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Final Fantasy XVI’s director wants to shake up the series with epic monster battles

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The thing Naoki Yoshida is most excited about in Final Fantasy XVI is the eikon battles.

In speaking to The Verge, Yoshida, the game’s director, talked about how earth-shattering, knock-down, drag-out fights between some of the franchise’s most prominent and popular monsters featured heavily in this latest single-player, non-remake entry in the 35-year-old JRPG series.

Summons — aka espers, aka aeons, aka eidolons, aka GF (lol) and now eikons — have been a fixture in the Final Fantasy series, representing a kind of “break glass in case of emergency” option in combat. Over the years, players have had varying levels of control over them with the power to call them forth for a one-time big hit like in Final Fantasy VII and IX, issue commands to them directly like in Final Fantasy X, or to summon them as NPC combat allies like in FFXII. But Final Fantasy XVI seems to offer more to summon combat than just having a big dude show up to beat on other dudes for you.

Image of Final Fantasy XVI featuring ice summon Shiva fighting against a Final Fantasy cat monster

Image: Square Enix

“We have these epic summon versus summon battles,” Yoshida said, speaking through a translator. “And these are not only going to be in cutscenes. The players will be able to actually get into those battles and control an eikon of their own and feel the excitement from the inside, not just from an outside type of view.”

Eikons are at the heart of all the trailers, media, and lore we’ve seen of Final Fantasy XVI so far, and focusing the game on these creatures of immense and awesome power is key to Yoshida’s vision.

“We envision Final Fantasy XVI as like a giant, high-speed roller coaster that will take players on a thrilling ride both story- and gameplay-wise.”

Final Fantasy is in the middle of a “hot Garuda summer” period. Final Fantasy XIV continues to enjoy worldwide popularity while fans are eagerly anticipating the arrival of not only a Crisis Core remake but the launch of the second installment in the Final Fantasy VII Remake trilogy. No matter if you are a single-player or MMO Final Fantasy fan, you are eating well. But the arrival of XVI revives concerns about Square Enix’s ability to make a successful, original, single-player Final Fantasy title.

Image of Final Fantasy XVI protagonist Clive Rosefield standing in front of a background of flames

Image: Square Enix

The annoyingly titled Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin made waves for being a weird “cringe but make it camp” game outside of the traditional action RPG format, but it didn’t enjoy widespread success. Additionally, Final Fantasy XV was a commercial hit but a critical failure plagued with delays, scope changes, platform changes, and leadership changes creating a messy hodgepodge of a game (though sprinkled with some truly brilliant series-defining moments) with a back-half that is almost wholly indefensible.

Going into XVI, Yoshida and his team were aware of the problems that dogged FFXV’s production.

“One of the first things that we did back in the early days of Final Fantasy XVI development, when we were still just a tiny team, was first focus on what kind of game system we’re having,” Yoshida said. “And then once we had that, we finalized the meat of the script and narrative.”

The result, Yoshida says, is a game that is currently fully playable from start to finish, hopefully without the worry of needing DLC or books to fill in gaps or better express the game’s story after the fact.

Fans are excited for XVI in a way they may not have been for other Final Fantasy games because of Yoshida. He is a big reason why Square Enix was able to salvage Final Fantasy XIV from a barely playable mess into the critically acclaimed game that was, just last year, so popular sales and free trials had to be suspended to alleviate server congestion. I wanted to know what, if any, of his secret FFXIV sauce made it into FFXVI.

But Yoshida said that working on Final Fantasy XVI didn’t call too much upon his experience with Final Fantasy XIV because they’re two very different games for players who want very different things.

“Working on a mainline title and learning who the fans of Final Fantasy are and what those fans expect from the series is what’s proved the most invaluable,” Yoshida said.

Yoshida explained that the experience of developing these games is like the difference between a marathon and a 100-meter dash. He’s a marathon runner, used to stretching out a story in order to keep fans interested and continuously playing, and he needed to train himself, so to speak, to run much faster over a much shorter distance.

