Thoughts On Everything Revealed At The Square-Enix Conference

by Sage Ashford

Square-Enix had one of the weakest conferences last year, largely because their focus was off the two games people wanted to see the most: Final Fantasy VII: Remake and The Avengers Project.  This year, it was confirmed well in advance both games would be present, so does that make the big difference?

After premiering in 2015, Square allowed Final Fantasy 7: Remake to drop off the map for four straight years.  But with Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts 3 both out of the way, the company can finally allow this dream project the space it needs to flourish.  Square was pretty generous here, revealing not only gameplay snippets but a significant look at the game play, showing off the first boss battle against the Scorpion.  We also finally got to look at the redesigned Tifa as well as Barrett’s daughter Marlene.   Final Fantasy VII: Remake will launch March 3rd, 2020.  But how much of the FF7 story it chooses to adapt?  Well, that remains to be seen…even for Square-Enix, it seems.

Next up for Square was Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Remastered Edition. The original Crystal Chronicles series was noteworthy for being the first “Final Fantasy” title published on a Nintendo console since the company and Nintendo split ways during the beginning of the PlayStation era.  It told the story of a world where crystals kept a dangerous miasma from laying waste to people living there, and the people who chose to protect those crystals.  The remastered version will allow players to work together as a party online.   Releasing in the Winter, it’ll be available for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android.

After this was a mention of Octopath Traveler, which is already available on PC.

The Last Remnant Remastered is another title that got to join the shadow drop party, as it was released for the Switch the night of the conference.

The follow up to the surprisingly popular original, Dragon Quest Builders 2 got a lengthy gameplay trailer showing off the localized version of the title.  Set in an alternate universe world of the original Dragon Quest II where the villain won, the player is a builder who must help recreate the world.  Your creation abilities will be powered up as you travel to different islands, each with their own islanders to help and monsters to stand in the player’s way.  The game releases July 12th, but PlayStation gamers can get a demo of the title on June 27th.

The Square-Enix Collective brings players into the world of motorsports with Circuit Superstars.  A smaller title, Circuit Superstars sees players focus on mastering tracks against friends and figuring out optimal pit crew strategies in a top-down racing game.  The game releases in 2020 for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Square got the time to show some love to long-suffering SaGa fans, as both Romancing SaGa 3 and SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions were announced as coming to the West. A unique RPG series that always focused on interesting ways of telling stories, whether involving branching paths or non-linear storytelling, these two titles have finally made their way from the SNES and Vita to current-gen consoles. Well…eventually, as neither title has a release date.

A new title in the world of Square’s mobile Final Fantasy universe, Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, was announced. War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius takes place on the continent of Ardora, a place where five nation-powers are locked in battle with one another.  Combat is suspiciously reminiscent of Final Fantasy Tactics.  The game will release worldwide, but seems to have no firm release date.

People Can Fly (Bulletstorm) finally got to debut their game, Outriders, at this E3.   A new shooter game set on the planet Enoch, Outriders is a one to three player title with drop-in, drop-out co-operative play that’s set in a “dark, desperate, sci-fi universe”.  It’s set to release in Summer 2020.

Despite trolling Final Fantasy VIII fans for months with the announcements of ports for seemingly every game but FF VIII, Square finally gave them a break by revealing they’ve been working on a remastered version this entire time.  Final Fantasy VIII Remastered brings the game to life in glorious HD, with re-rendered character models.  It’s coming to all consoles and PC sometime in 2019.

Square brought the show to an end by revealing Marvel’s Avengers, a look at the “Avengers Project” that’s been in the dark since January of 2017.  A single-player and multi-player co-op game, Marvel’s Avengers seeks to have players explore wide open levels with Avengers from every era of their history.  Taking place in the aftermath of a failed mission that leaves Captain America suspected dead, something forces the team to reform and save the world once again.  They confirmed that new characters and levels will be added, and for now the game is scheduled for a May 2020 release date.

Post-Show Thoughts:

Outside of Nintendo, Square probably had the strongest show of anyone at this year’s E3.  They revealed the two most anticipated games coming from them, gave them both plenty of time to shine, and the middle is stuffed with a bunch of fan-favorite titles.

Admittedly, over the course of this generation I haven’t been the biggest fan of all the remasters.  As someone always looking for something new to sink their teeth into, they feel like schedule filler while we wait on newer games.  And Square definitely had more than its fair share of those games here, between Last Remnant, Crystal Chronicles, and Final Fantasy VIII Remastered, to say nothing of the SaGa games and the Collection of Mana announced at Nintendo’s conference the following day.

However, with the PlayStation and Xbox’s next consoles confirmed as being backwards compatible, remasters take on a new tenor.  If the PS5 is backwards compatible with the 4 but not the other consoles, then releasing these ensures that whoever buys a PS5 will have access to these games as well.  The available library becomes more expansive, which helps take away a key PC advantage in future generations.

That said, if I were a Final Fantasy VIII fan I’d be incredibly salty.  Final Fantasy VII gets a full upgrade to PS4 (and eventually PS5) graphics, while VIII receives a PS2 uprez?  Still, my understanding is the code for VIII was lost, so basically the game had to be made from scratch. If that had to happen, it makes sense to go ahead and upgrade pieces of the game while you can.

In any case, this was a great conference outside of the Avengers segment not going into near enough detail for my liking. there was a lack of gameplay, but also a lack of explanation for monetization.  It’s easy to say “no lootboxes”, but they expect to make money off this thing some way.   That said, their mistakes aren’t enough to ding it below the B+ it deserves.   Square’s future is looking bright–they accomplished this show without even showing off any unannounced games, which hopefully means they feel confident in making a return next year.

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