Hajime Tabata on Final Fantasy XV's DLC, Chapter 13: "This Won't Be a Completely Different Game"

FFXV's director offers some insight into the game's unconventional downloadable content scheme (and who is FFXV's best boy).

News by Jeremy Parish, .

Last month, Square Enix announced its plans for Final Fantasy XV updates going forward, and they're quite comprehensive. They look to encompass both the mundane (booster packs and other play enhancements to ease players through the adventure) as well as more ambitious material (entire playable scenarios focusing on Noctis' companions Ignis, Gladiolus, and Prompto).

Everyone has a story.

We reached out to director Hajime Tabata to learn a little more about the thinking behind FFXV's sweeping expansions, which greatly exceed the sort of additions we've come to expect for any single-player role-playing game not developed by Bethesda. While ongoing content pushes should be nothing new to fans of multiplayer Final Fantasy titles — A Realm Reborn completely reinvented Final Fantasy XIV, top to bottom — it's an atypical approach for a single-player, story-driven game like FFXV. By this point, most die-hard fans will have already finished the game... so what's the point, many ask?

Tabata acknowledges the uncertainty surrounding the DLC plan. "The reason it sparked debate was probably because we announced that we will continue to update a single-player game," he says. "This model has not been fully established yet. The fans who have grown accustomed to playing traditional Final Fantasy games may feel uneasy about this unfamiliar initiative. That said, I personally believe the approach to updating single-player games, as we are doing with this title, will continue on in the future as a new trend."

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He also offered clarification on how the team and company are approaching future FFXV updates. "The updates and DLCs should be considered as two separate types of content," Tabata explains. "While updates enhance the main game and will be offered for free, DLCs provide new ways to enjoy the game and will be offered as paid content."

"The development team worked extremely hard around the clock to finish the development of FFXV, and the game has been well received from both media and consumers since its release. From the get-go, we wanted to continuously update the game after it releases, so we can further enrich the already complete FFXV experience. We also wanted to make sure that players can enjoy the game for an extended period of time. The updated roadmap, which was announced at the end of last year, includes plans that existed before the launch of the game, as well as our response to some of the feedback we received from players after the launch of the game."

Perhaps the most dramatic revision FFXV will be seeing consists of a top-to-bottom overhaul of the game's controversial chapter 13. Set in the "linear" back half of the game, FFXV's chapter 13 introduced a significant change in play format — an unusual twist coming so late in the game. It has proven wildly unpopular with players; the kindest critique I've seen of that section of the game has been a sort of academic fascination with how radically it changes the objectives and rules of play, albeit to the game's detriment. Generally, the prevailing sentiment (even among FFXV fans) seems to be that chapter 13 is emblematic of the game's challenging development cycle and slipped through play testing, with the upcoming revision representing the intended "finished" version of that section.

That's not the case, Tabata says. "The direction of chapter 13’s content was a deliberate decision made from the development team."

"That said, the amount of stress inflicted on the player while running through this chapter was greater than we had anticipated. We believe resolving this issue will naturally lead to a better gameplay experience."

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Tabata also stresses that these running changes do not, in his view, represent a compromise to the creators' intentions. "When it comes to the overall playability of the game and not the main plot, updating the game while receiving player feedback will not make the game inconsistent to the development team’s vision," he explains. "We do not intend on making this a completely different game from what was already delivered to the players. We are making changes in order to deliver a further enhanced gameplay experience for those who have purchased and played the game, but this is not necessarily limited to Chapter 13.

"Our main objective is to relieve any unintentional stress to the player and add elements that will expand the breadth of gameplay. Furthermore, the story will be easier to comprehend as we strengthen the connection of events surrounding this chapter. Please wait a little while longer until we announce more details regarding the updates."

Finally, given the focus on Noctis' friends in the upcoming DLC releases, we asked Tabata to weigh in on the internet's greatest FFXV debate: Which boy is best boy?

*hint hint*

"It is very difficult for me to select the 'best boy," he laughed.