“Compared with an MMO, single-player games are more about providing instant gratification,” he said. “They’re short bursts of extreme excitement and then, when you get to the finish, ending on a bang that has people think ‘Wow, that was a great game.’”

Yoshida isn’t the only person from the FFXIV team working on FFXVI. Fans are equally excited to see XIV’s composer Masayoshi Soken working on XVI’s music. I asked if Yoshida had any insight into how Soken has been handling the new assignment.

Image of a monstrous grinning eikon Titan from Final Fantasy XVI

Image: Square Enix

Final Fantasy XIV has always been considered like a Final Fantasy theme park, and this has allowed for a lot of different types of music styles,” Yoshida said. “Final Fantasy XVI, however, is a more focused experience fixed firmly on Clive Rosefield and his journey. As such, I envisioned a more focused experience when it comes to music as well.”

Yoshida shared that Soken confided in him that he’s actually been having a tough time adapting to work on a single-player game.

“Focusing on one theme has been actually very challenging for him,” Yoshida said. “It’s been a long time since he’s had to do that and not be able to just do whatever he wants.”

Yoshida feels that Final Fantasy XVI is a coming of age of sorts for him. He talked about his time playing the first Final Fantasy as a child and how his imagination made him feel like he was playing a movie. Now, with all the advancements in technology, he doesn’t have to rely on his imagination anymore.

“I look at Final Fantasy XVI as like taking the best part of a movie and the best part of a game and putting those together to make a truly interactive type of game / movie,” he said. “The most exciting part about developing this game has been the eikons with the sheer size and scale of their battles. When I was a child playing Final Fantasy I, with its pixel graphics, this is how I imagined they would look and being able to see them now has been really exciting.”



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Samsung’s monstrous 55-inch Odyssey Ark monitor could go on sale in August

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Samsung is getting ready to release its massive 55-inch curved Odyssey Ark monitor in August, according to a report from Korean outlet ETNews (via SamMobile). The monitor, which was announced in January at CES, has reportedly gone through a few certification programs that have to be done before it can go on sale.

Details about this monitor are still scant. The company has said that it’ll have a 16:9 4K panel and that the stand will support pivot, tilt, and rotation. It also announced that it would come out in the second half of 2022 (which the reported August window falls squarely in). But let’s be honest, when you show up with a monitor that promises to physically tower over you while you’re using it, people will pay attention even if you don’t announce the price or refresh rate.

Samsung says the dial is for managing “lighting and the interface.” Because buttons on the back would be very hard to reach.
Image: Samsung

Many of us here at The Verge are very excited for this monitor — when it came time to hand out awards for CES 2022, we gave it Best in Show. But as with many CES announcements, as the months wear on, it can be hard to remember anything from the flood of gadgets and tech; did Samsung really announce an extremely curved, extremely large monitor that can stretch over and around you, or was that just a fever dream? Rumors that it could actually be coming out relatively soon prove that it was, in fact, actually announced and reminds us that we are looking forward to it.

One thing that adds a bit of credence to the report is that Samsung has successfully released other monitors that it announced around CES this year. The decidedly less ambitious (but very cute) M8 monitor has already started hitting store shelves, as has a smaller (read: reasonably sized) curved gaming monitor, the Odyssey Neo G8. While that’s obviously not proof that the Ark is up next, it is good to see that Samsung has a track record of shipping its CES monitors this year.





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‘Axie Infinity’ hack victims will only get back around a third of what they lost

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Sky Mavis, the developer of blockchain game Axie Infinity, says it will start reimbursing the victims of a $617 million hack that took place earlier this year. The attackers took $25.5 million in USDC (a stablecoin that’s pegged to the value of the US dollar) and 173,600 ether, which was worth around $591.2 million at the time. The FBI claimed North Korean state-backed hacker groups were behind the attack.

Impacted Axie Infinity players will be able to withdraw one ether token for each one they lost in the hack, Sky Mavis told Bloomberg (the company didn’t mention a USDC reimbursement). However, as with other cryptocurrencies, the value of Ethereum has plummeted since the attack in March. 

