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How Final Fantasy 16's Side Quests Affect the Story, and Vice Versa – IGN First


Early on in Final Fantasy 16's story, protagonist Clive meets a character named Cid, who takes Clive to his hideaway – which functions as a hub area for the player from that point onward. Here, Clive can engage in a wide array of side quests for the first time. And the first of these quests has Clive helping in a tavern, handing carry hot soup to various hungry residents of the hideaway.

“In this section, we want you to learn what kind of place Cid’s hideaway is,” Creative Director Kazutoyo Maehiro tells IGN during an exclusive interview at Square Enix’s Tokyo office. “You can progress the story without knowing the details, but by delivering soup to the residents, you can find out more about their refuge.”

Many of the residents of Cid’s hideaway are so-called Bearers. Bearers are a small group of people who can cast magic without the power of the Crystals. You may expect them to be of a high social class, but in the nearby Iron Kingdom it’s quite the opposite: Most of the Bearers who live in Cid’s hideaway were treated as slaves before they escaped from the Iron Kingdom.

“For them, something as simple as hot soup is an incredible blessing,” explains Maehiro. “You can learn this by handing them their meals in this side quest. The same goes for Clive himself, as he was enslaved to work as a soldier for a long time. Seeing Bearers engage freely in conversation is itself new for Clive. Through this quest, you can not only see how the Bearers live in Cid’s hideaway, but also how foreign it all looks through Clive’s eyes.”

In this side quest, one of the Bearers you serve soup to is reading a book. He says that he will eat as soon as he finishes reading, savoring the nourishing teachings of this tome as much as his meal.

According to Maehiro, the realm of Valisthea has a very low literacy rate. While Final Fantasy XVI’s main story alone won’t tell you every single detail of its world, the side quests contain interesting tidbits that will enrich your understanding of and, hopefully, appreciation for its world.

According to Director Hiroshi Takai, Final Fantasy XVI has a lot of side quests, and he sees them as one of the game’s most important pieces of additional content.

“When compared with other recent AAA titles, I think Final Fantasy XVI really has a lot of side quests,” says Takai. “Some of them are directly connected, too. For example, you might complete a quest near the beginning of the game, and then after a while a new side quest unlocks. I believe we have a lot of variety in our side quests. That being said, while there are a lot of them, we didn’t want any of them to feel unnecessary.”

“That’s right,” adds Maehiro. “We didn’t want to have something like an NPC telling you ‘Go and slay three monsters… Thanks!’ We have grown tired of such side quests, so we wanted a good reason for each side quest that was implemented. We wanted them to tell the player more about the game’s world and characters. I’m confident that players won’t be bored by them.”

It’s also worth noting that Final Fantasy XVI’s side quests don’t necessarily involve combat. Side quests were designed to be driven by the story, which means that if there is a situation in which Clive has to fight an enemy, there will be combat, but if not, a quest might just be about interacting with NPCs for reasons other than violence. Takai and Maehiro say that they didn’t want side quests to be based around battles just for the sake of it.

By taking on side quests in Cid’s hideaway, the player can see how the community grows. The way its inhabitants regard Clive gradually changes as well.

Final Fantasy 16: The 6 Realms of Valisthea

“When you first arrive in the hideaway, to them, Clive is a stranger, but as you progress through the story that will change as Clive might solve problems or help them out,” explains Maehiro. “Not just the main story, but also the side quests have an impact on how the hideout’s residents react to Clive. Some side quests will only unlock after Clive has become ingratiated with the residents.”

“The residents of the hideaway and other NPCs talk a lot in this game,” says Takai. “What they talk about often changes depending on the side quests you’ve completed as well as other elements, so it might be interesting to listen to their chatter sometimes. You might realize that they are talking about something related to a certain side quest you completed. Little changes like this should make it feel like you are having an actual impact on the game’s world.”

Besides the hideaway, Final Fantasy XVI’s many towns and villages also boast a wide array of side quests for the player to tackle.

“There are a lot of issues in the world, so of course the people in the towns you visit will have all sorts of problems,” says Takai. “Clive will want to give them a hand, and solving many of these problems should work to his benefit too. So there will be plenty of side quests to enjoy in each of the game’s towns as well.”

“As long as there are people there are going to be issues,” says Maehiro. “Here, too, we designed the side quests so that our players can get to know these towns and villages better. By solving multiple problems in each area, you should be able to become more familiar with each town and its greater area. There are even some side quests that give you some background on how these towns came to exist.”

Both Takai and Maehiro seem confident about the overall quality of Final Fantasy XVI’s side quests. This is because the world itself has a deep background setting, hidden beneath the game’s main story.

“When I write a scenario, I don’t start by writing the characters or the story. I start by building the world itself,” Maehiro says.

“First, I make a world map with various countries, the sea, mountains, forests and so on. With these landscapes in mind, I create the world’s culture and history by saying to myself, ‘If there’s a forest here, there should be some countryside nearby,’ or, ‘If this place is surrounded by mountains, this is how the people should be living,’ or, ‘This culture started because there is a river here’.”

Final Fantasy 16's Dion and Barnabas

For Final Fantasy XVI, Maehiro went as far as using a simulator to calculate the direction of the wind and the tides. He also wrote 4,000 years worth of history. That’s a lot of work, especially when most of it doesn’t appear in the game’s main story.

“It’s just the world’s setting, which serves as the background for the story of Clive and his comrades,” says Maehiro. “However, a lot of this backstory is put to good use in our side quests.”

Final Fantasy XVI releases for PlayStation 5 on June 22. Be sure to check out our exclusive Liquid Flame battle gameplay as well as a feature on the game’s Eikonic Abilities.

Esra Krabbe is an editor at IGN Japan. He thinks he’ll probably spend as long on Final Fantasy XVI’s side quests as the main story.