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News from March 2015

Final Fantasy XI Ages, Dies, Continues, is Reborn

Final Fantasy XI
Did you know Final Fantasy XI was still a thing? I don't think I'd thought about it since the last time I posted news about it, back in 2012. That's unfair, though, because the game is well over a decade old but still has a core of diehard players; it's just that none of us are included in that list!

Anyway, Square Enix had a Final Fantasy XI event today, in which the very definition of what Final Fantasy XI is changed somewhat. Most importantly, the final additional scenario to the game was announced; called "Rhapsodies of Vana'diel," the scenario will come in three parts and are intended to incorporate aspects of the game's history into new battles and loot in an effort to create a feeling of closure to the adventure. These three pieces will be free to all players.

The three pieces of "Rhapsodies" will be released in May, August, and November 2015. In March 2016, the game will be shut down for Playstation 2 and Xbox 360 players, which seems like it might be well due. This will leave only the PC version as an active platform. Sometime before the March shutoff, as well, the game managers are planning a final gameplay event called "The Goddess' Gala," which promises fun content for both active and lapsed players.

While the ancient platforms are being eliminated, though, a new platform is being announced; Final Fantasy XI mobile is in the works now for smartphones and tablets worldwide. The game will carry the XI name, and has optimizations intended to make the game more playable via touch; however, it is not yet clear if it will interact with the existing platform or will exist solely on its own servers and will be multiplayer only with other mobile players.

Also announced today, for release in Japan later this year, is a mobile game set in the universe and leveraging the characters of Final Fantasy XI. The game is called Final Fantasy Grandmasters, and while it will have ad hoc multiplayer, it's not to MMO scale and the gameplay based on screenshots looks like a hybrid between MMO combat and more standard Final Fantasy line-up-and-sword-them fighting. It's aiming for beta sometime in April, but again, there's no release planned outside of Japan.

Source: Gematsu

Some Final Fantasy Released Today: Type-0 Review Roundup

Hope you're wearing green, because it's Type-0 day. At least in North America, Type-0 HD released for current-gen consoles today, and, along with it, Episode Duscae. For the former, the reviews are starting to come in; by and large, reviews from some of the big outlets seem to be on the positive side of mixed.

Polygon gives the game an 8/10 based on the strength and variety of combat and the darker and more militaristic storyline and the gameplay changes those things require. Given that review starts off with a few shots at how little the reviewer cared for the Final Fantasy XIII series, and a sidebar about how the port and upscaling was not done very well, that seems like a solid number.

Over at Siliconera, the review is also generally positive, though it's not "scored." The same high and low points are mostly covered, with special emphasis on the changes that Final Fantasy players will notice in terms of combat style and party management. The general theme is that the story is sub-par, but I must say that everything described in the review seems like a pretty interesting concept to me personally - it does come off a bit as though you might need to appreciate how Final Fantasy XIII told its story to really get into Type-0, though, so that won't be for everyone if true.

IGN also nails the game to an 8/10 and has the overall most positive review of any of the three, I think. Here, the darkness of the story is highlighted often, and you definitely need to know that Type-0 is the first game to carry the Final Fantasy name to receive the M rating (and international equivalents). A few sticking points still crop up, though, such as the not-fully-HD quality of some of the graphics and the poor quality of English voice acting.

A friend at work asked me earlier today, "Do you think I should pick up Type-0?" After first reminding him that I probably carry some bias, I said from everything I knew, it looked like it was worth a shot, especially if you're tired of the core Final Fantasy line. I think these reviews back me up just fine on that optimism. Has anyone out there grabbed it yet?

Of course, there's that whole thing of Episode Duscae, too. With all the push around Final Fantasy XV recently, you might have thought you knew just about everything that the demo was going to do - but until today, you didn't know about a summon showing up. And man, did a summon show up. The video contained therein shows an Eidolon well beyond the scale of anything we've seen in a Final Fantasy game, and note that it's Ramuh - typically one of the base-tier summons you get in any FF game. That actually worries me a little bit, because that is a pretty high bar to set, and to me it runs the risk of becoming something over-the-top and annoying over time. To me, this points to the idea that summoning will be a special, less-used thing in Final Fantasy XV, or the summoning itself will have some sort of shortening mechanism to keep the gameplay running.

Oh, and if that's not enough for you for this day, check this out. President Yosuke Mitsuda mentioned in an interview this week that "there is a surprise in store" this year in terms of information about a new JRPG reveal. Siliconera's reporting implies heavily that said reveal will take place at one of the big shows this year, either E3 or Tokyo Game Show. Speculation, naturally, is already underway. Final Fantasy Type-1? Final Fantasy XII HD Remaster? Final Fantasy VI HD Remaster?!?

Yeah, yeah. Don't get too carried away.

New 2015 Orchestral Shows for 'Distant Worlds' and 'A New World'

Distant Worlds
It's that time again, where the Music division over at Square Enix (or whoever the heck runs these things) sends out an announcement of a number of new live performances for the "Distant Worlds" and "A New World" concert series. Since our last update, I did in fact manage to grab tickets to the Boston show, but that's old news now. Check out instead the new ones for a show near you!

The first new show is an interesting one that I don't think they've ever done before: there will be a show during E3 in Los Angeles this year, June 17th at 8pm local time, and Hitoshi Sakimoto will be in attendance as well as conductor Arnie Roth and vocalist Susan Calloway. It's at the Nokia Theater, which apparently has a 2,200-seat capacity for concerts; if they open that all up, that's going to be one big show. Presale tickets go on sale today, and general purchases kick in on Monday.

