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News from Japan
The latest Final Fantasy XV Active Time Report was yesterday at an insanely-early hour, so I (and likely all of you) missed it. It looks like we didn't miss that much, really, as there were no new earth-shattering pieces of news around the game, but mainly updates on things that we had seen before. For instance, the team expressed how the sideline video content in the anime or movie isn't strictly necessary to understand the game; the Justice Monsters V app will be out for Android next week, iOS in June, and Windows 10 sometime in the summer; the game will have a New Game + mode; and the next ATR will take place at E3. Also, if you wanted the very expensive ultimate edition, it sounds like Squenix are aiming to put together another ten thousand copies worldwide.
Valkyrie Anatomia is getting some more press as its release nears. The game got a new trailer last week and this week both. The first one is very much a teaser, with nothing more than extremely dramatic narration and music. The newer one actually shows some art and even the briefest glimpse at a battle scene.
Somehow I missed that there's a Theatrhythm game in the works for arcades in Japan, a second game to follow the handheld-to-arcade flow of Dissidia. The game is far enough along to be location-tested in a half-dozen locations, and to prepare users the company produced a tutorial video. This is a niche game if there ever was one: rhythm, Square Enix, arcade, arcade with intense custom controllers to emulate touch, multi-console co-op, yeah, we're probably never going to see this over here. Looks pretty, though, and the co-op scene at 2:50 in the video is intense.
Speaking of Dissidia in arcades, the next update to that game brings Garland in as the first villain to this big-screen version. If you ever thought he didn't look malicious enough in any of the iterations of Final Fantasy I, you can put that thought to rest; he's a heavy-type character here and is a seriously hulking brute. And since I missed it a while back, Ramza's in there now too. He's in his squire gear and carries a light fencing sword. And he has a nose.
Back to mobile games, where last week Square teased "Project: Rising" for Android and iOS. Turns out that the game is called "Samurai Rising," and is an action RPG; it looks to be a mashup of a lot of different things from the Squenix canon, with art style in-game reminiscent of the 3DS Final Fantasies, character artwork that could have come from Bravely Default, and an overhead action combat model that could be from a Mana game.
Let's wrap up these tidbits with "I am Setsuna". I mentioned before that the game would be playable at PAX East, which starts today (and, by the way, appears to be an utter mess; my friends were reporting lines of fifteen minutes just to cross the street to get to the convention hall earlier today). Today's news details the basic plot and a release date of July 19th for both PlayStation 4 and Windows/Steam. This game looks to be gorgeous and the fact that it's now coming for Windows makes me quite happy.
Source: Gematsu, Siliconera, Polygon
Since my last news post, I've been largely ignoring news and instead working on CoN itself - more on that probably later today or tomorrow. During that time, there's been a lot of smallish news coming out of Squenix' press division, so let's touch on that now.
Hajime Tabata has been continuing to make the Final Fantasy XV rounds since the Uncovered event; an interview with Game Informer shows some more gameplay from the beginning of the game and an interview with Famitsu goes into the decade of development on XV and how they're striving to take the brand out of the "crisis" mode that some fans seem to feel. And, tomorrow, there's going to be another stream, this time with Tabata and Hironobu Sakaguchi. Looks like it's starting at 8pm local time, which would put it at 7am Eastern.
Yesterday, the American SE Twitch channel ran a livestream of Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, called Star Log 2. It mentioned the release date (June 28) and the contents of the collector's edition, but it focused on new gameplay and combat footage. Just after, they released three other new videos with a more focused look at combat and introductory spotlight videos for two more characters.
PAX East is just around the corner again, and unfortunately I'll be unable to go this year. For those folks who are able to go, though, or those who just want to see what is coming up, Squenix published their lineup for the show floor. Star Ocean 5 will be playable, as will I Am Setsuna. Additionally, there will be a playable VR game for Oculus and Gear called Hitman GO - it's a turn-based strategy game, for those of you who might be hoping for virtual reality assassinations in real-time. A new challenge for Final Fantasy XIV, Kingdom Hearts: Unchained χ and a few other non-RPG titles fill out the roster.
Death Penalty will enjoy the fact that Nier: Automata hasn't completely ceased to be. In fact, there's a live event coming up this weekend that will be a concert of Nier series music as well as a presentation of new information for the upcoming title. Folks who might like a sample can get one from the official Japanese site.
On the topic of DP, there's a new Valkyrie game coming, even. There's not much information about Valkyrie Anatomia: The Origin, but it has a release window of Spring 2016 in Japan, a timeline short enough that essentially locks it in as a smartphone title for one or more platforms.
Source: Gematsu, Siliconera, Game Informer
We reported back in February that the next big Final Fantasy XV event was to be titled "Uncovered," and is a "real" live event to take place in Los Angeles. The day has nearly arrived now, so remember to tune in tomorrow on Twitch or YouTube at 10pm Eastern.
The group must have something big planned for this event; previously, we mentioned that they plan to announce the final demo, the release date, the price, and more. But there must be even more than that, because the XV team preempted themselves by doing another livestream just last week with Famitsu.
Siliconera reports some of the highlights:
- Cactuars will return as their Cactuar-like selves. Hopefully Gigantuars too, says this writer.
