A new interview for Final Fantasy XVI reveals why Square Enix has been shying away from turn-based combat lately, at least in the mainline entries for the series.
“One thing that we found recently is that as graphics get better and better, and as characters become more realistic and more photo-real, is that the combination of that realism with the very unreal sense of turn-based commands doesn’t really fit together,” Final Fantasy XVI producer Naoki Yoshida said to Gamesradar. “You have this kind of strange gap that emerges.”
The last mainline game in the series to used turn-based combat was Final Fantasy X, after which its successors used a mix of turn-based and real-time combat with Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XIII, leading to Final Fantasy XV which completely dropped any remnants of the past for full real-time action combat.
From what it sounds and looks like, Final Fantasy XVI is going to be a full real-time action RPG through and through, and that will likely be the case for all future mainline games in the series.
“I understand that there are a lot of fans out there that do wish for a return to the turn-based battle system but – and it pains me to say this – I’m really sorry that we’re not going to be doing that for this iteration of the series,” Yoshida said.
While this may leave turn-based RPG fans with no hope, he added that he is “someone who was raised on turn-based, command-based role-playing games” and that he “fully understand(s) their appeal and understand what’s great about them.”
“Some people are fine with it. They’re fine with having these realistic characters in this unreal type of system. But then on the other hand, there are people that just can’t get over it ,” Yoshida said.
“I mean, if you have a character holding a gun, why can’t you just press the button to have the gunfire – why do you need a command in there? And so it becomes a question of not right or wrong, but it becomes a question of preferences for each different player.”
Square Enix also dabbled in traditional, turn-based combat with throwback games like Octopath Traveler and Triangle Strategy, as well as the forthcoming remakes for Dragon Quest III and Live A Live.
“When asked to create Final Fantasy XVI by the higher-ups in the company, one of their orders was to fully maximize the use of the technology,” Yoshida said. “And so when making that decision, we thought that the direction of taking [Final Fantasy XVI] in that full action [route] was the way to do that. And when deciding whether, ‘okay, are we going to go turn-based or are going to go action?’ I made the decision to go action.”
Final Fantasy XVI is launching sometime in summer 2023 for PlayStation 5.