In July, the series moves to Seattle for two shows at Benaroya Hall, the home of the Seattle Symphony. Those shows are on July 10th and 11th at 8pm, and tickets are already on sale. No guests have been announced for those shows save Arnie Roth, but there's still plenty of time.

Further down the road, August 1 sees the tour arrive in Pittsburgh, with the Mendelssohn Choir appearing. Tickets for that show go on sale this Monday, March 9. Even later, Rochester, New York gets their first ever Distant Worlds show on October 29th.

For those who like the smaller chamber orchestra format of A New World, there are some new shows in new locales for that series as well. In April, at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo, there will be a show open to all ticketholders for the con on April 17th. On May 15th, the show will come to Milwaukee for the first time - this show promises a world premiere score, and the debut of arranger Eric Roth as conductor. The last new show announced is a return to the Anime Central con in Chicago; the tour stopped at the same event last year, and will return on May 17th for a show open to all con-goers with a badge for that day.

Last note on this topic is that there is a third Distant Worlds album out now! It's a thirteen-track album with music from seven different games and some tracks that span multiple games. It's available in both CD and downloadable forms, and is available from AmaCoN now.

Source: Distant Worlds, A New World, Distant Worlds III on AmaCoN

Square Enix PAX East Rundown

Square Enix
I just got an email from Squenix discussing their offerings at PAX East this year. The company does have a sizable footprint on the show floor, as well as the panels mentioned in our last podcast and more, but today's email detailed some new information regarding activities and events coming this weekend.

With Type-0 coming out in just a couple weeks, it makes sense that it will be playable now, and so it shall be. Folks who play the game on the show floor will also get a poster splitting between Ace and Noctis; the poster is similar or even identical to the ones that you might have seen in your local game store.

Additionally, the Final Fantasy XIV panel on Saturday will be livestreamed. Feel free to look through the crowd for yours truly. This panel, as a reminder, will be an overview of the upcoming Heavensward expansion and might talk further about the future of the MMO as well.

There's also going to be a Life Is Strange panel on Friday afternoon. If you've tried this game, you might be interested to know that the panel will discuss not just the development of the game, but also will release some new details about the second chapter in the episodic game. Unfortunately, this one I won't be able to make.

Finally, for Tomb Raider and cosplay fans, there's a chance to get a limited edition Rise of the Tomb Raider poster on the show floor. A cosplayer by the name of Jenn Croft, who has portrayed Lara Croft for a decade and a half, will be at the con and folks who get themselves all selfied up with her will get a chance at the poster. Square Enix will also be hosting a cosplay meetup Saturday afternoon; unfortunately, it looks like they're doing it at the exact same time as the Final Fantasy XV panel, so I will have to figure something out.

In case it's not clear from the rest of this post, I am still planning on being there for Saturday, March 7. I'll be spending a lot of time on the show floor, so if you or anyone you know will also be in attendance, reach out to me on the CoN Facebook or Twitter to find out where I can be found.

Final Fantasy X/X-2 Remaster Announced for Playstation 4

Final Fantasy X
Late last year, we noted that a leak on an online store made it appear that the high-definition remasters of the Final Fantasy X series might make it to PS4. Not only has this week proven that to be true, the games are coming to the West, and they're coming quite soon, May 12 to be exact. (For Europe and Australia, the date is the 15th.)

This new release will allow transfer of savegames from the previous releases on PS3 and PS Vita; additionally, it will contain all the features of the previous HD releases plus the additional option to switch from the remastered soundtracks back to the original PS2 versions. Preorders of the limited edition in North America, via the official store and "selected retailers," will also include a 2015 calendar with Amano illustrations from the X games. Preorders in Europe will receive a steelbook copy of Amano art.

The price is currently listed at 49.99 for the US and Eurozone, and 39.99 in the UK.

Source: Square Enix Official Store (NA), IGN

Mevius and Bravely Second Updates

Bravely Default
Mevius Final Fantasy, a mobile title we were first introduced to last December, has been given a lot more detail in the last Famitsu. As we noted in that news post, quite a few important folks are involved in the title, and their ambition can be seen on the game's official website: "we're crafting a full-scale, high-quality RPG world the likes of which has never been seen on smartphones and tablets." The protagonist, we are told, will wake up in an unfamiliar world, guided by "Voice," a voice/being of type unknown. The game will once again feature a riff on the job system; Ranger and Black Mage jobs have already been shown. That said, combat will involve active touch-screen use. Did I mention it's looking gorgeous? It is not yet confirmed whether Mevius will be available in western markets or for Android.

We've also got some fresh information out of Bravely Second. Bravely Second will have a bonus activity/area/game/thing like the Norende Village of Bravely Default. You may remember learning in school (or, um, one of our earlier newsposts on Bravely Second) that everyone on the moon speaks English. That's where the character Magnolia is from, and that's where you'll be going, in the bonus activity, to fight off "Demon Kings." This involves utilizing Busterships (battleships) for added bombardment. I'm not making any of this up, people.

Finally, in the "um, alright" category of news, Final Fantasy XV art director Yusuke Naora presented some of the game's art and architecture for an audience at Southern Methodist University. The images - featuring skyscrapers and the city-enveloped royal palace - can be seen in the third source link below.

Source: Gematsu, Siliconera, Gematsu
Posted in: Square-Enix News

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