Final Fantasy Versus XIII was renamed to FFXV about two years ago – that much we know. Its contents, however, haven’t been modified much since its upgrade to a numbered entry – still classified under the Fabula Nova Crystallis umbrella mythology. That decision wasn’t always easy and was largely made to avoid confusion, according to Tetsuya Nomura. After all, Final Fantasy XIII has since spawned two sequels of its own with Lightning having established as the “face” of that series. It’s only natural that Noctis take point in an all new “epic.”
Originally announced as a PS3 title, Versus XIII had seen the bulk of its development on that platform – a trial that would prove too limiting for the vision Nomura wanted to convey. “For example, when you would speed up a vehicle such as a car on the world map, the processing power could no longer keep up,” stressed Nomura.
With the move to the incoming next generation of platforms, the team isn’t just concerned about graphical fidelity. On the subject of online support, Nomura said, “We are considering a number of features such as multiplayer or co-op – as well as how smartphones and tablet connectivity can fit in. If possible, I want to think about including elements that will allow players to play even longer.”
The introduction of DirectX 11 has allowed for significant changes in the development process – so much so that the difference between real time and pre-rendered graphics continues to decrease. As a result, Nomura wished to create all scenes without character control in pre-rendered CG, but that wasn’t entirely possible. Using the same technique that was utilized for Agni’s Philosophy, the team at Visual Works will create the base for those cutscenes and then drop them into Luminous Engine to run in real time. Everything seen in the E3 trailer was made using the current rendering engine and tools, but will eventually be moved entirely to Luminous as XV and that engine are being developed in tandem.
Of course, the final quality of the game will increase, according to Nomura. Despite several staff shufflings – including the promotion of Hajime Tabata to co-director and Takeshi Nozue to lead art director – the core team announced all those years ago is still intact and have brought larger ideas to the game since. “In the [E3 video] you can notice an icon that displays when an enemy is locked on to – it becomes a lens flare and is something that Nozue proposed for us to do,” explained Nomura.
Summons will also return in FFXV and like typical FF you’ll have to defeat them before they join your side. Summons will have a sort of hierarchy or ranking system – Leviathan being one of the top-ranked to explain his larger size.
The theme of the game is “bonds” with the core of the story quite serious, but there will be many elements of humor as well. The story is also quite simple in that it focuses on the recovery of a crystal – the final one housed within Noctis’ own homeland. “The only crystal left to the world lies in the Kingdom of Lucis,” the official synopsis reads. “Upon striking a peace with the garrison state of Niflheim, Lucis rejoices in having at last brought the cold war to a close. Their celebrations, however, are premature. Under the guise of amity, Niflheim dispels the anti-armament runewall and launches a full-scale invasion of the kingdom. The peaceful lives Crown Prince Noctis and his entourage once knew are consumed by the flames of war as they struggle to mount a resistance.”
The four great nations that originally received protection from the crystals are Lucis, Tenebrae, Solheim and Accordo – and together with Niflheim and several other cities and villages – make up the vast world of FFXV. Lucis is based on a modern day Tokyo while Accordo – the new city seen in the trailer – is modeled after Venice.
As for XV’s next appearance? Word has it once again Tokyo Game Show could be that place.