After Final Fantasy XV, it would have been safe to assume a “yes” to the question, is Final Fantasy XVI open world? At this point in the gaming industry, that’s a safe assumption for many triple-A titles. Unfortunately, open world games often end up with large open empty worlds. An open world doesn’t make a game better just by having an open world.
Thankfully, developers are realizing that.
In a recent interview with IGN, Final Fantasy XVI producer Naoki Yoshida said, “To bring a story that feels like it spans an entire globe and beyond, we decided to avoid an open world design that limits us to a single open world space, and instead focus on an independent area-based game design that can give players a better feel of a truly ‘global’ scale.”
From Open World to Open World-Inspired
I admit “independent area-based game design” doesn’t paint a detailed image of what to expect. But it does sound similar to the way we moved through the world in most of the recent Final Fantasy titles except Final Fantasy XV.
In those games, open areas connected major hubs (cities, towns, etc). And those open areas contained monsters, quests, and dungeons. Final Fantasy XV, on the other hand, had one massive open world and received criticism for its emptiness.
So, it sounds like Square Enix acknowledged that and is trying to focus on building a curated experience instead. I’m all for it. I think open world games have a place, but not every game needs to have a wide open space to get lost in. Breaking up a game’s universe into different chunks allows energy and resources to be focused on each part. Every area can have a unique atmosphere and character, rather than trying to blend everything together in one wide open space.
“We’ve found in our extensive user research that many of the younger generation of gamers have never played a Final Fantasy or don’t have any interest in the series. To create a game that might excite and resonate not only with our core fans, but also with that new generation, we played a lot of games ourselves, and so yes, in [Final Fantasy XVI] you’ll find inspiration from recent triple-A open world RPGs.”Final Fantasy XVI Producer Naoki Yoshida, in an interview with IGN
The World of Final Fantasy XVI
We don’t have specifics of what this design will look like. But we do have details on the world itself thanks to the Final Fantasy XVI website. The world of Valisthea is split into six realms:
- The Grand Duchy of Rosaria
- The Holy Empire of Sanbreque
- The Kingdom of Waloed
- The Dhalmekian Republic
- The Iron Kingdom
- The Crystalline Dominion
Each realm developed around a Mothercrystal, “glittering mountains of crystal that tower over the realms around them.” And each Mothercrystal grants the beings around it the ability to conjure magicks. In addition, each realm has a special individual called a “Dominant.” Dominants are revered because they can call on Eikons, large magical creatures equivalent to sentient weapons of mass destruction.
Conclusion—Is Final Fantasy XVI Open World?
No, but you will find inspiration from open world games in Final Fantasy XVI according to the producer, Naoki Yoshida.
Final Fantasy XVI is scheduled for a Summer 2023 release on PlayStation 5. But if you need more Final Fantasy in the meantime, Final Fantasy VII Remake Integrade just hit Steam. And Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion will hit Xbox, PlayStation, Switch, and PC this winter!