"It goes to show how much I insisted we create the four characters as a team from the start to the end. As a result, I think each character is charming and likeable in their own way. But because of this, I am also now unable to select the 'best boy' [laughs]."

So in the end, FFXV's best boy is the best boy you select... in your heart.

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Comments 23

  • Avatar for ArdeaAbe #1 ArdeaAbe A year ago
    I'm pretty excited for the DLC on this game. I had a hell of a time playing FFXV.

    I didn't think Chapter 13 was too bad. The gameplay shift seemed designed to create feelings of unease and discontent in the player and I feel it did that well. If anything I feel it may have been a bit long.
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  • Avatar for benjaminlu86 #2 benjaminlu86 A year ago
    So what you're saying is that Prompto is unequivocally the best boy.
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #3 jeremy.parish A year ago
    @benjaminlu86 We all know it's true.
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  • Avatar for link6616 #4 link6616 A year ago
    Prompto maybe best boy... But ignis is best man.
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  • Avatar for KaiserWarrior #5 KaiserWarrior A year ago
    Hearing that Chapter 13 is apparently what they wanted it to be on launch is... deeply disappointing.

    The "stress" felt by players during Chapter 13 was not a result of the sudden change of play mechanics, although that contributed certainly. It was a result of Chapter 13 being a buggy, rushed mess of a chapter that very, very clearly did not undergo thorough playtesting or even a second pass at the script to make sure it worked.

    Without getting too detailed on spoilers, there is an enemy in Chapter 13 that you are not supposed to defeat until a certain point. It is possible, prior to that point, to get into a situation in which you are in a room that the enemy will not enter, for some AI pathing reason. From there, you can do things that you weren't ever supposed to do, like successfully use the chapter's gimmick weapon (which has its use times drastically increased against this particular enemy for no explained reason, with the intention of making it impossible to use otherwise-overpowered abilities). When you do successfully use it, you see MISS pop up -- which in my previous 50 hours of gameplay had not happened even once. A very specific and particular eff you to the player, which is bad form to begin with.

    But then, doing that broke the enemy's AI entirely, and it proceeded to just stand in the hallway, doing nothing. Which allowed me to kill it with basic attacks, though it took an interminably long time. And then the enemy respawned as if nothing had ever happened, because you were never supposed to beat it at that point and... ugh.

    Then you have the later portions of the chapter, where a plot twist is introduced and promptly forgotten about. The characters even say the rough equivalent of "Okay, yeah, whatever, moving on." It is not built up to, it changes nothing and serves no purpose other than allowing progression that could have been done any number of other ways, and it is never mentioned again through the end of the game.

    If this is what Square-Enix intended from the start? That says dire things about XV.
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  • Avatar for jihon83 #6 jihon83 A year ago
    Changing Chapter 13? That is such a betrayal of artistic intent! This is even worse than if they gave Cyd a better fitting jacket!
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  • Avatar for richardlauer08 #7 richardlauer08 A year ago
    "From the get-go, we wanted to continuously update the game after it releases, so we can further enrich the already complete FFXV experience."

    "Furthermore, the story will be easier to comprehend as we strengthen the connection of events surrounding this chapter."

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  • Avatar for Sturat #8 Sturat A year ago
    Any word on making the frame rate more smooth on the original PS4?
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  • Avatar for swamped #9 swamped A year ago
    I dunno, I have pretty neutral feelings about this trend. Of course it's good that a game can be improved over time and depth of experiences added. But changes to core gameplay can get frustrating, resetting the learning curve for a game you've already invested hours in. I suppose we've only seen that really in a multiplayer context so far. But one of the reasons I'm playing fewer competitive FPSs lately is because if you're not married to the game, you can't keep up with gameplay changes. Maybe that will be less significant in a single player experience.
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  • Avatar for Darkarm66 #10 Darkarm66 A year ago
    I didn't mind Chapter 13 because it felt like the only chapter with any focus in conjunction with the story. Chapter 14 infuriated me because a few cut scenes, 5 battles and the story 'ends'. If the DLC gives me some closure on the game's world at large, shows some resolutions for all the game's characters, lets me play as Aranea....maybe I'll stick around.
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  • Avatar for link6616 #11 link6616 A year ago
    It never ceases to amaze me that here, this doesn't devolve into some dumb argument about best boy, but actually is a somewhat thoughtful collection of comments.
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  • Avatar for finchiekins #12 finchiekins A year ago
    @link6616 It's because everyone knows and agrees that Ignis is best man.
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  • Avatar for Alan_01987 #13 Alan_01987 A year ago
    But I liked chapter 13 :( :( :(
    Gameplay didn't shift greatly ... all you need to do is to master ring abilities which is pretty easy.Edited January 2017 by Alan_01987
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #14 VotesForCows A year ago
    Really looking forward to the expansions and story update. Will save the latter for a NG+