- The new event will have a new Japanese trailer, which is somewhat disappointing given that the event is happening in America.
- The new demo will be shown at the event.
- They estimate a straight run of the game, sans any bonus content or sidequests, to take roughly fifty hours.
- The frame rate target is 30FPS through the whole game, which I also find a bit disappointing.
- The game's running resolution will be revealed also at the event... which, how can this be a question? It's surely not going to run at 4k, and I would think it would be a huge embarrassment if it can't run at 1080p.
One final, very interesting note from the previous livestream is that Hironobu Sakaguchi reached out to Hajime Tabata to talk about the original XV demo and "had a whole lot to say." That could mean a lot of things, of course. Perhaps Sakaguchi loved it. Perhaps he didn't and had a lot to say about how to make it more true to his original slate of Final Fantasy games. Maybe Tabata took it to heart, and maybe he plans to ignore it. Tabata isn't saying, so we'll just have to wonder.
Also announced earlier: the game will, for the first time, have some language options for Central and South America, with "Latin American Spanish" and "Brazilian Portuguese" selections.
I'm not sure I'll be able to see the livestream myself tomorrow night, but rest assured that we'll do our best to recap it for you as soon as possible.
A lot of new Final Fantasy XV information was revealed in Active Time Report 7.0 last weekend, and I missed it all due to moving. In case you missed it too, read on and watch the ATR at your leisure.
The main focus of ATR7 is that the game is now 80% complete and that they consider development to be close to the final build, meaning there will likely be no further updates until after they consider the game to have gone gold.
There are a lot of mechanics and minor updates wrapped up in the beginning, almost like a visual changelog. There are a couple things I hadn't seen anything of yet, such as the snare combat mechanic and the fluid dynamics of characters in deep water, that looked pretty great. Also... frogs! Additionally, the overall updates show that the camera and UI have been drastically changed since the original demo, improving the overall battle mechanics.
This update showed more of Niflheim and its role and personnel, introducing in particular a dragoon officer named Aranea Highwind - it's worth noting that she has a pretty cool take on some classic Kain Highwind-style armor. The story frames Niflheim as a controlling, mechanically oriented kingdom expanding over Lucis, in a manner that echoes a bit of the plot setup for Final Fantasy VI.
A huge gameplay mechanic introduced this time around has been nicknamed "Final Fantasy Solid" in some circles; a stealth mechanic in which Noctis and crew infiltrate and take down Niflheim bases from within appears to be a significant part of the plot this time around. Destructible and otherwise interactive environments play a role in these takedowns as well, both in terms of destroying and commandeering Niflheim equipment.
With regards to magic, the typical magic system has been modified in XV to be more focused on a few elementals and "ring" magic, which is available only later in the game. The elemental spells have improved efficacy in certain environments, and have the ability to use the environments to spread to wider ranges and therefore envelop more targets.
Coming up next: the Uncovered event. This is the big one, and it's happening in Los Angeles (and free tickets are available, Californian readers!). In this event, the final demo will be announced, the 2016 release date for the final game will be announced, as well as price and "other details."
If that's not enough for XV for you, Gematsu collected a gallery of screenshots to check out too.
Source: Siliconera, Gematsu, Game Informer
The Star Ocean and Dragon Quest franchises both have updates coming soon in the form of new games; as both enter 2016, January's been a good month for updates on the progress them all. This week in particular had a new livestream broadcast for Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness, and with it came new gameplay footage and discussion of gameplay tweaks, a new trailer to introduce more background on Fidel, the main protagonist, and new screenshots and background information on how the game's skillsets will work.
In the Dragon Quest universe, there's always a lot more going on. The Dragon Quest franchise turns thirty years old this year, and as such, there's a new website for the franchise in Japan. A demo for Builders, the Minecraft-esque building RPG set in the Dragon Quest universe, will be out next week in Japan for Playstation 4 and Vita. The 3DS game Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3 (name just rolls off the tongue, by the by) will be coming out on March 24 in Japan, but the company is also aiming for a demo to come out a few weeks earlier. Another sideline franchise in the DQ universe, Heroes, will see its sequel released for all three living Sony platforms right on the 30th anniversary in Japan. That date is May 27th of this year.
Finally, the biggest game in the franchise, Dragon Quest XI, was announced as having a release date sometime during the anniversary year. That means that it won't be out before the start of the anniversary year, and possibly not out until next May 27th, should they hit the window at all. This news was met with great disdain by the anniversary event's followers, who expected something more concrete.
Source: Siliconera, Gematsu
We're behind on news again, but I didn't want to miss the chance to reuse a headline: Final Fantasy IX, the Final Fantasy packed to the gills with homage and protagonists resembling monkeys, is headed to both Windows and mobile in 2016. This version is going to be similar to the PC and mobile release of Final Fantasy VII insomuch as it is the original PlayStation release with control tweaks added for touch devices and some ease-of-play functions like autosave and optional random encounters. There's no official release window set forth as yet, and very little media.
This release of IX differs from that of VII, though, given that there is an announcement at all; the Final Fantasy VII release on iOS came as a surprise, so there's no way to extrapolate any further details regarding a potential release window based on what we know now.
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