E3 2018: Square-Enix Predictions

by Sage Ashford

Part four of our E3 Predictions continues with Square-Enix. Be sure to check out our predictions for EA, Microsoft, and Bethesda. These shows are actually pretty special–Square doesn’t often show up at E3, the last time being their show in 2015. But they’ve got a massive slate of games coming over the next three years, and really seem to be establishing themselves as a major player at the end of this gen. Square-Enix’s show begins this coming Monday, June 11th at 10AM PST, 1:00PM EST.

Kingdom Hearts III: Kingdom Hearts is the star of this show. It’s basically the biggest game Square Enix has released since Final Fantasy XV in 2016, and so it’ll probably be everywhere.   Either Sony or Microsoft will get to show it off on their stage, and it’ll get a hefty sized trailer here. People are concerned this will be delayed, but it’s highly unlikely. Red Dead 2 is a monster, but Kingdom Hearts has a sizable and fanatic fanbase that’s been waiting on this game for over a decade. It’s easily in the Top 10 most anticipated games of all time, and certainly of this generation–it won’t have any trouble moving copies, so my guess is a release date between 2-3 weeks before or after Red Dead 2.

Dragon Quest XI: After what felt like an eternity of waiting, Dragon Quest was confirmed to release in September not long ago. It’s undergone extensive changes like voice acting and UI improvements to give it a better chance in America, but Square doesn’t really see it as a major game. I’d expect another story trailer for this just to remind people it exists, then it’ll likely be a game where you can find tons of gameplay for it everywhere. Y’know, like…the above.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider: We got the teaser trailer for this with the launch of the Tomb Raider film earlier in the year. But we could really use some gameplay here, because this is Eidos Montreal’s first time with the franchise and we could really stand to learn what their vision for the game even is. Launching the same month as Dragon Quest, Square’s got their work cut out for them selling both of these at the same time.

The Avengers Project: Square’s intention was to show us more of this title in 2018. We’re halfway through 2018 now, so it’s probably a good time to show this off, especially if they’re aiming for a 2019 release. There’s a lot up in the air about this title though–their conference won’t get the views of Microsoft or Sony, so there’s little chance we don’t see it at one of theirs as well.

But what does this play like? There’s a rumor it’s a reboot of Ultimate Alliance, which would be the best possible news. But it could also be playing as a bunch of SHIELD agents with occasional “heroes” popping up a la Battlefront 2. …That would generate quite a bit of controversy. What we do know is its geared to be a Games as a Service title, so expect some sort of episodic narrative that can continue for multiple years.

Left Alive: Back in 2015, Siliconera rumored that Square was working on both Final Fantasy 7: Remake and a new Front Mission title. Though news of the remake would break that E3, the Front Mission news faded into the background for the next few years. But last year, one of the only highlights of Tokyo Game Show was Left Alive, a new title that was confirmed to be set within the Front Mission universe. As I understand it, some rights issues keeps Square from properly reviving Front Mission, so this is how they’re getting around that.

While the title was meant to release in 2018, unless it’s going to enjoy a two month hype cycle it’d be sent to die in the fall, so most likely a delay will be announced placing it in 2019. We should see some gameplay though, since by now it should be very close to completion. Supposedly, they’re keeping the implementation of the universe’s mecha down to a minimum though, which hopefully doesn’t backfire on them.

Dragon Quest Builders 2: This was announced a while back, and we’ve seen some information about it but not much–and no actual video of the game just yet. The first Builders sold over a million copies, and with the second one releasing on both the Playstation 4 and the Nintendo Switch, there’s every chance this game will do even better.

Luminous Productions: Hajime Tabata’s Business Division 2 was recently transformed into Luminous Productions, a studio that’s meant to create new AAA projects. We’re supposed to learn more about the projects they’re working on later this year, and Square doesn’t have any other shows scheduled during major gaming conferences so far. Whatever this is, if we do see it here, it’ll be one of the first titles aimed at PS5/Xbox Next.

Life is Strange 2: Dontnod Entertainment delivered one of the best games of 2015 with their narrative episodic adventure game Life is Strange. Confirmed to be in the works and to come out before 2020, this is the perfect place to start promoting this game. Still, don’t expect it to feature any of the cast of Life is Strange 1, as the company considers Max Caulfield’s story complete.

Lightning Round:

  • FF Brand Manager Shinji Hashimoto talked about bringing exciting new Final Fantasy titles to the world.  Final Fantasy 7: Remake isn’t “new” but…close enough.  They haven’t talked about it much since it’s appearance at PSX 2015, but it’s been three years since then and there’s a good chance we’re ramping up towards a release within the next two years.  To be honest it barely seems worth it to do this show without showing off everything they have, so this will probably be there.
  • Square has a lot of mobile titles right now, from Dissidia Opera Omnia to Final Fantasy Mobius.  If this show’s an hour, no less than 10-15 minutes will show off whatever important mobile games they have coming up.
  • Here’s a weird fact: we haven’t seen a new single player final fantasy game since 2006. Business Division 5, the group who developed Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn, saw several key staff members leave that project in 2015 after their Heavensward expansion.  Could it be time for another new Final Fantasy?  If they’ve really been working for three years, then this could easily be a cross-gen title.
  • Near the start of the year it was confirmed Final Fantasy XV would receive 4 additional DLC episodes, supporting the game into 2019.  Most likely, they’ll start the promotional cycle for that here.
  • A bunch of people are under the mistaken impression that Silicon Studio is developing Octopath Traveler.  That’s incorrect; Octopath is being developed by Acquire.  That means the developer responsible for Bravely Default hasn’t been doing anything console related since Bravely Second released in 2015.  Here’s as good a time as any to announce their next project.

What’s worth noting is that we seem to know “everything” about Square’s show in terms of what they’re bringing, so I wouldn’t be surprised if either Luminous Productions’ or Final Fantasy XVI does show up, if only to provide that X-Factor to excite the fanbase. Plus it always helps to start hiring people for a project after fans know it exists, to keep people from being too nosy about it.

Square is one of the biggest Japanese gaming companies left, and they’ve got the studios to do a show like this every year. Hopefully that’s what we’re getting going forward, as when the company is at its best they’re almost untouchable.

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.

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