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News from Japan
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.
Shonen Jump, each December, puts on the Jump Festa expo for anime, manga and games. Japan, being fully futuristic as shown in most anime documentaries, naturally calls this year's iteration "Jump Festa 2016." This year, Square Enix will take the stage on December 19 and 20 for several presentations to be broadcast on YouTube. Here's the schedule, with all times listed as UTC and EST.
- December 19, 1:30AM UTC / December 18, 8:30PM EST: Star Ocean: Integrity & Faithlessness Stage interview with voice talent
- December 19, 3:30AM UTC / December 18, 10:30PM EST: Dragon Quest Builders Stage interview with the producers
- December 19, 5:30AM UTC / 12:30AM EST: Dragon Quest of the Stars Stage interview with the producers
- December 20, 4:00AM UTC / December 19, 11:00PM EST: Dragon Quest Monsters: Battle Scanner Stage introduction to a new Dragon Quest arcade game with the producers and voice talent
- December 20, 5:20AM UTC / 12:20AM EST: World of Final Fantasy Stage interview with the director and voice talent
- Dragon Quest Builders (Trailer, Playable Demo)
- Dragon Quest Monsters: Battle Scanner (Trailer)
- Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3 (Trailer, Playable Demo)
- Dragon Quest of the Stars (Stage Only)
- Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius (Trailer)
- The Sorrow of Sacrifice and Snow (Trailer)
- Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue (Trailer)
- Star Ocean: Integrity & Faithlessness (Trailer)
- World of Final Fantasy (Trailer)
Following the pattern of the Active Time Event series for Final Fantasy XV, the producers of the Star Ocean series aired on Thursday. For those of us spoiled by the subtitled XV events, it's worth noting that Star Ocean did not follow suit and was fully in Japanese. That said, there might not be a lot of information that we can pull out for you directly, but here are some highlights:
- While the fifth game in the series, Integrity and Faithlessness is the fourth game in the Star Ocean universe timeline, falling about halfway between "The Second Story" and "Till the End of Time."
- The entire party, up to seven, travels together during exploration.
- Each piece of equipment has custom illustrations representing it in menus. It appears that some of these items may be purchasable via Japanese storefronts in the real world.
- With so many party members, the battles are frenetic to say the least. The player controls just one at a time in an action-RPG system, while the others work on autopilot.
- A special edition has already been announced for Japan with at least some of the standard pack-ins, like an art book with content from the entire series and figurines.
- The music comes from the same source as Valkyrie Profile, and the Ultimate Box includes also a five-disc set of music from the Star Ocean and Valkyrie games.
- The game still doesn't look nearly as visually impressive as I would expect a PS4 RPG to at this point in the console's lifecycle. It's possible that the company is showing mostly the PS3 version so that the upgraded version dazzles at launch.
We had news just the other day about how - O! If only we mortals could try! - we could be seeing Moogles in Final Fantasy XV. And, now, just a few days later, it seems that the cries of humanity have seen response, and the darling little mascots will indeed appear in the final game. Apparently, as per Tabata, there won't be much of a role for them due to the late stage of the process, but in the game they shall be.
Why, one might think that this was their plan all along, and perhaps the call to action was merely an attempt to get a brief bump in social media virality for the upcoming flagship game. One might think that, indeed, or instead, one might simply decide that there is a higher power out there looking out for the enjoyment of all Final Fantasy gamers. Blessed deity, hear the pleas of we sinners who all too often overlooked thy blessings of Final Fantasy XIII, and deliver unto us our furry, antennae'd batcats.
Man. That was one strange newspost.
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