Final Fantasy XVI: Lessons Learned, Clive’s Reception, Loose Ends, And More With Naoki Yoshida


Final Fantasy XVI exclusively hit PlayStation 5 last June, and as its one-year anniversary approaches in just a few months, with a second DLC out this spring centered around the Leviathan Eikon called The Rising Tide, I spoke to producer Naoki Yoshida and DLC director Takeo Kujiraoka about the game’s reception, Clive Rosfield as a protagonist, loose ends, and more. 

You can read my exclusive preview of The Rising Tide DLC here, and I’ve got a story about how you shouldn’t expect more DLC here and another about the lastest update to the PC version’s development here, too. Below, however, is my retrospective discussion about Final Fantasy XVI with Yoshida and Kujiraoka. 

Looking Back At Final Fantasy XVI, Nine Months Later

Game Informer’s Wesley LeBlanc: How do you feel about Clive as a protagonist? I ask because I think he’s quickly climbed the ranks of Final Fantasy protagonists for fans – people love Clive! Did you expect him to land in the Final Fantasy community as well as he did?

Naoki Yoshida: First and foremost, when we saw the reception and comments from fans about Clive as a character and a person, some people actually saw themselves as Clive. And seeing that kind of reception as the development team, we were extremely happy. 

While writing the story for Final Fantasy XVI, we wanted to make it about Clive Rosfield […] and his life. We wanted to make sure that we depict the beginning to end of his life and story. And it’s not just the story – there’s also how we battles, how he talks with people, Clive jumping around, and also, Clive being free. So if you take all of that and compile it together, looking back at it, I think 80 percent of the development resources were spent on Clive. So obviously, for us as the development team, we really love him. 

But at the same time, we were a bit concerned with how he looked toward the beginning because he’s not really the flashiest; he has a rather darker tone of clothing because he’s supposed to blend in with an assassination team, and he does a dirty job, too. We wanted that reflected in the visuals of how he looked. We felt like it would probably be a 50-50 chance of him being popular with the fans or not. But it turns out, the fans do like him so that’s really great to see. 

Naoki Yoshida

Game Informer: What’s the biggest lesson learned from developing Final Fantasy XVI?

Yoshida: The biggest learning experience the team got was that for Final Fantasy XVI, the PlayStation 5 was the first console release for it. And because of that, we had the opportunity to create the game with top quality graphics and not just for the world, but the characters, the environment, everything was top notch. What that meant was we had to think and make sure we were maintaining that high quality while reaching milestones on time. We didn’t want to drag on development for too long, so we wanted to make sure we weren’t being too slow with development. And to maintain that balance, we were kind of in the dark in the beginning because we didn’t have prior experience with the PS5 platform before. 

We were able to take Final Fantasy XVI to the finish line in the end, but getting there was, not a constant – not a struggle – but a constant battle of trying to maintain the high quality and the development timeline at the same time. So in essence, it was a challenge; it was very difficult to deal with during development, but it was also fun – the experience of dealing with the cutting-edge and new technology of the PS5.  

As a director, I think that’s something that can be taken to our next project. It’s not really something we learned because of it being a mainline Final Fantasy game or because it was an action game – it was really more to do with the technology and how big the scale of the title was. 

Takeo Kujiraoka: As you know, this applies for both the DLC and the main game [and as Yoshida mentioned earlier], there were a lot of areas we were kind of in the dark, in a process of figuring out a lot of things. As it went on, each of the development team members were able to coordinate communication with each other closely and we did our best to ensure that we delivered the highest quality possible. So being able to do that in such a short span of time, I think was a great learning experience for us. 

Separate from that, I have a bit more of a personal opinion as a game designer [Editor’s Note: Kujiraoka led development on the Eikon battles throughout the base game]. In a lot of ways, it was kind of outlandish [because we were able to] spend a lot of costs and resources on Final Fantasy XVI that would be unimaginable for any other normal video game title. I was able to go all out with that. In a kind of sentiment of what I mentioned earlier, [I learned a lot] in terms of how to make our development efficient and speed up the process while maintaining quality. That’s obviously very useful positive insight that I can utilize for our next project. 

There’s also the reception and reaction we received from the fans doing something so big and outlandish [in battles]. I think those kinds of things are definitely something that can be fed into our next project.

Takeo Kujiraoka

Game Informer: If The Rising Tide is presumably the last piece of Final Fantasy XVI content players can expect, how do you both feel about the game coming to a close? Are there any loose ends you wanted to address but couldn’t? 

Yoshida: During development of Final Fantasy XVI, there were a lot of challenges the development team took on [to develop] the newest mainline title of Final Fantasy. Naturally, that came with a lot of, I don’t want to say “struggles,” but there were some difficult times during development. There were some elements we weren’t too sure of, but after release, we saw that many people played the game, fortunately. Like you mentioned earlier, a lot of fans from the community love Clive Rosfield as well, and the reception of the game went really well. So, as a team, I feel that we kind of did what we can and I think we are content with what we achieved. 

We are keen to take our learnings and the experience we got from developing Final Fantasy XVI to the new title, the new project that we will create as Creative Business Unit III. I think there are going to be Creative Business Unit III tastes inherited into that next project as well. We want our players to look forward to our new projects. 

Kujiraoka: I want to echo what Yoshida mentioned. With Final Fantasy XVI, we took upon ourselves a lot of new challenges for this title. To name a few, we had to make sure that every element of the game meshed well with the scenario and the narrative; it was going to be the first full-action game [in the mainline Final Fantasy series]; and there’s going to be a lot of Eikons that move around in a way that hasn’t been depicted in past Final Fantasy games. Everything was new for us. 

It’s been almost a year since the full release of the game and we are aware of comments from players mentioning what they felt Final Fantasy XVI was lacking in certain areas. While I agree with those sentiments, at the same time, I think that it’s very meaningful for me and for the team that we got to experience and create this game together and really put our say out into the world and receive all these positive sentiments as well from our players. 

For those who experienced Final Fantasy XVI and enjoyed it, I want to extend my sincere gratitude to them. I am looking forward to taking what I learned from Final Fantasy XVI and contributing to our next project. 

For plenty more about the game, head to Game Informer’s Final Fantasy XVI coverage hub for exclusive behind-the-scenes features, video interviews, and more. Read Game Informer’s Final Fantasy XVI review after that.  

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