Hajime Tabata Talks Final Fantasy XV’s Themes and Narrative

Thursday, January 7th, 2016

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Final Fantasy XV

In a revealing interview with ExaminerFinal Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata talked about the game’s narrative, its emotional core and what the story is actually going to be about in a broad sense. Obviously, there are no spoilers contained herein, but his statements reinforce what we already knew about the game’s plot while providing more information about what he’s actually going for in this installment.

We all know that at least one of the game’s focuses in terms of story will be on protagonist Noctis, his pals and their road trip. Much has already been said about the sense of friendship and brotherhood Tabata wants to showcase with this cast and their activity, but in this new interview he says that the game is really about Noctis’ growth as a person, his ambition to become king and how he evolves as the story goes on:

Tabata commented that Noctis will have a deeply personal journey throughout the narrative, stating that he is “growing and developing as a person” which, in Tabata’s words also “puts you in a place to experience that emotional journey with him.”

Tabata further explained that love is a core theme of the game. Not necessarily the classical romantic kind that many Final Fantasy games have, although he confirmed that there would be some romance in the game, but more about love as a general concept that motivates people and helps them grow and change into more fully realized individuals.

“Another big relationship is the bond of friendship and then of course, the bonds of love are the third element we are going to cover,” said Tabata, “It’s not going to be a love story, that’s not the main focus of the game, but it’s has those elements of love and romance within the broader story of Noctis’s growth as a person.”

One of the things said in this interview that has the internet buzzing is this talk of Final Fantasy XV having a storytelling dynamic similar to that of Naughty Dog’s powerful post apocalyptic The Last of Us. Here is the original quote:

“It’s important that the story progresses through the gameplay in a very unforced way, in a similar way that it was done with The Last of Us, for example.”

This statement could mean any number of things, but given Tabata’s comment that he wants for the story to be told through the gameplay, it’s likely that this just means that he respected how The Last of Us unfolded through its frantic action and cross country travel, informing players about the world and how the characters fit in it, rather than having any kind of dramatic parallels to the events that make up the journey of Joel and Ellie.

In The Last of Us, the state of the world helped to contextualize the plight of its heroes without stopping to tell us how it unfolded, more often than not, and it’s likely Tabata wants to capture the essence of that in Final Fantasy XV. For example, the beginning sequence of The Last of Us where you start out playing Joel’s daughter Sarah as the world falls apart around her, Joel and her uncle Tommy. In that game, the player is immersed in an emotional experience rather than a dry infodump accompanied by a cutscene. It hooks the player interactively and immediately, and much of the game’s environments and dialogue options flavor the narrative and give it a ‘lived in’ feel. Tabata is likely hoping to implement such game design aspects into Final Fantasy XV, which would be a departure from many entries in the series where the action will stop while you read (or listen to) walls of text that can lose an audience on the brink of emotional detachment. Here’s to hoping Tabata and his talented dev team can pull it off, because Final Fantasy XV is going to be an important game in the franchise on a number of levels and many of us want it to succeed.

Final Fantasy XV is slated for a release in 2016 on the Sony Playstation 4 and Xbox One entertainment systems. Let’s hope they can keep that deadline so we can all see how it turns out sooner rather than later!

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About Tom Tolios

Really smart, talks too much, loves the video games and the Star Wars and the Game of Thrones, likes the manga and some anime and knows that Kentaro Miura's Berserk is the greatest thing ever made.




  • RJ MacReady

    i smell bullshit. these developers have no idea what the hell they are making as illustrated by the fact that they only recently decided to try to implement real time airship travel with the help of the Just Cause developers… airships are like the most basic thing to have in a final fantasy game and they only just started trying to implement it now? this game was announced like TEN years ago… also they are relying on fan feedback from the DUSCAE episode? After a decade of development time they couldnt get this shit right by themselves? hell- they even deleted whole characters from the story who were in earlier trailers back before they even had any idea what the story was.