Upon release, Final Fantasy XV was widely regarded as a weird success story. After a decade of development, the game felt broken beyond repair at times and was hardly in the same class of “perfection” that the standard AAA game demands. And yet, for all its shortcomings, most fans loved it to pieces. For what it lacked in finesse, it made up in heart through the characters that told the story, the odd, boneheaded, nonsensical DLC, and other design choices it made.
Final Fantasy XV, for all of its shortcomings, is a genuinely fun game that stood out as fresh in a world overcrowded by formulaic open world games.
Tabata himself was seen as a fresh new face in Square Enix, one that would eventually replace the modern hierarchy as the company navigated the rough waters into a more modern day shell. His development style, which also extended to popular games like Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, The 3rd Birthday, and Final Fantasy Type-0, employed a mix of both Japanese and Western approaches.
And unlike the Square Enix of old, design choices were left largely up to fans, whose input was taken into account among the Final Fantasy XV team.
It’s a shame that Tabata and Square Enix couldn’t find further success together.