No, Final Fantasy XVI is not an open world game. Square Enix has said this actively and passively, but why did they choose a different type of structure? In an interview with MeriStation and other media, Producer Naoki Yoshida revealed the reasons for this decision, which was made early in development.
Why isn’t Final Fantasy XVI an open world game?
“For me and other people on the Creative Business Unit 3 team, the essence of the Final Fantasy story is not about going to a single area and having the whole adventure there. It has to do with wandering, traveling to many different places to solve problems.”
As developers, we love and play a lot of open-world games, but I think at the end of the day, when we decide what kind of titles we’re going to make, it’s all about design decisions. Just because a game is open world doesn’t mean it’s going to be good. According to Yoshida, the important thing is to have “a story that fits” with that gameplay structure.
“We had the story we wanted to tell, and we knew from the beginning that it wouldn’t work in an open-world structure. So we decided not to do it that way.”
For example, in the world of Valisthea, the nation of Rosaria (Clive’s birthplace) is thousands of miles away from the Republic of Dhalmekia. “Let’s say if Clive wanted to travel from Rosaria to Dhalmekia, he would have to get on the back of a Chocobo and ride 1,000 kilometers. There is a huge desert between [the two kingdoms], which means he would have to ride through it. There’s nothing but sand.
Yoshida asserts that players would say the desert is empty. “This game is an open world, but there is nothing in the open world. All in all, since it’s a desert, there’s nothing. Then they would say, “Why don’t we put pyramids as dungeons? Clive, however, is traveling to Dhalmekia for an important purpose and cannot be delayed.
“If we implement fast travel, why build a giant desert?” Yoshida wonders. “Having an open world is not a right or wrong answer, it depends on what kind of story and gameplay you want to do.”
Final Fantasy XVI will be released for PS5 on June 22.