Square Enix Takes E3

As an avid fan of gaming, I look forward to E3 every year.

This expo features big game publishers showcasing their upcoming games in rather glamorous press conferences. Usually, the Sony Playstation conference is the big one for me. I always stay up late (or wake up early) to livestream it at 2am here in London, so I can revel in the social media buzz.

This year, however, Sony pulled out of E3 and left something of a void for me. Fortunately, my beloved Square Enix (responsible for the Final Fantasy series) stepped into their time slot and presented a conference that blew me away!

It opened with the highly anticipated Final Fantasy 7 Remake.

After announcing this to much adulation in 2015, the developers went dark and we heard nothing more for almost four years. Seeing the game in action now, it’s easy to understand why it’s taken them so long.

The level of production quality is astounding! They appear to have adapted the gameplay of the prequel Crisis Core and adapted it with the menu system of the more recent Final Fantasy XV. The result is a frenetic real-time battle system that lets you switch between characters while retaining the original game’s beloved materia system.

But more importantly than that is the focus on the story and characters. For me, Final Fantasy has always been about heart and soul, not the granular details of gameplay mechanics. To return to this story, this world, and these characters with modern production values is an experience I keenly welcome.

The big surprise of the conference was Square Enix – once again – giving the fans what they’ve been clamouring for on social media for years.

Final Fantasy VIII has finally been re-mastered after many years of being left out of Square Enix’s restoration of it’s premier titles. I genuinely did not expect that!

We’d barely had time to breathe before they launched right into the world premiere reveal of their upcoming Avengers game.

Leading with the game’s story, the developers Crystal Dynamics were quick to demonstrate that this is an original game that isn’t tied to the movies. It is “Crystal’s interpretation of these iconic characters.”

This sounds like a smart move to be honest. It gives them the freedom to tell a story without fans thinking “When is this bit gonna happen from the movies?”

It certainly captures the cinematic spectacle of the films, however. And there was also some nice character drama – emphasised by talented voice actors like Nolan North and Troy Baker.

On top of all this, the game will feature four-player online co-op and a story that will persist for several years with the addition of new content. That concerned me for a moment, until they said new heroes and regions would be added for free.

And of course… my beloved Final Fantasy XIV was not left in the dust.

The director Naoki Yoshida – affectionately referred to by us players as Yoshi P – took the stage to deliver the world premiere trailer for the new expansion, Shadowbringers.

I was already sold on this so I expected nothing more than a sizzle trailer. Instead, we got a hefty plot twist in established lore that left me gobsmacked.

I thought I had a handle on where the game’s story was headed, but now I genuinely don’t know which way the narrative is going to turn next. It’ll be fun finding out!

Overall, Square Enix delivered what I hoped for and more! After their rather weak press conference last year, I did not expect them to come out with such a sensational showcase.

This has been the best E3 conference I’ve seen for the last two years!

Thanks for reading, folks 🙂

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