Square Enix hasn’t confirmed Final Fantasy XVI is in development, but it hasn’t stopped multiple rumors of the game to have emerged over the last few days.
The rumors haven’t gone unnoticed by Square Enix — including Final Fantasy XIV director Naoki Yoshida, who stepped up to deny rumors that he’s directing it. In the most recent live stream dedicated to Final Fantasy XIV, he addressed comments asking if he was directing the next mainline entry in the stream’s chat.
“Ah, looks like some kind of big fake news came out,” Yoshida wrote. “I’ll say it clearly – it’s annoying. I’m still going to continue being in charge of FF14 for more years to come (as long as I don’t die from sickness or accident). So please ignore any non-official announcements. It’s so bothersome.”
While it comes as a relief for Final Fantasy XIV fans considering how beloved the director is, some were dejected for that very reason. Some Final Fantasy fans have hoped that the figure largely credited for redeeming Final Fantasy XIV with A Realm Reborn would also direct the next numbered title (though Yoshida has adamantly emphasized the importance of acknowledging the project as a huge team effort over the years). Although Final Fantasy XIII has grown in appreciation over the last few years, it’s one of the franchise’s most polarizing entries along with Final Fantasy XV, the last single-player mainline title.
However, after Yoshida’s comments, fans quickly gained a reason to resume excitement and speculation for Final Fantasy XVI. Ryota Suzuki, a designer on Devil May Cry 5, Dragon’s Dogma, and Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, has reportedly joined Square Enix as the battle director of a new unannounced AAA title under the company’s third business development division. It’s unclear as to whether he has recently joined or has been with the studio for some time.
Ryota Suzuki, designer of Devil May Cry 5 and Dragon’s Dogma, has joined Square Enix as the battle director of a new AAA title under the third business development division. This division is Naoki Yoshida’s (FFXIV) and this AAA title has been rumored to be Final Fantasy XVI pic.twitter.com/9fGX9QX0Ml
— Bring Peanut Butter (@dreamboum) June 6, 2020
This aforementioned title has long been rumored to be Final Fantasy XVI. Square Enix is split up into four “Creative Business Units.” The first unit, headed by Yoshinori Kitase, will be preoccupied with Final Fantasy VII Remake, among other projects like the Kingdom Hearts franchise, for the next several years. The second unit, headed by Yuu Miyake, focuses on the Dragon Quest, NieR, and Bravely series.
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The third unit is the one rumored to be working on the next mainline game of the series. In 2019, concept art for “a new core project following Final Fantasy XIV” was posted on a recruitment page for Square Enix’s third business division. “We have begun the challenge for the next generation,” says the page. “This project has already completed its initial development, has completed environment development and is now moving into a full-scale large-scale development phase.”
While it could be an entirely other IP, it’s reasonable to suspect this project is Final Fantasy XVI. While Yoshida has rejected the notion he’s the game’s main director, he didn’t deny the existence of the project nor a degree of involvement. Suzuki joining the division supports the series’ gradual shift towards action-oriented gameplay, with Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy VII Remake having real-time action battle systems involving turn-based elements compared to the turn-based systems of past entries.
It’s unknown as to when Final Fantasy XVI will be revealed, especially with COVID-19’s impact on game development studios worldwide. However, perhaps we’re getting closer to seeing an official announcement of the project in due time.
Thank you to RPG Site for the translations of Naoki Yoshida’s comments and the recruitment page on Square Enix’s third business division website.