Recently we got the chance to talk to Haruyoshi Sawatari, the man responsible for the DLC coming to Final Fantasy XV, which is out next month after what feels like a lifetime in development. We talked about what fans can expect from the DLC and what kind of content will be included, and the full interview is included below:
HS: So we'd like to give a quick explanation [of the DLC] first if that's okay?
GR: Sure, brilliant.
HS: So I think first of all you're probably wondering why you're talking to me rather than Mr Tabata, and I'll tell you exactly why that is.
HS: Okay, so first of all I'd just like to say the basic plan we have for Final Fantasy XV [...] is to continue expanding the content after the release of the main game and then the idea there is to really create content that has value to the player, something that will be appreciated as content in its own right. [During development] we decided that in order to make that plan possible we were going to create a special development team within the main game team itself in order to handle the DLC. Obviously in order for Mr Tabata to concentrate on finishing off the main game I was given responsibility for leading that special DLC team, that's me, Mr [Sawatari]. And then obviously I came up with an overall road map for DLC releases in collaboration with Mr Tabata. We spoke a lot, consulted daily on that. So I'll run you through the roadmap we have for the DLC/expansions coming out.
HS: Okay, so what we really need to do first of all is bring extra emphasis to the episodes featuring the three comrades who accompany Noctis on his journey in the main game of Final Fantasy XV. With each of those we're introducing new gameplay styles and elements, new story episodes and also new locations for these guys just to adventure. And then our ultimate objective after we've made all three of these characters into new, playable characters is to add Noctis, of course from the main game, in to have [...] online multiplayer co-op play.
GR: Okay, and that's the final one, the Comrades DLC that brings the four players together?
HS: That's the one, online play, yeah.
GR: Okay. So how and when will the content release? Have you decided at what stages you're going to be releasing this content? Is it going to be published at regular intervals?
HS: We are aiming for a pretty consistent, regular release schedule for the game, but at the moment we really are finalising all the little details of the release schedule so I can't give you any exact release dates for each episode yet. We should be able to announce those very soon though, so hold on a bit longer for that I'm afraid.
GR: Okay, so here's a quick question for you. Unless I've got this wrong, we've got the four DLCs focusing on the characters and then the Comrades, but then there's a fifth one focused on a new experience, is that correct?
HS: Okay, so the season pass itself contains six individual pieces of content [including] those four that we just mentioned. Of course there's two others: something else called a Booster Pack and something we call a Holiday Pack as well. We're going to be announcing about the contents of that Holiday Pack and Booster Pack quite soon but at the moment we haven't said too much about those yet, so you have to wait [to hear] about what those are.
GR: Okay, so what do the DLC packs for Gladiolus, Promptus and Ignis bring to the table in terms of new locations, and how will they change the actual gameplay when you're playing with these new characters?
HS: So you see some concept art here [pictured below] from Gladiolus and the location we see here is somewhere that isn't actually in the world in the main game itself, it is one of the new locations you can visit in Episode Gladiolus. It's still very early in the development days for the DLC but it gives a little bit of an indication of the kind of things you'll expect. It's still not got quite everything we want to do in terms of exactly what we're aiming for but I think you can see a reasonably good idea of the ways in which battles are based around Gladio's unique battle style. He's a big, heavy-hitting combat character. We've got some really unique gameplay tied into that there that fits with him.
GR: Will there be any DLC that isn't included in the season pass?
HS: There are lots of different plans for things like that but I can't actually reveal any of them in detail today. We'll obviously be announcing more about the non season pass stuff and our plans revolving around that a little bit further down the line, so I hope people have good expectations towards that but we can't say anything at the moment. You'll just have to wait a little while.
It's important to mention that the content we're showing you today as part of the season pass is also available separately for purchase. It's not like you have to buy the season pass to access these. The bits that appeal to players more than others, those are available individually, separately.
GR: Will they be available earlier to people with then season pass or will it be rolled out at the same time?
HS: No, we're not aiming on having it so that the season pass players get early access or anything like that, because we really come back to the core concept I explained at the start, that we want people to have this high quality experience and everyone should be able to play it when it's good and ready, when it's done and ready to play. So in that sense we just want to make it available when it's at the quality we need it to be and not try and rush to get it out quicker for season pass players.
We can't talk about any specific details of the pricing today but obviously like most game's season passes, people who've got the season pass will have a discount on buying the content over people who decide to pay for it separately.
GR: Okay, talk to me about the multiplayer expansion then. That seems like a really interesting way of bringing the three character driven expansions together. How will that all work and what can players expect from the Comrades expansion?
HS: That's exactly what we're discussing in the development team at the moment, we're fleshing out what exactly you're going to have to do in the multiplayer gameplay. I mean, we can be cryptic by saying it involves people playing as a team, and they'll face new challenges, but I think that's all we can say at this stage. But yeah, we have to be cryptic about it I'm afraid. I mean, we'll go into a lot more depth on all of this content once the main game is released, we just want to give a chance, to show people today, and talk about today, that these season pass elements and DLC elements are now in development, and like I say it now ties into something that we have going out as news tomorrow which, once you see the news tomorrow, it will make sense why we're talking about this stuff now even though it's still quite early.
GR: So 'watch this space' is basically the message?
HS: Not just that. We want people to have massive expectations for this, so 'watch with baited breath' I suppose.
GR: Is there anything else you'd like to say before we depart?
HS: What we're really aiming for with the characters in each episode is to really tailor everything to the personality of the characters themselves. So for example, obviously Episode Gladio is the one you've seen the most of here. It's really focusing on him as a strong, action-driven character, a heavy-hitting combat character with much more combat, action-focused gameplay. Then compared to that Ignis is a much more strategic, tactical take on combat, so a totally different experience there. And finally for Prompto it's going to be more of a shooting-style game, the emphasis is really going to be on shooting action, so that's the kind of gameplay differences I can point out there. So hopefully that will get people's interests up and get some high expectations towards that and how we're aiming on expanding the gameplay.
GR: Excellent. Well, looking forward to seeing more tomorrow and thank you very much for your time today.
Since we conducted that interview, however, Square Enix has revealed more information about Final Fantasy XV, not to mention a new cinematic trailer called 'Omen' which you can see below. This new trailer, created by the same studio who made Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, sees Noctis navigate a shifting world and also gives an omen of a disaster for his father King Regis.
It was also announced that Final Fantasy XV had gone gold and that development was now shifting towards the season pass. The price for said season pass was also revealed, being £19.99 or 24.99 Euros. The main focus of the season pass was reiterated to be the episodes featuring Noctis' friends, as well as Comrades.
Lastly, there was also a comment from Sawatari himself: "Last year I travelled around the world and attended many game events. I felt an amazing passion and sense of expectation towards Final Fantasy XV from series fans everywhere," he said.
"From seeing that I really wanted to make it so that the fans could enjoy the game for longer and evolve and expand it even further. I will take these feelings and give them form, to deliver an amazing experience."
Final Fantasy XV will be released on November 29 for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and we eagerly wait to hear more about the DLC coming after launch. You can read our most recent hands-on preview by clicking on this link.