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FF14’s Naoki Yoshida doesn’t want “the same old guys” to make FF17

Speaking about his work on Final Fantasy 16, producer and FF14 director Naoki Yoshida discusses what he’d like to see from a new FF game.

Final Fantasy 16 producer and FF14 director Naoki Yoshida says he thinks a younger generation of developers should make the next Final Fantasy game, rather than it being left in the hands of “the same old guys.” The beloved game developer spoke to PlayStation’s Shuhei Yoshida for the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, where he discussed the future of the legendary Japanese RPG series and what it might look like.

We’re still waiting to hear what the Final Fantasy 16 PC release date will be, as the latest RPG in one of gaming’s longest-running series makes its way over following its PlayStation 5 launch last year. Meanwhile, the project that has most dramatically elevated Yoshida’s name to prominence sees its latest expansion in the summer with the arrival of Final Fantasy 14 Dawntrail.

As the podcast between the pair reaches its conclusion, the discussion turns to the future of the series following Final Fantasy 16. Shuhei Yoshida asks (beginning at the 1:03:15 mark in the video below), “I guess you won’t be directing Final Fantasy 17, then?” “Ooh, I’m on the [Square Enix] board of directors now so I really need to watch what I say here,” Naoki Yoshida responds.

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“For the moment, I’ll just say that nothing’s been decided yet,” he continues. “That said, if I had anything to say about that… I’ve had the chance to work on two of these, FF14 and FF16, so maybe it’s time for something new, you know? Instead of having the same old guys handle the next one, I think in some ways it would be good to look to the future and bring in a younger generation, with more youthful sensibilities, to make a new FF with challenges that suit today’s world.”

So were a younger director to be entrusted with the next game, Shuhei posits, what would Naoki’s advice be to them? “Final Fantasy is about challenging what’s been done before,” he responds, noting that series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi and FF brand manager Yoshinori Kitase feel the same way. “And while I’m certainly not looking to pick a fight with the older games, we all make FF games thinking, ‘Mine will be the most fun!’”

“So my advice is to just dive in and first put down on paper what you believe would be the most enjoyable Final Fantasy, before thinking too hard about it. Then, from there you can decide things like, ‘Since FF16 was real-time action, my Final Fantasy is going to have both real-time action and turn-based battles,” he says with a smile. “Or you could go to the other extreme and return it to its fully turn-based, pixel art roots.”

FF14 director Naoki Yoshida appears in game, saying "'Tis no exaggeration to say that I derive all of my driving force from you all. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you."

The full interview digs into the development process behind Final Fantasy 16, with some interesting insight into how the team built out its story and world, and chose game mechanics that matched the narrative it wanted to tell, along with some discussion of the biggest challenges it faced. If you, like me, are eagerly awaiting the PC launch, it’s a nice little meal to tide us all over.

Until then, we’ve picked out the best JRPGs to play in 2024, along with the best MMORPGs on PC, many of which offer a fantastic story-driven experience too.

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