Final Fantasy is known for having a pretty pale cast of characters over the years. The series has something of a reputation for skipping out on diversity — VII’s Barret and XIII’s Sazh are some of the few people of color that come to mind. Based on the trailers for XVI, one could see that the trend wasn’t changing, and now we know why. It’s not for a good reason.
In an interview with IGN, Final Fantasy XIV producer Naoki Yoshida was asked point-blank about whether a more diverse cast would be part of the game. “The answer I have may end up being disappointing to some depending on individual expectations,” Yoshida forewarns. “Our design concept from the earliest stages of development has always heavily featured medieval Europe. Due to underlying geographical, technological, and geopolitical constraints, Valisthea was never going to realistically be as diverse as, say, modern-day Earth. The story we are telling is fantasy, yes, but it is also rooted in reality.”
That last sentence is particularly questionable because reality is diverse. Anyone hoping for such representation in Final Fantasy XVI will likely be disappointed, as Yoshida predicted. There was a similar letdown when he explained why the game isn’t turn-based or open-world.
These are far from the first complaints Final Fantasy fans have had about the upcoming RPG. The PlayStation 5 price hike in some territories prompted some to request a Steam release for the game since they don’t want to be priced out of being able to play the game. Of course, there have also been endless questions about when the release date for Final Fantasy XVI will actually be.
Summer 2023 is still the release window, but we haven’t heard anything more specific than that. That said, Naoki said an exact release date should be announced by the end of the year. Preorders for Final Fantasy XVI are open now regardless.