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E3 2019: Square Enix Recap


Major publishers having official press conferences has been a thing for a while now, with Ubisoft, EA, and even Bethesda all having their own elaborate (and generally awful) shows. One of the major players, however, has been struggling to really find a method that works: Square-Enix. Their first appearance had an awkward, stilted presser where all of their major reveals had already been done the day prior at Sony’s press conference. Last year, Square-Enix delivered a show that was shorter than the entirety of the ‘Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ showcase, where they showed off titles we’ve known about for a long time, games that were announced with a logo and vague hand gestures, and, of course, ‘The Quiet Man’.

However, with Sony absent this year, Square can actually get away with a few surprises. Although we’ve already seen a new trailer for ‘Final Fantasy VII Remake’, complete with a March 2020 release date, there’s still plenty that Square-Enix could be holding onto the impress with. At the very least, it can’t be any worse than that Bethesda conference yesterday.

Major reveals & details

  • The Square presser, unsurprisingly, lead with a trailer for the opening of ‘Final Fantasy VII Remake
    • Producer Yoshinoru Kitase came out to speak about the game in detail.
    • There will be two Blu-ray discs for this project, the first being entirely devoted to the Midgar storyline.
    • The gameplay system merges real-time combat with a command based system, mixing hack-and-slash combat with a strategic ATB system.
    • A detailed gameplay sequence was shown for the fight against Guard Scorpion, the first boss, complete with the re-orchestrated version of the boss theme. The boss fights will contain real-time elements to contend with, along with proper timing required to complete certain objectives during the fight.
    • The full version of the trailer shown yesterday was presented for the audience. The trailer featured both Aerith and Tifa (at long last) in combat.
  • A remastered version of ‘Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles’ was announced, featuring a 15 FPS trailer.
    • Available in Winter 2019
  • A remaster for ‘The Last Remnant’ was announced, featuring a real trailer that sure still looks like a PS3 game.
    • Available tonight on Nintendo Switch
  • ‘Dragon Quest Builders 2’ was announced for the West, giving a brief story and gameplay overview. The game has already been out in Japan for a while now.
    • Available July 12th, with a demo available June 27th
  • A top-down racing game developed by one of Square’s indie studios was shown, titled Circuit Superstars
    • Releases sometime in 2020
  • The trailer for ‘Kingdom Hearts III: ReMind’ was shown during the presser. A cryptic, silent trailer for the DLC showed off new playable characters and Keyblades.
  • Yoshi-P, producer of ‘Final Fantasy XIV’, comes out to loud audience chanting to talk about the next expansion, ‘Shadowbringers’.
    • The world premiere for the launch trailer was shown, at long last, giving greater story details and showing off in-game cutscenes and new dungeons.
    • The expansion will release July 2nd, with early access being available with a pre-order.
  • A trailer for a western release of ‘Romancing SaGa 3’, along with a trailer for ‘SaGa Scarlet Grace Ambitions’, were both shown.
    • ’Romancing SaGa 3’ features remastered 2D graphics, while ‘SaGa Scarlet Grace Ambitions' is a 3D, open-world adventure.
    • The games will be released in 2020, complete with a PSVita release.
  • A trailer was given for a new game in the ‘Final Fantasy Brave Exvius’ series, titled ‘War of the Visions: Brave Exvius.’ It's a more visually impressive mobile game than Square has done before, looking more like an official 'Final Fantasy' game.
  • A trailer for a new game from People Can Fly, developers of ‘Bulletstorm’, is shown, titled ‘Outriders’. It’s another first-person shooter, as if we haven’t had enough of them this E3.
    • The game will release in 2020.
  • A trailer for a top-down action RPG, titled ‘Oninaki’, was shown off. This game was previously shown off briefly at a Nintendo Direct earlier this year, and
    • The game will release August 22nd, 2019
  • A remastered version of ‘Final Fantasy VIII’ was finally announced and shown off. It mostly just looks like a port of the PC version, though.
    • The game will release in 2019.
  • At long-last, footage for the rumored Crystal Dynamics ‘Avengers’ game was shown, complete with massive fanfare and applause for every single logo.
    • The game is third-person action, with each of the Avengers being playable, featuring an original narrative.
    • The premise is typical Avengers fare, with a typical Avengers storyline. All five Avengers are playable, with more being added later through DLC.
    • The game won’t just be a singular narrative, but as a developing story over the course of a long-period of time. It will NOT, however, be a full games-as-a-service experience, at least at first glance.
    • The game will release on all platforms (even Stadia) May 15, 2020.

The good

The good of this conference is highly subjective, even more so than for most other developers. To me, I was more excited for the role-playing games and titles from Square-Enix Japan. For others, ‘Avengers’ may have been the show-stopping finishing they were looking for, despite being thoroughly uninteresting and uninspired. So, for the record, let it be known that ‘Avengers’ was like eating plain oatmeal. So many spices and ingredients, but overall it just tasted like nothing.

However, in terms of games, this conference showed off some really impressive titles. ‘Oninaki’ is a bit of a sleeper title, but one that fascinates me. ‘SaGa’ games finally coming to the West excited me more it probably should have, with ‘SaGa Scarlet Grace Ambitions’ being a day one purchase for me. The pacing was also fairly solid too, even if the games shown weren’t that thrilling enough to keep me on the edge of my seat. Plus, Yoshi-P always lights up the room, even if he doesn’t do much. He’s the Todd Howard of Square-Enix if Todd Howard actually kept his promises.

And, of course, ‘Final Fantasy VII Remake’ looked amazing. Every single bit of it appealed to me, and any worries about the game have been put to rest. The combat looks intense and strategic, the visuals are breathtaking, and the story has some cool new beats to it to make what’s old new again. In terms of pure show-stopping star power, it was hard to beat this game this year.

The bad

The bad of the conference doesn’t really exist. Much like every other show, it just felt like a series of checking boxes and showing off the games that needed to be there. No crazy reveals and nothing too exciting, ‘Final Fantasy VII Remake’ aside. Sure, it’s great to have ‘SaGa’ in the West and a remaster of the least-good PS1 ‘Final Fantasy’, but it really didn’t have the wow factor. The show-stopping closer in ‘Avengers’ just fell flat for me, another generic action title with a generic Marvel plot. At the very least there were no embarrassing celebrity cameos (Ubisoft) or beloved, long-dead franchises becoming free-to-play mobile games (Bethesda).

The cure to my insomnia

This conference’s biggest crime was being flat-out boring, carried entirely by ‘Final Fantasy VII Remake’ and the excitement around other ‘Final Fantasy’ titles. Many of the games shown were previously announced or have been known about for well over a year, some games have been released in Japan for a long time, and a boat-load of remasters that are appreciated, but not really amazing. I would have loved to see more actual gameplay of ‘Avengers’, a Primal fight in ‘Shadowbringers’, or even a shadow-dropped demo for ‘Final Fantasy VII Remake’ to spice things up. On top of that, ‘Babylon’s Fall’, a Platinum Studios game announced last E3, was noticeably absent from the show. Just a trailer for something new and surprising would have been much appreciated.

And finally, the greatest Square-Enix title and my personal best game of 2018, ‘The Quiet Man’ received no new sequels, expansions, microtransactions, or updates. It wasn’t even shown in the indie highlight reel, with Square silently shelving it. It seems that, once again, my cries fall on deaf ears. At the very least, there’s still hope for Quiet Man himself to show up in ‘Super Smash Bros.’ tomorrow, assuming he can beat Master Chief and Minecraft Steve for the invitation letter.

Featured Image: Flickr