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During Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata’s "Final Fantasy: A Challenger Once Again" talk at the 2017 Game Developer’s Conference, Tabata mused about what development for the decade-in-development game was like. "I am just a challenger," a slide with a teensy little speech bubble hovering of above his head read. And as the talk went on, Tabata spoke of the game’s numerous, and expected, development hurdles, along with morale boosters (Family Day y’all) that he instated to help the game. By its end, Tabata even gave some insight into the game’s future (beyond those eventual Chapter XIII fixes).
During an end of panel video, there were quick glimpses at the future of Final Fantasy XV. In a blink and you’ll miss it series of clips, there showed glimpses of off-road driving (complete with beefy tires, where you can drive off cliffs and aren’t confined to the road), more grass, destructible environments, a promise of procedural AI, and perhaps most excitedly, highly detailed cats. As in, the alley cats you saw before, but now with markings. "We are currently working on [...] procedural AI and destructible environments," Tabata specified after the short video.
Also in the clip, we saw Noctis knocked against a pillar by a gigantic beast, as the pillar crumbled around him. In the scene, as Tabata noted, this particular monster is able to analyze the player’s patterns and battle accordingly to ensure a more varied strategy by the player. With a new adventure and new targets on the horizon, Tabata said that he’s once more faced with a familiar foe. "A brand new challenge for us," he said.
In an interview with Jeremy Parish for Polygon, Tabata spoke of a multiplayer future for Final Fantasy XV, though he didn’t revisit the notion during today’s panel. The multiplayer he spoke of in the interview was not of the strictly MMO variety (like some Final Fantasy MMOs of the past), but of the avatar creating, lightly sharing the world with your friends type of multiplayer game. An experience that seems more in line with co-op than, say, a broad world with infinite fetch quests.
Final Fantasy XV is not without its controversies. With a change of directors partway through development, the game was marred by its long development cycle and journey from being a Final Fantasy XIII spin-off, to a numbered entry in its own right. During the panel, Tabata reflected on a story from his youth that taught him an important lesson that resonated with him. As a kid, he used to ski competitively. Without any games in his life, he begged his parents to get him a Game & Watch if he won a competition. Unfortunately, Tabata wound up losing in the first round of his skiing competition. But his disappointment didn’t remain too long: the person who beat him wound up losing later on in the competition. "I was 11, but that’s when I realized that there will always be someone better than you," he reflected. No matter what challenges he’d overcome, there would always be more awaiting him.
Though Kat (for the most part) enjoyed her time with Final Fantasy XV, back when I played the highly anticipated game, I felt there was a lot to be desired. When I heard about the game patching in content in the future to helpfully amend the story, I went as far as to stop playing the game entirely (I was around ten hours in). Hopefully whenever those changes pop up, it’ll be reason enough for all of us (both those of us that were disappointed with the game and those that enjoyed it) to revisit the grand world of Final Fantasy XV; multiplayer, offroad driving, destructible environments, smart AI, detailed felines, and all.