Meet the key Final Fantasy XVI development team


If you want to know what an upcoming video game will look like, one thing is more likely to give you a good idea than anything else: taking a close look at the people behind it. For those who are eagerly waiting Final Fantasy XVIwe finally have a better idea of ​​who the various project leaders are.

Of course, you can read the FF16 character preview and try to glean what you can from the new trailer and world screenshots. But if you ask us, knowing who the staff is for a game like this is just as important as all that pre-release hype – because it can really tell you something about the game than Square Enix’s promotional machine. could not otherwise.

Basically, it’s a great way to help predict the nature of Final Fantasy XVI and set your expectations accordingly. So let’s just do that, shall we?

Final Fantasy XVI Development Team: Meet the Key Players

So, without further ado, here they are – the faces that will power the latest Final Fantasy game. Naturally, any video game development of this size is the work of hundreds of people, not just a handful – but those names are the ones in directorial roles, the people who will shape the project in the most meaningful ways.

Some of them will already be very familiar to you; others you may never have heard of before. But here they are, and here’s a short bio of each to help you find out what they’ll bring to FF16.

Naoki Yoshida – Producer

Naoki Yoshida doesn’t need much of an introduction for Final Fantasy fans; affectionately known as Yoshi-P, he was the man who stepped in to save Final Fantasy XIV – and arguably the series itself – from irreparable damage when the original release of FF’s second MMO went seriously wrong. .

Before FF14, Yoshida started his career at Hudson Soft, where he worked on several games including a Bomberman title. After joining Square Enix, he first worked on a number of Dragon Quest spin-offs, before being called on to direct the FF14 reboot. He was a natural fit for FF14, as he was an avowed fan of MMOs, having spent many hours playing titles like EverQuest, Ultima Online, World of Warcraft, and Guild Wars.

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Aside from basic special thanks and division-related credits, FF16 will be Yoshida’s first major credit outside of FF14 since taking charge of the FF14 project. If he remains both Producer and Director on the FF14 expansions, he takes a step back to only be a producer on FF16. This brings us to the next key member of staff, the Director of FF16.

Hiroshi Takai – Director


Credited as FF16’s “lead director”, you can think of Takai as Yoshida’s go-to man on the project – and in many ways he was for Yoshida for a while.

We have an entirely separate article describing the career of FF16 director Hiroshi Takai in more detail, but the short version is that he joined Square in the early 90s, working on Final Fantasy IV and V, before moving on to the SaGa series. and Mana. , including SaGa Frontier, until he was drafted into the Final Fantasy XI team.

Takai’s most telling credit is the 2008 RPG The Last Remnant, a high-fantasy affair that seems to have some subtle similarities to FF16. After this game, Takai joined Naoki Yoshida and was working on an action RPG which they later described as more like Bloodborne – but before Bloodborne existed.

This project was scrapped, however, when the Yoshida was drafted for the struggling project that was Final Fantasy XIV 1.0. Takai went with it, joining the A Realm Reborn team to help fix this game. He worked on a few expansions, then transferred over to a new unknown project named “Faith” – which we now of course know as Final Fantasy XIV.

Kazutoyo Maehiro – Creative Director and Original Screenplay

The man primarily responsible for the story of FF16 is a Kazutoyo Maehiro, a less famous figure among Square Enix developers but with a surprisingly impressive and varied resume.

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Maehiro’s first contact with Final Fantasy came with Final Fantasy Tactics, where he worked as an event planner – which at the time meant implementing and partly writing the story sequences. He then worked on Vagrant Story, with the same time, but on that title he worked on the map and level design, and was actually in charge of the maps for the game. So he’s comfortable at both to write and to work on game systems.

Maehiro’s career oscillates widely between these two disciplines; on both versions of Final Fantasy XII he acted as lead combat system designer, but on Final Fantasy XIV he acted as lead scriptwriter for A Realm Reborn and the Heavensward expansion. After that, it seemed to largely transition to FF16. Those familiar with the stories from these parts of FF14 and FF Tactics will have a good idea of ​​the kind of story Maehiro is likely to deliver.

Notably, Maehiro also worked with Takai on The Last Remnant, so that’s another piece of connective tissue between FF16 and this interesting little 360/PS3-era title.

Michael-Christopher Koji Fox – Localization Director

Another beloved Square Enix name who found fame through the Final Fantasy XIV fanbase, Michael-Christopher Koji Fox takes on a role similar to his on FF14 – that of the game’s localization boss. .

His entire career has been in this field, working as a translator on titles like Final Fantasy XI, Dirge of Cerberus and Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions before finally ending up on the Final Fantasy XIV team. He’s one of the few senior figures from the original FF14 to transfer into A Realm Reborn, and has remained with the game ever since.

