Square Enix Go Big (For Next Year) at E3
Square Enix just wrapped up their E3 presentation without major surprises, though a lot of what they had looked pretty solid. The team went bold by leading their show with Final Fantasy VII Remake, hot on the heels of the release date announcement and trailer we posted earlier today. Tonight, they had a lot more detail worth checking out, of course.
First up, some information about what to expect; the game has "two blu-rays of content" available, with the first disc apparently being all about Midgar. This was essentially the first bit of information of the presentation, and it bookended nicely with the announcement that preorders are now open and there are multiple special editions to be had, which is naturally completely unsurprising given the profile of this game and Squenix' normal business practices. Both of these things seem to be a bit odd given the previous news that the game would be episodic; if they have backed down from that now, the March 2020 release date seems very ambitious.
We could glean some detail of the battle system from the first trailer, but tonight's presentation walked through much more detail and left me with the impression that the game was going to play a lot like Lightning Returns (since most of you haven't played that, I consider that a good thing) with some mix of Crisis Core and Final Fantasy XV involved too. There is an ATB system, but it seems to be an ATB twist on Lightning Returns' charge meter, with abilities requiring at least one unit on the ATB meter to be full before they can be used. The ATB system appears to be used for magical attacks and item usage, and combined with the Limit gauge, used to access Limit Breaks as well. The ATB mode also runs in bullet time, to allow easier access to desired commands. The ATB fills as melee attacks, using the Square button, are successfully executed, with combos increasing the bar more.
Also like the Final Fantasy XIII series, a Stagger mode will be present to cripple enemies. Like those earlier games, it looks like depending on the enemy Stagger can be built up by combo attacks or weak point attacks. The party will remain at maximum three, with two characters run by the game while players control the third. However, Squenix promised to be able to switch between active party in battle with a single button press. Speaking of buttons, attacks can also be mapped to buttons for quick access, as in other recent Final Fantasy games.
The character reveals are what drove the crowd crazy tonight, though. We saw a bit of Aerith in last night's video, but in this longer one she shows up a bit more, including in battle. Tifa's character design was finally revealed as well, and we see her with Marlene, conversing with Cloud in Seventh Heaven, and also in battle. We even got a little Sephiroth towards the end, which appears to be in a flashback to Nibelheim.
Square have made the game available for playing on the show floor, though they did not make any mention of what parts of the game would be playable. I assume until we hear otherwise that it's the game's opening mission on the reactor. If you missed it earlier, they're selling March 3, 2020 as the release date, which still seems pretty ambitious to me if they are going to pack the entire game with as much as they have in the first mission.Here are some other games that showed up in the presentation tonight, which ran for about an hour and fifteen minutes.
- A longform trailer for Life is Strange 2's upcoming content
- Crystal Chronicles Remaster with online multiplayer for PS4, Switch, iOS, and Google Play; the video implied that cross-platform play might be an option. It's coming in December
- The Last Remnant Remaster, releasing tonight for Switch
- A new, long trailer for Dragon Quest Builders 2, releasing on July 12 with a PlayStation 4 demo on June 27
- A Fall release window for Dragon Quest XI S
- A couple upcoming Square Enix Collective games, including one called Circuit Superstars that looks like a modern, multiplayer version of RC Pro-Am
- A short trailer for Re+Mind, the first Kingdom Hearts III DLC
- A new trailer for the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion, "Shadowbringers," releasing on July 2
- A trailer for Dying Light 2, which made great use of an old Metric song
- An announcement for Western releases of Romancing SaGa 3 and SaGa Scarlet Grace
- An introduction to the next game in the Brave Exvius universe, called War of the Visions, which appears to be a turn- and grid-based tactical strategy game with five different warring factions
The other linchpin for Square Enix this year was obviously going to be Avengers, given how many times they've reminded us of the game on social media over the last week, and that's how they wrapped up the show. Frankly, it looks amazing. The entire video they showed claimed to be in-engine, and the transitions between non-interactive and interactive parts of the game were beyond seamless. The scale of the environments, illustrated by the setting of the Golden Gate Bridge for much of the trailer, were spectacular as well. It's also an original Avengers story, according to Marvel Gaming, outside the comic and cinematic universes.
The game is going to release on May 15 of 2020, and it appears that the playable heroes will start with Captain America, Black Widow, Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man. According to their very own version of a post-credits scene, it looks like Hank Pym is on deck for the future as well. Crystal Dynamics say that there will be no loot boxes, play to win, or even costs associated with downloading new missions or heroes as they're made available as DLC. It's coming for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Google Stadia, and it's another game playable on the show floor.
All that said, Square Enix look like they are going to be thin on the ground for really big titles in 2019, but the first half of 2020 is going to ship a lot of games for the juggernaut.
Source: Square Enix Twitch
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