Can you tell that a new Final Fantasy is on the way? The new mainline entry in the series that is Square Enix's golden goose is imminent, and the Japanese publisher has the whole crew out on the PR trail. Final Fantasy 16 is out next month on consoles, though sadly us PC players will have to wait a little longer, so we're feasting on crumbs (like wondering whether to drop the number entirely) while waiting for that release date for the PC version they've announced but pretended they didn't announce.
One of the oddest tidbits comes courtesy of an interview with producer Naoki Yoshida, better-known as Yoshi-P, a man who's often amusing to watch chiding the naughtier fans of Final Fantasy 14 or baking cookies. Final Fantasy 16 is aiming for that chimera of broader appeal, which of course means all things to all people, but in this case meant that Square Enix's Japanese developers focused on fantasies that are currently popular in the western world. And by focused, I mean they got ordered to buy box sets.
"As I've grown older, I've found that I like my fantasy based more in reality," Yoshida told Eurogamer. "We wanted to create something that really resonated with a lot of people. And when we saw how Game of Thrones, and before that the Song of Ice and Fire series, has really resonated with players, we knew that this was something that we wanted to do as well. When we first started creating the game, we had our core team of about 30 members very early on buy the blu-ray boxset of Game of Thrones and required everyone to watch it, because we wanted this type of feel."
Sadly there is no indication on whether the team members were allowed to expense this rather unusual acquisition, or subsequently quizzed on the Targaryen dynasty. But whether you're a fan of Game of Thrones or not, there's no arguing that the series has amazing cinematography and, in its more violent moments, unforgettable choreography. It is a true spectacle.
Final Fantasy 16's art director, Hiroshi Minagawa, also chimed-in on the HBO series' influence: "If we want to create something that has that kind of western feel, we have to look to the west for that kind of inspiration. And so things like Game of Thrones are things that we look to, because that type of stuff does not exist where we live in Japan."
So if Final Fantasy 16 isn't to your taste, blame George R.R. Martin. In all seriousness this is hardly unusual, even if the diktat from above to go out and buy a boxset is funny. FromSoftware has steadily established itself as a colossus through the Souls series and now Elden Ring, games that are absolutely founded on various western mythologies and, in Elden Ring's case, literally based on a mythos written by George R.R. Martin. Rather than this being purely Square Enix looking at a popular HBO show, it feels like the publisher is quite conscious of the videogame competition, and their direction of travel.