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Final Fantasy VII
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
They must be further along than they are letting on, or they are being fairly optimistic: Square Enix announed last night at the Final Fantasy VII Reunion Concert that the long-awaited remake is due to release on March 3 of next year.
Most of the new trailer that accompanied the announcement was still from the game's prologue, but it does seem to indicate more clearly that the battle system looks to be closer to Final Fantasy XV than a modified ATB system. The new trailer is also bookended by a brief shot of Shin-ra and Aerith dropping her flowers in terror. In the middle there appears to be a first glance at Cloud using a Limit Break!
Squenix say that we can expect more details tonight at their pre-E3 showcase. I'm an old man but I can probably stay awake for that.
Source: Square Enix Facebook
I mentioned in a thread at the forums yesterday that Square Enix staff seemed pretty excited about today's State of Play presentation by Sony. Turns out they had good reason to be, as part of that presentation was a debut trailer with cutscenes and battle gameplay from the FF7 remake that has long been in the works!
It's just a minute long, and it mainly focuses upon the very early stages of the game that introduce us to AVALANCHE in the Reactor raid. We also get a glimpse of Aerith and Cloud's first interaction, though, and at the very end a little tiny bit of Sephiroth himself. It's still hard to tell whether the battles are going to go into an all-action mode, or whether they are just a very, very fancy variant of ATB, but what you can see already looks very pretty indeed.Source: Siliconera
Square Enix announced last week that for the first time ever, an official symphonic concert dedicated to the soundtrack of Final Fantasy VII will premiere in Los Angeles. The date will be June 9, a couple days before this year's E3 kicks off, and it will play at the Dolby Theatre at 6pm for one show.
The concert will include over a hundred live musicians conducted by Arnie Roth, with new arrangements and a new HD video presentation to be played as the concert goes. Tickets are on sale now and range from $77.77 (ha!) to $139.
The timing of doing an all-FF7 concert just before E3 is interesting, with the remake in the works. One might take this to mean that there will be some real information on the remake at E3 this year, in which case we've got just a month or so left to wait.
Source: Gematsu, WildFaery
Nintendo did a new Nintendo Direct late last night (America time, that is). And if you have a Switch and are a classic Square Enix fan, you are 100% in luck - there are now a ton of Final Fantasy games coming your way. First, five games from the late 90's/early 2000's: Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2, and Final Fantasy XII were all announced for 2019 releases on the Nintendo system. One would have to assume that for these games, they will be ports of the most recent Windows releases, and in the case of X/X-2, will be purchased as a single unit as they have been previously for PS4 and PC.
The cute and simple version of Final Fantasy XV, called Pocket Edition, was released on mobile in February of this year, and for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One just last Friday. The Switch version was likely also ready for that release day, but as Nintendo Direct was delayed a week due to hurricanes in the Pacific Ocean, the announcement lost a bit of momentum and fell behind the other consoles. It's priced at $29.99 on Switch, but currently you can get it for 40% off as a release celebration.
World of Final Fantasy is also coming to Switch, on November 6. The Switch edition will be called "Maxima," will add in a new feature called "Avatar Change" in which the player characters Reynn and Lann will be able to change their appearance to that of classic Final Fantasy characters when in their non-Jiant modes. Cloud, Lightning, Yuna, and Noctis all appeared in the short video snippet as Avatar Change options, though it's likely that many more will be available.
Finally for new news, a remaster of Chocobo's Mystery Dungeon was also announced for release sometime this winter. This game was originally released a decade ago for Wii, and the new version is subtitled "Every Buddy" because in the new release, every monster is available as a friend option (and because two people can play by splitting the Joy-Cons).
If you don't have a Switch, though, you won't be left out. Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will be getting a number of these games as well. Microsoft gamers get the biggest lift, as most of the games were not previously available there: World of Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy X/X-2 and Final Fantasy XII will all be arriving on the XBO; WoFF will arrive on November 6 just as for Switch, with the others coming next year. PlayStation 4 gamers will also get Every Buddy, and can upgrade their WoFF to Maxima with paid DLC. WoFF will also be coming to PC!
A job posting appeared on Friday from Square Enix, looking for "core members" of the Final Fantasy VII Remake project. It appears that this specific listing is for a level planner, laying out areas in the Remake world using Unreal Engine 4. The listing also mentions potential roles for battle planners, designers, and engineers (in this context, likely game developers), with some of those roles coming from inside Square Enix and others being outside hires.
Part of this news was new to me in the case that the development of the game was previously being done outside of Square Enix, by a company called CyberConnect. Now it appears that headquarters has fully assimilated the project, hence the need for some hiring and organizational shifting to accommodate the work.
This news is also a bit illuminating as a look inside the company's practices that I personally haven't seen before. At least for this role, they are not looking for a minimum level of experience, implying that the hiring will be done based mainly on prior portfolio. The salary starts at about USD $34,000 a year, with no upper bound mentioned; that would seem to me like they're willing to bring in a very junior person for this specific role if necessary. I don't know what game devs typically make in Japan, but I do know that you wouldn't get much of a developer here in the States for that money. They also promise a forty-hour work week, which I would find a little difficult to believe in this industry and on a game of this importance.
The other big conclusion you can draw from this is probably a bit more sad - if they're just now bringing the work in house and are hiring for roles like these currently, that would probably indicate that there hasn't been much progress in development yet. I wouldn't hold my breath to see much new this year, though the late-year Tokyo Game Show might be an option.
Source: Siliconera, Kotaku
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