If there is one gaming franchise that Japanese publisher Square Enix is renowned for, it must be Final Fantasy. The popular JRPG series has been on the scene for over 30 years atd isn't looking to take a break anytime soon.
Especially with the upcoming Final Fantasy XVI. 2016's Final Fantasy XV (FFXV) was the first mainline entry in some time that somewhat quelled fans' worries for the franchise.
This is mainly because XIII was lackluster, and XIV's MMO nature steered it towards a comparative niche audience. But did you know that the game was intended to be developed by a Western studio? Canada-based Eidos Montreal, to be precise. According to a TrueAcheivements interview with the company's former art director Jonathan Jacque-Belletête.
Eidos Montreal's Final Fantasy XV would have been a stark departure from Square Enix's current rendition
Jacque-Belletête worked on two modern Deus Ex games (Human Revolution and Mankind Divided) and 2018's excellent Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy game. He threw in a little tidbit about the canceled project, saying:
...Then we tried to do Final Fantasy XV. Then they decided to bring it back to Japan — which I think was a big mistake, but it's still the truth. Ours was really, really cool.”
This falls in line with a rumor from YouTuber Super Bunnyhop in 2018 that the company was supposed to develop the next FF game back in 2012. This puts it in the timeline after the development of Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
This also occurred during the game's long and troubled development, which began after its reveal as Final Fantasy XIII Versus back in 2006 for PS3/Xbox 360.
In the video, former Square Enix president Yoichi Wada approached the Western team and granted them the green light to work on a new FF game due to apprehension caused by the Japanese team's lack of success with the IP.
Codenamed "Project W" (as it would be the first time a Western team made an entry in the series), it would have been a "space opera" type of JRPG and featured a love-triangle cast. It will also feature real-time space travel. Unfortunately, the project pitch was turned down by the Japanese heads.
What became of FFXV in the end?
The project changed tech and teams, with Square Enix eventually settling on the Luminous Engine. It was finally released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in 2016. The game saw good reviews, with the vast and detailed open world being the highlight. FFXV tells the story of Noctis Lucis Caelum, a prince who must retrieve the stolen Crystal from Niflheim.
However, fans did critique the linear second half (due to rushed development) and lackluster elements like combat and the main story.