It seems like far more recently than February of 2017 that Square Enix announced the creation of their new development shop Studio Istolia, but the timestamps don't lie. We haven't heard much about the new studio or its first project, "Project Prelude Rune," in the intervening time, but this week there was finally an update to the company's official website.
The update consisted of a new piece of concept art, showing a village perched above a lake in a soft-focused, dreamlike forest setting, but also a number of job openings for their Tokyo office. The jobs are fairly typical for a game development project, including concept art, technical art, map designers, user interface designers, planners and programmers, but the list does imply that the company is not planning on shifting workers from other studios to this new one and is instead mainly aiming for outside hires.
There's still no news about what Prelude Rune might be in terms of a game genre, or when or on what platforms we might see it. But that's not surprising given that they are still clearly ramping up the team's headcount. More news is sure to follow, though I would have to assume that it won't be this calendar year.
For gamers out there still enjoying Final Fantasy XIV, Square Enix has just released a long-awaited companion app to streamline the gameplay experience. It's available free for both iOS and Android, and provides an app interface to a number of useful features, enough so that it's hard to pick out which might be the best. Players with active subscriptions can chat with other players from the app, organize event reminders and send invites to friends to help plan raids or general gameplay sessions, organize their inventory, and even buy and sell items in the open market and submit bug reports.
Of course, these features are useful mainly to active players, which is why an active subscription is required. However, if your subscription lapses, the app will keep your chat in storage for up to 30 days while you potentially reactivate. Very cool!
Source: Final Fantasy XIV Official Site
Since Square Enix' video presentation for E3 yesterday, the company has been doling out a bit more information about the games contained within. There are still no enormous revelations here, but they have been working to fill in some of the gaps from what appears to have been widely viewed as an underwhelming appearance for this year's E3.
Kingdom Hearts III remains Square's big splash for this E3, with more information coming out in seemingly every presentation. Square Enix released the trailer that was shown after the Kingdom Hearts concert last weekend was shown to the wider public, showing most of the scenes of the Microsoft trailer as well as the new Ratatouille scene and a bit more Mickey than we're used to. You can hit the Kingdom Hearts YouTube channel to watch the trailer, but if you've been keeping up so far this week there's really not much you haven't already seen. In Sony's presser, yet another new trailer appeared, this time featuring an extremely realistic Disney world, that of the Pirates of the Caribbean universe. The main characters of PotC all appear in cinematics, and there's a long sequence of battle gameplay from the Pirates world. There are also some longer clips from Hercules, Rapunzel, Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and Frozen that were new in the trailer.
Sony also announced a Kingdom Hearts-themed limited-edition PlayStation 4 Pro, and an all-in-one SKU that will contain all of the HD remasters of previous KH games as well as Kingdom Hearts III. No price points were announced for either.
Also, heretofore-unknown game The Quiet Man got a little more detail after the screening of the trailer, as reported by Siliconera. The game will indeed be an action game that is intended to blend live action video with computer-generated graphics, and it's intended to be an intentionally short game, to be "completed in one sitting." This implies to me that they're planning to release it digitally-only, and that it might be a game intended to test the waters for future work. It also implies that the trailer might have actually been 100% in-game footage, with the live-action scene part of the actual game and not filmed just for the trailer.
Squenix also sent out an email blast last night with more information about the free download of The Adventures of Captain Spirit, coming on June 26. It explains that the central character in the episode is Chris, a ten-year-old with lots of imagination who wants nothing more than to be a superhero. The game appears to take place over a single Saturday in Chris' life, and involves something "extraordinary" happening to him. It can be preloaded on Xbox One now, and will be available for PS4 and Steam soon.
Square Enix just wrapped their E3 presentation, a very quick half hour that I suspect will be a disappointment for most everyone. If you're looking for the quick hits, you can probably get by just by knowing that they didn't reveal much of anything that wasn't already known, and those things were not groundbreaking. If you were hoping for Final Fantasy VII, or something else brand new in the Final Fantasy universe, you're out of luck there. If you're like me, and were hoping for an announcement of the next game in the Deus Ex series, nothing there either.
