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The 6 biggest announcements from the Square Enix E3 2019 press conference

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The Final Fantasy VII remake, Final Fantasy VIII, and plenty more remasters and re-releases. Oh, and something to do with the Avengers?

You could argue that Square Enix’s press conference was the easiest one: Just show people the Final Fantasy VII Remake. That’s it. That’s really all they had to do.

But they doubled down on the fan service with a bunch of remakes, remasters, and re-releases across various franchises and platforms, and are making your favourite Final Fantasy soundtracks much easier to listen to.

Also, the new Avengers game has quite the cast. It’s not quite Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, and Mark Ruffalo, but in video game circles? It’s a similar energy and gravitas.

Final Fantasy VII Remake

In a lovely touch, the Square Enix E3 2019 press conference kicked off with Final Fantasy VII’s loading screen. You know the one, the big Buster Sword stuck in the ground, and a white-gloved hand pointing at “New Game” or “Continue”. That “ploink” noise as you flick between the options? It’s like nectar for a jaded old sort.

Then the conference started proper, with a zoomed in look at Aerith’s face, as she kneels and prays. Stars. (They’re showing us the whole thing, the entire opening mission!) A wide pan of Midgar. A tracking shot of a train, zooming in as the train approaches its destination. (Oh my god, they’re doing the whole thing!) Cloud jumps off the train like an acrobatic, show-off knobhead. (Holy crap they’re showing us the whole thing!)

Then we cut back to the theatre for a chat with Yoshinori Kitase. Which is fine, obviously, because we very much want to hear what he has to say about the game.

But then, after a five-minute chat through how the combat works, – it’s a bit like Final Fantasy XV, with real-time basic attacks and charging gauges for magic and limit breaks – we then get to see the first boss battle against the Guard Scorpion. It’s almost as though they could have done the explanation of how combat worked while… actually walking through the opening bombing raid?

No matter. It looks lovely. And there’s Tifa, at long last, and a quick look at the G-bike escape sequence. If you’re not feeling better about the Final Fantasy VII Remake after tonight’s presentation, you’re probably never going to be convinced.

One other interesting point to note: The “episodic” nature of the Final Fantasy VII Remake appears to have changed. A bit. Kitase-san told us that “the story of Midgar” has become a standalone game in its own right, and there will be enough content for two Blu-ray discs. So we’re currently assuming that’s two discs, one for each episode, with the first episode as Midgar and the second as the open world bits. We’ll ask when we meet with Square Enix this week at E3 proper.

A whole lot of remasters and re-releases

Next, and over the course of the show, came a bunch of remasters and re-releases, including… deep breath now:

  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
  • The Last Remnant
  • Romancing SaGa 3
  • Dragon Quest XI (on Nintendo Switch)
  • Octopath Traveller (on Steam)

And probably some other stuff we missed. We were quite distracted by the Final Fantasy VII stuff.

The one remaster everybody wanted

Praise be! Someone found the code for Final Fantasy VIII in a bin somewhere, or hidden under someone’s bed, or behind a filing cabinet in Square Enix’s headquarters. No matter: the good news is that Final Fantasy VIII remastered will be coming to PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in 2019.

We don’t have much else in the way of details yet, but with any luck, the game will largely be left untouched… with the exception of the fast-forward modes found in the other remasters (to speed up some of the game’s more tedious elements, like drawing magic from enemies, or watching umpteen hours of Guardian Force summon animations.)

The Square Enix Collective

After a nice little video detailing the history of the Square Enix Collective and its games over the last five years, we got a look at the next two games on its agenda: an expansion for Battalion 1944 called Eastern Front, and an adorable, nearly-top-down racing game called Circuit Superstars.

The Batallion 1944 update is out now, while Circuit Superstars is following in 2020. The former is more maps and content for the competitive shooter, but the latter is something we can really get on board with. It’s a sort of chunky, top-down racing game in the style of Micro Machines, but with cute little representations of real classic racing cars. We’ve seen a few gifs of this one floating around before the reveal and it looks sweet.

Square Enix Music on streaming services

In what was a charming little video presentation, a lady in a coffee shop is presented with a problem of yesteryear: Flipping through her music collection, the files on her phone, trying to decide what to listen to.

Meanwhile, in the background, an orchestra is constantly swapping instruments and sheet music trying to keep up with her swiping, pursing their lips to blow then having to change instrument just before the music kicks in.

We get two or three notes into a bit of (we think) the Final Fantasy V soundtrack, before our protagonist gets a message on her phone telling her the entire collection of Square Enix Music is now available on streaming services, including Spotify and Amazon’s equivalent service. She wants out of the shop, happy that she can listen to her favourite soundtracks more easily now.

The band, a bit dejected, are left behind. We really enjoyed this one. It took a simple, seemingly insignificant little announcement, and presented it in a lovely way. Plus, it’s about flipping time.

The Avengers Project

So, we come to the other big reveal of Square Enix’s E3 2019 presentation: The Avengers Project. We saw a short teaser for this back in 2017, then the project – helmed by Crystal Dynamics, with support from Eidos Montreal – went dark.

We saw a trailer, featuring Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, and The Incredible Hulk. It mirrored some of the action from the MCU – the Avengers have a bad day at the office, a city gets a bit destroyed, then suddenly they’re persona non grata – just like in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War.

We also learn that the game is now called Marvel’s Avengers. And we meet the cast:

  • Nolan North – Tony Stark/Iron Man
  • Travis Willingham – Thor
  • Jeff Schine – Steve Rodgers/Captain America
  • Laura Bailey – Natasha Romanov/Black Widow
  • Troy Baker – Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk

But we don’t see any gameplay. The on-stage presentation is at great pains to tell us that there will be no loot boxes, and that additional content and characters will be added to the game free of charge after release, but we don’t see mechanically how it works.

Then we’re told Marvel’s Avengers features 4-player co-op, will be available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Google Stadia, and launches May 15, 2020. Hopefully we’ll get to see how it plays in our appointment with Square Enix this week.

Other assorted musings

  • Wow, there were a lot of remakes, remasters, and re-releases, weren’t there?
  • Also, Dragon Quest Builders 2, which features 4-player online co-op, looks rather sweet.
  • Kingdom Hearts 3 is getting some DLC called Re-Mind. It seems to centre on a coat for some reason?
  • There was a trailer for Life is Strange 2, which seemed a little redundant as we’re already three episodes in.
  • And Final Fantasy XIV – same principle.
  • The developers of Bulletstorm are making a new game called Outriders. We also think they were expecting more than three people to “whoop!” when they asked: “Who likes Bulletstorm?”
  • Dying Light 2 was also there. It’s competing with Borderlands 3 and trying to take Kingdom Hearts 3’s crown for “appearing in the most press conferences in a single E3” but without Sony here, that record’s going to stand for another year.
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