I have an iffy relationship with Square Enix. Personally, I’ve always disliked JRPG’s. I never thought that the same system I use to turn off my computer could be used as a combat system, let alone had the audacity to create dozens of games with the system. The plots seemed too filled with hope, love, and the power of friendship for me to ever seriously get immersed in, and they always had the problem of being a bit fetishistic when fans got excited about something minor in the game. However, they also published the Just Cause series, an open-world franchise that has taken up more of my time than my GPA would like to see. With that I patiently waited for their E3 2015 conference to start.
The stream started with a general form of “Square Enix is growing and improving” by Phil Rogers of Square Enix. Quite generic and easily forgotten, like this paragraph of just two sentences.
Roland Lestering of Avalanche Studios then came out to discuss about Just Cause 3. Upgrades to their Just Cause 3 system, such as multiple grappling hooks and wing suits, will be be able to be used later this year. The video they showed the chaos and free-roam map that is apparently over 400 square miles. A half-sleeping narrator talks over a gameplay trailer and discusses some of the new changes, such as a more stable parachute that can be shot from, and a bit into how the wing suit works. They also promise the same 007-esque missions that have become a staple of the series with the promise of allowing you to complete them how you want.
That’s been a big pull for me and something I found depressing about games like Farcry 3. Why do I have to take out my opponents with only a knife? I’ve got a sniper rifle, a car, and a few pounds of explosives; I can think of multiple ways my target’s life can end. Why should I just use a knife? I’m definitely glad to see the same style of gameplay with new touch-ups to a fun and engaging series.
A sneak-peek of some early artwork is shown for a new title by Platinum Games. The artwork depicted some sort of destroyed over cities and towns long after they have been destroyed. A video then started playing with what was assumed to be the main protagonist jumping from a high ledge, landing, then scene. The project is then named to be a new Nier game. The main developers of the new Nier game went up and…well, they were interesting. They seemed to think that this new project is a shoe-in for being very successful, even though the first Nier game had a marketing campaign that was only existent in some other alternate universe. More information was said to be revealed later this year.
Next we have a Lara Croft video of her actually doing some tomb raiding for once. The video for The Rise of the Tomb Raider looked like there would definitely be more of the classic puzzle-solving and less of an Uncharted shooting-style game, although there would definitely still be some of that there. Brian Horton, head of development for the new Tomb Raider title, then came up and described some of the ways they create the character model for Lara. “We’re putting the tomb back in Tomb Raider” was probably the most relevant statement that Horton made in regards to their new title. It should be nice to see Lara going back to her roots and not trying to copy Uncharted at every other turn.
Hitman was then brought up, discussing some differences between Hitman: Sniper and Hitman: Go. After describing how Hitman: Go was a successful retracing the the game’s roots, they announced Lara Croft: Go, which uses the same mechanics as Hitman: Go but with focus on the puzzle-solving aspect and exploration that has made Lara Croft so memorable. The video showed was short and as revealing as much as a Catholic nun magazine. Not much else was discussed other than revealing the concept.
Shinji Hashimoto then came up and started speaking. I, along with most of the Western world, do not speak Japanese, so thankfully they gave us a translator to….oh wait, they didn’t. He said something, I’d like to believe the secret to making the perfect apple pie recipe, then played the Final Fantasy VII HD Remake trailer. After the trailer, it just announced that it would be given more information later. Apparently someone didn’t tell Hashimoto that they already revealed that trailer the day before, but nevermind that. Hashimoto finally came back with a translator and discussed that the PC port of Final Fantasy VII will now be coming to iOS and PS4, which seems irrelevant since they’ll be doing a complete remake of the game soon, most likely for the PS4. If you ever wanted to own two different versions of the same game, the Final Fantasy VII is definitely the game for you!
The words “Kingdom Hearts” were then mentioned, excitement brewed, and then proceeded to die with the announcement of some sort of mobile game titled Kingdom Hearts X: Unchained. The video played, and the eyes were more glazed than a hooker working the corner of a Krispy Kreme. According to the video, the plot will then be linked to Kingdom Hearts 3, and excitement then hyped back up. Being released for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the game footage was delayed a bit while another video was shown discussing the tight bond of friendship and love Square Enix shares with Disney. The gameplay video showed much more fast-paced combat now that it’s not turn-based, which is sorta like improving a porn shoot by removing the people’s clothes. Two characters mention the Keyblades War over a game of fantasy chess, adding to the mystery of the what the plot will base itself around.
Hashimoto brought up one last announcement, titled World of Final Fantasy, which was also announced during the PS4 conference. More useless dribble that was already known. The game seems like a meshing of those Pop figures and most of the Final Fantasy universes, almost like a Kingdom Hearts of Final Fantasy. The game’s aim is to be played by an audience of any generation and gender, while also introducing some of the older characters to new players in the Final Fantasy series. So it will appeal to children and Final Fantasy veterans, and that’s about it.
A new Hitman was then announced, with the innovative titled of “Hitman.” An organic assassination system was discussed. If you fail to kill your target, then that mission is done with forever. Io Interactive then showed the first gameplay video for Hitman. The classic Hitman concept of disguises and fancy assassinations seems to have been expanded with more ways to infiltrate and kill targets. Players can also create their own targets and share them online. Overall it looked like a nice return to form for the Hitman series.
Star Ocean then went through a trailer of their game’s history, along with a new titled called Star Ocean Integrity and Faithfulness that is being released in Japan and North America. A new trailer for the game was then shown after a brief introduction by the game’s creator. The game looks very identical to a Final Fantasy game but without the turn-based combat (see Kingdom Hearts 3 paragraph for why this is good). There’s some emphasis on saving a planet, but nothing farther than that was announced for the plot. The new Star Ocean game is set to release in 2016.
Deus Ex was shown off, with their latest title Deus Ex Mankind Divided. Set two years after the last game, augmented people are being segregated and hated. The enemy is the Illuminati, and that’s when I stopped paying attention to what the plot was about. Finally they stopped talking and showed us an in-game trailer. The game’s apartheid concept could be a great plot device, but some hope was killed off when they showed some sort of second screen application for mobile devices.
Then, “it” appeared. You know what “it” is. The game that excited way too many people: Final Fantasy XV. I’m just kidding, they went to something titled Final Fantasy Portal App. From there, they discussed the creation of a new studio called Tokyo RPG Factory. From there, some concept art was shown off from the new developer for a title tentatively named Project Setsuna. The concept art looked quite nice and would be even more exciting if anything else was announced about it. But nothing was, so it was as exciting as watching your toast land butter-side down. The show then did a montage video of all the trailers, the announcers all came up, and the show ended.
I have to say, for all the IP they have under their belt, Square Enix managed to invoke little-to-no actual excitement. Everything seemed to be announced either in eggshell white bland or antique white bland, with the exception of Rise of the Tomb Raider and Just Cause 3. The Nier sequel reveal just made it look like the developers were on copious amounts of cocaine and overall was nier-ly forgotten about minutes later. Their creeping into the mobile market is hard to become excited over when games like Hitman: Go have to be placed next to Final Fantasy Portal App. Square Enix seemed to hope saying the title itself would get us excited for the game, which proved to be a bad assumption. As well, they left one of their most major titles, Final Fantasy XV, completely forgotten about. When other studios are announcing things like Battlefront and Fallout 4, even going as far as announcing their releases for this year, it didn’t help that Square Enix’s main gun was left in the shop. Hopefully the games themselves will prove to be more exciting than this conference was.