Because of that, Sky Mavis will return around $216.5 million to users. It’s possible that the price of Ethereum will rise again, but as things stand, affected users will get back around a third of what they lost.

In April, Sky Mavis raised $150 million in funding to help it pay back the victims. The developer plans to reimburse affected users on June 28th, when it restarts the Ronin software bridge that the hackers targeted. 

Axie Infinity is widely considered the most popular play-to-earn game. Players collect and mint NFTs representing creatures that battle each other, Pokémon-style. These NFTs can be sold to other players, with Sky Mavis charging a transaction fee. By February, Axie Infinity had facilitated $4 billion in NFT sales.

However, the NFT market has all but bottomed out, which has had a significant impact on Axie Infinity. For one thing, according to Bloomberg, the daily active user count dropped from 2.7 million in November to a quarter of that by the end of May.

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Snoop Dogg and Eminem’s Bored Ape music video is here to try and sell us on tokens

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The last couple of weeks have had a lot of bad news for some in the “web3” space, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at announcements in and around the recently-ended NFT.NYC and ApeFest 2022 events. The Bored Ape Yacht Club’s (BAYC) annual event in particular brought in musicians like The Roots, LCD Soundsystem, Haim, Lil Baby, Lil Wayne, and others to perform for its members. On the final day of the event, guests saw the premiere of this video from two of the celebrities who’ve purchased tokens, Eminem and Snoop Dogg.

The video is for a new song, From The D 2 The LBC, that isn’t the most memorable of collaborations and is mostly about smoking weed, but it constantly splices in images of the cartoon apes. Many BAYC members were disappointed in February when both men performed in the Super Bowl halftime show, and despite appearing during an event that featured crypto ads seemingly every few minutes, failed to highlight their web3 endeavors.

The price of ApeCoin has dropped 39 percent in the last month to $4.51 after peaking in late April at more than $23, while Bitcoin and Ethereum’s values are also about 38 percent lower than they were 12 months ago. The Wall Street Journal wrote on May 3rd that “NFT Sales Are Flatlining,” and the numbers haven’t improved overall since then. That report cited an NFT from Snoop’s own collection, Doggy #4292, that sold for more than $33k several months ago. Its owner currently lists the item for sale at a price of nearly $11 million, and while the highest bid at the time of the article was $210, right now someone is offering $1,218. You can see the animation or download high-res still of it from its source website right here, for free.

Despite that, now BAYC owners can point to music that uses characters from the club they spent so much money to join. Plus, they did get to see the real Snoop Dogg perform, not the fake one that some web3 company fooled people with this week during NFT.NYC.

The rappers’ NFTs were both acquired via third parties in December, near the time prices for Bitcoin and Ethereum’s most recent peaks. In a deal executed by the digital agency Six, it cost 123.45 ETH to obtain Eminem’s Bored Ape #9055. At the time, that was worth about $460,000 but it’s now equivalent to around $150,000.

The ape icon associated with Snoop Dogg, #6723, was moved in a transfer from the previous owner’s wallet, not a sale with a price recorded on the blockchain, which was enabled by MoonPay. The company has focused on making it easy for celebrities to buy high-priced NFTs, although it also makes it difficult to track exactly how these celebrity-affiliated tokens were obtained, and who actually paid the much-publicized prices.

Opening up the ability for token owners to use the images of the apes for their creative or business endeavors is a part of the Bored Ape Yacht Club’s strategy, even if it’s unclear why or how that will increase the appeal to people who haven’t spent six figures on an NFT. The way they see it, this is the beginning of a new media industry, with intellectual property rights linked to digital tokens with monetization that trickles down to everyone associated.

The truth about NFTs and copyright is a lot more complicated than that — you can follow our explanation of the state of things right here. But for now, the parties go on, with plenty of things for BAYC owners Yuga Labs to sell to members who are sticking around, like merchandise and promises of land in a metaverse that hasn’t launched yet.





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