FFXV's Ardyn has the last laugh: Episodes Lunafreya, Aranea & Noctis cancelled; Hajime Tabata leaves Luminous Productions and Square Enix

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Square Enix held a special livestream dedicated to Final Fantasy XV, now near its second anniversary. Fans of the game in time zones during slightly less antisocial hours of the day tuned in with fervent attention to see how the promised second season pass and the accompanying four DLC episodes of the game were shaping up. Things were looking good going into the event from the public's perspective. Chief antagonist Ardyn was about to take the spotlight with his own DLC episode, followed by an Aranea side story and two extra episodes dedicated to Lunafreya and Noctis. What could possibly go wrong?

Generally when you hype up a special event, especially if it specifically pertains to a certain video game or franchise, fans will take notice and flock to soak up the freshly delivered news right into their retinas. Blizzard has learnt the hard way at BlizzCon that to underwhelm and sound wildly out-of-touch generates a level of passionate anger on the internet amongst gaming communities the likes of which if it could ever be harnessed is a greater energy output than a star's nuclear fusion. Not this time for Square Enix. The company has opted for a bold, unorthodox new move. They hyped up an event for Final Fantasy XV only to drop a whole heap of bad news. Granted, not all are bad news, but the good news are unlikely to dominate the online discussion:
  • Episodes Aranea, Lunafreya and Noctis have been cancelled.
  • Only Episode Ardyn remains
  • Episode Ardyn will release for PS4, Xbox One and PC in March 2019
  • Former game director (and producer) Hajime Tabata resigns from the spinoff subsidiary company 'Luminous Productions' and from Square Enix entirely
  • The multiplayer DLC Comrades will still be released as a standalone purchase
  • A collaboration with Final Fantasy XIV will happen
The circumstances surrounding Hajime Tabata's sudden departure from Square Enix as a whole remain shrouded in mystery. In an official statement Square Enix states he had parted ways with the company as of 31 October and from his newly anointed position as COO and head of studio at 'Luminous Productions', a newly established subsidiary company composed mainly of Business Division 2 staff who were (still are?) slated to develop a brand new IP presumably for next-generation consoles using the Luminous Engine.

The official statement reads as per follows:

Hello, this is Tabata.

It’s almost going to be two whole years since the release of Final Fantasy XV. I honestly believe the reason we were able to get this far is because of all you loyal fans. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Today, I have a personal announcement to make to all of you. I, Hajime Tabata, will be resigning from Luminous Productions and the Square Enix Group as of October 31, 2018.

I was able to gain so much experience with my time at Square Enix. Every title I was able to be a part of means a lot to me. However, Final Fantasy XV stood out from that group as it was a special project for me which I went all-in on.

Therefore, I decided to take this opportunity to officially announce my departure from Final Fantasy XV to all the fans who have supported the title across the globe.

In regards to my next endeavors and near future, I have a project that I truly wish to solidify as my next challenge after Final Fantasy XV. For that reason, I have decided to leave my current position and start my own business in order to achieve my goal.

As production of “Episode Ardyn” continues and Luminous Productions works on new projects, I felt that it was time for me to hand over the torch to the next generation group of talented and trustworthy colleagues and believe that they will create something amazing.

From this day on, I will cheer on and support Square Enix and Luminous Productions together with all of you fans.

I would like to thank everyone who continue to support Final Fantasy XV and those who have also supported myself personally.

—Hajime Tabata
There is currently no evidence to believe he left Square Enix on less than amicable terms. Tabata was instrumental in Square Enix's ability to finally put out a mainline Final Fantasy game for the first time in over six years. Final Fantasy XV, divisive as though it may be amongst fans of the franchise, has proven itself to be a major commercial success, having recently been revitalised by a Windows release with full mod support. The fact that the team acquiesced to fan demand and had announced four brand new DLC episodes and a second season pass at all is a testament to the game's ability to retain a significant loyal audience base. Why would Square Enix let go of such a prized asset like Tabata when the man for all intents and purposes from the boardroom's perspective met expectations and more? Either an unpleasant event occurred behind the scenes that necessitated a parting of ways, or Tabata was simply able to leave the company of his own volition.

