Final Fantasy 15 is bringing its brotrip to PC, so we paid Hajime Tabata, the game director, a visit at Gamescom, finding out a bit more about modding, optimisation, and how the port is going to get PC players interested in the venerable series.
Even though several Final Fantasy games have been given PC ports, it’s still very much seen as a console series. Tabata and the dev team, then, had to figure out how to get players to associate it with PC as well.
“I think the very first step towards that, we've exceeded,” Tabata says. “With our technical partnership and joint-development with NVidia—I think we managed to convince them that we are serious about the PC market. The fact that they worked together with us and helped us do that announcement is a big sign of that.”
While the core of the game remains the same, PC players will be able to use a mouse and keyboard, which Tabata says works very well with the new first-person perspective. Perhaps the biggest difference, however, is the inclusion of mods.
“Traditionally Final Fantasy has a bit of an image that everyone has the exact same experience and shares that experience with everyone that plays the game. With Final Fantasy 15, we went in a slightly different direction. Right from the start, the way the whole game is structured and created gives each individual player their own individual and unique FF15 journey. I certainly think the modding community is going to resonate with that and the idea that you can change it any way they want is exciting.”
He also confirmed that the Steam version—it’s launching on Origin too—would have Steam Workshop support, making it easier to share and add mods.
The system requirements are still being figured out as optimisation work continues, but Tabata confirmed that it won’t be locked to 30fps, though 60fps will be hard to achieve at max settings. “Supporting it will be possible, but considering the spec you'd need to get that level—with native 4K, HDR, and a good 60fps—the machine we've got here couldn't do that at the moment. That's a GTX 1080 Ti, and even with that 60 frames is not possible.”
It also sounds like SLI might cause some problems. “So, multiple cards, there's the loading of the previous frame and you have that little bit of delay. It doesn't allow for that proper 60 frames. In order to get that really smooth 60 frames, you need a higher capacity base in order to do that. All the physics simulations as well need to be refreshed in every frame—if you have two cards running in tandem there's that little bit of delay between the sending of data between the two cards and that's what makes it impossible.”
On a more positive note, a broad range of machines should be able to run the game. PCs that have similar specs to current gen consoles won’t have any problems, so if your PC is a few years old, you shouldn’t need to splash out on an upgrade just to enjoy Final Fantasy 15. Unless you want to run it in 4K, that is.
This also opens the door for future Final Fantasy releases on PC, that aren’t an afterthought. “If my team were going to be in charge of the next Final Fantasy game, we probably would set up the basis of development on that high-level PC architecture—I think that's something that we'd do,” Tabata says. “But looking into the future, you have to consider cloud-based games—the answer might be different depending on how far down the line we're talking about.”
Ultimately, Tabata and his team hope PC players will see that they’re taking this very seriously. “I think this is for us a great opportunity in getting the game out to the PC market that the latest Final Fantasy game is serious about the PC market and its players. We're taking on that challenge with everything we've got and it'd just be great to get some kind of feedback on that, players' reactions and understand what people are expecting towards our game.”
Final Fantasy 15 is due out on Steam and Origin next year, complete with all the console DLC and updates. A multiplayer expansion is also in the works, and will hopefully be available for the PC launch.