    I feel bad that nobody thinks Gladio is best boy. Cos he's not. But Ignis, that's a different story... what a classy guy!
    @Alan_01987 I liked it too! It was stressful, but appropriately so. My only reservation is about not being allowed to fight the thingy until a specific time, can't remember it's name. I hate when games do that.
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  • Avatar for andyedwards62 #15 andyedwards62 A year ago
    Just add the ability to run, and make hiding from this axemen a bit easier, once they see you they're on you like glue! Other than that shorten a few of the hallways, allow random saving and why the hell did they strip you of Umbra 10 minutes after you get it. Ok the list might have been a bit longer than I thought. The only thing that got me through the chapter was the portable CD player.
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  • Avatar for link6616 #16 link6616 A year ago
    @VotesForCows gladio was my best boy for a while. Although that was mostly based on no shirt version.

    He's probably the character I'm most looking forward to seeing at the hordes of doujin next comiket!
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #17 VotesForCows A year ago
    @link6616 Yeah I was just kidding, but he does seem to be low down the list for everyone. He's pretty awesome!
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  • Avatar for CipherStone #18 CipherStone A year ago
    I didn't have a problem with chapter 13 because of the shift in gameplay. I adjusted pretty quickly. I just thought it was about twice as long as it should have been and was just kind of tedious by the end.
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  • Avatar for neosimkin #19 neosimkin A year ago
    I'm enjoying this game so much and taking my sweet time with it. I don't think I'm half way to chapter 13 yet, I've been putting side quests first. (Until doing that isn't fun anymore. =P) Knowing that they intend to continue to support this installment with additional content has me very excited.

    Prompto is indeed the best of boys.
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  • Avatar for Lonecow #20 Lonecow A year ago
    @jeremy.parish It's funny to see you comment on your favorite character because every time I see Ignis at camp I say to myself, "What's Jeremy Parish cooking tonight?"
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  • Avatar for stevielee00 #21 stevielee00 A year ago
    I don't give a s--t about promptos ignis or gladio. What I want out of dlc is more summons, magic, and enemies. Maybe some secret dungeons too.
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  • Avatar for stevielee00 #22 stevielee00 A year ago
    @KaiserWarrior i agree completely. I was level 64 first play through so it didn't take me so long to kill it but when I did It glitches and I was frozen into a doorway. Had to load a save and lost about an hour of progress because of the awful manual saves (who the hell sleeps multiple times completely surrounded by enemies outside the door by yourself anyway?). Awful and excruciating chapter.
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  • Avatar for jamesbarber83 #23 jamesbarber83 A year ago
    I think disgruntled players should remember that this isn't their Daddy's Final Fantasy. I've played every number series since I was nine, and some sequels and spin-offs, and no game has satisfied me since FFVI and FFVII, until I played XV. Chapter 13 reminded me of Batman Arkham Asylum with the jump scares and the creepy Joker-like narration. And for everyone complaining about the linear later chapters... They're probably the same people that complained about FFXIII's "tutorial," but you can't please everyone. You've sure pleased me though. Thank you, Square, for the most phenomenal game I've played in twenty years! Don't subtract a thing! I even got used to the camera angles after a bit.
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