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News from March 2017

Final Fantasy XIV Goes (Somewhat) Free to Play


Final Fantasy XIV
Square Enix announced today that MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV will, as of now, be free for all trial accounts up until level 35. This lifting of restriction will apply to any trial account, whether it's created now or dates back to day one; even expired trials will be unlocked for players. This means, Gematsu reports, that characters left on expired accounts can be picked up right where left off, and all accounts can do all of the gameplay available to any other account at or below level 35, including various jobs, the first 10 levels of Deep Dungeon, Golden Saucer, and other unique features.

The trial can be downloaded from PlayStation stores in North America and Europe as before, or from the XIV website for PC gamers. The restriction has been lifted serverside, it would appear, so users who already have the game client should need only to start it up and download any lingering updates to pick the game up again.

Source: Gematsu

Secret of Mana Collection Official Trailer


Square Enix
Square Enix has announced Seiken Densetsu Collection, releasing a trailer video. The game is expected to retail for 4,800 yen and will contain three games: the original Seiken Densetsu, known in the west as Final Fantasy Adventure or Adventures of Mana, Seiken Densetsu 2, released here as Secret of Mana, and Seiken Densetsu 3, never released in the west. The trailer indicates that the three games will be ports of their original releases.

The game's Japan release date is set for June 1. It is unclear if there will be a boxed retail version at this time, or just a digital download. Additionally, it is unknown whether Switch owners in the west will ever have access to the collection; Seiken Densetsu 3 has no official English localization, which may hurt its chances.

Source: Gamespot, Polygon
Posted in: News from Japan

Highlights from the Zodiac Age PAX East Presentation


I'm in my second year of not being in Boston, so I'm missing another PAX East. But my friends on the ground attended the Final Fantasy XII panel earlier today, so if you missed it on the livestream, here's what you missed. As we already knew, the game will be remastered for PlayStation 4 and will be based on the "International Zodiac Job System," which is a fancy way of saying that it has the job-based license board never before released in the West. Today we learned further that the game will not have just a remastered musical selection, but instead a completely new recording with a live orchestra. Additionally, a "Trial Mode" has been added, which appears to be a 100-stage set of set pieces, special challenge battles to tackle. This mode promises, according to the presentation, "unexpected characters [joining] the fight as an opponent!"

Special editions were announced as well, with the collector's edition containing a few trading cards, mini-busts of the Judge Magisters, and a steelbook with the game and soundtrack. A separate steelbook edition, with just the game, will also be available for the July 11 launch.

And, as a special surprise at the end, World of Final Fantasy popped up to show off Balthier as a new DLC character coming soon!

Hat tip for these snapshots and the video to our man on the ground in Boston. Hopefully we can see more later this weekend!

Square Enix Reveals PAX East 2017 Panels & Playable Games


Square Enix
Are you itching for more Final Fantasy-related news coming straight from the company's head honchos? Or better yet, will you happen to be in Boston from March 10th-12th for PAX East? Then you are in luck! Square Enix has revealed their lineup and panel discussion details to whet your appetite and maybe answer a few questions you've wondered about.

No convention is complete without a showcase of playable games, and they are certainly bringing a handful for players to get their mitts on. Here is what they plan to show at their booth:
  • Deus Ex: Mankind Divided A Criminal Past DLC (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  • Dragon Quest Heroes II (PS4, PC)
  • Final Fantasy: Brave Exvius (iOS, Android)
  • Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (PS4)
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward (PS4, PC, Mac)
  • Final Fantasy XV Episode Gladiolus DLC (PS4, XBO)
  • Flame x Blaze (iOS, Android)
  • I Am Setsuna (Switch)
  • Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 + 2.5 Remix (PS4)
  • Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue (PS4)
  • Kingdom Hearts: Unchained Chi (iOS, Android)
  • NieR: Automata (PS4, PC)
  • Ride 2 (PS4, XBO, PC)
Well, look at that, they will be showing a Switch title... even though it's one already released!

