The lights are on
At PAX East 2017, I sat down with Final Fantasy XV producer Haruyoshi
Sawatari to discuss the upcoming Final Fantasy XV: Episode Gladiolus, Chapter 13, his favorite games, and so much more. Read on for the full interview.
Game Informer: How
long does the DLC take to complete?
We’re kind of impressed that you actually got to that second
boss fight in 30 minutes. Going back to your first question, we generally think a
normal playthrough will be anywhere between an hour and a half to two hours,
depending on player skill and how familiar they are with the basic mechanics.
There’s stuff in the trailer you probably weren’t able to
see yet in your 30 minutes, but that’s about the rough playtime we’re
expecting. So there are a lot of things within Episode Gladiolus for the players,
and a lot of different enemies and stuff in the trailer that they’ll be able to
play so, the hour and a half, two hours might go by really quickly for the
fans, but there’s a lot we crammed in there.
And there’s actually additional modes that unlock after you
do one full playthrough, so maybe that two hours is for that first playthrough,
but the additional modes that unlock kind of offer more replay value for the
players to challenge themselves with the different modes.
Are you familiar with the Dark Souls series at all? When
I was playing it I got a big Dark Souls vibe with the enemies.
So, basically the main goal when designing Episode Gladiolus was designing gameplay that really brings out the character of Gladiolus – the muscle, the strength, the physicality. So it wasn’t something where we drew
direct inspiration from any other title. But that being said, the development team are gamers; they’ll play the catalog of the games that are out
there, so games like Dark Souls, For Honor, the dev team is very familiar with
those. So there might be elements, you know, ideas, inspiration, but nothing
directly drawn from any other title. It was more about, what does Gladiolus play
like? What should he play like?
The thing that we kept in mind the most was the main
game (Final Fantasy XV). The battle systems designed around Noctis was highly praised by a
lot of our fan base, and kind of his style, his mobility, his ability to warp
strike, use magic, and kind of dodge attacks, was something that people were
really fond about. So we wanted to create something that was complimentary to
that, but focused more on the character of Gladiolus, bringing it really into to
the new gritty battle system, without the flashiness that Noctis has, but
bringing it still on par in terms of quality that the main game was able to
So can the player unlock anything in the DLC that he can
bring into the core game?
there are things that carry over, whether it’s items or weapons. There are
things for people to look forward to so after they do a normal play through or
the additional modes that unlock, there are certain thresholds that they meet,
and items will be carried over into their main game experience.
So I really enjoyed picking up the pillars and smashing them
on enemies, what’s the coolest thing that Gladiolus can do in the DLC?
I personally love pulling the columns down and swinging
them as well. The columns and the pillars are something that we put in, that
only Gladio would be able to do out of those four main characters. But the
thing that we think brings out the most of his character is...there’s something
called a perfectly time block in the game. When he’s able to perform that, it
opens the enemies up to a full counterattack, and those counterattacks are like
stuff that you saw in the trailer, where he picks up enemies and swings them by
the legs, or slams them into the ground. Those are, what we feel like represent
the character of Gladio the most.
with this DLC focusing on Gladio, can we expect to see DLCs for the other
characters as well?
obviously Episode Gladiolus is on the 28th of this month. We do have
plans for Episode Prompto and Episode Ignis.
Outside of XV, what’s your favorite Final Fantasy game
I'd probably say FF X. At the time, for the visual
standard that that game was able to achieve, being within the industry, but
seeing that out there, was something I remember really fondly – the
reaction that I had when I first saw it.
What’s your favorite monster from the series, and favorite
boss from the series?
So it’s hard to pick a monster, because there are so many
memorable ones. But if I had to pick a boss, I really like
Ardyn from XV, in just kind of how easy it is to hate him, and what he stands
for – the trickery and the deceit and all that. So Ardyn would probably be my choice for favorite boss, or favorite character in that sense.
along this line of questioning, your favorite summon in the series?
The one that stands out is Titan from Final Fnatasy XV, and
only because of that kind of visual impact. If Titan was designed in a current-gen, kind of realistic way, that’s exactly how he’d probably look like, and
that’s how he turned out. So I think it left a mark in terms of what Titan
should look like.
So going back to Final Fantasy XV, talk a little bit about the process of
Chapter 13, and what’s going on with that.
So there is an update planned for this month that includes
enhancements to chapter 13. So before, obviously, it was
just Noctis by himself, kind of alone without the powers of his weapon
summoning abilities. But what we’ve done for chapter 13, is we’ve added a
separate route for Gladio and Ignis after they get split off from Noctis, so
you actually get to play as Gladio, and see what happened from their side of
things until they reunited with Noctis. You’ll see some additional
cutscenes [that] just show you what took place while Noctis was kind of on his
own. You’ll get some actual gameplay with the party of Gladio and Ignis
together. You’ll see what happened to Emperor Aldercapt and Revis, and where they ended up being during the whole time. These are just the supplementary scenes that were added into chapter 13, and that’s just
for chapter 13. But aside from that, we’re overhauling the ring magic, so the
three spells that you could use with the Ring of the Lucii, those are
completely powerful now, like super powerful now. So those are some other
things to look forward to.
What’s your favorite game of all time, and you can’t pick a
So, maybe Bloodborne. The amount of times I died while
playing that game left a memorable place in my heart.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
In my free time, I actually likes to watch a lot of
movies. I'm a big movie buff, but I also enjoy sports, and I'm also on a soccer club.
now I have to ask what’s your favorite movie of all time?
Redemption. Of the most recent movies, probably La La Land.
So what’s the absolute coolest thing about the DLC?
The thing that stands out the most
about Episode Gladiolus is the battle system. That kind of balance between
offense and defense, where by defending you raise your attack power, and by
attacking you’re able to form the stronger glaive arts. But, it’s a simple
offense-defense system, but that’s where the player skill comes into play, in
terms of knowing when to guard, when to have your attack power multiplier at
maximum. It just creates a lot of freedom for the player to try out
different things, and that’s going to be the core of the secondary modes that
unlock after you play the first playthrough. Because your performance is scored
basically, and you see how well you perform in terms of doing, all the
different actions you do are associated with a certain score, so you kind of
have to see if you can get a better score than your friends and that kind of
But really it’s that design of that battle system being so
open and flexible for anyone to enjoy, but also inserting the cutscenes at
dramatic moments and giving that overall experience. But yeah, that battle
system is probably the core of Episode Gladio.
Who’s your favorite character in Final Fantasy XV?
Maybe Prompto. He feels the most human out
of the four. He’s the commoner; he’s the relatable one for all of us.
Email the author Daniel Tack, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.