Yesterday Naoki Yoshida’s statements came to light confirming what we all already sensed when Final Fantasy XVI was announced at the Sony event last September: Final Fantasy XVI will drink much more from the action than from its origins: turns.
Actually, if we look back in the saga, we have been observing how already with FFXV this path was clearly seen. With spin-offs like FF VII: Crisis Core, or FF XIII: Lightning Returns itself, Square Enix showed openly that it was experimenting in a very clear path that it wanted to exploit. Now, FF XVI seems to confirm something obvious: the saga will not be a redoubt of turns as Dragon Quest can be.
Dragon Quest, along with, perhaps, the Persona saga, may right now be the healthiest IP in terms of jRPGs with turn-based battles. And yet, both, sooner or later, have had and released games based on battle systems that practically turn them into action-RPGs. There we have, for example, the recently released in the West Persona 5 Strikers. Quite a statement of intent.
In fact, if we look outside Square Enix, we also see how a saga as rooted in turn-based as The Legend of Heroes seems to be taking a path towards a more dynamic gameplay system, more modern or, perhaps, more accepted by the new generations of gamers. Falcom announced that their battle system would shift towards action, towards real-time, and this has directly divided their fanbase. It remains to be seen how they do it, it remains to be seen how well they do it, in which of course we trust, but the change has arrived and it is there.
Personally, I love the turns. I also like less static battle systems, but turns generate something different for me: peace, serenity, and a calm and strategic way of playing that more frenetic games do not achieve or that demand a more immediate response from me.
That’s why I wonder if the era of the traditional jRPG player is over, and above all, if it will never come back.
For many old-school players, it will be an important change, perhaps decisive in their relationship with the jRPG genre, but the virtue lies in adapting. In fact, and speaking of adaptation, if we look at how Square Enix wanted to launch the remake of a game as immensely iconic as Final Fantasy VII, we see that they have adapted to launch a game that reaches the maximum audience. And this they have achieved by changing the battle system and putting the focus on more action. Surprisingly, where there may be more debate from fans with this reinterpretation is in its plot changes and/or additions, but not in the change of battle system, which has been generally well received. Otherwise, everything is still there in the same way (or similar), even the Gold Saucer with its online casino bonuses.
So, what do you think? Are we facing the irremediable path towards the extinction of turn-based games? Will we continue to see quality sagas, with high production values, as a niche and stronghold of this playable style, as happens today with Dragon Quest? Or on the other hand, will turn-based jPRG remain isolated to projects with a lot of charm, but in some ways experimental, with little investment to risk much, as in the case of jewels like Bravely Default?
Are you among those who continue to support the old formula and buy to support, or are you already embracing the inevitable change? We are interested in your answers 🙂