Interview | Final Fantasy XV’s Ray Chase Talks Noctis, Female Characters and the Voice Actors’ Strike

Final Fantasy XV is finally here after a decade-long development cycle, and it’s been received very positively so far. Though the jury’s still out on whether or not it lives up to the incredibly lofty expectations of those who have been waiting 10 years for it to release, it’s certainly one of the best modern entries in the series and yet another sign that Square Enix is finally back on track.

Much has been made of FFXV‘s band of protagonists, with the game revolving around the trials and tribulations of its male heroes, who join forces and go on a road trip of sorts in their nice car. With them appearing to be a much more interesting quartet of characters than we’ve seen in recent Final Fantasy games, we had a chat with voice actor Ray Chase, who plays central protagonist Noctis, in regards to how he thinks they’ll be received, how the game improves upon its divisive predecessors and celebrities taking voice actors’ jobs:

 

CRAVE: There has been so much build-up for FFXV, from the pre-release gameplay demos through to Kingslaive. How long have you been working on it so far, and how has your experience been with it?

RAY CHASE: I was sent auditions for the main characters a little more than two years ago, in September 2014. After freaking out for a while that I got the main role, I stepped into my first ever professional video game recording session for the demo. That came out in March 2015, and after tweaking the voice a little, we went into full production throughout the next two years. It’s been an incredible learning experience — the team made me feel like a part of the action even though I was so inexperienced going in! I can’t wait to share this with fans and players after everyone has had a chance to play it!

 

With there having been quite a lot of disappointment circling the last few entries in the series, have you had much of a chance to play the game yourself? Do you feel like you have a good idea of how this one will be received?

I’ve played every mainline Final Fantasy, and I can say this one is exactly what Square needs to revitalize the series and bring it to a wider audience. With the sometimes alienating path the last few entries took on, FFXV turns about face and makes this appealing to both western and eastern audiences. I predict you’ll see a great deal of newcomers to the series who will then go on to play all the rest.

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In the last few entries in the series we haven’t really seen a Final Fantasy character resonate with players as much as old favorites like Cloud and Aerith. What about this new band of characters do you think will strike a chord with the modern audience?

The characters in FFXV are by far the most relatable and realistic the series has ever seen. Noctis is a young man who has a lot of responsibility on his head who has to grow up really fast in a dangerous world. You’ve got down-to-earth themes of loss, compassion, brotherhood, permeating every mote of this world. And instead of grandiose high fantasy with complicated storylines and bombastic prose, you have four guys hanging out in a car most of the time, trading stories and jokes. I feel these four guys will resonate with fans very well.

 

The absence of female protagonists in FFXV was attributed to Square Enix wanting to make it feel like a “road trip” with a focus upon the relationship shared between its male characters, with director Hajime Tabata saying that “an all male party feels almost more approachable for games.” Considering that the Final Fantasy series has a history of providing players with relatable, female characters, do you agree/sympathize with the frustrations surrounding the lack of women in the core line-up of FFXV’s heroes?

There are quite a few female heroes in this game who join your party! Not to mention other characters like Gentiana who lend you help in other ways, being a great role model herself. That being said, it does seem Final Fantasy has a slightly higher proportion of female fans who might enjoy seeing some male eye candy like Gladio for a while!

 

What are your thoughts on the recent voice actors’ strike?

It’s unfortunate that it has come to pass, and is certainly making people unhappy. It’s sad to see everyone who works in between is suffering, from voice directors, to casting directors, to office managers at our favorite recording places. I hope the publishers see soon we need to revisit working conditions for this new decade.

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What do you think about celebrities taking over jobs from voice actors, such as Kiefer Sutherland taking over David Hayter’s role in Metal Gear Solid V? Do you think there isn’t enough appreciation for voice actors’ roles in gaming?

There is a lot of passion we voice actors put into our characters. These video games are all we have sometimes, and it’s what we put all our time and attention into. Because celebrities cost so much, it’s a shame that they can’t put as much passion into a video game role because it’s simply a side project for them. I think voice actors get decent enough attention for those who look us up after playing a game; I just hope I get to be the only person who voices Noctis in the end!

 

FFXV is arguably your biggest role to date — what changes do you anticipate lending your talents to the game will bring?

I certainly hope it’ll be a little easier to get my auditions heard in the future! But each project that goes out you are still auditioning against thousands of people, so it’s all up in the air like it always is. I wouldn’t want it any other way, honestly!