Final Fantasy XV's Director Wants to Make You Cry

By Ian Dransfield on at

When I last spoke with Hajime Tabata, Final Fantasy XV's director, he was in a positive mood. The game's demo had just been released to much acclaim, and hopes were running high for the eventual release of the fifteenth Final Fantasy.

Fast forward to Gamescom 2015 and I met up with Tabata again, this time a man on the receiving end of some rather... enthusiastic criticism, let's call it. Square Enix had decided not to reveal much information about the game, beyond a new trailer, and Tabata's contribution to things had been vague at best.

But don't let that get you down - Final Fantasy XV is definitely coming before 2017. I discussed with the director just how this project, already a decade or so in development, was holding everything together without fracturing into a pile of messy rubbish, or crumbling into mediocrity under the weight of a thousand focus tests.

"Having objectives already in mind, using focus testing in a focused way, is really the way to approach that," Tabata told me, "The way we look at the feedback testing - and what we think the most important way of using that is - is really to test that what we want to get across has been received and understood by the audience."

The use of that feedback, Tabata went on to explain, helps the team to learn if the audience gets it - mechanics, settings, story, everything. "If they do: great, it worked," he said, "If they didn't, then this is when we break it down and ask how we can change that to get across what we want to do and achieve our objective."

A big part of the Final Fantasy XV recipe is, according to Tabata, the story - he mentioned it repeatedly through our chat and clearly places a lot of emphasis on getting it right. So there's unlikely to be many Tidus and Yuna laughing scenes in XV. What Tabata does hope, though, is that he can make an emotional story. In fact, the man actively wants to make you pump water from your peepers:

"I really want to touch a lot of people and make them cry, yes," he told me, "It's a very emotional story, but it's not just about that sad, tragic element - there's going to be expressions of joy and expressions of exuberance and all kinds of other human emotions. I really want to make a great emotional experience for people - you can look forward to a very deep, emotional story with a lot of different emotions in it."

But when pushed on revealing more information during the German event, Tabata kept up the stonewall - but offered an olive branch of apology: "We're planning on releasing more information during PAX Prime," he said. "This is my first time at Gamescom - after coming here and seeing what kind of event it is, how everyone views it, I was really surprised. The expectations people have and the kind of the new information people wanted to see at this eventĀ  is something that maybe I wasn't quite prepared for.

"It really has been a learning experience - this is a very important event, people see it as a very important place on the gaming calendar."

I'm now accepting bets on Square Enix making a huge FFXV reveal at Gamescom 2016. Anyone?