Unveiling the Expanded Universe of Final Fantasy 16: Increased Difficulties and Concluded Storylines

FFXVI’s DLC director Takeo Kujiraoka provided updates on the development of FFXVI’s post-game content, particularly from Echoes of the Fallen leading up to the Leviathan-themed DLC.

By Michael Higham on February 3, 2024 at 6:00AM PST

Final Fantasy XVI concluded distinctly, but its DLC rollout discovers more about its world of Valisthea. Unanswered questions within the main storyline warranted additional content. The first DLC, Echoes of the Fallen was released in December 2023 for those desiring to further delve into the action and role-play of lead character, Clive. The imminent Rising Tide DLC is set to finalize the whole package and allow for Leviathan to be used as an Eikon power while also answering questions left unresolved in the base game. Upon completion of Echoes of the Fallen, a conversation was had with FFXVI DLC director Takeo Kujiraoka about the creation of post-game content and its implications for this specific chapter in the well-regarded saga.

The developers took into account player feedback shortly after the game’s release. “We intentionally altered the balance of the battle from the main game. Specifically, we heightened the general strength of the enemies in the DLC”, Kujiraoka explained. This became evident in the boss fight against Omega. It was a delight for die-hard Final Fantasy fans, especially those fond of MMORPGs. However, it was also a challenging encounter that required several attempts to overcome. It was more strenuous than any boss encountered in the main story and borrowed complex mechanics reminiscent of Final Fantasy XIV‘s raid bosses, thus allowing the battle system to excel yet again.

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Kujiraoka said that the team paid attention to the community playing FFXVI, saying, “In part, this is because we had set the enemy strength a little low in the main game to ensure that as many players as possible would be able to reach the ending. But, from player reactions and streams, it seemed to me that we could maybe push that enemy strength a little higher.” He also mentioned that since both DLCs open up just before the final act of the base game, players will be experienced–though, I must admit, it took a little while to shake off the rust from returning to the game after months.

As a long-time FFXIV player who takes part in Savage raids, it wasn’t just the degree of difficulty that left an impression, but how familiar the process felt in learning how to beat the boss. There’s some resemblance to the Omega boss fights in the MMORPG that came through in FFXVI’s version. So, I had to ask about the potential cross-pollination, considering the umbrella of Square Enix’s Creative Business Unit III, which developed both games.

“We might draw from past installments from the series, including FFXIV, for inspiration on how to visualize skills or for naming, but these are purely homages to previous titles and a nod to the fans. Having said that, it is surprising how many more players than expected feel the influence of FFXIV in FFXVI,” Kujiraoka said. And I suppose that’s true given the nature of the MMORPG being a sort of Final Fantasy theme park–FFXIV director and producer Naoki Yoshida’s words, not mine. Kujiraoka continued, “FFXIV features all kinds of enemies from the series as a whole, and it’s also the first time that a lot of skills are portrayed in 3D. Perhaps that means these appearances in FFXIV might leave a particularly strong impression? And perhaps FFXIV and FFXVI feel similar because they share some common elements in the way they add variation to how battles unfold and how they place importance on the narrative.”

That’s not the only similarity the action-RPG shares with the MMO–composer Masayoshi Soken was in his bag with the Echoes of the Fallen DLC in which he remixed the Omega boss theme “eScape” from FFXIV into a chaotic, trance-like drum ‘n’ bass track. Kujiraoka provided some insight on how music came together for the DLC, and told me, “When speaking to Soken, I would always explain the situation where the piece would be used, places where I’d want to switch the music, etc., all whilst showing him actual gameplay. At times, I did specify particular moods and genres. But from that point onwards, the composition team–first and foremost Soken himself–had absolute freedom to work on the music.” Music is integral to how those worlds are built which is evident from the soundtracks for all the FFXIV expansions. Without knowing where Echoes of the Fallen was going, I had this assured feeling it revolved around Omega judging from the music alone. The leitmotifs from the FFXIV version come through in the background theme as you ascend the dungeon where the DLC takes place. And my suspicions were confirmed, so it feels like Soken is very much a part of how these stories come across.

Kujiraoka said, “There were times where Soken might have decided it would work best to have another piece [of music] inserted between the two that were requested, and we would end up getting back more tracks than we ordered. I trust him, so I left those kinds of decisions to him.” Essentially, Soken and the sound team were allowed to just cook. As Kujiraoka confirmed, “This was also the result of Soken’s own thinking: building upon the atmosphere of Echoes of the Fallen and his idea of Omega.”

However, that’s not all. With regards to the upcoming Leviathan-themed DLC, Kujiraoka told me, “We have also received the music for The Rising Tide, and every piece is fantastic. You can expect great things!” Maybe it’s time to get “Through the Maelstrom” and “Blinding Indigo” from the FFXIV OST back into my music rotation.

Final Fantasy games’ DLCs, such as FFXVI, have been focusing on enhancing the world of Valisthea. However, Kujiraoka stated, “Completing more DLCs would be challenging as the loose ends from the main game have been attended to in the first and second DLC.” Despite this, he hinted that there might still be hidden gems in the outer isles across Valisthea’s seas. Therefore, this two-part DLC arc might not be the last voyage into Valisthea’s universe.

FFXVI successfully incorporated complex narrative themes like enslavement and uprising. For the upcoming Rising Tide DLC, Kujiraoka expressed that he’s interested in exploring the survival of a world with fewer crystals or inability to use crystals. This again ties into the comparative representation between these magic-granting crystals and fossil fuels.

Climate change has always been a fundamental narrative in FFXVI. The game frequently reflected on the potential future where the world survives without the crystals— a harmful resource to their world. Supporting the same idea, Kujiraoka said, “We have tried to portray an optimistic outlook of people living life without magic in the game.”

The DLC, Echoes of the Fallen, which approximately takes two to three hours to complete, is now available. It serves as a precursor to The Rising Tide DLC, scheduled for a Spring 2024 release. For those yet to try the base game, a Final Fantasy XVI review is available, providing a 9/10 score and stating “Its stunning moments and characters, making it one of the great entries in the Final Fantasy series.”

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Senior Editor and Host at GameSpot. Filipino-American. Ask me about Yakuza, FFXIV, Persona, or Nier. If it’s RPGs, I have it covered. Apparently I’m the tech expert here, too? Salamat sa ‘yong suporta!

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