News from Europe
Did you know Final Fantasy XI was still a thing? I don't think I'd thought about it since the last time I posted news about it, back in 2012. That's unfair, though, because the game is well over a decade old but still has a core of diehard players; it's just that none of us are included in that list!
Anyway, Square Enix had a Final Fantasy XI event today, in which the very definition of what Final Fantasy XI is changed somewhat. Most importantly, the final additional scenario to the game was announced; called "Rhapsodies of Vana'diel," the scenario will come in three parts and are intended to incorporate aspects of the game's history into new battles and loot in an effort to create a feeling of closure to the adventure. These three pieces will be free to all players.
The three pieces of "Rhapsodies" will be released in May, August, and November 2015. In March 2016, the game will be shut down for Playstation 2 and Xbox 360 players, which seems like it might be well due. This will leave only the PC version as an active platform. Sometime before the March shutoff, as well, the game managers are planning a final gameplay event called "The Goddess' Gala," which promises fun content for both active and lapsed players.
While the ancient platforms are being eliminated, though, a new platform is being announced; Final Fantasy XI mobile is in the works now for smartphones and tablets worldwide. The game will carry the XI name, and has optimizations intended to make the game more playable via touch; however, it is not yet clear if it will interact with the existing platform or will exist solely on its own servers and will be multiplayer only with other mobile players.
Also announced today, for release in Japan later this year, is a mobile game set in the universe and leveraging the characters of Final Fantasy XI. The game is called Final Fantasy Grandmasters, and while it will have ad hoc multiplayer, it's not to MMO scale and the gameplay based on screenshots looks like a hybrid between MMO combat and more standard Final Fantasy line-up-and-sword-them fighting. It's aiming for beta sometime in April, but again, there's no release planned outside of Japan.
Late last year, we noted that a leak on an online store made it appear that the high-definition remasters of the Final Fantasy X series might make it to PS4. Not only has this week proven that to be true, the games are coming to the West, and they're coming quite soon, May 12 to be exact. (For Europe and Australia, the date is the 15th.)
This new release will allow transfer of savegames from the previous releases on PS3 and PS Vita; additionally, it will contain all the features of the previous HD releases plus the additional option to switch from the remastered soundtracks back to the original PS2 versions. Preorders of the limited edition in North America, via the official store and "selected retailers," will also include a 2015 calendar with Amano illustrations from the X games. Preorders in Europe will receive a steelbook copy of Amano art.
The price is currently listed at 49.99 for the US and Eurozone, and 39.99 in the UK.
Source: Square Enix Official Store (NA), IGN
Time to do a proper weekly Square Enix News Tidbits! Mostly for the same reason that we always do - because we run out of time to keep up during the week.
This week, we've got two new announcements for game releases coming West from Japan. First up is a mobile app called Final Fantasy Record Keeper that you might have noticed in the Final Fantasy magazine. Record Keeper appears to be a retelling of critical events from the Final Fantasy canon as evoked by a boy tasked with keeping the memories of those adventures alive, presumably in some sort of alternate universe. Characters from the series are rendered in SNES-era sprites and the player will control them in battle. The battles look similar to All the Bravest... so all we can do is hope that this app isn't quite so much a joke! Pre-registration for the app is available now from the official site.
The second announcement is from the Dragon Quest series. Dragon Quest Heroes for PlayStation 3 and 4 has just come out in Japan, and Squenix commemorated the release in a way by announcing it also for release in the West. DQ Heroes is a "Warriors" style game - think Hyrule or Dynasty - and is the first entry of the series on a Sony console in quite a while. Simultaneously, a load of free DLC was announced for the Japanese release, and one can safely assume that it will also make it over here. One of the DLC packs looks to include Zoma, from Dragon Quest III; I note that specifically because I always thought his giant eye-helmet was pretty creepy. At the moment, it appears that there will be no PS3 version of the game outside of Japan, merely PS4.
Finally, let's turn back to last week's biggest news, Final Fantasy XV. With the demo livestream done, the XV team has turned back to handing out small bits of news for the full game. In an interview this week, Hajime Tabata noted that the demo coming out next month will be roughly 5GB in total disk size; of course, that doesn't do much for explaining how much real content there will be, but it's worth noting that is only about a tenth of a double-layer Bluray's capacity. In the same interview, Tabata implied that there would be some shocking moments in the plot and some brutal scenes, and it's worth noting that Tabata also worked on Crisis Core, so he's probably not bluffing.
