Maybe you were wondering why Final Fantasy XVI, Square Enix’s highly anticipated action RPG, will only be available on PlayStation 5 when it launches on June 22. Well, according to Square Enix, it’s because of “the power of PlayStation 5″ that lets the team achieve next-gen (when do we call it current-gen?) combat.
FFXVI is the upcoming installment in the long-running RPG series. Pretty much since the game was revealed in June 2022, FFXVI has been dragged for a variety of reasons, including the terrible explanation for why the game is so white and the apparent lack of a multiplatform release despite previous marketing saying otherwise. Now, in a new IGN interview, Square Enix shed some light on the latter of those two points.
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After playing a curated section of FFXVI, IGN found that the game’s boss battles seamlessly transitioned between player-controlled combat and cinematic cutscenes. The gaming publication asked Square Enix about this blend, with producer Naoki Yoshida saying the team was able to achieve these impeccable transitions because the PS5 is working hard in the background.
“While you’re battling Ifrit and Garuda and having that big battle [in the hands-on demo], in the background, the PlayStation 5 is loading the next scene,” Yoshida told IGN. “It’s getting ready, so we can seamlessly move into it.”
The “big battle” Yoshida is talking about is an Eikon battle. These are massive, kaiju-like fights in FFXVI in which you, as protagonist Clive Rosfield, can assume the body of the series’ iconic summons to stomp on another summon. While they might be simpler combat situations, giving you access to a limited moveset and restricted movements, they’re also a bombastic spectacle worth watching on account of the impressive visuals on display. They look cool! And it’s these Eikon battles that seem to be the main reason why FFXVI is PS5 only, as combat director Ryoto Suzuki said that without Sony’s skyscraper-looking behemoth of a machine, the game “would still be in development right now.”
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“You are graphically representing the fists and the claws and the wings [of the Eikon abilities] and all in real time and all in these beautiful graphics and having all of these different options,” Suzuki said. “But to be able to do all of those seamlessly without any [load] times is possible because of the power of the PS5. If we didn’t have the memory the PS5 has, and also the transfer speed of the SSD that the PS5 has, we would still be in development right now.”
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Kotaku reached out to Sony and Square Enix for comment.
Still, I can’t help but think Square Enix’s rationale is a bit of an exaggeration. What Yoshida and Suzuki are talking about are merely seamless cutscenes in games, things we’ve seen in Lost Odyssey, Max Payne 3, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the opening race sequence in every Forza Horizon game, and so many more. Hell, even Super Mario 64 had smooth transitions from cutscene to gameplay and that was back in 1996. So, saying the game can seemingly only achieve next-generation combat (whatever that actually means) because of the power of the PlayStation 5 sounds a bit presumptuous to me. I guess we’ll find out when Final Fantasy XVI comes out this June.