Square Enix announces free-to-play Final Fantasy Agito for smartphones

In a preview published in this week's Famitsu magazine, Square Enix announced Final Fantasy Agito, an original fantasy RPG with multiplayer elements that'll be free to play on iOS and Android devices.

Set in a the world of Final Fantasy Type-0 (an RPG released by Square Enix for the PSP in Japan only two years ago) Agito is a sort of retelling of Type-0 told from the perspective of new player-customized characters. You play a student candidate in the same Orience magic academy that set the stage for Type-0.

"I wanted to write a story that traced the different fates of the FF Type-0 heroes," producer Hajime Tabata told Famitsu. "A lot of FF Type-0 players have told us that, and there are a lot of people within the studio, too, who wanted to do it. FF Type-0 was originally meant for release on mobile phones, and I liked the Agito name anyway, so that's how we got started with this project."

Agito's set to take advantage of the nature of smartphones as a gaming platform by proceeding in realtime based on player actions. For one, it takes advantage of one of Type-0's story gambits - the history of Orience runs across millions of parallel cycles, and after one cycle ends, a slightly different one begins. What this means is that the decisions players make in one game-story cycle will make things change in the next cycle.

"The story is divided into chapters," Tabata said. "There's an ending, and when the story ends one time, the next cycle begins and history is repeated from the beginning. The decision system here means that the game should change gradually with each cycle. We might have different decisions for you to make at the second cycle, or more choices to select from. That kind of 'live' experience is something you can only get here."

While Tabata and team are still deciding how many chapters make up a cycle, he explained to Famitsu that every chapter will run across two weeks in realtime. "Each chapter is divided into a solo-play and team-play phase," he said, "with the solo-play phase taking 10 days out of the two-week chapter period and the team-play phase taking four days. Players spend the first 10 days running their personal missions, and then all the individual teams challenge powerful bosses. Your team and job is chosen for you at the start of the chapter, so you have to boost your job skills in solo mode in order to prepare for the team phase."

Agito is set to debut this winter, with more information set to be unveiled at next week's Tokyo Game Show. Tabata didn't reveal more details, but reassured readers that Agito is still enjoyable even if you don't throw F2P money at it.

"[We want] you to be able to reach the ending fully free-to-play," he said. "I don't buy extra stuff in games, after all. The 'active force' you consume in missions refills over time, but you can refill it instantly with an item if you want to play at once. You can also spin to purchase abilities, continues for when you fail at a mission, and most of the other things you'd expect."

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