In another, separate interview, Tabata discussed some of the other differences between the demo and the full game. The equipment selections, for weapons, armor and accessories alike, will be a small subset of the full game's functionality in terms of equipping and customization. While the (famous) cars and the (heretofore unknown) trains will not be in the demo, both methods of transport will be available in the full game in different contexts. Chocobos will also appear, of course. Additionally, the new content came with a video with some new scenes, notably exploration and battle inside a claustrophobic cave. A second new video emulates the feel of a nature documentary and shows more landscapes and creatures. Tabata also noted that the team is still refining the demo and will be continuing to do so.
More random news is cropping up today, though, so we might be able to throw some more good stuff at you in the near future. Or we might get lazy. It's Friday.
Source: Final Fantasy Record Keeper, Square Enix Europe, Siliconera
Later this week, Square Enix Japan will be running a live stream to present real, live gameplay from the Final Fantasy XV demo, which will be released next month with Type-0. Game director Hajime Tabata will host the stream, which is said to show both gameplay and the "systems" comprising XV, which likely means the combat style and user interfaces both inside and outside of combat.
The demo will begin at 6am Eastern time on Friday, February 20, and will be shown on the streaming services NicoNico and YouTube Live. There's no indication as to whether the stream will be geoblocked, so if you're an early riser or a night owl, it'll be worth seeking out in a few days.
On a similar note, Square Enix also released the "release trailer" for Final Fantasy Type-0 HD last night. The trailer remains in Japanese, but the company is quick to point out that the release version will allow the gamer to switch between languages. I would presume this trailer to be the last we'll see, as the game now releases in exactly one month and counting in the United States - the Japanese and European releases come a few days later.
Source: Siliconera, Square Enix Youtube
Active readers of CoN news (and of course, Distant Worlds fans) will already know that there's one more show coming in North America in 2014: Toronto, December 6. That show will be conducted by Arnie Roth, and will feature regular contributor Susan Calloway as a vocalist. Uematsu will be in attendance as well.
With the upcoming list getting thin, it's about time for some new shows to get announced for 2015, and that list is here! On January 31, the team will do two shows in New Jersey, at the Performing Arts Center in Newark. There will be a matinee and an evening show on the same day, and VIP tickets are available that include meet and greet packages. Not only will these shows include Roth, Uematsu and Calloway, they will also feature the first North American performances by Rikki, the original vocalist for Suteki Da Ne from Final Fantasy X. Tickets are on sale now.
In May of 2015, the series returns to St. Louis, Missouri for shows on the 15th and 16th. Uematsu won't be there, but Roth and Calloway will be performing and the composer for Final Fantasy XI, Naoshi Mizuta will be in attendance for the first time. The program will be changed up somewhat, bringing back the Final Fantasy VI character medley first performed for the 20th Anniversary show and two new arrangements from Lightning Returns and Final Fantasy VII. In addition, each show will have two other new additions to the program; the first will add in new Final Fantasy X and XIV music, and the second will add in Eyes on Me and Melodies of Life. These tickets are also on sale now.
The spinoff series from Distant Worlds, covered in our last post, has wrapped up its live performances in America for now, and has just two more upcoming - one in London on Halloween, and one in Paris on November 30th (tickets available now). However, a recording from a previous London performance is coming soon for purchase. It's described as "over sixty minutes of music and a virtually all-new repertoire" performed by a much smaller chamber orchestra. It seems like a digital performance is already available to buy from Bandcamp for a minimum $9.99 purchase, but there's no indication as to what will be different about the new release or whether it will be available only digitally or also on physical media.
Source: Distant Worlds, A New World
I posted earlier today about Type-0 being localized, and how Square Enix sneaked that news into the end of their announcement trailer for Final Fantasy Agito. None of us were aware, though, that the Type-0 news there was actually not the big one of the day: the company just announced that this game, AWOL for so long, will actually appear on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One.
The new version will be in HD, of course, but absolutely no other details have been released, including whether the original handheld version will be localized now, or not. Naturally, this is causing some distress among some who clamored for the original game to be released, as they seem to feel betrayed by the fact that the game they asked for will not be on a console they currently own.
This has been a whirlwind first day of E3, so don't be surprised if more details are yet to emerge!
Edited to add: OK, so I probably should have figured this out from the first post. I guess I was really too quick on the trigger, eh?
Source: Square Enix