Please support Game Informer. Print magazine subscriptions are less than $2 per issue


How Final Fantasy XV Is Redesigning Your Favorite Monsters

by Kimberley Wallace on Apr 20, 2016 at 09:00 AM

The Final Fantasy series has had its share of iconic monsters. From the adorable Cactuar and Moogle to the vicious Malboro and Behemoth, these classic creatures have made multiple appearances, often redesigned to fit into each entry’s universe. Stumbling upon one in a new game is part of the fun, since not only do these famous fiends spark a feeling of nostalgia, but seeing them take new designs and forms is exciting in its own right. The Final Fantasy XV team put a lot of thought into creating monsters to fit its universe, and this extends to some of its most popular beasts. While at Square Enix’s Tokyo offices, we chatted with the art team about recreating monsters for Final Fantasy XV’s more open world, while they walked us through redesigning the Catoblepas.

Note: Click on images for full size versions

Right Out Of National Geographic

One of director Hajime Tabata’s big goals for Final Fantasy XV was to create a living, breathing world that felt natural to explore. Creatures need to inhabit the world, move realistically, and be fun to encounter for battle. Since Final Fantasy XV’s world is much more grounded in reality (it gets more fantastical as you go on), the art team was tasked with creating authentic wildlife, which includes iconic monsters, to match it.  

As a frame of reference, Tabata set a high-bar for their creations. “What Tabata san said was that our goal was National Geographic – think of a Behemoth that we could have a documentary program about,” says art director Tomohiro Hasegawa. From here, the team thought about how these creatures would explore their natural habitat, from finding food to protecting itself. The team went to zoos and watched documentaries to study various wildlife for inspiration, emulating their actions and physical traits for some of Final Fantasy’s most famed enemies. 

Giving The Fantastical Catoblepas A More Realistic Bent 

(Final design pictured above)

As an example for how the team has transformed the series’ beloved monsters, we saw the different phases to their approach of recreating the long-necked mammal, Catoblepas. The Catoblepas has been featured throughout the series’ history, and the enemy has been a wide variety of colors throughout Final Fantasy’s run, from blue to purple. In Final Fantasy XV, the beast has more realistic coloring to blend in with its surroundings. 

To help get a balanced mix between a classic form and modern form, the artists used Catoblepas’ Final Fantasy V design as a starting point and reference. While some of its features, such as the long neck and one eye, are still present in the new design, the team knew it had to make adjustments to reach its goal, which was to model it as, “a living organism in real life.” 

These are early sketches, showcasing two different ways we’ve seen the Catoblepas (on all fours and standing on two feet). The team thought about the world of Final Fantasy XV and saw the benefit of having a long neck to allow it grasp things underwater. They also focused on the tusks as a way for it to rustle plants. The left design became the prototype slated for XV.

The team even went as far as to map out its bone and muscle structure, thoroughly examining its movement and shape. The inspirations for the bone structure came from giraffes, elephants, and rhinoceroses. “In order to support its long neck while searching for food, it uses its tenacious front leg muscles, long backbone, and low center of gravity to balance its neck like a suspension bridge while walking,” says artist Chihiro Hashi. It even has several large ears that it can flap to control its body temperature.

After the team settled on the final design, they had one last idea – to change the coloring depending on each region. In desert regions, it will have a sandy color, while cold regions will use bluer hues. 

What do you think of Catoblepas’ new design? Let us know in the comments!

To learn more about Final Fantasy XV, stay tuned to our month of exclusive content by clicking on the banner below.