Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin’s Devs Discuss Changes Made Based on Player Feedback – Tokyo Game Show 2021
The development team behind Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin have been taking player feedback to heart as they work to improve the game ahead of its release next year – in ways even they didn’t expect.
After hearing all the speculation from fans about the identity of Chaos following the initial demo that was released in the summer, the developers — a collaboration of minds from Square Enix and Team Ninja — went ahead and included his name (Jack Garland, i.e. the name of the main character) in the new trailer that was shown during Tokyo Game Show 2021.
“The protagonist is Garland, and I’d had in mind for a while that one day, I’d like to tell the story of how Garland turns into Chaos,” producer Tetsuya Nomura said during a special presentation for the game on Saturday night. Nomura participated as a voiceover, while other members of the team and two guest players appeared in person. “But for some reason, the trailer spoiled the twist, I guess.”
Jin Fujiwara, one of the producers, told the team the proverbial moogle was out of the bag already, leading to the inclusion of the scene at the end of the TGS trailer.
“Fujiwara told me as well,” Nomura said. “He said, ‘People outside of Japan have figured it out already, let’s just reveal it’.”
Other than spoiling Nomura’s twist, the feedback the team received from the first demo has led to a number of changes. The graphics have been given an update and the lighting has been adjusted after players complained the initial demo was too dark. The new demo — and presumably the final game — will also support rendering in 4K.
“We’ve put a lot of energy into making sure that it runs at a high frame rate, even at that kind of high resolution,” Koei Tecmo director Hiroya Usuda said.
Even though there was positive feedback from the first demo about the gameplay and the game’s responsiveness, the team still made adjustments in that area. The Lightbringer attack, for instance, now consumes more MP, but lasts for a longer duration. There have also been tweaks to MP and how fast the break gauge refills.
A new feature called Resonance has been added to help improve the usefulness of the NPC characters in your party. The other characters will be more aggressive in using their abilities while Resonance is in effect. The feature was added to improve the AI performance of the NPCs in your party. Players can now also change the jobs of the other characters in their party.
The NPCs can now be equipped with new gear, which was the team’s way of solving the issue of the copious amount of loot drops, which led to players saying they couldn’t use it all. The game’s tutorials have also been tweaked and new ones have been added to help introduce players to this game’s world.
The game is hard, similar to Team Ninja’s Nioh series, and the difficulty levels have been rebranded as “story” and “action”. Additionally, the game’s difficulty will not change based on whether it’s being played in single or multiplayer mode.
“We wanted to make a difficulty level for people who want to focus on enjoying the story,” Square Enix director Daisuke Inoue said of the story difficulty setting.
Gameplay of the multiplayer portion of the game was also featured during the showcase.
“We received a lot of feedback from people who wanted to play multiplayer, or who wanted to play with their friends,” Inoue said. “That was something we really wanted to include as well.”
Three members of the panel — playing as Jack, Ash and Neon — teamed up to tackle the new area from the demo, the Refrin Wetlands, the new area from the current demo. One of the guest players mentioned some of the refrains in the stage’s soundtrack sounded familiar, and then wondered if she should not say anything else, which Inoue quickly agreed with — possibly hinting at some sort of potential callback.
The multiplayer section showed the three-person team taking on enemies and using the abilities of the job classes they chose for their characters. They pummeled enemies in unison and eventually took down the boss, after some close calls, to end the trial.
Job classes also come into play in multiplayer and can be used strategically in some cases. For example, a white mage who charges a spell for long enough will be able to widen the area of effect and benefit the rest of the party.
Since the difficulty does not scale in multiplayer, the developers said it was probably easier to play in a group rather than alone.
The team will also be taking feedback from the second demo and applying it to the final game. The current demo will remain available on the Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X/S stores until October 11. The survey, where players can submit feedback, will run until October 18.
The game, which is a spinoff from but not a direct sequel to Final Fantasy, is scheduled for release on March 18, 2022, but pre-orders for a standard edition and a digital deluxe edition are live now. The title is part of the Final Fantasy 35th Anniversary, which will be in 2022. To learn more, you can also check out our first preview after getting our hands-on the game.
Jason Coskrey is a writer based in Tokyo. Find him on Twitter at @JCoskrey