Airships have been a signature element of the Final Fantasy series since the first installment. However, Final Fantasy IX was the last mainline entry that let you fly around the world yourself; the more recent trend is for airships to serve as fast-travel hubs. That’s changing in Final Fantasy XV, which once again puts players in the pilot’s seat.
Amid all of the other announcements during the Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV event in March, the last revelation stole the show for many viewers. The Regalia (the car Noctis and his buddies drive) isn’t restricted to staying on four wheels – it can fly. Even after seeing the footage, some fans speculated that it might not be a full-blown vehicle, and the take-off is just a short sequence that plays before the fast-travel menu opens. We can assure you, that is not the case; we flew the Regalia ourselves during our visit to Square Enix’s offices.
Our time behind the wheel was brief, but it was long enough to call up memories of flying iconic ships like the Blackjack and Highwind. It may not look like a traditional airship, but it functions similarly. The ground falls away after take-off and you soar in the sky, with full control over your movements. You travel quickly, but the world of Final Fantasy XV is much bigger than earlier installments, so it doesn’t seem like it would be possible to circumnavigate the globe in a matter of seconds. We didn’t get to attempt a landing, but the team told us that it isn’t as simple as pressing a button – and that the first landing is likely to be a rough one for many players.
Getting back on the ground might be a challenge, but you won’t need to stress out when you’re in the sky. We asked Tabata about previous Final Fantasy installments’ use of airborne random encounters (like Deathgaze in Final Fantasy VI), and whether the team would consider that for Final Fantasy XV. “We don’t plan on placing enemies in the sky,” he says. “Rather, the vehicle will be dedicated for transportation purposes.”
As exhilarating as it may be to cruise through the air, don’t expect to get your wings easily or early. “The player will obtain the flying Regalia near the end of the game as an additional challenge,” says Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata. “When certain conditions are met, the car is remodeled to the flying model.” That explains why the car looks so different in the tease shown at the Uncovered event; it’s the same car, but with extensive modifications.
The normal, non-flying Regalia
Prior to the Uncovered event, Tabata had previously been unwilling to confirm that a player-controlled airship would even be present in Final Fantasy XV. “Our intent was always to implement it into the final game, while keeping the option of releasing it as DLC if the quality couldn’t be met on time,” Tabata says. “We are currently making good progress, and we determined that it can be implemented into the final game…We wanted to make that commitment in front of the fans who were at the Uncovered: Final Fantasy XV event.”
A flying car might not seem like a natural fit in the Final Fantasy universe, but it makes more sense considering the Regalia’s significance in the story. The vehicle belongs to Noctis’ father, King Regis, who remains in the city of Insomnia as Noctis sets out for his journey at the beginning. In that sense, the Regalia is symbolic of Regis’ presence and support, even when he can’t be by his son’s side. “From the get-go, we thought that the only way to fly in Final Fantasy XV would be with the Regalia,” Tabata says. “Though some may prefer the traditional airship, the Regalia is indispensable in Final Fantasy XV, and so we felt it would be appropriate for it to be a partner in the skies as well.”
Square Enix still has more to reveal about the Regalia, and we’ll be hearing more details as Final Fantasy XV’s September 30 launch draws closer. Don’t expect any more transformations (“We currently do not have plans for model changes into other forms,” Tabata says), but the team still has more to say about the vehicle – not to mention the many other exciting facets of the game.
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