E3 Recap | Square Enix
Avenging last year…
The E3 2018 conference Square Enix put on was not exactly the most well-received conference. A year that felt like a great opportunity for Square Enix to reinforce their position as one of the foremost creative publishers instead became a run-of-the-mill conference that lacked the surprises and shocks that great conferences of yesteryear. This year didn’t look entirely promising on paper. Whilst last year’s conference was packed with heavy hitter franchises in the form of Just Cause 4 and Shadow of the Tomb Raider that could add hype, Square Enix seemingly had only the Final Fantasy VII remake to boast about. That was until a few days before hand when the announcement that Marvel’s Avengers would premiere at the conference. Suddenly, this year’s conference has more than one reason to get excited.
Square Enix certainly fulfilled that excitement and had their high points when it came to this E3, most of which blossomed in an opening 20 minutes dedicated to the glossy hairstyles and absurd combat of the Final Fantasy VII remake. Yoshinori Kitase, the producer of the remake. introduced the gorgeous remake of one of gaming’s all-time classic, but the gameplay spoke for itself. Impressive combat mechanics and punchy, fast fighting showcased in an excellent boss battle also accompanied a few other trailers and announcements which made this remake one of the highlights of E3 2019. From the return of Tifa Lockhart with a slightly newer design, to the surprising announcement that the game requires a hefty two blu-rays for all the content and the 3rd March can’t come soon enough for what looks like one of the best remakes in a generation dominated by them. Even with all this, the show kept pumping out the Final Fantasy VII news, with even a Final Fantasy VIII remaster coming this year and an update on Final Fantasy XIV’s Shadowbringers update and Square Enix pumped out all the stops for the franchise in spite of no new entry being present.
A Thor spot…
Whilst the conference started with a huge bang, it ended with a strange sense of disappointment. The fervour around Marvel is humongous with Avengers: Endgame raking in $2.74 billion at the worldwide box office, so keen eyes were on the end of the Square Enix conference as they unveiled Marvel’s Avengers, made in conjuction with the comic book giant by Crystal Dynamics. What we got was far from love at first sight. The Avengers game was given plenty of space and let’s not get confused, there was plenty to like. The voice cast is an all-star cast comprised of some of the greats of the industry. Nolan North, Laura Bailey, Travis Willingham, Troy Baker and Jeff Schine round out the Avengers lineup (sorry Hawkeye, there’s no room at this inn) which will provide what promises to be an interesting story about the failure of Earth’s mightiest heroes on A-Day. In addition, Head of Studio at Crystal Dynamics Scot Amos proclaimed on stage that online co-op with free updates aplenty would be accompanying the game in the long-term. On face value, Marvel’s Avengers could shape up like Marvel’s other great hero group in The Fantastic Four. However, also like the Fantastic Four, sometimes other mediums don’t work. The feel of the characters is strange, almost a pale imitation of the movie interpretations we’ve seen on screen for so long. Iron Man cracks jokes that feel ripped from Robert Downey Jr’s playbook. Thor feels Shakespearian as he was early in the MCU to middling success. In addition, the stark, pun fully intended, lack of gameplay leads me to wonder what Marvel’s Avengers will actually be. Considering the market the game is entering, the gameplay needs to find a way to differentiate itself and establish an identity or fade to dust.
The Best of the Rest
The rest of the conference was a rather average affair. Plenty of JRPGs were announced with western releases on the Switch in particular, such as Romancing Saga 3, The Last Remnant Remastered and Saga Scarlet Grace: Ambitions. Dying Light 2 received another cinematic trailer that still leaves us with a sequel pretty light on details. Kingdom Hearts 3 is getting DLC, promising more shenanigans with Organization 13. Dragon Quest Builders is getting a sequel looking to expand on the fairly well-received original sandbox spin-off. The most interesting thing however, outside of the big announcements, was Outriders, a new IP from People Can Fly, the studio behind Bulletstorm and Gears of War: Judgment. Slated for a summer 2020 release, the game is very light on gameplay, but a promising dark trailer combined with the shooter pedigree the studio has and Outriders could be something to keep an eye on. Also, fair praise for the Final Fantasy soundtracks being available on streaming services, the orchestral sounds are sure to be streamed on Spotify plenty of times.
Whilst Square Enix didn’t hurt themselves this year, the conference wasn’t entirely sunshine and roses. Even with that said, the highs were brilliant. The potential is there for a lot of games and whilst there were some worries, the optimist in me is intrigued to see the fruits of the labour of the studios who are trusting in Square Enix. Let’s hope they don’t disappoint those developers when it comes to press.
The Highs and Lows:
Best Games: Final Fantasy VII Remake, Outriders
Hidden Gem: Circuit Superstars
Most Disappointing: Marvel’s Avengers
Weirdest cameo: All the influencers/streamers in the Life is Strange 2 trailer
Best Moment: The first sight of Tifa in FFVII