Much of the game we knew as Final Fantasy Versus XIII is no more, now made evident today by director Hajime Tabata who shared new reasoning behind changes long suspected. By far the biggest change is the removal of Stella Nox Fleuret – who was set to be the main heroine opposite of Noctis.
“We wanted to keep her as a heroine in FFXV’s story, and pursued ways to tie her in to FFXV’s design as well, but we found it increasingly difficult to make sense of Stella’s character and role within FFXV,” Tabata explained. “So then we thought, do we want to recreate Stella with a different role and image, or do we want to start over with a new hreoine? And after a lot of consideration, we decided not to include Stella in FFXV. Instead, we have a new heroine named Luna, who has a different role within the story. So we will be talking more about her in the future.”
The second change Tabata mentioned was in regard to the city of Insomnia and a scene once seen as the opening of Versus XIII wherein Noctis visits a party taking place in the city. That sequence too has been “deleted” from Final Fantasy XV.
“Now, if you have been following info on Versus, you may already know this, but there was a sequence of scenes right after the party where the city is attacked by the enemy forces of Niflheim,” said Tabata. “That sequence has been deleted from FFXV. And there is a good reason behind it.
“Scenes like those had to be regressed because of a very critical factor. So now, the sequence is: Noct and his retinue leave Insomnia, and then… What was it? Then the Niflheim army attacks the crown city. There’s an extremely important reason behind this decision. In fact, it could be construed a spoiler, so I can’t tell you about it here.
“The third point is not a change. But as I just informed you, we decided to delete the scene of a party in Insomnia, which is a city like Shinjuku. So then we became concerned that the players who were looking forward to some gameplay in that city might worry that they would be losing that gameplay as well. So I thought I should let you know here and now that we are preparing situations that would involve gameplay in the Shinjuku-like city of Insomnia. We had previously released information on Versus saying you would begin combat right after the Niflheim army attacks the city, but the new gameplay would not fall in around the same timeline. As for when and in what kind of situation the combat occurs, we would like for you to wait for future updates, and play the actual game, but we are working on something great, so I hope you will look forward to it.”
While these changes are being made to the game, Tabata did confirm both the black-haired woman from the 2013 E3 trailer the the dragoon lady we saw back in 2011 are still intact and will have important roles within the story. Everything he mentioned has been part of an extensive debate in an effort – according to him – to make the game better.
“Quite some time has passed now… After we had switched from Versus to XV, the first decision we made was to make sure that FFXV would have a complete, coherent story in one game. That was an important decision—one made at the company level, too. So I started thinking about how we could get a full, coherent story in a single game. And the crux of that was which elements from Versus we could carry over and which would not fit into the new structure as XV.
“So I went through everything in detail, seeing which areas we would have to change. By that time, a fair amount of information about the Versus story had already been released, so we tried to keep as many elements from it as we could. We tried hard in a number of areas. But it would have been very difficult to carry over absolutely everything as it was. We considered what was possible with the new-gen hardware, as well as what elements absolutely must be included in XV but might fall through if not given top priority. It was not easy to nail down what was essential for the story to be contained in one title. Everyone involved was very sensitive in dealing with this, and we patiently debated numerous times, but we still couldn’t come up with a definitive answer.
“In the end, we decided to be as faithful as possible to Mr. Nojima’s story for Versus and focus on realizing the original story as much as we could. It goes without saying that I consulted with him on this. And he said that if I valued his original story, then it would still fulfill his vision, even if not every single element he came up with included in the end. So that gave us the confidence to set our goal, which was to create a narrative that utilizes Mr. Nojima’s original story as fully as possible.”
Tabata also shared a brief statement from Nojima about the scenario in which he pondered about the changes to his original script as well as the changes being brought about to it in FFXV. “As director Tabata just announced, the plot that was developed during the Versus era has served as the basis for the Final Fantasy XV story. I’m sure the story will make many changes as they adapt my draft into a more detailed script, but I believe that the important things I wanted to express will be taken to another level by the XV team. As I express my support, I will be waiting for XV to be completed just like everyone else.”
Final Fantasy XV – while based on Versus XIII – has become a different game.