E3 Post-Show Analysis: Square-Enix

by Sage Ashford

Next up on the third party list of conferences? Square-Enix, the company where the fantasies are “final” and the quests all involve Dragons. Let’s see how they did.

Square took the Nintendo style of doing press conferences, stripping away the gimmicky style of conversing with its audiences in favor of just doing a straight-up string of trailer and gameplay drops. This was actually not a bad idea, and if it were just about pacing then this would’ve been a great show.

But pacing isn’t everything. If you remember my predictions piece, Square had the opportunity to kill it here. They’ve got plenty of titles people want to see, with The Avengers Project and Final Fantasy 7: Remake being two of the most anticipated titles going into last week. Unfortunately, well. Let’s just get into it.

So S-E starts with Rise of the Tomb Raider. It’s the longest sequence of full gameplay we’ve ever seen, and saw Lara do her best predator impersonation in a jungle full of armed Trinity people. It was visceral, featuring the stealth and action the TR games have made their own. Launching in September, Eidos will hopefully close out Lara’s reboot well.

They showed a bit of Final Fantasy XIV gameplay in an attempt to hype us for patch 4.3, Under the Moonlight, and even had a cute moment where they showed off a crossover between their game and Monster Hunter World. Things like this aren’t a big deal but they’re great for the overall good will of the franchise.

After that we saw a bit more of the Life is Strange spin-off, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. They still haven’t precisely laid out what this game’s connection to Life is Strange 2 is, but the fact that it’s set in the “Life is Strange” universe is very cool. Hopefully Dontnod can invest people in this world enough to continue making weird experiments just like this one, as there aren’t nearly enough new IPs that can sustain themselves past their first game.

They did a Dragon Quest XI trailer, which is nice. The game looks beautiful for a AA JRPG, and needs all the hyping it can get considering it’s dropping in the same month as Square’s own Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Spider-Man.

Then there were some short trailers for two new games S-E is working on. The first was a game by Platinum known as Babylon’s Fall. The few seconds they spent teasing makes the title seem like a Soulslike with heavy co-operative elements. But even that’s an assumption, as whatever the game is neither Square or Platinum seems to be talking very much.

Then we had Just Cause 4. Though it’s still not clear whether this game can avoid the performance issues of 3, what we see in this gameplay looks awesome. Rico’s back, and he’s dealing with taking down a paramilitary group.  He’ll have access to vehicles, a wingsuit, grapples, and an assortment of crazy weapons to do the job, and fortunately Avalanche seems to have a firm grasp of what it takes to make all of the above fun.  Launching in the December month, hopefully JC4 finds a place in the games coming this fall.

Last is The Quiet Man, which had a weird live-action section before abruptly swapping into gameplay where the lead beats the crap outta some random dudes with zero context. No developer was given, they just promised more in August which is presumably Gamescom.

And, that’s it! No, seriously.  They had a Kingdom Hearts 3 trailer that was 90 percent identical to the one at Microsoft’s show then did a recap to close out their show. Somehow Square left home without any of their most anticipated titles. Square’s show for me is retroactively poor. I thought possibly the intention was for them to show their huge stuff at Sony’s show, which having seen Sony’s conference now wouldn’t have been a bad idea for either of them.  But we’re aware now that’s not the case, so I’m lost as to why this show existed. Tomb Raider could’ve been an extended look at Microsoft, so could Just Cause. Everything else could’ve gone to bolster the otherwise anemic third party presence at Sony’s show.

There was no sign of Final Fantasy XV and it’s new DLC, no Project Avengers, no Final Fantasy 7: Remake, no Dragon Quest Builders, not even a tease of the next mainline Final Fantasy. They said S-E was doing a new division with a focus on Switch titles, but outside of the briefest appearance of Octopath Traveler, that was a no go as well. Most third parties tend to come out guns blazing, showing off everything they have for the forseeable future if its ready at all. Even if you’re going to promote those games separately later, E3 is such a big conference that it provides the largest number of eyes possible for first impressions. But Square-Enix legitimately didn’t seem to care.

Grade: B-

The emotional part of me wants to give this a straight up F for half-assing it when they should’ve come here to shut things down, but ultimately this was a well-paced conference with a lot of interesting games, most of which coming over the next 18 months. I’m still upset, but Square gives us what we “ask” for, so maybe we should think more about what we ask for.

Sage Ashford

A writer with way too many hobbies, Sage can often be found catching up on the latest anime, or reading a stack of comics between Wednesdays and Thursdays.