E3 Predictions: Square-Enix

by Sage Ashford

Continuing our E3 predictions, this time we come to Square-Enix, one of a growing number of third party publishers deciding to throw their hat into the busiest time in gaming.  Square’s gotten particularly bold about this as well, as they’ve chosen to take Sony’s usual spot on Monday, at 6PM Pacific, 9PM Eastern.  If you missed it, here’s our E3 Predictions for Google, Microsoft, Bethesda, and Ubisoft.
Last year was an great time for Square Enix, as we got to see their first proper E3 presentation in three years, and they got to push one of their longest-awaited titles in Kingdom Hearts 3. That makes this year all that much more crucial, as their previous E3 appearance left…much to be desired, to say the least. This generation has been a polarizing one for the developer, as they managed to get out both Kingdom Hearts 3 and Final Fantasy XV, two projects which their audiences had been waiting to see for years.  Now this time around, they’ve got another two highly-anticipated projects scheduled for E3.  Can they deliver?

The Avengers Project: This game made it’s first appearance in January of 2017, and it’s been total radio silence ever since. Admittedly, the company confirmed they had no further plans to give new information on the game in 2017, but comments made by SE led many to believe the game would get a proper reveal in 2018. But with Crystal Dynamics remaining silent for another full year, this game has officially dropped off the map.  At least, it had until Square recently told us the game would be present at E3 this year.
It’s up in the air what we’ll see for this, but at this point even a story based trailer with zero gameplay would be better than what we have. They’ve acknowledged nothing about this game going forward: we don’t know its genre, whether it’s single or multi-player, they haven’t even told us whether we’re getting to be a member of the Avengers or a new character. Hopefully with them having carved out a significant portion of E3 to themselves this year, they can answer these questions and more.

Final Fantasy VII: Remake: We were specifically told this game was coming at the start of May, when we got our first look at the title since 2015.  At this point, the only question is whether or not this game is ready for the end of 2019, or an early 2020 release.  With Kingdom Hearts 3 firmly in the rear view, this should be the big project up, and since it’s being split into parts, there’s no reason we couldn’t see it come out before the next-generation starts.  (Though if you want to finish it you’ll have to buy a PlayStation 5 or an Xbox Scarlet, most likely.)

Oninaki: Tokyo RPG Factory made it’s first big showing during E3 2015, where they displayed I Am Setsuna. Since then, the developer has yet to make the big splash they or Square were hoping for when they were being pushed as a return to the glory days of J-RPGs. Perhaps then it’s a good thing they don’t seem to be trying to live up to the shadow of those sixteen and 32-bit giants with Oninaki, a game which has more style than anything we’ve seen from the developer before now. With the title being scheduled to launch on August 22nd, this would definitely be a great time to remind people of it.

Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers: The latest expansion to Square’s Final Fantasy MMO, this is scheduled to launch July 2nd worldwide, and June 28th in Early Access. There’s been plenty of news on this, but if Square’s showing up to E3 in a big way there’s no reason not to include a trailer on this, whether it’s brief or not.

Babylon’s Fall: Platinum teamed up with Square Enix once again and announced one of two new games that appeared during last year’s E3 performance for them. …At least, if you can call a trailer displaying neither gameplay nor cinematic cutscenes an “announcement”. We don’t know anything about this game, despite it supposedly launching sometime this year. If that’s remotely true, this E3 is going to be an absolute blow out for this game, from gameplay to a launch date, as it’s got to be scheduled for an early fall appearance. Of course, far more likely is this game will be delayed into 2020, but what’s wrong with being hopeful?

Dragon Quest Builders II: Square left out some of their smaller titles last year for whatever reason, but here’s hoping that doesn’t happen again this time around. Builders II is scheduled to launch July 12th worldwide for the PS4 and the Switch. The first Builders game performed admirably, and it didn’t have Nintendo’s burgeoning Switch fanbase to hold it up.
Now that we’re done with projects we KNOW exist, let’s get to some which aren’t officially confirmed yet.

People Can Fly: We’ve known this developer  has been working with Square Enix to develop a new AAA title for a couple years now.  If this doesn’t appear now, we can safely presume it’s one of those top secret next-gen titles in development.
Final Fantasy XVI: This feels like a distant pipe dream, but scuttlebutt around the internet has pointed out a number of staff have gone “missing” from the former Business Division V (the ones responsible for Final Fantasy XIV) for sometime now. Following the release of FFXIV’s “Heavensward” expansion in 2015, assistant directors Hiroshi Takai (Last Remnant) and Mitsutoshi Gondai (battle designer, FFXIV), along with scenario writer Kazutoyo Maehiro, all stepped aside quietly. Not only that, but Business Division 5 has been on a hiring spree since 2016.
Now realistically this COULD be some early work for the next Final Fantasy MMO–after all even counting XIV’s “A Realm Reborn” reboot, the game is getting a tad long in the tooth. But just as likely, they could be working on a new Final Fantasy in the mainline. If so, this is a title which has been in the works for nearly four years now. The only questions to ask in this scenario would be: does Square feel like announcing another title which we might not see for years? And if it’s not coming out next year, it’s guaranteed to be PS5/Xbox Scarlet bound, do they want to start talking about next-gen games a year before everyone else? It’s not unlikely Square would answer in the affirmative to both of these however, so I wouldn’t be especially surprised if they chose to give us a tease of this title–after all, they seemed to have no problem showing FF XV, Kingdom Hearts 3, and Final Fantasy 7: Remake back in 2015.
Bravely Third/New Ip: After producer Tomoya Asano dropped Octopath Traveler to pretty strong success, some subsequent interviews actually revealed he didn’t have much in the way of news for Bravely Third just yet. So it’d probably be better if I titled this “New Business Division XI game” but that wouldn’t be nearly as eye-catching. But in an interview done last September, Asano talked about how his team had expanded and he was looking to create more new IPs. The reasoning was Octopath and Bravely level games generally took four years to make and they wanted to release a game every year. Since this wouldn’t be possible with only two IPs, he hinted they would be introducing other, newer IPs soon. While it actually HAS been four years since Bravely Second, I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to bring another new IP instead, scheduled for release next year.
Lastly, we’re now certain the Studio Istolia title, Project Prelude Rune, was canceled with the departure of producer Hideo Baba. While it looked pretty good, without it’s key creative visionary and Square trying to focus on only a handful of titles after a poor financial showing, it’s probably best they aren’t trying to force this title to work.   What we also won’t see is Luminous Productions’ upcoming next-gen only title.  With Hajime Tabata having left not too long ago, and the game being next gen focused, it’s unreasonable for them to show this off…unless Square’s going back to its old ways and showing us games years before they’re ready.
With both Project Avengers and Final Fantasy VII: Remake on the board, Square is set to have one of the most interesting E3s they’ve ever had, and potentially to steal the show from everyone else.

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