Expected for 2023 on PC and PlayStation 5, Forspoken is the first project of the Luminous Productions studio, a young team formed within Square Enix. We attended a presentation of the title and interviewed its creators.
Originally introduced as Project Athia, Forspoken has caught the eye of more than one gamer with its ambitious visuals and vivid gameplay. Of course, the title quickly brings to mind Final Fantasy XV and this is no accident. The Luminous Productions studio is mainly made up of developers who worked on the last episode of the famous J-RPG series. The team takes its name from the Luminous Engine, a game engine created by Square Enix and used in particular in the design of Final Fantasy XV and Forspoken. With Luminous Productions, the goal of the Japanese publisher is therefore clear: to bring the creative minds closer to the game engine to get the best out of it. Which led the studio to make some improvements on the Luminous Engine.
We used the Luminous Engine on Final Fantasy XV and since then we’ve improved it a lot, looking at what it was good at and what needed to be improved. I think that the aspect on which we made the most progress is on the procedural generation. The way we can implement things in a game, trees for example, without taking too much of the developers’ time. We made this aspect much faster and more efficient. On the artistic aspect, and we approach things from this angle, the main evolution is the use of easy capture, of performance capture for the actors that we direct, which also joins the technological aspect. We didn’t just do what we’ve done in the past, which is to create a fantasy world with no reference to the real world, without adding that very realistic aspect. This combination of the fantastic and the realistic is the new direction we are aiming for for the visual aspect of the game.
A pumped-up game engine that brings Forspoken’s large open world to life, the world of Athia. Large certainly, but at what point? We asked Luminous Productions and they are not yet ready to give those kinds of details. We only know that Forspoken is not a real open world, in the sense that it is not possible to go where you want from the start of the adventure. These are actually several open areas that will open up as you progress. Either way, there will be room, simply because the gameplay demands it.
Just to give you an idea: the world is made in such a way that you can use magic parkour, so it’s big enough to be able to move around satisfactorily without bumping into the edges of the levels. On the way the game is structured, as you know, Athia’s world and more or less close to destruction. There is one city left and virtually everything else was destroyed by The Break, a cataclysm. Most of the NPCs you will meet will be in the town of Sapol, this is where Frey will meet different people, learn more about Athia’s world and the people who live there, their way of life, those who live there. who they had to give up to live in the city.
On the fringes of the main town of Sapol, Forspoken will therefore be mainly composed of vast areas, to let the gameplay express itself, of ruins in order to see the damage caused by the cataclysm, of all kinds of monsters and of course of some secrets. The developers explained to us that it is above all the search for new spells and therefore new styles of play for the fights that will push the whole player to explore.
Besides the fights, let’s talk about it. In Forspoken, the character of Frey can call on a whole host of magical powers to defend himself. For example, it can cause stone spikes, flaming swords, ice attacks, giant water bubbles to appear, or even become invisible. So how many spells will there be in the end, we don’t know yet. Luminous Productions did not want to give us a precise figure. But according to the studio, there will be plenty to do.
As I mentioned earlier, with Forspoken we want to bring very different styles of play to life, so there is a lot of variation with magic, which offers the possibility of playing differently. So you can go for it and use close combat attacks, or else then hide in the terrain and set up traps for enemies As there is a lot of magic available this adds interest and depth to the game, s ‘there are monsters that have different vulnerabilities. As you will have understood, the watchword is freedom of approach.
It will also be possible to improve your spells thanks to a skill tree, to receive bonuses by wearing capes, pendants or by changing the patterns on Frey’s nails.
On the other hand, we do not know if it will be possible to combine spells to create new effects.
Beyond the fights, Frey can also use his magic to leap in all directions and move quickly in the world of Athia. This is what Luminous Productions calls “magical parkour” which the studio describes as an “effortless, exhilarating and fun to use” system. Frey will be able to rush forward, absorb a fall with gravity, interrupt the direction of a jump, swing on ledges or aim for a specific point to get there immediately.
What would be an obstacle in the other open worlds is a barrier that Frey can simply jump over, ”the developers tell us.
You should also know that the magic parkour will evolve over the rise in Frey’s level.
The basic parkour system is designed to be easy to use and very accessible. It is triggered with a button so it can be used very easily. There is a resource system for magical parkour, obviously, because if you were able to use this power at will it would lose its appeal, it would be too simplistic. And in terms of progression, it’s a system that players use throughout the game over a long period of play. The magical parkour will grow and change and there will be more things to do as it goes.
Finally, what would a good action-RPG be without a universe and a hero worthy of the name? Luminous Productions seems to have paid particular attention to the character of Frey, who is the headliner with Cuff, a bracelet that talks all the time on her. In writing, we can notably mention the involvement of Amy Hennig, a screenwriter who notably shaped the personality of Nathan Drake, the star of the Uncharted saga. A reference that looks good on the CV and bodes well.
Frey is our protagonist, our “reluctant heroine” as we like to call her. TODD STAASHWICK and ALISON RYMER, our writers, describe her as someone very raw, not a perfect human being. She starts off with next to nothing, and that gives us huge potential to evolve her as a character, but also from a game mechanic standpoint. ”As soon as she gets to Athia and starts learning all of them these spells, she becomes more and more powerful as the stake becomes more and more important. At the end of the day, you’ll see a big transformation from where it starts in the game to where it ends at the end of the game.
For now, there are a lot of gray areas on the history of Forspoken and the game in general. Why has Athia’s world been ravaged, why Frey is suddenly plunged inside, who are the strange Tantas who want to establish their dominance in these lands? Quite a few questions and many others for which you will have to be patient. Forspoken is scheduled for 2023 without further details. Luminous Productions is in the process of finishing.