An almost trope-like part of FF games is the fan craving for more and more of the that is, as well as Square Enix giving that, with just enough innovation to both stay stale and fresh, simultaneously seem unoriginal and being at the forefront. The structure changes to gameplay, change of narrative focus, new systems and change of platform focus (to handheld and mobile) are all aspects of this in the Final Fantasy Tactics series.
It's hard to scry whether we'll ever get a new Tactics game, but seeing as I really want that, I can at least speak to some of the important signs and potentials that might be in store for a Nintendo Switch release.
- The Switch is an optimal platform, both for reasons noted earlier, and because it fits the current target platform for SQ (staying stale and fresh)
- While FFT got kinda more famous for its PS1 release, it was at heart a new Tactics Ogre, a SNES game, seen by the return to all 2d gameplay on the GBA. The core as a 2d game (graphics don't dictate gameplay) was alright for the PS1, a machine that really didn't do 3d well.
- The Switch though, is both a true 3d capable platform, and a touch screen device. This affords and requires rethinking input and perspective. Nintendo and Intelligent Systems observed the same with Code Name Steam.
- The question then becomes: How does the small, tactical, chess slash miniature skirmish transition to the world of dual analog sticks, touch screens and capable 3d graphics?
None of this speak to any system that might be implemented or people who are gonna work on it and add their flavor (Yuichi Murasawa, the return of Matsuno?).
Skulls of the Shogun of course showed a more fluidly continues world, where the analog sticks mattered for controls, and the reimagining of XCOM from 2012 did a lot of what I'm talking about here, it truly feels more like a game rooted in the series own history and the preferences of western board games. Even a game like Lord of Magna: Maiden Heaven felt more like a continuation of the ideas of Nippon Ichi and their Phantom Brave or Disgaea series.
In fact, this train of thought is making me think of how fighting games haven't really been able to transition into 3d (gameplay) either, and keep their roots, as sort of overview and area-control-based gameplay becomes hard do an equivalent of in 3d.
A few different possible paths are beginning to become apparent
- A traditional continuation, using something akin to modern versions of the graphics from Crystal Chronicles series. XCOM could be an inspiration source.
- Taking inspiration from another already 3d capable genre, like how Code Name Steam takes the Gears of War-like direction.
- Enter a more fluid, perhaps action-focused gameplay. This could even go as far as to make the series real-time like Little King's Story or Pikmin.
- The quite Final Fantsy-like and yet super unorthodox: Develop a new system, perhaps looking at a different metaphor. The tactics games are clearly chess-like, and FFXII's gambit system was inspired by American Football. Perhaps there is a designer at Square Enix right now, thinking of sports and passtimes, looking for something with a tactical element in 3d space, that has yet to inspire a video game.