In an interview with two of Final Fantasy 16’s directors and its producer, Naoki Yoshida, on WellPlayed.com, it was revealed that the game team has drawn on numerous inspirations ranging from the expected to the left-of-field. When asked what sources of media inspired the game, Yoshida replied, “for me, it’s got to be the book series A Song of Ice and Fire as well as the TV show Game of Thrones.”
This is obvious from even the most cursory glance at any of Final Fantasy 16’s trailers. What isn’t obvious, however, is how game director Hiroshi Takai added that he also “found God of War really inspiring” when creating the game. Combat director Ryota Suzuki mentioned some of his own inspirations, too: “that would be the John Wick moves as well as Blade. You can probably feel these in what I have created.”
Yoshida circled back to God of War later in the interview, saying: “you could compare Final Fantasy 16 closest to something like God of War. As an image of how the game cycle works, you will have a main world map just like God of War… At this hub, you can choose to continue the main scenario and unlock new areas. Or, you have opportunities for side quests where you go back to areas you have already visited and have that side content there.”
Though it certainly surprised me to see God of War, a real-time third-person action series, so far up the list of cinematic inspirations, it certainly didn’t surprise me to see Final Fantasy 16’s developers speak of their attempts to capture a certain cinematic je ne sais quoi in their game.
It’s hardly new for a Final Fantasy title to draw inspiration from cinematic touchstones. Final Fantasy 7’s aspirations are, perhaps, most affirmed by the existence of Final Fantasy 7 Remake, which uses artistic real-time combat and gorgeous cutscenes to deliver on the ambition of its original namesake. For example: the egomaniacal villain Sephiroth was famously inspired by Jaws, Stephen Spielberg’s classic thriller (via TheGamer).
Given God of War Ragnarok’s own emphasis on graphical fidelity and cinematic quality, it stands to reason that Final Fantasy 16’s top brass would see in it something worth emulating, especially when it comes to combat.
Turn it up
Some are disappointed to see Final Fantasy 16 continue to move away from traditional turn-based battles in favor of real-time action. It’s important to bear in mind, however, that turn-based combat only ever existed as a proxy for cinematic combat, which, due to technological limitations, the game consoles of the time simply couldn’t realize. In 2023, we don’t have those restrictions anymore.
I adore turn-based combat. The likes of Octopath Traveler 2, Bravely Default 2, and Trails of Cold Steel are very much my happy place. However, I see Square Enix’s willingness to embrace modern sources of inspiration as a good thing. It speaks to a willingness to bring the series forward - a goal I very much welcome.
Final Fantasy games have always been at their best when they’ve allowed for organic evolution. This is, in part, why Final Fantasy 14 is so successful. By reflecting cutting-edge cinematic and narrative sensibilities, Final Fantasy 16 will only become stronger. I can’t wait to get my hands on the title.
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Cat Bussell is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Gaming. Hailing from the crooked spires of London, Cat is an experienced writer and journalist. As seen on Wargamer.com, TheGamer.com, and Superjumpmagazine.com, Cat is here to bring you coverage from all corners of the video game world. An inveterate RPG maven and strategy game enjoyer, Cat is known for her love of rich narratives; both story-driven and emergent.
Before migrating to the green pastures of games journalism, Cat worked as a political advisor and academic. She has three degrees and has studied and worked at Cambridge University, University College London, and Queen Mary University of London. She's also been an art gallery curator, an ice cream maker, and a cocktail mixologist. This crash course in NPC lifestyles uniquely qualifies her to pick apart only the juiciest video games for your reading pleasure.
Cat cut her teeth on MMOs in the heyday of World of Warcraft before giving in to her love of JRPGs and becoming embedded in Final Fantasy XIV. When she's not doing that, you might find her running a tabletop RPG or two, perhaps even voluntarily.