If that's not enough, Square Enix will also hold one panel during each of the three days during PAX East to discuss their current & near-future launches. Here is what they have:

Friday, March 10th, 1:30-2:30pm

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age Panel - Discussion on the upcoming game release on July 11th, 2017. Game director Takashi Katano and producer Hiroaki Kato to attend.

Saturday, March 11th, 12:00pm-1:00pm
Final Fantasy XIV Community Q&A Panel - Interested in following the latest content and possible changes? Director Naoki Yoshida is present to hear player questions & feedback.

Sunday, March 12th, 10:30am-11:30am
NieR: Automata x Final Fantasy XV Panel - The first half focuses on NieR: Automata and a discussion with director Yoko Taro, with the second half featuring a first look at FFXV's brand spanking new DLC, Episode Gladiolus, for fans who are looking for even more character development.

And with any good convention setup, there will be plenty of prizes, posters and fun game-related trinkets to entice you to stop by!

Source: Gematsu
Posted in: Square-Enix News

Final Fantasy XV: Was Everything Really On the Line?


Final Fantasy XV
As the sales keep rolling in and everyone breathes a sigh of relief that Final Fantasy XV is overall a fairly good game, director Hajime Tabata took some time at the Game Developer's Conference (GDC) to reflect on the famous decade-long development cycle that culminated in its November 2016 release.

During the conference, Tabata was noted as saying the bar was set high even before he took on the project in 2012. "If it didn't succeed, it would all be over. It meant approaching the project believing this was our last chance. If we don't do it this time, there won't be a next time."

Is this more of the typical motivational talk to set high standards and achieve them, no matter the cost? Possibly, but let's consider a few events, and what was going on in the Final Fantasy franchise in 2012 when Tabata came aboard:
  1. Square Enix doubled (and after 2012, tripled) down on Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels, which was met with mixed reviews and much criticism, cooling enthusiasm after the main title's release. It would seem the Fabula Nova Crystallis universe was not the overwhelming hit they expected.
  2. Final Fantasy XIV's original release was so troubled and unpopular that they killed it with spectacular fire, built a new game from the ground up, and maybe asked everyone to forget the original existed. It is worth noting that the new game is hugely successful and still doing well today, but it was certainly a monumental effort to scrap the original game and make a better one in its place.
  3. Well known by now, Final Fantasy XV is the final form of a game started in 2006 which was then Final Fantasy Versus XIII, also requiring an overhaul and recruitment of top talent for Tabata to meet expectations.
Interesting to note as well, the following remark Tabata made when discussing the game at the GDC: "My story about Final Fantasy XV is not a success story," he said. "I don't have any magical expertise from this undertaking, but I know now the greatest goals can only be reached by taking big chances."

He sure seems more relieved than excited about its success. The franchise seems better positioned for its future than it was in 2012, with FFXIII in the books, the FFXIV remake successful, and FFXV having currently sold over 6 million copies worldwide.

Do you think the Final Fantasy franchise was ever in any danger? Or is it laughable to even think so, considering the worldwide brand recognition it has attained, and Square Enix' deep pockets to finance the huge cost of each game? After all, things like this exist.

Source: The Verge, Polygon

A King's Tale, Free for All


Final Fantasy XV
A King's Tale, a Final Fantasy XV sidestory previously available only with certain preorders of the main game, is now available to everyone on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4. And it's free! The game is a sort of prequel to Final Fantasy XV, and takes place as a bedtime story told by King Regis to a young Prince Noctis. Unlike the action RPG of the main title, this side game is a 2.5D, sprite-based sidescrolling beat-em-up with a Final Fantasy flair.

The game features King Regis as the main character, with access to battle assistance from his friends - like father, like son. He's got access to a variety of weapons, magic, and summons to fight against monsters from the Final Fantasy XV universe, expressed also as sprites.

Again, the game is available worldwide for download today, for free, with no purchase of the original game required. Enjoy!

Source: EuroGamer

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