A new trailer for World of Final Fantasy was just released in anticipation of E3 next week. World of Final Fantasy was announced at E3 2015 last year, but since its announcement came right before Final Fantasy VII Remake broke the internet, and Final Fantasy news has been primarily about the upcoming Final Fantasy XV, the game has been mostly overshadowed, and details have been sparse. All we knew up until this week is that it features old characters from the series and its main characters appear very Kingdom Hearts-like, while the returning characters have a chibi, anime style more similar to their Theatrhythm Final Fantasy versions.
The trailer comes with a couple new plot details. We learn that the main characters use “mirages,” which appears to be the characters transforming into chibi versions of past Final Fantasy characters. We also get to see old characters from the series make an appearance, such as Edgar Roni Figaro and Celes Chere, and hear their English voice actors for the first time (spoiler: they’re awesome). We also know that there are villains known as the “Federation,” and four keys representing four elements (with “shadow” in place of “air”), as well as four champions of these keys who will also presumably be villains. Our main characters belong to the League, with its home base in Balamb Garden. And aside from that, it’s largely just the same story we’ve seen from games in the past.
While the trailer mostly focuses on the story, some gameplay was shown. It looks like World of Final Fantasy uses the classic menu-based pseudo-turn based combat that hasn’t been in the main series since Final Fantasy X, but has been in spinoffs such as Final Fantasy Dimensions and related titles such as Bravely Default. And since we’re seeing lots of characters and locations from past games, it’s safe to say this’ll be another spinoff with a collection of returning characters, similar to what we’ve seen in Dissidia, Theathryhthm and Record Keeper, but with a story that isn’t related to Cosmos or Chaos. The final thing we learned was the release date: Oct. 25, 2016, nearly a month after Final Fantasy XV is out.
The game looks to be a welcome entry to the franchise. The art style is extremely cute; it has an interesting anime/chibi style that works really well and does a great job at making characters from different games with very distinct art styles and settings all appear consistent. It’s the typical Final Fantasy spinoff filled with characters from the past games as seen in Dissidia and Theathrhythm, as well as several mobile spinoffs. This appears to be a key part of the Square Enix business model with this franchise; games like these easily sell themselves to the core fans with nostalgia, while showcasing the characters of past games to the newer fans and consequently selling the other entries in the franchise to those who get invested in it.
Releasing this game after Final Fantasy XV may have been intentional, they clearly want it to build up a new generation of Final Fantasy fans and then direct them straight to the old games and keep them as core fans. It’s an extremely efficient way to make a return on the huge investment that Final Fantasy XV has become in its many years of development.
I’m really curious as to why Square Enix chose to focus on the story more than the gameplay for this trailer. While the reaction has been positive so far, they still need to convince people that they should be interested in this game and should want to learn more, and when people still have no clue what this game is, it’s odd that they’re showing us minor details about the story. What’s more probable is they chose to release this trailer before E3 before it gets completely drowned out by whatever they show about Final Fantasy XV (and maybe even Final Fantasy VII Remake?).
As a big fan of the series, I’m interested in the game, and will very likely end up buying it. I’m sure lots of hyper fans will buy it too, if only to see the voice actors of characters from all the pre-X games that are making an appearance and to play as their favorite character again. But to more casual fans, those who may be converted to the series straight after XV, I’d honestly advise just waiting until the reviews come in. They’ve been quiet about this game, which could mean any number of things, but while we still know very little, it’s best not to make assumptions. For now I’d recommend taking a wait-and-see approach.