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Square Enix Pre-E3 2015 Media Briefing Summary

by Adam Pavlacka on June 16, 2015 @ 11:45 a.m. PDT

During Square Enix's Pre-E3 2015 Media Briefing, it presented new coverage for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Final Fantasy VII Remake, Hitman, Just Cause 3, Kingdom Hearts III, Lara Croft GO, NieR, Project Setsuna, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness and World of Final Fantasy.

June 16, 2015, 10:00 AM

Despite kicking things off a few minutes late, the Square Enix press conference delivered when it came to the games. No, it wasn't as flashy as the Microsoft or Sony conferences, and there were a handful of moments that made the crowd wonder what the developers were thinking, but all in all, Square ended up showing off an impressive list of upcoming titles.

Just Cause 3 was the first game on deck, with company reps highlighting the variety of destruction in this open-world adventure. Story-wise, you're trying to save a tropical paradise from an evil dictator, but in all honesty, the story is likely just there to give you a reason to blow up stuff.

Just Cause 3 builds on its predecessor by giving the player 400 square miles to explore and a wide variety of tools to do it. The grappling hook has been upgraded. It supports multiple lines (so you can tether enemies to items just like in Just Cause 2), and you can adjust tension on the line. The wingsuit allows for precision flying, and your skill can be tested in wingsuit-specific courses. Vehicles will run the gamut, with monster trucks, tractors, sports cars and more on the ground, as well as multiple types of aircraft. As for the guns, Just Cause 3 promises lots of them, with grenades, handguns, rifles and rocket launchers all being shown off.

Oh yeah, and an unlimited amount of C4. If the destruction physics that Square Enix is promising are true, then Just Cause 3 just might be the Red Faction: Guerrilla of the current generation of consoles.

After seeing plenty of explosions, a developer in a mask (think something like a Nier-inspired Deadmau5) came out to officially announce the next NieR for PS4. Platinum Games has been brought onboard, and we saw a brief teaser, but other than that, there was little to announce. No reason was given for the capital R at the end of the title, but an official subtitle reveal was promised for later this year.

Rise of the Tomb Raider was Square Enix's next big game, and it took the time to show off more than just the ice levels that were highlighted at Microsoft's press conference. The new footage looked good, but the speaker had a few groan-inducing lines, like, "We're putting the tombs back in Tomb Raider." Note to game devs: You don't need to be witty when presenting. Just be yourselves and have fun.

Of note for Rise of the Tomb Raider was some of the discussion about the effort that went into realizing Lara Croft as a character. The team wanted to show the progression of time in the character and have some of Croft's past experiences be a part of who she is. That can be seen in pre-existing scars from things that happened in the first game. Environmental bits, like snow, will accumulate on her clothes when she's out in the cold.

In addition to Rise of the Tomb Raider, Lara Croft will also be appearing in the mobile title, Lara Croft GO. Not much was shown, aside from a jungle environment and the fact that the game will have similar mechanics to Hitman GO.

The Final Fantasy VII Remake trailer got the obligatory screening, with no additional information. That said, an iOS port of the PC version of Final Fantasy VII was confirmed for this year. Keeping on with the mobile theme, Square Enix decided to troll the audience by announcing a new Kingdom Hearts game before revealing that it was for mobile. No doubt this was planned (and some execs were probably laughing behind the scenes) because the mobile game was quickly followed by information on Kingdom Hearts III for PS4 and Xbox One.

"Tangled" was confirmed as a world that will be included in Kingdom Hearts III.

World of Final Fantasy is the uber-cute Final Fantasy game that debuted at the Sony press conference. It is designed to be a new take on the Final Fantasy franchise that is accessible to new players. The idea of a new world isn't new, as nearly every Final Fantasy game has taken place in its own world, but the departure in the look and feel is a large step from what's come before.

The game developer said he wanted to hit three points with World of Final Fantasy. First, he wanted it to be a game that anyone of any age or gender could play. Second, he wanted a new visual experience. The third point he wanted to hit was to create a game system that was simple to learn but had plenty of depth. Release is planned for 2016.

Back to the big hitters, Square Enix brought out Hitman. Targeted for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, the new Hitman sounds like a reboot with some MMO and/or F2P elements. The developers promise a "live and ever-expanding world of assassination that will continue to grow and evolve over time." New locations, new missions and new hits will be released over time. No word on if all of that will be free or paid DLC, but given that the PSN store leak indicated that DLC would be available, paying for at least some of it is likely.

Outside of the "What am I going to have to pay?" questions, what was described did sound intriguing, especially the "one-time" targets. If you get them, you rock. If you miss them, too bad, so sad. That's it. There's no reloading and no retrying. In order to enforce this sort of event, the game will likely have to be online and connected to a server. Of course, an online connection brings other benefits, such as being able to take on contracts put out by other players and the ability to issue your own contracts.

Smart players will prepare for the one-time events by setting up necessary equipment in advance.

AI is promised to be even smarter this time around, with various characters having varying levels of intelligence. For example, if you take out a staff member and steal his outfit, you might be able to pass by other workers, but a manager who knows his or her employees would still see right through your disguise because they would know you didn't belong.

Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness was confirmed for both Europe and North America on the PS4. Gameplay trailer showed off some combat and exploration, making it look a lot like a traditional JRPG-style game. One thing the developer is doing is trying to ensure that the story and action are intertwined. They don't want the new Star Ocean, which is currently running at 30 fps, to be more movie than game. The team is shooting for 60 fps at release. Japanese version is set to drop by the end of the year, though the rest of the world will have to wait until 2016.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is obviously a major title for Square Enix, complete with a new engine. The story is set in 2029, two years after the end of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Augmented humans are now outcasts and living the ghettos (an obvious parallel to racism). Jensen has left Sarif Industries and works for a division of Interpol, Task Force 29, which investigates terrorist attacks around the world. At the same time, Jensen has allied himself with some hacker activists (think Anonymous) and is working as a double agent because Task Force 29 may be controlled by the Illuminati.

New augmentations include a gun hidden inside Jensen's mechanical arm and detachable nanoblades, which can now be used as projectiles.

Square Enix promises that "choices and consequences are at the heart of the Deus Ex experience" in Mankind Divided. Human Revolution did a great job of that, up until the very end of the game, where it tried to funnel players into a limited set of outcomes. Here's hoping that Mankind Divided (which looks really pretty and still really gold in the trailers) does a better job of branching out the story paths when it comes to PC, PS4 and Xbox One in 2016.

While Mankind Divided was strong enough to close on, Square Enix pulled a little "one more thing" of its own, first with a little tidbit about the Final Fantasy Portal app coming to the U.S. this summer (yes, you'll be able to play Triple Triad on your phone without using a VPN to get the Japanese version) and second with the announcement of a new studio and game.

Dubbed Project Setsuna and developed by the aptly named Tokyo RPG Factory, there was little to show at this point aside from some concept art, but what we did see was pretty. Square Enix said that the game is currently under development and planned for a global release in 2016. It is to be the first of many titles from Tokyo RPG Factory, which was founded specifically to create new Japanese RPGs.

Square Enix's presentation may have been a little uneven, but the lulls can likely be attributed to the marketing and/or PR departments trying to ensure the event was "witty" and "cool" rather than just letting the developers be themselves. Really, it was those same developers that were the highlights of the event. When they were up there talking about their projects openly and honestly, you could sense the pride and excitement. What they lacked in flash was more than overcome by the passion each had for their projects.

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