Unfortunately, Yoko Taro was nowhere to be found.
The crowd in the theater who showed up to Square Enix’s event just to get a glimpse at some more Final Fantasy VII Remake footage did not leave disappointed. Along with a Cloud-based infodump, several remasters were announced, Naoki Yoshida arrived to grace FFXIV players with Shadowbringers details, and we got our first extended look at Crystal Dynamic’s upcoming Marvel’s Avengers game. Let’s get started:
Final Fantasy VII Remake
Producer Yoshinori Kitasi said the remake of Final Fantasy VII has become so large that it now comprises “two Blu-Ray discs worth of gameplay content.” Midgard alone, he said, could be a standalone game, giving weight to the rumor that the game releasing in March will only take us up to the end of Midgard.
Neal Pabone joined Kitase on-stage to narrate an extended gameplay sequence explaining how combat will work. Players can certainly hack and slash at enemies with Cloud’s sword, but that won’t get them very far. Instead, they will need to master using the two ATB bars below Cloud’s health.
These fill up by attacking enemies and allow you to unleash special abilities, use items in battle and cast potent magic. But something else happens when players tap into ATB: time slows almost to a stand-still, transforming the hectic battlefield into the strategic Tactical Mode. This is more akin to the game’s turn-based roots and will allow players to easily switch between characters to issue multiple commands, as long as they have the ATB to spend.
Prefer non-stop combat? The developers have made FFVII Remake’s combat fairly modular, allowing you to add or remove Tactical mode functions until it suits your playstyle.
Cloud and Barret displayed all of these new combat details in a slightly truncated boss fight against the Scorpion Tank from the game’s opening section. Phase changes meant using Barret’s ranged attacks and lightning magic to circumvent the tank’s particular defenses. It was all very cinematic, fast paced and engaging, evoking the imagery young players likely conjured in their minds while playing the original.
But where is Tifa, I can hear some of you asking as you grip your seat with white knuckles. They were a bit cheeky with her reveal, but another trailer showed off not only the bare-knuckled badass to ecstatic applause, but also Sephiroth. He wasted no time goading Cloud into fostering his hatred and being altogether too enigmatic and edgy.
Expect to play the first part of Final Fantasy VII Remake when it launches March 3, 2020.
Remasters and Shadowbringers
Not content on pulling just a single draught from the nostalgia well, Square Enix announced a number of remasters and rereleases of classic RPGs throughout their showcase. Of specific note, Final Fantasy VIII will finally join the rest of its franchise on modern consoles sometime this year.
- The Last Remnant: Switch, available now
- Crystal Chronicles Remastered: PS4/smartphones, coming soon
- Romancing Saga 3: PS4/Xbox One/Switch, coming soon
- Scarlet Saga Grace: PS4/Xbox One/Switch, coming soon
Continuing the conveyor belt of good news for Final Fantasy fans, FFXIV director Naoki “Yoshi P” Yoshida walked on to perhaps the most enthusiastic clapping and hooting of the evening. He was proud to announce the health of the long-running MMO, which he claims supports the largest active subscriber base since launch.
But he knew why people were excited to see him, quickly throwing to a long trailer describing the tone and narrative underpinning of the upcoming expansion, Shadowbringers. Opulent, palatial structure full of monsters dripping with creepy Christian imagery await players in a land corrupted by light, it seems.
There’s something about marrying darkness and light in order to solve the pervasive issue, a giant marble lion and plenty of ultra-stylish armor. Excuse my inexperience with the series, but fans in the crowd were extremely excited by everything they saw.
Yoshida said Shadowbringers is large enough that many of the developers, himself included, think of it less as an expansion and more like a full game-sized entry to FFXIV’s content roster. Find out for yourself when it releases July 2.
Something a little different
Square Enix had a surprising amount of non-Final Fantasy content on display, providing first looks and deeper dives into games from partner studios and affiliates. First up was Circuit Superstars, a topdown racing game from the Vancouver-based Original Fire games. Think slot cars unbound from their static tracks and allowed to careen through more elaborate outdoor courses. The appealing visuals and physics makes this one to keep an eye on when it releases next year.
Outriders, the new game from Polish developers People Can Fly, looks like a hellish good time. Team up with one or two friends to shoot your way through a smoke- and fire-wracked wasteland as you track a mysterious signal. Death will play a larger role in the game, but studio head Sebastian Wojciechowski was not ready to fully spoil that part of the game. This is the same studio that brought us Bulletstorm, so expect a wide array of interesting and satisfying guns at the very least. Outriders releases Summer 2020.
Tokyo RPG Factory, perhaps best known in the states for Lost Sphear, showcased their new game centered on understanding and accepting death as a natural and beautiful part of life. Oninaki will put players in the shoes of a Watcher, someone tasked with helping the living cope with death—and likewise making sure the dead understand their fate, as well. Play Oninaki on PS4, Switch, and PC when it releases August 22.
One of the most anticipated (non-Final Fantasy) games at the Square Enix presser was Crystal Dynamic’s Marvel’s Avengers. Set five years after a calamitous incident forces the Avengers to disband, some new threat has the outcast superheroes asking if this is a chance for redemption. Players can form groups of four to tackle story-driven content in the shoes of Captain America, Black Widow, Thor, and several other notable faces.
Developers talked about content schedules stretching years after launch that will keep players engaged with the game, and they also proudly exclaimed “no lootboxes or pay-to-win scenarios” would sully the experience. Though, there was some odd talk of exclusive access to the beta for PS4 players, along with other “unique benefits”. What those may be is not clear at this time.
Anticipated to play like a Marvel-themed Destiny kind of game, what Crystal Dynamic showed instead looked generic and bland, a guided action game lacking the personality of the MCU or anything else to differentiate it from other incarnations of Marvel’s biggest IPs. It does boast some of the biggest and most celebrated voice talent in video games, but we will have to wait until it releases on May 15, 2020 to find out for ourselves whether or not it’s really something special.
- Dragon Quest Builders 2 releases on July 12, but players can access a demo of the game on June 27.
- Final Fantasy music can now be streamed on most major platforms, letting you retire those torrented MIDI
- The first batch of DLC for Kingdom Heart 3, Re:Mind, will release Winter 2019.
- Dying Light 2, the sequel to 2015’s zombie survival game, release Spring 2020.
- War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius is currently in development and will constitute “one of the two pillars of the FFBE universe”, whatever that means!