The Final Fantasy series was once the king of the RPG genre. While its recent output is still great, one could convincingly argue that they've made a few missteps. They will inevitably put out a sixteenth numbered entry sometime in the future, and this will be their chance to rectify any recent mistakes. Whatever Square Enix does with its trademark franchise's next game, here are a few things we hope they include which would surely improve the franchise and restore any good faith it may have lost with hardcore fans over the past ten years. Keep in mind, though, Final Fantasy XVI shows no signs of even being announced anytime soon.
10 Heavier Emphasis On Science Fiction
All the best Final Fantasy games tend to have some heavy science fiction elements to them. At the same time, even the most sci-fi stories in the franchise still lean heavy into the fantastic.
Final Fantasy VII, for example, has a futuristic setting and the giant evil corporation sucking the planet dry with its energy-harvesting technology, but a mystical force called the Lifestream is still an integral part of the narrative. Final Fantasy XVI would be wise to meld the two genres in a similar fashion.
One general complaint lobbied at Final Fantasy XV was its difficulty. The game was a cakewalk, with game overs generally coming few and and far between. RPG fans like a challenge and don't mind failing tough encounters a few times before figuring out how to efficiently tackle them.
While it doesn't need to reach these levels, the Dark Souls series proves that gamers love some punishment as long as it's fair and respects the player. A harder game would force experimentation and player ingenuity.
8 Diverse Party
We understand why Final Fantasy XV had an all-male party, but hopefully future games don't follow suit. The best games in the series have a diverse, interesting cast who aren't all human beings. The less celebrated titles' intriguing characters even help players slog through them just to see what happens next to these alluring personalities.
Final Fantasy XIII is far from a fan favorite, but people still adore Lightning and several of her comrades. Maybe they shouldn't go so far as to let a mechanical puppet in the party like Cait Sith, but they need to take some risks.
7 More Exploration
Old JRPGs had their fair share of exploration. Players often had to look around on the world map and talk to people in towns to find out where they should go next.
Newer games in the genre set convenient waypoints and constant reminders of the player's objectives. While this is nice for the busy gamer, it does take away the satisfaction of discovery that older titles gave. It shouldn't be too frustrating to know where to go, but a game should not treat the player like a child either.
6 Unique Multiplayer Component
While not a turn-based experience, one of the best, most innovative RPGs of the decade is the Dark Souls series. These titles are obtuse in narrative and gameplay. To help out, players can leave messages for one another in order to guide or trick fellow adventurers. While it doesn't have to adopt this exact system, a creative integration of multiplayer would go a long way towards innovating the series. Maybe towns could have bulletin boards where players could interact with each other, or one could call upon a buddy to tackle a particular tough dungeon.
5 Morally Ambiguous Plot
Good versus evil is all well and fine, but stories are more interesting when the line between the two is blurred. Past games have dipped their toe into such an idea. Final Fantasy VII, after all, begins with the player blowing up a power plant, claiming innocent lives in the process. Players and characters should be conflicted from start to finish about who is morally just or not throughout the game, with the answer still not being clearly defined by the conclusion.
4 Freedom In Character Progression
One major draw of the genre is the ability to upgrade characters in a variety of ways as they level up. Some games restrict this, but players often appreciate at least some freedom with character progression. Final Fantasy X's Sphere Grid does this especially well.
Each character has an archetype and path, but eventually they can break from it and the player can mold them into any type of warrior. It works because players fully understand the mechanics before they are allowed to experiment. FF XVI should look towards it as an example.
3 Innovative Leveling Up
No one will complain if the game utilizes the classic leveling up mechanic of garnering experience points after each battle, but if they go out on a limb and try something new, they could really impress fans. Prior games have introduced unconventional ideas, like Final Fantasy X's Sphere Grid or Final Fantasy VII's Materia. The latter example includes the traditional system, while the Materia levels up abilities and magic. The best advice for Square is to think of something fans can't currently imagine, or perhaps a system where stats can be increased individually, like Dark Souls or Elder Scrolls.
2 Complete Upon Release
The abundance of DLC in recent Square games has really peeved fans of the company. FF XV in particular makes the extra episodes integral to the plot. In the main game, the other party members leave for a short period before coming back.
Their absences are playable as downloadable episodes. It makes the base game feel incomplete, and the extra purchases almost mandatory for the full experience. Make the game complete on day one, and use DLC for stories not so closely related to the main game.
1 Punctual Release Date
From FF XV's announcement as Final Fantasy Versus XIII to its release, a lot happened in the world. Children born when the game's first trailer came out were old enough to play the game when it finally released. Studios should take all the time they need to craft a great game, but try not letting the public know until the title is at most a year away. A ten-year wait filled with delays and shifts in direction either destroys hype or elevates it to unrealistic levels, making the final product disappointing, regardless of how good it may or may not be.