News: A Return to Fantasy

Naoki Yoshida: Final Fantasy XVI Should Be a Traditional Fantasy

Final Fantasy has not been in a good place for a long time now. Back in 2006 the world received the masterful Final Fantasy XII, which was one of the last projects greenlit by Hironobu Sakaguchi during his time at then Squaresoft. 2010 then saw the release of the thoroughly mediocre Final Fantasy XIII, and then 2016 saw the release of the outright awful Final Fantasy XV, and in the next couple of years we are going to see Final Fantasy VII remade as a Kingdom Hearts game. It has been thirteen years since the release of the last good entry in the series, and because of this fans are increasingly expressing the wish that the series would go back to its fantasy roots. When the series began to jump the shark with Final Fantasy VIII, Squaresoft was really able to pull things back by returning to a traditional fantasy setting for Final Fantasy IX. Fans have not forgotten this, and wish to see a return to traditional fantasy for Final Fantasy XVI in the hope that this will help to reverse some of the questionable changes that have been inflicted upon the series in recent years.

We need another Final Fantasy IX.

A return to traditional fantasy is the only thing that can save the Final Fantasy series.

The good news is that there are already people at Square Enix who are advocating for a return to traditional fantasy for the series. At a recent event Naoki Yoshida, the director behind Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn stated that the company was unlikely to develop a new MMO so long as Final Fantasy XIV continues to do well, and expressed his preference for the next mainline installment of the series to return to a traditional fantasy setting:

For the future of online in Final Fantasy, as a director, what kind of elements do you think Final Fantasy XVI and Final Fantasy XVII should offer?

Naoki Yoshida: Huh? Hmm, you guys are asking some tough questions [laughs]. That’s funny, I thought FanFests were supposed to be fun, but here we are with this super hard question [laughs]. First, if you’re asking whether the Final Fantasy series will get another MMO soon, I think the chances are unlikely so long as Final Fantasy XIV is doing well. On that note, personally speaking, I’d like to see a Final Fantasy that is straightforward fantasy, one that doesn’t have much machinery, and with no mecha in it. After all, we’re having trouble with the Garlean Empire being too powerful. Ah, okay, that was a bad joke [laughs].

Final Fantasy XIV will likely keep Yoshida too busy for the moment to actually direct Final Fantasy XVI, but that game’s success will likely give him a seat at the table when the company sits down to decide upon the direction of the next mainline entry in the series, and there are few better advocates that Final Fantasy traditionalists could ask for in that particular conversation. In fact, this conversation may have already taken place, and Yoshida may be attempting to low-key prime fan excitement for a more traditional entry in the series.

In other news, in the wake of Nobuo Uematsu’s announcement that he would be taking a step back with his composition duties due to poor health, many fans wondered what this would mean for his work of Final Fantasy VII Remake. Well it turns out that Uematsu’s health is on the mend, and that composing music for Final Fantasy VII Remake remains the top priority for him. Yoshida states that he does not know whether he will be able to get Uematsu to write the theme tune and sing the theme tune for Final Fantasy XIV‘s forthcoming Shadowbringers expansion because he remains busy with his Final Fantasy VII Remake duties:

Will Nobuo Uematsu-san compose the theme song for Shadowbringers?

Naoki Yoshida, Director & Producer: To be frank, I can’t give you an answer. There’s definitely a reason. As you may be aware, Uematsu-san has been feeling a bit under the weather. He recently said that he’s gotten better, but we can’t just have him immediately start working after recovering, and there remains a very important job for him with Final Fantasy VII Remake, and as much as I’d love to ask him to compose if he’s in tiptop shape, the call is theirs to make.

Learn to Write Fake News

It would seem that the problems for 2018’s worst publisher are far from over. The problems started at last year’s Blizzcon when Blizzard revealed that the company was working on Diablo Immortal (a phone game) instead of Diablo 4, and then later in December it was revealed that hundreds of Blizzard employees had been made redundant. Then on New Year’s eve it was revealed that both Activision and Blizzard had lost their respective CFOs, while in mid-January it was revealed that Activision had parted ways with Bungie, punching a 400 million dollar hole in their annual finances.

Do you not own a phone?

The best that Imitanis can hope for is Diablo Immortal.

On October 1st of 2018 Activision Blizzard stock was listed at $84.68, but by the close of business on Friday the Activision Blizzard stock had crashed to a paltry $43.41 per share. It would seem that this crunch in share price has hit the company pretty hard, because there are reports that Activision Blizzard plan to announce the sacking of hundreds of employees on Tuesday. The trouble with many larger companies is that they bloat up during good times, and then find it very difficult to downscale during the lean times. As of the end of 2017 Activision Blizzard employed 9,800 people, and on Tuesday they are preparing to dump a good portion of these people onto a contracting industry. This is definitely bad news for Diablo 4. The Western vidya industry is dying, and this author could not be happier.