I would like to believe the crux of the official statement's story: that Tabata genuinely left because he assessed that the personal pet project he wanted to work on could not be achieved within (the management hell of) Square Enix. Like a bird sick of the confines of a constricting cage, he yearns to flap his wings to soar to new heights where he can have full control and agency to develop whatever he wants. The problem is: Luminous Productions's situation has no actual bearing on Final Fantasy XV's DLC. Tabata's resignation would necessitate extraordinary write-offs at Luminous Productions if such losses were expected, but one man leaving, as instrumental as he may be, shouldn't automatically mean having to axe DLCs he was not directly in charge of. Luminous Productions is not developing the DLCs.

So chalk this up as yet another question mark on Square Enix's public record that we may never find an resolute answer to. It's very common in any industry for high-profile resignations such as Tabata's to be less of a genuine resignation in one's own volition, but more an internal "political" manoeuvre. I have no evidence to say it is a non-amicable parting of ways, but it remains a distinct possibility. It's food for thought.

So unfortunately, Luminous Productions is likely now lost in uncharted waters abruptly bereft of a leader. What will happen to the new IP they were purportedly working on remains to be seen. I wouldn't be surprised if Square Enix's upper management intervened, demanding the studio backtrack and create a brand new Final Fantasy game instead. Perhaps if I were Tabata, I would parachute out of that turbulent plane as well.

Alas, it is not all bad news!

An unfortunate cosmic joke may have just rendered Final Fantasy XV players with zero means to control an actual playable female character outside of skin mods (and briefly as Sarah in the Terra Wars collaboration), but this does not mean the end of support for the game. For one, Eos and Eorzea will momentarily come together to create a Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy XIV collaboration.

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Come the 12th December, a female Miqo'te named Y’jhimei will somehow end up in Noctis's world. Perhaps she stepped on one too many AoE markers on the floor during a raid fight and was catapulted to another dimension as punishment? Regardless of how she gets to Eos, she is here to warn the Crown Prince that the maniacal Primal, Garuda, Lady of the Vortex, is about to drop anchor. She will appear as a special boss and the boys' reward for clearing will be the starting outfits for the various races of Eorzea - Noctis (Miqo’te), Gladiolus (Roegadyn), Ignis (Elezen), and Prompto (Hyur). I don't know about you, but Ignis as an Elezen is absolutely perfect. Sadly, there will be no Lalafells.


But Garuda is simply a stiff breeze compared with the main course.

That's right. Episode Ardyn lives! The oily Chancellor with a millennia-old grudge is back for his own episode and he has just freshly avoided getting the axe.


As the teaser trailer above shows, he will be skulking around Insomnia in the decades prior to the events of Final Fantasy XV doing some spectacular supernatural parkour and making the day particularly difficult for the men and women in King Regis's personal royal task force, the Kingsglaive. So in a way, Ardyn has the last laugh. He can confidently scream from the rooftops that the cancellation of Noctis's own DLC episode in combination with his own opportunity to be the hero in paid content is yet another sign of his moral victory over the Caelum legacy and the accursed Crystals.

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His DLC will be available in March (provided it doesn't unexpectedly end up on the chopping block between now and then as well...)

Last but probably not least is Comrades, FFXV's often forgotten about multiplayer DLC. This will be a standalone release, meaning you do not need to even have the base game or its season pass.

Titled simply as “Final Fantasy XV Multiplayer: Comrades“, the game will include 10 new additional bosses on top of the content offered from its DLC counterpart, with a strong emphasis on co-op gameplay allowing up to four players to battle against powerful enemies and take on various hunts, quests and more.


If you want to bite, it hits on 13 December in Japan and Europe for PS4 and Xbox One. North America is a rebel and will receive it a day prior.

