Today is October 29th, 2016. Some might simply see it as the Saturday before Halloween, but gamers that care for Japanese games and for the Final Fantasy series have one more reason to celebrate: Final Fanatasy XV‘s release is only one month away. After a small delay, the game will finally hit the shelves worldwide on November 29th.
While we could debate for hours on whether the wait should be considered starting from the announcement of Final Fantasy Versus XIII in 2006, or the re-reveal of Final Fantasy XV in 2013, it has been exactly ten years, seven months and 21 days since the first time in which we have read “this is a fantasy based on reality” and we have seen Noctis stare down the Imperial army for the first time.
Let us relive that moment.
Below you can read the official press release sent by Square Enix for the occasion.
FINAL FANTASY Versus XIII for PlayStation 3 system
Harmony is realized in this alternate tale of FINAL FANTASY XIII
Not a merely a sequel, but a wholly independent story unfolding in a different world with different characters. This title will appear alongside FINAL FANTASY XIII on the PlayStation 3 system.
When coupled with FINAL FANTASY XIII, FINAL FANTASY Versus XIII completes the core of the FABULA NOVA CRYSTALLIS Project.
*This title is not yet concept approved by Sony Computer Entertainment America
Key Development Staff
- Director & Character designer: Tetsuya Nomura (FINAL FANTASY V~VIII, FINAL FANTASY X, FINAL FANTASY VII ADVENT CHILDREN, KINGDOM HEARTS)
- Movie director: Takeshi Nozue (FINAL FANTASY IX, FINAL FANTASY X, FINAL FANTASY VII ADVENT CHILDREN, KINGDOM HEARTS)
- Composer: Yoko Shimomura (LEGEND OF MANA, Parasite EVE, KINGDOM HEARTS)
- Producer: Shinji Hashimoto
Since then much has changed, and it’s difficult to gauge how much of the original project remains, but one thing is for sure: one way or another, thirty days from now many of us will finally explore the world of Final Fantasy XV, connecting with Noctis and his bros. The circle will finally close ten years, seven months and 21 days after that fateful E3.
Back then I was still a relative greenhorn writing for an outlet of which I barely remember the name. We were still playing with our PS2 consoles, some of us had just moved to the Xbox 360, whole others were still eagerly waiting to let Sony bleed them dry with the upcoming PS3.
Do you remember the other games showcased during that E3? Heavenly Sword, Mass Effect, Gears of War, Warhawk, BioShock, Assassin’s Creed and The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess were some of the titles that impressed us back then.
Some of us were kids, and I’m quite positive that many of you hadn’t even started gaming back them. Our lives have changed so much, and gaming has changed as well. It almost feels unreal that we’re now at the end of that long road trip that accompanied us for a long part of our life as gamers. It’s certainly very nostalgic, but the final stop is at hand.
And what a ride it has been: the beginning started strong, with news coming in relatively often, but then the lapses between reveals widened, and the news turned into rumors, which then turned into silence.
While the press posted a stream of misleading rumors from the usual anonymous sources “familiar with the project” about the alleged cancellation of the game, changes were afoot internally at Square Enix.
At E3 2013, Adam Boyes walked on Sony’s stage to introduce a video message from Tetsuya Nomura, followed by a trailer that revealed the rebranding of Versus XIII into Final Fantasy XV, and the move form PS3 exclusive to a multiplatform on PS4 and Xbox One.
Yet, despite the seven years in the making, the road trip was closer to its beginning than to the end: development wasn’t very far past the concept stage, and no release window was in sight.
In 2014 Square Enix’s new President Yosuke Matsuda made the news official: a large part of the development team of Final Fantasy Type-0 had been shifted on Final Fantasy XV, and Hajime Tabata, who directed the PSP title, took the helm of the upcoming mainline game, with Tetsuya Nomura moving on to focus on Kingdom Hearts III. Of course this is recent history, and probably a lot fresher in the memories of many of us than the earlier leg of this long trip.
Square Enix had become a a very different company compared to the one JRPG fans were used to. After the difficult period with the polarized response to Final Fantasy XIII and the absolute disaster of the launch of Final Fantasy XIV 1.0, rebuilding was in progress.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Director and Producer Naoki Yoshida had brought a gust of fresh air with his Letters from the Producer Live, opening the doors to the fans and to a new and more open house of Final Fantasy, as opposed to the old Square Enix, secretive and set in its traditional ways.
Hajime Tabata and his team fully embraced this new philosophy, starting the series of Active Time Report broadcasts, giving gamers frequent updates on development, and embracing direct fan feedback, something that had been pretty much unthinkable just a few short years before.
The renewed development team worked tirelessly on the new direction of the game, taking inspiration from the roots of the series, but also from western RPGs and more modern concepts. Two demos were released in relatively rapid succession to allow fans to test mechanics and provide feedback, in an open and transparent development process that appeared completely alien to the Square Enix of old.
The new direction wasn’t always welcomed by the whole fanbase, as voices that bemoaned the departure from what was seen as Tetsuya Nomura’s original vision were certainly present, and quite loud. Yet the development team kept working hard on its vision, while embracing the constructive feedback that was seen as fitting to the project. In just a few years of extremely hard work, they turned a project that had just left the concept stage into a full-fledged and massive game that is now being printed on real, tangible PS4 and Xbox One disks.
After the bombastic announcement of the release date in March and a short delay announced in August, Two days ago Final Fantasy XV finally went gold, and from what we have been given to see, it has the full potential to mark another big step in the rebirth of the Final Fantasy series. We don’t yet know if the game will be as good as early signals seem to indicate, but I’m not ashamed to say that I’m openly and enthusiastically cheering for that to happen.
Two years ago, I wrote how Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is a positive, uplifting story that made (and still makes) me smile. My hope is that, come December, I’ll spend the upcoming Holidays smiling and writing another heartwarming story about Final Fantasy XV, celebrating the years of dedication by its director and development team. May it be another uplifting story of effort crowned by success.