Square Enix E3 Showcase 2019 – E3 Thoughts

Expectations:

It remains no surprise that Square Enix remains the wild card of game developers: you never quite have an indication of their development schedules and marketing strategies. Yet it has tended to backfire dramatically in terms of public reception, as seen with Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III. While both were critically and commercially successful, it remained unanimous that the wait for both titles was abnormally long and winded. For this conference, Square Enix needs to double-down on its efforts to release concrete information on its biggest projects, especially Final Fantasy VII Remake and the untitled Avengers game. Without sufficient gameplay footage to grasp the vision of either game (and not a trace of it in the case of the latter), the major goal of Square Enix this year is to give all indications that these games are undoubtedly releasing sometime in the future with fuller glimpses of each title, while additionally supplementing its catalog with new releases and content.

The presentation kicks off with Final Fantasy VII Remake, bringing producer Yoshinori Kitase and director Tetsuya Nomura to the stage to reveal more details and introduce an extensive look at gameplay. 

It was a wise choice to immediately demonstrate the title in more detail, especially with the major skepticism that the general public has held towards the game, if not Square Enix as a result of their sketchy track record with their past major projects. The real-time action system looks much more refined in comparison to Final Fantasy XV, and it appears to emphasize a greater amount of strategy. ATB is a new mechanic that slows down the pace to allow for a methodical gameplay experience. Watching the combat system in motion against a boss eased a few concerns I had about the fluidity of combat, and it looks more polished and efficient that I expected. I also noticed that you can destroy various parts of the boss (i.e. legs and blasters) to make the battle a bit easier, so some complexity seems to be present. You can also switch between characters to trigger new combos and attack methods, which should lend itself a greater variety.

If there was one major takeaway that I could discuss from the gameplay demo, there is no doubt that it seems like a “feasible” game. For the first time in quite a while, I have some degree of confidence that the two-part experience will not only release on the day that it promises, but deliver a refined gameplay and narrative experience. A playable demo was announced for the show floor, which is ultimately a positive sign for the game’s progress. Not to mention, it looks utterly fantastic from a graphical standpoint. I plan on playing through the original Final Fantasy VII on the Nintendo Switch prior to the remake, so it is essentially a guarantee that I will give this a shot. And as expected, there’s a few various editions of the game available to consumers for those interested.

After four years of waiting thus far, let’s hope for the best!

Provides a reminder of Life Is Strange 2 being available to play 

I have never played Life Is Strange, but it seemed to be well-beloved by those who played the game.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Remastered releasing this winter 

Once again, I do not have experience with this specific form of Final Fantasy, but I am interested in playing through the game when the opportunity arises!

Octopath Traveler shown off once again, with a reminder the game will be ported to Steam 

I have little to say, other than that the game is fantastic for a multitude of reasons that I cannot possibly formulate into words with the brief moments that I have here. For those curious about its appeal, I wrote a piece on it when discussing my favorite games from last year.

The Last Remnant Remastered announced, releasing on the Nintendo Switch tonight 

Very little familiarity with the game, other than it was a role-playing game that was released for seventh-generation consoles back in 2008, and re-released for the Playstation 4 in some form. But since it’s on the Nintendo Switch, it makes it immediately more appealing :).

Dragon Quest Builders 2 shown off with a release date of July 12th, 2019 

For those unfamiliar, Dragon Quest Builders is essentially a combination of the gameplay mechanics of Minecraft and the universe of Dragon Quest. Admittedly, I have never been a fan of Minecraft, so this game is not quite up my alley. However, it is quite impressive that it is releasing next month!

Dragon Quest XI S shown off in greater detail, will be available in the fall 

Will definitely plan to pick up this version of Dragon Quest XI on the Nintendo Switch, due to the sheer amount of new content that distinguishes it from the initial releases. With both a modern and retro way to play, the game will likely plunge me into a vast and colorful adventure that will keep me hooked for hours.

Circuit Superstars announced, releasing sometime in 2020

This game is described as forming from a desire to create an original tactical top-down racing game reminiscent of the early days of the genre. As someone who has preferred racing games that leaned into its arcade elements, this appears to be a fun independent game that would be best played with friends or online.

Battalion 19/44 announced and available to play on Steam 

I am not going to lie, I completely zoned out when they were demonstrating the game. Nothing visual or mechanical distinguishes it too much from other shooters, so it seems like it’ll be a pass for me. Will not understate its potential to cultivate a large fanbase though

Final Fantasy music appearing on multiple music streaming platforms

The legal aspect of Final Fantasy soundtracks has always been a trying one, as Square Enix is notoriously difficult to work with on this front (as evident with Super Smash Bros.) Nevertheless, this is such an exciting announcement and I will be jamming to a plethora of the compositions available

Kingdom Hearts 3 Re:Mind DlC shown with a trailer, releasing in the winter

As I wrote about earlier in the year, I was disappointed in the downgrades that I personally assessed in comparison to prior games in the series. With this paid downloadable content apparently adding new playable characters and bosses, I am quite interested to see if my thoughts evolve as a result.

