News really dries up when Death Penalty and I go a-travelin', does it not? Fear not, as I'm back now and he will be soon as well; however, don't forget that all of you out there are free to write news that we're missing!
The annual Gamescom conference was in Cologne, Germany last week, and as loyal readers will know, Hajime Tabata explained back in June that there would be no new Final Fantasy XV news until then. Storing things up for a couple months led to a news blowout on this hotly-anticipated game, as follows.
The biggest thing, of course, is the new trailer. Square Enix love their trailers, and with trailers like this who can blame them?
This trailer is a flashback to fifteen years before the intended timeline of the game, with emotional scenes between young Noctis and his father, King Regis.
Gamescom was also the location and time of the most recent Active Time Report, and it and the discussions around it formed the core of new Final Fantasy XV information for the summer. Among the sights, sounds, and tidbits released:
- Ambushing monsters, in this case a marlboro
- Pending polish to game visuals and battle system
- Pending launch of English/Japanese Final Fantasy XV forums
- Next Active Time Reports at PAX Prime and Tokyo Game Show
- Flight coming to the game, and likely not passive airship flight
- New screenshots of dungeons, towns, and other scenery
A girl who had previously briefly appeared in media released by the Nova Crystallis team, Lunafreya, was also confirmed at Gamescom to be Noctis' betrothed, an arranged royal marriage to ensure peace with Tenebrae. At the start of Final Fantasy XV, she and the king are presumed dead, but come on - we all know that's not gonna happen.
And, to bury the lede as I so love to do, not only did the team confirm the game will not slip to 2017, they also confirmed simultaneous worldwide release. How about that?
The Dragon Quest series rivals the flagship Final Fantasy for remakes, sequels, and spinoffs - hey, just see the last news I posted - and this week Square Enix announced a new one and published the first screenshots of another.
First, for Android and iOS, a new free-to-play RPG called "Dragon Quest of the Stars." There's not much for it save a new site in Japanese, but Siliconera reports that the game will feature the classic Dragon Quest behind-the-party combat view with generic buildable characters around star-shaped maps out in the universe. The game will be released yet this year in Japan, but no word about other locales as yet.
Also coming soon is Square Enix' take on the up-and-coming genre of "open world building games with licensed characters." We might have expected that to show up in the Final Fantasy universe, but not this time! Dragon Quest Builders puts the player in the world of the original Dragon Quest, with a big mallet and a charter to rebuild the kingdom. If it sounds like Minecraft, it looks it as well, as shown in these first-ever screenshots. You're not just building a world, though, you're also building safety for all of the citizens around you and also directly protecting them by fighting off creatures from the Dragon Quest universe. This game is intended for PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Vita, with no announced release date and no indication of release outside Japan.
Source: Siliconera, Polygon
At the Japan Expo that just wrapped in Paris - no, this isn't mistyped - Dragon Quest maestro Yuji Horii spoke with the assembled press. Among more mundane matters, Horii intimated that the recent 3DS remakes of Dragon Quest VII and VIII would be released "in French," a move that apparently caused his translator some consternation at the time.
This was clearly something that Horii simply wanted to leak for fun; there's no release date, no other particulars, and so on. However, this is good news for all Dragon Quest fans outside of Japan. Someone like Yuji Horii wouldn't make this comment if it weren't true, and if there is bound to be a French localization, there's zero chance that other languages are not on the table, especially English.
It's the kind of question much more commonly associated with the Final Fantasy series: what is it that makes a ___ game a ___ game? Since Square Enix oversees the fate of Deus Ex, I suppose it's appropriate to turn the discussion in that direction. Patrick Fortier, the director of gameplay for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, spoke with the folks over at Polygon about precisely that. It turns out there are four essential ingredients to a Deus Ex game: stealth, combat, hacking, and social interaction. Those four things, of course, "all wrapped up into this tight rope of freedom and choice and consequences."
