Final Fantasy XVI will have a suite of accessibility options when it launches on June 22. However, it’s taking an untraditional approach to the idea by turning various settings into items that can be equipped.
Digital Trends recently went hands-on with a 90-minute demo of Final Fantasy XVI. During the press event, the development team put a major emphasis on accessibility, introducing the action-RPG’s unique implementation. Rather than giving players a settings menu full of options to toggle on and off, players equip different helper tools in their accessory slots.
I got to see several of those tools in action during my demo. One allowed for a one-button combat mode, letting players execute complex combos and actions by simply hammering the square button (Bayonetta 3 had a similar option last year). Another would slow down time before protagonist Clive Rosfield is about to take damage, letting players complete a quick-time event to dodge. There’s even an item that will let Clive auto-dodge entirely, as well as one to enable auto-heal.
Those items function the same way as accessories do and can be equipped in the gear menu. Clive can only wear a few accessories at a time, though, so players won’t be able to equip them all at once. It also means that the items will take the place of other accessories, so players will have to choose between adding a gameplay-easing perk or a regular stat buff.
In discussing the system during a roundtable interview, Producer Naoki Yoshida went into depth about how the system came to be. For the team, the goal was to naturally integrate accessibility into the game in a way that didn’t take players out of the experience.
“I’m 50 years old and I have pride as a gamer,” Yoshida says. “When I first play an action game, it always says ‘difficulty level: Easy, Medium, Hard.’ And again, because I have pride as a gamer, I don’t want to choose Easy! So I’ll play on Medium or Hard, but the first time you die, then it comes up: ‘Do you want to switch to Easy?’ So I didn’t want players to have to feel that as well. I wanted to create a system where players wouldn’t be forced into this decision. We wanted something that felt accessible, but also customizable so each player could create something that felt like a difficulty level that matched them well.”
The decision could be a double-edged sword for Square Enix. On one hand, it’s a smart way to stay true to Final Fantasy XVI’s RPG roots, integrating accessibility into its character customization. On the other hand, it does present a potential impediment for players who need those tools. There are only a limited number of slots available, and choosing to equip those items means sacrificing standard gear optimization. It’s unclear if Final Fantasy XVI has standard accessibility options outside of equipment, so players will need to wait for the final release to see the full implementation.
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