His role in FF16 cannot be overstated, as we know from Naoki Yoshida’s comments that the story scenes of FF16 were first recorded in English and later translated back into Japanese and other languages. – contrary to the tradition of the series. As the custodian of the English interpretation of FF16’s story, he will have a significant influence on the narrative of the final product.

Hiroshi Minagawa – Artistic Director

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Hiroshi Minagawa makes a triumphant return to the Final Fantasy series for FF16 – and continues the running theme with FF16 of a strong lineage from Final Fantasy Tactics to this new game. FFT was Minagawa’s first FF, after Tactics Ogre, and it later served as the Visual Design Director on FF12.

Minagawa flirted with directing on the PSP remake of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, but in recent years he’s been widely known for his work as art director on recent FF14 expansions. However, he also has an eye for UI and led UI design for FF14 on A Realm Reborn and Heavensward.

Having worked on Tactics, 12 and 14 so extensively, Minagawa’s art is arguably most strongly associated with Final Fantasy after the art of Tetsuya Nomura and Yoshitaka Amano, so he’s a fitting figure to step into that role for FF16. – and it’s easy for fans to predict what kind of designs they’ll come up with.

Ryota Suzuki – Fight Director

Ryota Suzuki made waves in 2019 when it was revealed that he left Capcom to join Square Enix to work on an as-yet-unknown triple-A title that we now know to be FF16. And like most of the staff, his hiring to join Yoshida and Takai’s team as combat director speaks to the kind of game FF16 is likely to be.

Is FF16 turn-based? Certainly not. Will there be playable party members? Probably not. In fact, looking at the trailers, we can see more than a subtle similarity to the last game Suzuki worked on at Capcom – Devil May Cry 5. Prior to that, Suzuki worked as one of the game maintainers. gameplay design on the very excellent Dragon’s Dogma, another action RPG. He also has credits in a range of fighting games, and even as a programmer on Monster Hunter World – so he was all over Capcom.

It’s that Devil May Cry connection that makes Suzuki stand out, though, especially with the look of FF16’s fight in recent trailers. In an interview on a Japanese recruitment site talking about joining Square Enix, Suzuki even commented on what he considered the company’s biggest challenge.

“In the past, command battles were common, but nowadays hardware has improved and games that incorporate action elements are becoming common, even in RPGs,” Suzuki said. “It became necessary for us to establish a system for creating RPGs with action elements.”

Kazuya Takahashi – Character Design

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Arguably the least-known name on this high-profile list of FF16 personnel, Takahashi nonetheless has quite the star-studded resume, starting with a background designer role on Final Fantasy IX and X. In this first stage of his Square Enix career, he also worked with Yoko Taro on the first two Drakengard games.

Like much of the FF16 staff, his true association with Final Fantasy came with Final Fantasy XIV, with Takahashi entering the FF15 series with A Realm Reborn as part of Yoshida’s team to fix the game. Since then, he’s acted as character designer on all expansions, up to Endwalker – and now he’s taking on the same role on FF16.

Takahashi has it all active presence on Twitter – and through this account we’ve seen quite a few glimpses of characters from the world of FF16. It has a distinct style that perfectly matches Minagawa’s art direction.

Masayoshi Soken – Composer

Masayoshi Soken is another highly regarded member of the Final Fantasy XIV team, where, in true Final Fantasy tradition, he maintained a fairly public position as the MMO’s lead composer. But his story with Square begins much earlier, more than twenty years ago.

Soken has worked extensively on many smaller Square titles, including Drakengard 2, Front Mission 5, Dawn of Mana, Lord of Vermillion, and Mario Hoops 3-on-3, as sound designer or composer. But his big breakthrough came with the original FF14, where he shared songwriting duties with several others, including FF music god Nobuo Uematsu and FF11 legend Naoshi Mizuta.

Once Yoshida joined A Realm Reborn, Soken was covering the music for FF14, paying homage to Uematsu while leaving his own stamp on things. It was here that he found his fame with fans, both as a composer but also as a star, performing FF14 music on stage at fan festivals alongside fellow FF16 director Michael -Christopher Koji Fox, who often sang. The pair are part of an FF14 group, The Primals.

People figured out pretty quickly that Soken was the composer for FF16 – the first trailer had his signature music all over it. It’s likely that Soken will be joined by other composers on FF16, however – no FF since FF9 was not composed by a single musician, and Soken continues to juggle work on FF14 with FF16, and recently successfully underwent cancer chemotherapy treatment.


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