We did get some new gameplay of the next Tomb Raider, coming out in September, as well as the intro movie. The gameplay looks like they've integrated in a little more nuance to the stealth aspects of the game, with parts of the takedowns looking a bit like Deus Ex to me. Lara's got a new "stalker" mode for stealth knife kills, too. It looks like they've improved the enemy group AI some to help them work more in teams and be more observant, too.
For Final Fantasy XIV, they showed a trailer for the next patch, 4.4. Titled "Under the Moonlight," it looks very Ivalice-y, which is probably a great thing. There's also the upcoming crossover event with Monster Hunter World, in which Final Fantasy costumes and monsters will become available in MHW.
Life Is Strange dev studio DONTNOD debuted a mini-episode in the Life Is Strange universe, called "The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit," featuring a tween boy playing as his favorite superhero. It's a game that takes place in the world of LIS, and the devs teased connections to Life Is Strange Season 2, but no direct lead-in to that story. It will be a free download for everyone on June 26.
Dragon Quest XI is getting a worldwide release on September 4 of this year, and there was a new trailer comprised of mostly cutscenes. There were some small gameplay bits, it appeared, with the protagonist equipping one and sometimes two pretty large swords. Also on September 4, Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius on mobile will have a second Dragon Quest crossover event to commemorate the release.
Next up was a game called Babylon's Fall, announced today from PlatinumGames, the developers of Nier: Automata. No details were announced other than platforms (PlayStation 4 and Steam) and a 2019 release date. One could guess from the trailer that the game will involve some sort of action-based sword-and-sorcery combat, but the teaser was short and fairly dark, and not incredibly heavy on detail. Speaking of Nier, if you missed the announcement with Microsoft yesterday, Automata is set to be released for Xbox One on June 26, two weeks from tomorrow. The XBO version will include all released DLC with the purchase package.
Just Cause 4, leaked just before E3, had some new video and an introduction from the developers explaining the new location and the addition of new features like extreme weather and further upgrades to the now-standard open world experience provided by Just Cause games. It will be out December 4 of this year.
The last new reveal of the half-hour show was The Quiet Man, for PlayStation 4 and PC. It's meant to come out in August, and again based on a very short teaser looks like it could be a third-person brawler. The teaser implies that the lead character might be deaf, which could be interesting if there's a good way to integrate that plot point into the gameplay.
Two very small things, barely worth noting because they were such known quantities by now; Octopath Traveler was again shown in trailer form, with no new information given, and Kingdom Hearts III was represented by the same trailer I posted earlier today.
Here's the full video if you're interested after all of that:
More Kingdom Hearts III news before E3 even starts, out of yesterday's Microsoft presentation. It's another new trailer, different than the one shown after the concert as described yesterday. This one leans heavily on the new Frozen world, with Sven, Anna, and Olaf making an extended appearance as well as Elsa fighting off a Heartless reindeer. Other Disney worlds make brief appearances as well, including Monsters, Toy Story, Hercules, and Tangled.
This is the first game in the series released for a Microsoft platform, so no wonder as to why this new trailer debuted with them. Of course, that's two new trailers in two days, so I wouldn't rule out seeing yet another before the week is out!
Kingdom Hearts III, as reported yesterday, will release in Japan next January 25 and in the West four days later.
The Pre-E3 Kingdom Hearts Orchestra World Tour concert in Los Angeles was last night, after which Square Enix announced that Kingdom Hearts III finally had a release date. Unfortunately for CoN readers looking to get the game under their Christmas tree or other denominational holiday apparatus, that date is not going to be in 2018. However, it won't be that much more of a wait - Asia will get the game on January 25 for both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and North America and Europe will get it on January 29.
The announcement was shown in a new trailer exclusive to the concert, of which the highlight clearly must be Sora cooking with Remy from Pixar's Ratatouille. Tetsuya Nomura tweeted after the announcement that there would be more information and more trailers at E3 on the show floor; I expect that this new trailer will be among them.