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Final Fantasy XVI: The Rising Tide looks to lift Jill


Final Fantasy XVI released last year, but Square Enix is still releasing major new content for the game. The second big DLC, The Rising Tide, will debut on April 18.

The base game had a big focus on Eikons, those giant creatures that Final Fantasy fans have summoned and fought across the series. But one of the most popular, Leviathan, was missing. Well, now that water serpent gets a starring role in The Rising Tide, which sees Clive and company travel to the northern land of Mysidia. This includes Jill, a character that some players and critics wished had more to do in the original story.

During PAX East, I had a chance to chat with FF16 producer Naoki Yoshida and DLC director Takeo Kujiraoka. I asked them what makes The Rising Tide special and what the future of FF16 will look like. Below is an edited transcript of our interview through a translator.

GamesBeat: With The Rising Tide and its release happening a bit after the original game, was there any particular feedback from the base game that you wanted to incorporate into the DLC?

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Naoki Yoshida: With this release, and not just the release of the DLC, but updates that we have planned as well, we’ve been getting lots of feedback about gameplay issues, about things like more config options or cutscene fixes or quality of life things. We got a lot of feedback on that. We’re using the Rising Tide DLC as an opportunity to address some of those issues, some of the feedback we’ve gotten from the community, as well as introducing new content with the DLC as well.

Takeo Kujiraoka: We’ve also used this as an opportunity to update a lot of the Eikon abilities as well. We got a lot of feedback about making a lot of the abilities easier to use, powering them up, maybe addressing ones that weren’t used as much by players because they were difficult to use and making them easier to use, making them more accessible to players. We’ve done a lot of adjustment of these abilities. Again, no nerfing, but especially the abilities for Ramuh and Bahamut, for example, we’ve changed those a lot, updated those. There are a lot of new aspects that should please a lot of action game players out there.

GamesBeat: With the DLC taking place in an area called Mysidia, that makes me think of Final Fantasy IV. Are you just borrowing the name, or will there be other specific callbacks in Rising Tide?

Kujiraoka: Mysidia also appeared in Final Fantasy II as well, as the name of a village. Both of those Mysidias, their backstories were tied to magic. Because Mysidia in FFXVI is also tied to magic, we decided to do that callback and bring in the name there, because we have those similarities between the old Mysidias and the new Mysidia. Otherwise, though, we’re not bringing in a lot of different things from Final Fantasy IV. There was just that slight connection there, so we wanted to do a callback.

GamesBeat: Typical American Final Fantasy fan, I overlooked Final Fantasy II.

Yoshida: It’s very unique in the series. It’s easy to forget sometimes. But we just had the pixel remaster that made it much more accessible.

Mysidia is a new land to explore in the DLC.

GamesBeat: The interpretation of these classic summons was a big highlight of FFXVI. Can you talk about this rendition of Leviathan, what makes this different from other versions of Leviathan that we’ve seen before?

Yoshida: With FFXVI and the Eikons that we chose, we wanted players, when they hear the names of the Eikons, they’re going to have an image of what that Eikon is going to be, what moves they’re going to do. We didn’t want to stray too much from that, even Leviathan. When people think of Leviathan they think back to when they played the pixel versions, the attacks and actions they were using. We can take those pixel versions and render them in high quality HD graphics in a way that fits the player’s idea of what Leviathan should be. That’s the direction we took. We didn’t want to make Leviathan different. We wanted to make Leviathan something that was recognizable.

Kujiraoka: This was one of the more difficult Eikons to create just because of its shape, being serpent-like. Trying to render that in such high quality was difficult. But I think we got something that’s going to be very recognizable for players, that players are going to be able to resonate with.

GamesBeat: Leviathan is another echo of the water theme that we see in the name, Rising Tide. What role does water play in the DLC?

Kujiraoka: Water does play a very big role in the DLC. First off, it represents Leviathan, and Leviathan being the main focus, the Eikon of water and the Dominant of water. You see this visually in the areas that you go to. You see that big frozen wave in the trailer. That’s connected to the story as well. All of the attacks that you’ll be getting are going to be water-based. But on top of that, it also has a very deep connection to the story as well. There are these themes of water that are going to appear in the narrative. Water is going to be everywhere in the DLC.

GamesBeat: Some feedback I’ve seen from players is that they really do like Jill, and maybe wish there was more of her in the game. What is her roll in Rising Tide?

Kujiraoka: First off, for our DLCs, one of the themes for the first DLC and this DLC as well, it was going to be that one final journey with Joshua, Jill, and Torgal, with Clive on his last adventure before they go to Origin and Ultima. We do want to have that focus on them. While Echoes of the Fallen focused a little more on Joshua, there’s going to be more of a focus on Jill in Rising Tide.

The biggest connection to Jill is going to be that the area we’re visiting, Mysidia, is in the northern territories. With Jill being from the northern territories, she has that connection. She’s going back to her homeland. That ties into the story as well. So fans of Jill will get a bit more of her story in this DLC.

Jill from Final Fantasy XVI.

GamesBeat: It seems like Clive has been embraced by a lot of players. His English voice actor Ben Starr, I think the entire U.S has a bit of a crush on him. How does it feel to see the poster child of the game be embraced so readily and universally?

