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Final Fantasy 15's open world goes linear halfway through

Second half plays more like a “conventional” Final Fantasy

The open world of Final Fantasy 15 will get narrower toward the latter part of the game, director Hajime Tabata told Famitsu. The Japanese magazine’s most recent issue dedicates a large section to the upcoming game, and Siliconera’s translation gives a better understanding of how the game balances its open world with classic RPG gameplay.

"The first half keeps going as an open-world, but the story in the second half is led by a linear path," Tabata said in an interview. "That way, you won’t get bored of an open world as the rest of the game gets tightened up, so we made it in a way that you’ll also get to advance through it as you have in conventional Final Fantasy games."

If players stick to the course set out by the second half, the whole playthrough should take roughly 50 hours, he added.

Since the game was shown at E3 2013 — where it was rebranded Final Fantasy 15 after spending seven years as Final Fantasy Versus 13 — it’s been touted as Square Enix’s attempt to modernize the Final Fantasy series, embracing the open-world gameplay common in Western role-playing games. But Tabata has made sure to clarify that Final Fantasy 15 would only be open-world to a point in earlier interviews as well.

"How the story is handled, it’s not 100 percent pure open-world, but it’s also not a pull along the rails kind of story," he said in January. "It’s very much a hybrid of those two styles, which I think is the best of both of them."

The transition from wide open to narrow and linear sounds like the opposite of Final Fantasy 13, the game’s true predecessor. Fans criticized it as too linear from the onset, instead preferring the later part of the game, where things open up and players have more freedom to roam. Earlier Final Fantasy games also give players opportunities to chart their own course, with towns and side missions available alongside the main story.

Final Fantasy 15 comes to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on Nov. 29.