older series” that may not appeal to them. 

Final Fantasy 16 PS5 screenshot

(Image credit: Square Enix)

That, Yoshida-san explains, is why developer Creative Business Unit 3 has tried to “go back to the series’ roots” in terms of Final Fantasy 16’s world building and tone – a more “classic fantasy feel” – while trying to drive modern sensibilities through the action. He adds that his team is “focusing on creating a setting reminiscent of the original Final Fantasy games, but then adding to this that real-time action that’s more reminiscent of modern games.”


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