Final Fantasy XIV expansion Shadowbringers releasing on July 2nd, showing off some of its new elements

Final Fantasy XIV is a massive MMO that hosts millions of players across the world. While I have tested out the game before and determined I wasn’t ready to invest in the overwhelming amount of content, it remains extremely assuring that Square Enix continues to provide updates to the game despite the announcement and release of other games.

Dying Light 2 shown off again, will release in the Spring of 2020

Already discussed in my thoughts during the Microsoft E3 Briefing, but long story short I want to play despite not owning or experiencing the original.

Romancing Saga 3 and Saga Scarlet Grace Ambitions getting re-released on multiple platforms “soon”

Genuinely never heard of either title, but it seemed to garner a decent amount of excitement from the audience. Will I decide to play it? Not sure.

New expansion of Final Fantasy Brave Exvius titled War of the Visions announced 

Final Fantasy Brave Exvius is intended to be a turn-based experience tailored for mobile platforms. Since I do not play a great amount of games on iOS, I cannot describe the game any further than those cursory details. It will be receiving a worldwide release, however, which indicates the international popularity of the game.

Outriders announced and will be released in the summer of 2020

By all indications is a new intellectual property that attempts to blend elements of mythology in its worldbuilding with characters that utilize futuristic technology for weapons. Since the developers were cited to have worked on games such as Gears of War and Bulletstorm, they certainly have the experience in the shooting genre needed to branch out, which in the case of Square Enix makes the game fairly distinct from its typical repertoire of games. Overall, I am interested to see how it comes together.

Oninaki shown off, available on August 22nd, 2019

I love the aesthetic of the game, and I believe the title is being developed by the studio responsible for I Am Setsuna amongst other smaller RPG projects. I am extremely stoked to play through the game when it comes to Nintendo Switch when I get a free moment, although August seems to be a quieter month for game releases.

Final Fantasy VIII Remastered announced and coming in 2019

This was completely out of left field, but this is another fantastic effort to make the games more accessible to a new audience on a wide variety of platforms. You can ensure without a doubt that these releases will be heavily appreciated by a great number of gamers across the world.

Marvel Avengers re-revealed and releasing on May 15, 2020

Crystal Dynamics has the greatest amount of experience with the Tomb Raider franchise, so I assume that this new Avengers title will borrow several fundamental gameplay elements from those games. They reaffirmed on stage that this version of the Avengers was an original interpretation of the source material, promising to establish a new spin on the character that we are familiar with. In many respects, this game represents a dream culmination of the most iconic Marvel heroes within a new medium. In fact, the game has the potential to replicate the success of the movies in its own way. I am personally most curious in the narrative approach this game will take, but I expect the gameplay to have the polish and cinematic flair that games within the genre have managed to achieve.

Apparently, they are going to release content over time since there are multiplayer elements. I am unsure how it will pan out, but they did say that all new content will be released at no additional cost, alongside the promises of no loot boxes or pay-to-win microtransactions. That does not eliminate the opportunity for cosmetic microtransactions or others that are not directly tied to gameplay, but it is a great sign nevertheless. In addition, Playstation users will get an early access beta and unique benefits. We’ve got a little less than a year until it releases, but anticipation should remain high.

 

Final Grade: B+

In terms of Final Fantasy VII Remake and Marvel Avengers, Square Enix ensured that its conference began and concluded with a punch; both games received the greatest amount of attention on the show floor, revealing original gameplay and brand-new story details that paint a clearer picture of the direction that both titles seem to be striving towards. Some of the communication surrounding Final Fantasy VII Remake was a bit confusing in terms of its release schedule, but after further clarification I was shocked to hear that the Midgar section alone would require two game discs to fully experience (quite similar to Red Dead Redemption 2). And the people representing Marvel Avengers on stage were super passionate to finally reveal the first glimpse of their game to the rest of the world. 

And better yet, we got release dates for both games! Final Fantasy VII Remake will be coming on March 3rd, whereas Marvel Avengers is arriving on May 15th. I am curious if either game will falter from their respective dates, although there is ample time between now and then to polish both titles for launch.

What hurts the press conference slightly is the re-use of previously released trailers. The trailer for the Kingdom Hearts III DLC had been shown prior, alongside another trailer for Octopath Traveler on PC. This speaks to much of the time that could have been cut to allow for the showcase to move along a bit more efficiently, but emphasizing Final Fantasy VII Remake and Marvel Avengers was the smart move.

There were a handful of neat announcements as well, including a remaster of Final Fantasy VIII and the release of multiple Final Fantasy soundtracks on music streaming platforms. These represent means of sharing the storied history of the franchise with new audiences and spurring greater investment into the conglomerate that is this franchise. 

Considering their showcases from prior years, this one has undoubtedly been their best. With a realistic glimpse into the next year of Square Enix, there is a great chance that Square Enix can bear witness to a great resurgence that puts them on the map once again as a formidable and reliable game developer. 

 

 

 

 

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