Nova Crystallis 1 | 2 | 3 | 4
 
Linnaete

Comments

#2
Very strong opinions on this - Like many I am sure. I've been waiting for the 'Dawn to the Future' content to come out & be done, so I can re-play and see if S-E could finally fix Final Fantasy XV... todays news answers that prematurely. I will say the Episode Ardyn does look fantastic! And delivers on what everyone wanted to see, but I'm not willing to commit to a series in which the creators themselves have gave up on - each other Episode clearly had a purpose and Episode Noctis seemingly offering a new conclusion... Honestly, I feel S-E should offer Episode Ardyn free in apology to the fans who have followed the journey to this point. (I'm not paying for Season 1, Royal Edition & this!)
 
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#3
I think they made the right call with keeping Ardyn and scrapping the rest. It's the most important one of the lot in terms of getting him and more of the history & the lore of the world fleshed out. Word was that Episodes Lunafreya and Noctis were going to be "what if" stories that wouldn't actually be canon with the rest of FFXV, like how Episode Ignis has these inexplicable alternate endings. Aranea's would just be a side story. They're more supplementary than essential. FFXV's story is technically complete even if it's nowhere near satisfactorily accomplished.

I'm willing to bet Tabata couldn't deal with the crushing work culture in SE, noticed how few hours he was sleeping per night and realised that a greater shift to a service-driven model for SE's biggest projects would strangle his creativity and productivity. That's understandable and all well and good, but it oddly does not explain why they cancelled those DLC episodes.
 
#4
Final Fantasy XV has been on life-support since the beginning when it was originally Versus. I'm happy to see it go.
 
#5
What a surreal thing....
Hyping this up and then announcing farewells and cancellations. :argor:

I'll repeat what I said in our Discord server. It's a lot like Bilbo Baggins gathering everyone in the Shire to celebrate his birthday only to then announce that he's off, puts on the ring and then runs away...





It is a shame that FFXV will not get closure with the planned DLC episodes, but I am glad that Ardyn's episode remains. It does look quite good and Ardyn is quite an intriguing character.
 
#6
An update from Eurogamer came in (words from Square Enix):

"As to the future of Luminous Productions, the studio was established with the goal to create a new IP, so we are continuing to develop our new title."
Okay, at least for the time being, Luminous still exists and is still working on a next-gen IP, sans Tabata at the helm. I still wonder whether Square Enix will later intervene and turn it into a new Final Fantasy game, because who else is able to work on FFXVI right now?
 
#7
... Word was that Episodes Lunafreya and Noctis were going to be "what if" stories that wouldn't actually be canon with the rest of FFXV, like how Episode Ignis has these inexplicable alternate endings...
Was that so? I never knew that, I was sort of hoping that Luna's Episode would cover her journey from assisting peoples illness to confrontations with the Summons - Both very lightly hinted at during the game. This was something that really would have enhanced the game as most felt the games portrayal of her was lacking - Especially after what the ending of Kinsglaive set up.
 
#8
Awww, what bad news. :(

I mean I already wrote about how controversial my feelings are realted to FFXV... but I actually hoped that after all the DLCs FFXV was intended to get in the following one year, I might experience a totally mind-blowing FFXV. One I always wanted and one which can make me forget my conflicts and problems with the current version of FFXV. That's why I am super upset to hear about the cancellations... but I guess to get Episode Ardyn is still better than getting no DLCs at all, right...? My biggest unanswered questions were related to the origins of Ardyn anyways, so I might be still somehow satisfied with the Royal Upgrade + all DLCs combination. ^^"

I'm sorry to hear Tabata left SE completely, and to be honest I would really like to know more about his reasons, but I guess we will never really know what happened.

Aaaaand maybe Luminous is currently working on FFXVI...? I hope FF won't share the same fate as Mass Effect. I mean I really care for both game series and I am totally heartbroken that after the fail of Mass Effect Andromeda, the whole Mass Effect series was put on hold. I don't want this to happen to FF! I know, VII Remake will be worked on after the release of Kingdom Hearts III, but I do hope we can play more new FF games in the future.
 
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