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Final Fantasy 15 leaves much of Versus 13 behind

Farewell Stella. We hardly knew you.

Square Enix has ditched a number of features it revealed as part of Final Fantasy Versus 13 - the game that became Final Fantasy 15.

Final Fantasy Versus 13 was announced nine years ago at E3 in 2006, and was intended to be a PlayStation 3 game. The original director was famed Final Fantasy character designer Tetsuya Nomura, who created the concept and game world. Kazushige Nojima penned the original story.

Versus 13 was in the works for years without much in the way of news, leading some to suggest it had been cancelled. Then, in 2014, Square Enix announced it had become Final Fantasy 15 with a new director, Hajime Tabata, at the helm. Nomura had moved on to Kingdom Hearts 3, and Nojima was no longer working on the game.

As Square Enix released new, Final Fantasy 15-related information, some wondered what had become of the Versus 13 content we'd seen. Characters, locations, story and even battles had been shown off. Had they survived the transition to 15?

In the latest Active Time Report, below, Square Enix confirmed that much of what we've seen of Versus 13 had been ditched, calling the shift to 15 a "reboot".

The story, for example, has undergone significant changes.

"After we had switched from Versus to 15, the first decision we made was to make sure that FF15 would have a complete, coherent story in one game," he said.

"That was an important decision - one made at the company level, too. So I started thinking about how we could get a full, coherent story in a single game. And the crux of that was which elements from Versus 13 we could carry over and which would not fit into the new structure as 15.

"So I went through everything in detail, seeing which areas we would have to change. By that time, a fair amount of information about the Versus story had already been released, so we tried to keep as many elements from it as we could. We tried hard in a number of areas.

"But it would have been very difficult to carry over absolutely everything as it was. We considered what was possible with the new-gen hardware, as well as what elements absolutely must be included in 15 but might fall through if not given top priority. It was not easy to nail down what was essential for the story to be contained in one title. Everyone involved was very sensitive in dealing with this, and we patiently debated numerous times, but we still couldn't come up with a definitive answer.

"In the end, we decided to be as faithful as possible to Mr. Nojima's story for Versus and focus on realising the original story as much as we could. It goes without saying that I consulted with him on this. And he said that if I valued his original story, then it would still fulfill his vision, even if not every single element he came up with included in the end. So that gave us the confidence to set our goal, which was to create a narrative that utilises Mr. Nojima's original story as fully as possible.

"Given that, I think many of you are concerned about how the story elements we have already shown for Versus have changed in the switch to FF15. So I wanted to shed some light on them. There are three main points that have changed from the information that we put out previously."

1

Farewell Stella. We hardly knew you.

Tabata went on to confirm that Stella, the heroine who was set to play opposite Noctis in Versus 13, had been scrapped in favour of Luna, who we've seen in Final Fantasy 15 promotional material.

"We wanted to keep her as a heroine in FF15's story, and pursued ways to tie her into FF15's design as well, but we found it increasingly difficult to make sense of Stella's character and role within FF15," Tabata said.

"So then we thought, do we want to recreate Stella with a different role and image, or do we want to start over with a new heroine? And after a lot of consideration, we decided not to include Stella in FF15. Instead, we have a new heroine named Luna, who has a different role within the story. So we will be talking more about her in the future."

The Final Fantasy Versus 13 trailer Square Enix released back in 2011, below, shows the crown city of Insomnia as the opening for the game. It includes a scene of a party in a castle. After the party the city is attacked by the enemy forces of Niflheim. That sequence has been scrapped, Tabata said.

"Scenes like those had to be regressed because of a very critical factor," Tabata explained.

"So now, the sequence is: Noct and his retinue leave Insomnia, and then the Niflheim army attacks the crown city. There's an extremely important reason behind this decision. In fact, it could be construed as a spoiler, so I can't tell you about it here."

Tabata moved to reassure players that Final Fantasy 15 will still include gameplay in the city of Insomnia - despite this change - but he remained tight-lipped on the how and when.

"We became concerned that the players who were looking forward to some gameplay in that city might worry that they would be losing that gameplay as well," he said.

"So I thought I should let you know here and now that we are preparing situations that would involve gameplay in the Shinjuku-like city of Insomnia. We had previously released information on Versus saying you would begin combat right after the Niflheim army attacks the city, but the new gameplay would not fall in around the same timeline.

"As for when and in what kind of situation the combat occurs, we would like for you to wait for future updates, and play the actual game, but we are working on something great, so I hope you will look forward to it."

There are aspects of Versus 13 that have survived the cut, however. Square Enix introduced a female dragoon character as well as a mystery woman with dark hair - and they're still in.

"I would like to reiterate that these characters are still in the game with their own important roles within the story, so you can look forward to playing FF15 to find out about them," Tabata said.

"All these things I have been talking about have been the subject of extensive debate, and were decided with a level of utmost resolve in order to make Final Fantasy 15 into the best game possible, so at least in our minds, these decisions are making the game better."

The upshot, though, is that Final Fantasy 15 is now a different game to the one first revealed as Versus 13. Perhaps pre-empting potential disappointment at this, Tabata made the situation crystal clear:

"We realise there are fans who had been looking forward to Versus, and can't help but think that this game is turning out to be different from Versus," Tabata continued.

"So I wanted to take this time to tell you before we start promoting FF15 at Gamescom, that this is indeed a different game now, and that we will be taking steps to promote FF15 to you - our fans - with confidence from here on out. We will make absolutely no compromises as we head towards finalising the best possible game, so I hope you look forward to FF15. Thank you for your attention, and thank you for your continued support."

Meanwhile, Final Fantasy 15 is being built using what Square Enix calls Luminous Studio 1.5, the new and improved version of the company's premier game engine. And new video, showcasing how Final Fantasy 15 benefits from the tech, is below.

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