Fortier continued to suggest that while continuity with prior titles developed by different hands was a primary concern with Mankind Divided's immediate (and critically-acclaimed) predecessor, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, the team is looking to explore new possibilities -- and of course offer more gameplay options, more augmentations, and more narrative choices.
Multiple other interviews with other personnel working on the game have cropped up on several other videogame websites in the last couple days, saying almost the exact same things: the four pillars of Deus Ex, expanding possibilities for the franchise, and no-way-is-the-wrong-way when it comes to player-drive plot choices. Eidos Montreal and Square Enix are certainly barnstorming, and from the headlines the cumulative effect looks positive: "Deus Ex left me obsessing over cyborg oppression" (theverge.com) and "Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is a better shooter than most actual shooters" (gamesradar.com), to name just a few.
This wave of comments comes after a successful E3 presentation: while their demo initially at Sony's main event, its successful reboot showed not only that they were actually playing live (something that is not always the case for demos at events like this); it also showed that the game is darn beautiful. They also come, however, after a bit of heat from several quarters regarding the team's use of the now-trademarked term "mechanical apartheid." It must be added that several persons, connected with the game's development and with Eidos Montreal, have made strong and sensible responses to these critiques, saying that a vital part of the franchise has always been considering complex social questions in a sci-fi world that nonetheless has bearings on reality. But for now, "social justice" isn't listed as one of the "four pillars" of a Deus Ex title -- not yet, at least.
Source: Polygon, Kotaku UK
Tetsuya Nomura has been a busy, busy fellow. He appeared in Famitsu this week to speak even more about Kingdom Hearts III -- after already doing so last week -- to add a few more tidbits to the.... tidbit bouquet. Apparently Square Enix has already internally established a release window for the title, but they aren't telling anyone yet. I suppose sharing this is just supposed to make us feel better? Nomura added that development is moving along smoothly.
Nomura clarified that Kingdom Hearts III's battle system would not be like Birth By Sleep but would instead be a bit more "traditional" and more in line with the previous two main entries in the series. Most of the worlds in the game will be new to the series; evidently the team has already talked with Disney and decided on the next new world to announce.
Finally, Nomura reiterated that the third Kingdom Hearts installment would mark the end of a story, not the end of the series (we've heard this before, but that was back in 2013). Xehanort and the Dark Seeker part of the series will conclude, but decisions have already been made about the future of various characters in the series. Nomura concluded by teasting that the team is currently thinking about secret videos and the game's ending.
Videogame website Polygon spoke to Shuichi Kobayashi, the producer of Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness (the fifth entry in the series). Having shown the title's first gameplay trailer at E3 last week, Kobayashi made it clear he -- and others at Square Enix -- already have plans for where the series will go next. Kobayashi said that he would "like to make something that can work as a basis for future possibilities," alluding to the fact that the Star Ocean series has been scattered temporally, geographically, and in terms of plot relation. He reiterated that it was important this next title be a "really clearly defined game" on which future titles could build.
Reporting that he had received significant fan feedback seeking an open-world Star Ocean, Kobayashi said it is an "evolution" he wants to take place, but that it isn't the right time for that yet. A strong product in a more traditional format would certainly be a valuable step for the series, which despite being well-respected has had, in its last two titles, a botched release (Star Ocean 3) and a lukewarm reception (Star Ocean 4).
At another point, Kobayashi all but admitted Star Ocean 4 wasn't good, and emphasized that the team of Integrity and Faithlessness is looking to the first three Star Ocean games for inspiration and pursuing "a very tri-Ace creative direction." Between this title and the new Nier title, it seems that Square Enix's current theme is continuity.
Finally, Kobayashi commented a bit on how characters would work in Star Ocean 5. The trailer showed at E3 included several characters on screen at once, and he said that your entire party will be present in the field. It has yet to be seen how this will impact combat -- whether only some of these characters will actually participate in battle or whether you'll have the whole batch fighting at once. It is also reported that there will be more than six playable characters (the number shown in the trailer) in the final game.
Source: Polygon, RPGFan