Yoshida: With the Final Fantasy series, there’s always a lot of focus on those main characters. You get these characters that people fall in love with. Maybe they think that maybe there was pressure on us to create a character that was going to follow in those footsteps, but we didn’t approach the creation of Clive in that way. We didn’t go out of our way to make a character that was going to become really popular. We just had an idea of what we wanted to do with the story, and then we created Clive to fit that story.

At the beginning of development, Clive was a bit bland. He was kind of dirty, dark, and brooding. Just a soldier. But as the story progresses you can see how he developed. I think that’s one of the reasons players really enjoyed him, because they could see the development going from one place to another. That said, we didn’t go into it thinking that we wanted to make Clive a popular character. It just happened that as he developed in the story, his popularity grew from there. It definitely wasn’t something we expected, that he would become such a popular character, but we’re very happy that he is. I want to thank our quest writers and the people that created the cutscenes, because when we went into it, we didn’t just want to create a character who explains everything.

We wanted to take a more “show, not tell” type of approach to the dialogue. We wanted to keep the dialogue tight and keep it a bit more real, having the story not just told by the words, but by the characters’ eyes and facial expressions. The hard work that was put in by our quest writers and motion capture directors and the cutscene directors really got that across. That’s another reason why Clive became a very popular character.

GamesBeat: What does the future for FFXVI look like beyond Rising Tide? Are there going to be more big DLC releases?

Yoshida: The biggest thing that’s in store is the PC version, the port to PC. We’re currently optimizing that. With this optimization, one of the things we’re focusing on is that with the PS5 and its hard drive, we have that seamless experience, everything is connected. There are no loading times. We want to reproduce that on the PC version. We’re currently optimizing so we can get as close to that as possible, as well as testing it in many different environments to make sure we have minimum spec requirements where players can experience the game in the same way as the PS5.

On top of that, we’re working on the interfaces, as well as customization options for the PC version, what players have come to expect from PC ports. In addition to that, we’re also working on an all-in-one pack where you can get the base game combined with all the DLC for the PC release. While I can’t give an exact date on when it’s coming out yet, the development and the optimization is moving smoothly. We should have a release date very soon. Once that’s released, that’s when we can start thinking about ports to other consoles as well.

GamesBeat: It seems like there’s still a lot of work going into FFXVI. What does it feel like for the team? Not exactly a prolonged cycle, but that extended work on a game, even after it’s launched, even when you have the high of the launch in the past. You expect that feeling of “We did it,” but then you go back to work. Is that demoralizing at all, or is it invigorating that you get to put more into this project?

Kujiraoka: For me I was able to remain motivated, because you get all this feedback. Now we have the opportunity to implement that feedback. We were able to have this opportunity to create the DLC, address that feedback, and answer those things that the players wanted. For that, it gave me motivation to continue on the project. Another thing was that everything we learned creating the main game, we were able to take that and not just have it end there. We could build on that.

Again, a lot of that working together, all the challenges and difficulties we faced, the problems we overcame on the main game, we were able to take that experience and use it on the development of the DLC. We were able to create something that was very difficult to make, but because we had that experience, we were able to create that very efficiently and very quickly for this DLC. That was something that kept me motivated through that. Now here we are on the final bits of the QA for the DLC, and we’re starting to get to that peak again, have that pre-launch high again.

Clive fighting some new enemies.

GamesBeat: One of the most praised aspects of FFXVI is the music from Masayoshi Soken. How much new music do we have to look forward to in the DLC?

Kujiraoka: First off, because we’re getting a new area, we’ll be getting new music with that area, multiple tracks for that area. On top of that we have the Eikon vs. Eikon battles. As you know from the ones in the main game, you get these very complex tracks that change depending on the phases of the Eikons. We wanted to reproduce that with the Leviathan battle as well. You’re going to have very unique tracks that change with the phases of the Eikon battle as well.

Yoshida: Back in the main game, when we were talking to Masayoshi Soken about the music, I personally made all the requests. “I need these songs for these areas.” Again, I created all this reference material – these types of songs for these ideas that I have – and gave all of that to Soken very early in the development process. And then for years we got nothing. Then, two months before launch, all of a sudden all of these songs came into the game.

For example, FFXIV, which he also does the music for – it’s a department store for game music. You have all these different areas. You have classical. You have rock. You have electronic music, new types of music. The game allows that. But for FFXVI, it’s focused on only classical music. Early on, Soken was very worried about that. Was he going to be able to do a whole game with just one type of music? The thing is, he did, and people loved it. With the DLC, a lot of pressure has been taken off him. He can just take what he used and go all out. I think he did that for Rising Tide.

GamesBeat: Do you have anything you want to say to the fans of FFXVI?

Yoshida: For not only the FFXVI staff, but the whole creative business unit 3, this has been an amazing experience for us. We had this great challenge of creating a new Final Fantasy. We challenged ourselves to create this game. We released the game and we got a lot of love from the fans, a lot of love from the users. We take that and use that as motivation for the next step we can take, moving forward to the next project.

Kujiraoka: I’d like to thank everyone who fell in love with FFXVI. With this DLC, we’re able to bring more of that, hopefully more of what you loved about the game. We look at The Rising Tide as an expansion in an MMO. It takes everything you love about the main game and gives you more of that. Hopefully that will get everybody excited to love FFXVI even more.

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