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News from Japan
An embargo on media previews of Final Fantasy XVI was lifted today, leading to a deluge of new info about the game coming this summer. Gematsu, for their part, released a number of new videos from their time playing the game, over forty minutes' worth split over five distinct videos on YouTube. They are mostly centered around the same portion of the game, it would appear, to avoid being too spoilery, but those who want to know absolutely nothing about the game should probably avoid watching too terribly much. I'm not including videos in this post for that reason, too.
Without going too terribly much into those spoilers myself, I can say that the videos show off a lot of combat in various modes, including solo and party combat in both normal encounters, boss encounters, and an Eikon battle. The boss-level encounters showed off a number of quick-time events within battle, certainly more than I expected. Personally, I felt vibes of both Final Fantasy XIII and XV in the combat sequences.
There are some pieces that show where the devs are working towards that M-rating with the ESRB, as well; I caught a bit more bloody violence than we're used to in a Final Fantasy game during the Eikon battle, and I'm pretty sure I caught an f-bomb in one of the boss battles, though I admit I watched the videos at 1.5x speed due to a general lack of time this morning.
Gematsu also published a transcript of a roundtable with the executive team for Final Fantasy XVI, conducted earlier in February in conjunction with RPG Fan and Den of Geek. The interview touches a lot on bringing the "constant" elements of a Final Fantasy game into this new version that steps further into the action genre than any Final Fantasy before it. The entire interview is quite long and covers a number of other topics, too, including the design of boss and Eikon battles to mash-up genres and some questions about how the game looks pretty grimdark overall so far.
The media tour continues, too - Square Enix announced today that there will be another panel discussion about XVI at PAX East at the end of March (there will be a panel for XIV there, too). Final Fantasy XVI is still scheduled for a June 2023 release.
Source: Gematsu, Square Enix on Facebook
Naoki Yoshida, producer of Final Fantasy XVI, posted a message through various official sources today that the development of the game has been delayed by roughly half a year due to COVID-19. Because of the need for teams to work from home, there's been issues with communication coming out of the Tokyo office, which in turn has caused problems with asset deliveries from outsourced partners. In extreme cases, those deliveries have been cancelled.
The news wasn't all doom and gloom though; Yoshida stated the next big news drop is due for Spring 2022. Additionally, he listed the tasks they are currently working on:
- Increasing graphic resource quality
- Refining combat mechanics
- Fleshing out individual battles
- Putting the finishing touches on cutscenes
- Conducting overall graphical optimization
So while there have been delays, the game sounds like it has progressed fairly well into its development cycle.
Yoshida ended with an apology for not delivering more news in 2021 as had been previously stated, and thanked fans for their continued patience.
Source: Official Site
Today's Nintendo Direct, while maybe a little short notice to fans, obviously had some time to build up industry steam; among the many wild announcements at this evening's Direct were details on four Square Enix games appearing on Switch in the very near future. A couple of the games had been previously announced, but a couple were pretty well out of left field. Here are the details:
- Actraiser: Renaissance, a detailed remaster of the really unique Super Nintendo game of the early 90's, was both announced and released today. It's got some really crisp and pretty visuals, a remastered soundtrack with new compositions, and some new content too, and it's out for Switch, PlayStation 4, Steam, Android and iOS already.
- Chocobo GP is a spiritual successor to the PlayStation Chocobo Racing game released over 20 years ago. From watching the trailer, it does look like a less polished version of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, frankly, but it could be pretty entertaining to race in some of the Final Fantasy-themed courses they might come up with, and it looks like the gameplay modes could add some diversity too. And it has Gilgamesh! It's coming for Switch sometime in 2022.
- Also coming in 2022, March 4 to be precise, is Triangle Strategy - it's no longer a "Project" but I guess a snappier name never really came to mind. Based on the demo from ages ago, this one could really be the successor to the original Final Fantasy Tactics that people have been waiting for, and not only that, Squenix have outlined some of the updates being made based on demo feedback and I think they're hitting the right ideas.
- Finally, an RPG from Yoko Taro that was first announced a couple weeks ago - Voice of Cards. Subtitled "The Isle Dragon Roars," this is a really unique looking game that plays as a combination of console and tabletop RPG, with the entire game laid out as playing cards and combat happening in a hybrid tabletop CCG/turn-based JRPG sort of format. The writing even appears to take some tone from the idea of a Dungeon Master providing exposition to a party at a D&D session. It's coming out at the end of October.
Source: Gematsu, IGN
Tokyo Game Show is back for 2021, in an all-digital format due to ongoing COVID concerns. Because of that, Square Enix are coming with what we might consider a slightly abbreviated lineup; it is of course possible that they don't feel ready to show more of Final Fantasy XVI, but I think it could be just as likely that an all-online exhibition doesn't have the spectacle they'd like for their flagship game, either. These are the games that the company is bringing to TGS for English-speaking audiences:
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Stranger of Paradise
- Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier
- Project Triangle Strategy (how does this game not have its final name yet?)
- Collection of SaGa
- Brave Exvius and War of the Visions
If you would prefer to watch the streams even without English support, the list of games at TGS will be larger. Dragon Quest X Offline and Online, Imperial SaGa Eclipse, Romancing SaGa ReUniverse, and Deep Insanity: Asylum (a new PC and mobile RPG) will appear in Japanese only in other streams. The full schedule including the Japanese-only video has been provided by Gematsu.
Source: Square Enix TGS, Gematsu
The releases of the Pixel Remaster versions of the first six Final Fantasy games continues on September 8 with Final Fantasy IV, Square Enix have just announced. As with all the remasters, the releases are for Steam, Android and iOS and will be simultaneous worldwide.
Those who would like to play via Steam can currently preorder Final Fantasy IV alone on a 20% discount and will also receive a three-track soundtrack and two wallpapers. You can also order the bundle and get all the games that have already unlocked, all the future games as they release, and similar OST and wallpaper bundles for all six games also at a discount. The single game package is currently $14.39, and the six-game bundle is $74.82.
Sorry, still no information about a potential Switch release, for those of you asking.
Yesterday, Square Enix announced a new iteration in the Bravely Default series: but it's iOS/Android and free-to-play with in-game transactions. Also, there was no release announced outside of Japan, but that might just be because it's early.
On the bright side, the game looks very nice visually, and the gameplay certainly tracks to what Bravely fans have gotten used to. Additionally, it appears that some key personnel from the development of Bravely Default and Bravely Second are involved, which seems like it might tie the game a little more closely to those games and not the later, and less-well-received Bravely Default II, which was released earlier this year.
There's no release date announced for Japan as yet, and again, no indication of a release outside Japan yet either.
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