FF14 and FF16 senior translator Koji Fox says 'you can kinda tell' game director Naoki Yoshida is 'like: I'm done with dark fantasy, I want to do something light again'

An image of game director Naoki Yoshida holding up a single finger to the fans, informing them he'll give them exactly one week to finish the Elden Ring DLC before Dawntrail arrives.
(Image credit: PAX 2024 / finalfantasyxiv on Twitch)

Naoki Yoshida, also known as Yoshi-P, is the producer of both the (critically-acclaimed) MMORPG Final Fantasy 14 as well as Final Fantasy 16, which is still yet to come to PC

In terms of tone, FF14 is a celebratory grab-bag of Final Fantasy stories, whereas 16 (from what I've seen) hangs its hat far more upon Game of Thrones-style dark fantasy. Of course there's still a side of giant kaiju battles with primals, but still—it's a more sombre affair at first glance.

That's an opinion shared by Square Enix senior translator Michael-Christopher Koji Fox, who has worked on both games, in a recent interview with MinnMax (thanks, GamesRadar): "I went from something very light like Final Fantasy 14 where it's craziness, it's all over the place—you have the weirdness of Hildebrand … then you go to [FF16 and] it's this game about slavery, and the end of the world, and humans losing their wills, and it's so heavy."

In case you're unfamiliar, the english localisation team on FF14 is some of the best in the business—adding a unique smorgasbord of accents, speech styles, and whatever Urianger's got going on into their translated scripts. I can't speak to FF16's translation, but I'm willing to bet an equal amount of care went into it from Koji Fox and his team.

Still, he says he found the transition between themes hard: "Making that switch, it's like: no longer can I make these jovial jokes 'cause they're not going to fit the game, but I still want to throw in some things."

That's not to say FF14 as a story isn't serious. It gets plenty intense sometimes, and discusses a lot of surprisingly heavy subject matters. But it balances that with goofs, irreverence, character-focused comedy, and an overall hopeful tone. For example, the sidequests Fox mentions—the Hildebrand Adventures—are a slapstick comedy drama where the laws of physics don't apply, and suplexes from oiled-up goldsmiths reign supreme.

Fox says that he's also seen the same desire for a thematic vacation in Yoshida: "Now that I'm at this point, I look over at Yoshi-P every now and then, and you can kinda tell he as well is like 'I'm done with dark fantasy, I want to do something light again'."

Going back into the world of tongue-in-cheek writing might have its own challenges, though, as Fox notes: "Whatever project I get put on next, there's gonna be this paradigm shift in that direction again, where I'm gonna have to switch all this darkness and edginess that I've fostered over the past five years, [it's] now gonna have to get thrown out the window for something more lighthearted."

If you're wondering why the upcoming expansion Dawntrail hasn't given Fox the metaphorical beach episode he's been yearning for, it's because he's been in a more supervisory role while working on FF16—Dawntrail's localisation lead position was championed by Kate Cwynar. Still, Fox says that he's "looking forward to whatever we have to do next," even if Yoshi-P "still hasn't told [him] yet". 

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.