The latest issue of Famitsu has an interview with Sasazu Hiroshi of Atlus, art director of Etrian Odyssey X who was also the design leader of Etrian Odyssey V.
— ファミ通.com (@famitsu) May 15, 2018
When asked on details of what he is in charge of, Sasazu says that he handles some 2D-related things like art direction for dungeons, maps, town facilities and backgrounds and aiding character designer Himukai Yuuji, as well as overseeing 3D parts like monster models and animations, and dungeon models: He basically has to take a look at everything that shows up on the screen.
He also handles deciding what new elements should look like and does the ordering for new designs; For example they were unsure if the world map, a new addition in this instalment, should look realistic or like it is drawn on parchment, and decided to go with the former due to how the player’s characters are actually on the island.
Background art is, like Etrian Odyssey V and Etrian Mystery Dungeon 2, handled by Bamboo, and Sasazu says that he particularly likes the town backgrounds, due to the airship elements and the world-tree in the background. He also says that the various town facilities’ backgrounds, such as the tavern and inn, have many details in them showing the personalities of the people associated with them.
When asked about monsters, Sasazu mentions that monster designer Shin “Jason” Nagasawa provided detailed designs for the modelling process, and that they are focusing on replicating the art as faithfully as they can, and are trying to make it so that monsters can stand out as much as they can from each other even on the small screen of the 3DS. They are also trying to include properties of the animals that the monsters are based on, with Sasazu himself referring to illustrated animal encyclopedias while modelling them, with Nagasawa having the final say and giving them further advice.
When asked about the monsters of Etrian Odyssey III that are returning in X, Sasazu says that the monsters of III were designs that made full use of the fact that they were 2D. In modelling them in X, they are trying their best not to have the designs lose any of their original appeal, and in some cases they requested additional designs from Nagasawa, so if you take a close look, you might find that some nostalgic monsters have refreshing new elements.
The new Hero class and NPCs are brought up, and Sasazu says that Himukai had a difficult time with the Hero due to its importance as the face of X. The clothes and armour on the yougn adult versions of the Hero were redone multiple times, and when deciding on the finer details of the child version’s designs all of the designers got together to provide ideas on accessories and colouring. According to Himukai, the young adult versions are already heroes (though the extent of their skill is up to the player), while the child versions are trying to become heroes, and the clunky belt, and the bright green on the alternate colour version of the male child hero are supposed to look like a child playing make-believe, while the female child hero’s clothes are supposed to look like a school uniform. Sasazu says this- Including contemporary elements in what would otherwise be fantasy designs- is part of Himukai’s style.
The interviewer remarks on how it’s refreshing that there are alternate colour schemes for the job classes from the first two games as well, and Sasazu says that they decided on the new colour schemes by thinking of themes: For example the new Gunner colours are chosen to look more militaristic, while the new Bushido (Ronin) colours are chosen to look like Japanese yokai, and all of the new colour schemes are more modern and “catchy”.
Regarding the NPCs, Sasazu says that as most of the characters in the game, including the player characters, are adventurers gathered by the princess, most of them have appearances that associate them with a particular job class. Himukai paid special attention to returning characters, designing so that they look a bit older, while not going too far as to go against existing player impressions of them. For example, because it had been previously stated that Silica from the first game was actually a princess, they initially gave her a new, more opulent outfit that was once confirmed as the final design, but they eventually redid it completely and gave her a costume similar to her old one, thinking that this would be more fitting of her personality. Sasazu also says that they also did more work on the art of metallic surfaces, and the armour of the soldiers in X are the shiniest in the series.
The interview concludes with Sasazu saying that X is a culmination of over ten years, and hopes that players will enjoy it.
Sekaiju no Meikyuu X will be released in Japan on 2nd August 2018, with physical and digital versions of the game are priced at 6,480 yen (excluding tax). Non-Japanese versions of the game have not yet been announced.