E3 2015: Square Enix Press Conference Reaction
Last, but not least.
Being the last of the big publishers to show off your wares can be both a blessing and a curse. People are usually sick of executives speaking about their unique vision, but on the other hand if you have something decent to unveil it'll linger in viewers' minds. That's really the case with Square Enix's show, which had far too much filler, but hit home where it counted, the games.
Kicking things off with a quick, bombastic and sharply edited video of Just Cause 3 which was enough of a shot in the arm to make the ensuing speech from CEO Phil Rogers' bearable. The short video had everything you could want from the franchise, but doubled down on the explosions and insane mid-air feats, including some insane looking wingsuit action.
It boasts a 400 square mile location, adjustments to the stability of the parachute so you can descend whilst firing two handed weapons, an upgraded grapple hook and the aforementioned new wingsuit, it looks fantastic. The most interesting new feature though is the ability to use multiple grapple tethers to link things together, like vehicles, or just to tear apart the destructible world and its contents. It's really living up the bold claims about adding more fun to the sandbox, with a range of challenges offering the ability to unlock upgrades, to hopefully increase longevity and friendly competition.
How can you dislike a game that features helicopters colliding in mid-air, a soldier attached to a fuel tank that shoots off into the sky, or a man riding a rocket?
From the sublime to the ridiculous, and game director Yoko Taro took to the stage wearing a demonic Frank Sidebottom style head (if you're wondering, he always finds a way to hide his face, so this wasn't even the weirdest thing he's done) to announce a new project. Square are teaming up with Platinum Games to make a new Nier title.
In a show about fan favourites getting successors, this may not seem huge news in light of The Last Guardian an Shenmue 3, but Nier quickly gained an ardent following on the PS3, and the idea of bringing Platinum in to help with the combat, but keeping the rest of the formula intact, is very appealing. Sadly not much was shown other than some artwork and what we can assume will be our female protagonist, but that it exists is enough for now.
Then came the Rise of the Tomb Raider plug from game director Brian Horton. After the world gameplay premier at Microsoft's show (that was gameplay!?!) I was hoping to see some more proper world interaction rather than an interactive cut-scene, but no. This was more about how the character of Lara was brought to life, the pores on her skin, the clothing, dirt and other realistic effects employed. Nice info, but Lara looking good won't make or break the game.
Away from the AAA titles there was room to plug some mobile offerings, in the mould of Hitman Go and Hitman Sniper, whilst there was also news that due to the success of Hitman Go, Miss Croft would also be receiving the Go treatment with Lara Croft Go. Players can expect a touch screen turn based puzzle title, and the early visuals already look very nice.
That's some way off though, so next came a taster of what you can be playing sooner. A slick cinematic trailer for Final Fantasy XIV Heavensward, a reminder that Life Is Strange exists and Dragon Quest Heroes will be coming to the West.
After the re-airing of the Final Fantasy 7 remake trailer shown as Sony's conference - and appeals to patience as the PS4 port of the PC version is again delayed, whilst an iOS version of the game is in the works too - there was the best misunderstanding of E3, as Kingdom Hearts was teased to much whooping, only for the reveal to be a mobile game. Kingdom Hearts Unchained Key is in development for iOS and Android (see Bethesda, some people remember us).
Luckily, then came the news everyone had been waiting for, Kingdom Hearts 3 was not just announced, but received an excellent looking trailer, with lots of gameplay on show. Vibrant and ticking all the boxes for what fans want from a new-gen update.
The cutesy World of Final Fantasy made the same appearance as at Sony's show, but after that we got to see some of Hitman and hear how the reboot is shaping up. IO Interactive is clearly hoping the community will give this game longevity, but they sound perhaps a touch over ambitious. The idea is sound, that users can create their own contracts, where targets may only appear for a set amount of time, but the idea of hundreds of thousands of contracts may be stretching it a bit. Still, the sales pitch is solid, that each NPC is unique and that the sandbox of assassination is yours to play in.
Back to the Japanese games, and Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness was announced for a release in the West next year. And in a sad rarity for this E3, it was noted that although the footage shown was captured at 30fps, the final game would aim for 60fps. Whoo next gen!
Then came the turn of Eidos Montreal to talk up the conspiracy side of things in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Illuminati, augments, and the "mechanical apartheid" sound a bit cheesy when spoken out loud, but the game still looks to have that brooding atmosphere that you want. Amid the slick trailer there was also a few shots of proper gameplay, but blink and you'll miss them, still, with a release date of early 2016 it isn't too long to wait.
The last titbits were fairly small fry, a Final Fantasy Portal App, giving fans all the info they want on their favourite J-RPG series, and the announcement of a brand new RPG project from a newly established studio. The pleasingly titled Tokyo RPG Factory (it does what it say on the tin) will be working on Project Setsuna; there was only some polished concept art to show, but we did get a release date of 2016. Well, planned release date.
For a show that had a fair bit of waffle, Square Enix put together some of the best looking trailers, and the footage of Just Cause 3, alongside their commitment to RPGs - both making them and bringing them to the West - ticked all the right boxes.
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