Never Mind EA, Capcom Has Had a Wonderful Year

Boy, this story has really changed from one day to the next. This was originally going to comprise one half of a duo of feel-good stories about both Activision and EA getting completely BTFO’d, as just a few days ago EA suffered their second worst drop in share price in the company’s history after they revealed that Battlefield V has commercially flopped. Unfortunately, just a few days ago EA released a free-to-play battle royale game which has already attracted ten million concurrent players, resulting in EA’s share price ending the week higher than before its fall – of all the rotten luck!

It is terribly unfair that EA is so easily able to dodge consequences.

You may notice a story about EA getting BTFO’d by investors on this week’s podcast – this news has aged poorly.

Rather than alter this story into a good news piece for a shitty company like EA, it seems preferable to just celebrate the stand out year that Capcom has had instead. Capcom had hit financial dire straits around the time of the PS4’s launch, and this first manifested with the early 2015 release of Resident Evil Revelations 2, which was a budget title split into four episodes. Things had improved by the time that Resident Evil 7 saw release in 2017 to great acclaim, and part of that rebuilding process was accomplished through the release of several high quality remasters of franchises including Resident Evil and Mega Man. This was all set up for 2018.

2018 saw Capcom release their highest ever selling game Monster Hunter: World, which has shipped eleven million copies worldwide. 2018 also saw the release of Mega Man 11, the first new Mega Man title in eight years. Mega Man 11 sold 870,000, and the 2018 release of Mega Man X Legacy Collection has sold 920,000 copies, proving that there is still strong demand for the series.

Januray 29 saw the release of Metacritic’s top publisher of the year, and Capcom came out on the very top by achieving a year-long meta-average of 79.3 across all the games they released in 2018. In 2017 Capcom took the #5 spot on the list, so this shows a marked improvement. During 2018 Capcom released 25 products with a good rating [75% or higher], and 5 products with a so-so rating [between 74% and 50%]. Capcom’s runner-up for 2018 was Sega with a 78.5 average, so it is good to see that a couple of Japanese companies are at the top of the heap, even despite Western media’s bias against Japanese vidya. Capcom looks to have another strong year ahead of them with the Resident Evil 2 remake and Devil May Cry 5.

5 comments on “News: A Return to Fantasy”

  1. I hope that Naoki Yoshida has influence because I’m reaching the point where I’m going to stop buying Final Fantasy games.

  2. More fantasy in my Final Fantasy would be much appreciated, with a return to a turn-based (or ATB) combat system for good measure.

  3. FFXIV’s resurrection at the hands of Yoshi-P was, and is, a miracle. I had to stop playing due to work demands, but I will buy and play Shadowbringers just because I support the franchise. While I feel FFXIV has its share of sci-fi elements (come on, Azys Lla?) it also knows its audience wants FF-style tropes and series mainstays, not a car and camping simulator.

    I honestly can’t figure out Acti-Blizz’s strategy. I understand Bungie may never have been the closest to the studio in terms of loyalty or development, but what other major properties are they pushing out? A Diablo phone game? Another WoW expansion, a series which hasn’t felt culturally-relevant and vital for the past few expansions? They need change over there, but it’s not among the rank-and-file.

    And let’s not put Respawn’s success at EA’s feet. Respawn put out two of the very best shooters ever with Titanfall and Titanfall 2. I still maintain TF1 is the most perfectly balanced and fun-to-play shooter I’ve played since the original Quake. I am not a big competitive shooter player, but during its heyday, I spent most of my gaming time logged in, completing challenges, and regenerating. I think TF2 lost some of the magic by making the Titan models preset “heroes” and doing funky things with map design (Training Grounds and Airbase are fantastic; why mess with that?). It doesn’t surprise me that people enjoy Apex: Legends. I admit, I was skeptical when I heard there’d be no double-jumping, wall-running, and Titans (which are essential Titanfall to me). I also don’t like the BR format, but I’ve played the game and it is as solid a product as I expect from Respawn. If EA could jettison Respawn, I have no doubt Respawn would be a success.

    Hey, there’s an idea. Let Respawn and Bungie merge. Two of the best shooter developers out there making cool sci-fi shooters without idiot publisher interference.

  4. While fantasy is also my preferred aesthetic for Final Fantasy games, it seems to be a coincidental departure. I actually adore the world of XIII (both in terms of art and concept) and while I love the battle system, everything else is a disaster. It’s weird, I think that XV is less shitty than XIII from an objective perspective but I would still take XIII any day because at least it *felt* like a Final Fantasy game in the way that VIII does. It’s a very distinct object that is easy to accept or reject and have plenty of conversations orbit around it. XV is just sorta there. I beat it. I platinum’d it. But I don’t ever think about it.

    But maybe something as apparently simple as changing the aesthetic would also cause a mindset shift too. I’d rather hate a Final Fantasy game than nothing it.

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