Expected exclusive announcements from Square Enix never came this year, but they still had things to say. A lot of it was visually stunning, so expect many screenshots ahead.
Square Enix President and CEO Yosuke Matsuda opened their E3 showcase by promising, “Today, we’ll be introducing some of Square Enix’s upcoming titles for 2018 and beyond.” But a record scratch passed through the entire internet when the first piece of the showcase was Shadow of the Tomb Raider, which was introduced yesterday at Microsoft’s showcase. This set the tone for a real empty dress of a showcase, all filler and no killer.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider looks cool and continues the more naturalistic approach to both Lara Croft’s character design and her skillset as a sneaky, sniping archer. She’s an anthropologist Katniss Everdeen, stealthing around and picking off guys in what the game’s director, Daniel Chayer-Bisson, calls “Lara Croft’s defining moment as she races to stop a Mayan apocalypse.” Citing the “brutal jungle environment,” Chayer-Bisson says Lara “will still be outgunned and outnumbered by Trinity.” She must play smarter and quieter within the lush Mayan landscape.
Next, Square Enix dropped in an expansion pack for Final Fantasy XIV Online and hinted at some crossover material with Monster Hunter World. The expansion pack is pretty, with the franchise’s trademark RPG combat of mostly multicolored swirls.
The DONTNOD team, Michel Koch and Raoul Barbet, showed a teaser for the free Life is Strange non-sequel, Captain Spirit. The two introduced the game as their first step toward opening up the world people love in Life is Strange, and I think main kid Captain Spirit himself is face modeled on someone from Life is Strange, giving an Uncanny Valley feeling more than usual. But this game is “100% free,” which shows how microtransactions have set gaming costs up for hairsplitting like “0 calories” versus “no calories.” They said the characters in Captain Spirit will appear in the second season of Life is Strange: “So make sure you take all your time to explore.”
Dragon Quest XI is already out in Japan but won’t join us domestically until September. Square Enix did announce two “special editions” that amount to extra DLC and some actual swag if you buy them the first day. By the time the game is released here, it will have taken over a year to make the trip from Japan. That seems to be just enough time for Nintendo not to make a 3DS version. They teased a Monster Hunter World crossover here as well.
At last, they showed the teaser for the announcement of a brand new game, Babylon’s Fall, with moody, stylish, hand-drawn art depicting scenes from some religious past. A guy showed up who seemed to be bad and who was definitely metallic blue, and he was hoisted by his own petard. That was the extent of the action. Babylon’s Fall will appear for PS4 and on Steam in 2019.
The Nier Automata Be As Gods Edition appears on Xbox later this year, with the underwhelming promise of “previously released DLC.” It’s still a pretty game and you still have a strong opinion about its narrative, I’m pretty sure.
Just Cause 4’s gorgeous trailer also debuted during the Microsoft showcase, but it was nice to see the helicopters and tornadoes and flying squirrel suit again so soon. The trailer indicates that there will be more vehicles and better handling for those vehicles, along with a better grappler and something called an airlifter. It looks like a Jeep being carried by weather balloons—2018 technology as designed by the Montgolfier brothers in 1783.
Mysterious new game The Quiet Man got an equally mysterious demi-teaser where the quiet man (I guess?) walks in with a food delivery and seems to murder the customer and leave the food on his face. He points to his ear and we hear a sound that might be imitating tinnitus, so maybe the Quiet Man is deaf? I like inclusive gameplay, but would also like more context for the Postmates murder.
A tiny teaser for Octopath Traveler indicates, hopefully, that Square Enix took fan feedback to heart and retooled the game for a more balanced pace and better gameplay. The art is extraordinary, at least, and there is a dirtbag with a very small ponytail.
Kingdom Hearts III replayed the trailer from the Microsoft showcase, where we see Remy from Ratatouille helping with a flambé, Elsa both helping with and loathing herself for her ice magic, and something called “Goofy Curling.” (All curling is goofy, hope that helps.)
Folks were expecting a big announcement, like the highly anticipated 3D remake of Final Fantasy VII. But the Secret of Mana remake from earlier this year got mixed-to-bad reviews and disappeared nearly without a trace. I hope Square Enix is taking more time with FFVII to make sure their remade content is really an improvement on the source. It will also be nice not to juggle three PlayStation disks anymore—like anybody still has all three.