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Square Enix Pre-E3 2019 Media Briefing Summary

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on June 10, 2019 @ 11:45 p.m. PDT

During Square Enix's Pre-E3 2019 Media Briefing, it presented new coverage for Avengers, Battalion 1944, Dragon Quest Builders 2, Final Fantasy VII, Outriders and more.

June 10, 2019, 6:00 PM PT
Los Angeles, CA

The Square Enix press conference this year had a lot of hype, as two of the biggest games it's ever announced were on the docket: Final Fantasy VII Remake and Marvel's Avengers. It's not a surprise that those two games bookended what was otherwise a strong — if not very surprising — conference.

Final Fantasy VII

If there was a show-stealer for Square Enix, it was this. We got a good look at the Final Fantasy VII remake's first episode, and it looks fantastic. It's coming out early next year and has been a long time coming, but from what they're showing, it has the potential to be the start of the true remake that people were hoping for.

We finally got a chance to see how the game plays, and it looks rather awesome. The easiest way is to describe it as some combination of Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy 13. It's an action-RPG where you can move, dodge and block in real time. By default, you control Cloud, but you can swap to other party members at the press of a button. We only saw a little of them, but it looks like Barrett can fight at long range, Tifa is a combo monster, and Aerith can perform healing and support spells.

While basic combat is real time, there's also an ATB bar that builds up as you fight. The ATB bar can be used to enter a time-paused Tactical mode where you can perform special moves. These special moves include magical spells and what previously were Limit Breaks, such as Braver, Big Shot and Cross Slash. You can also bind these attacks to shoulder buttons to allow for seamless gameplay if you don't like the idea of tactical pauses in your action game.

The gameplay looks fun. There were a lot of familiar sights in the trailer, but everything seemed to have been hyped up. The Guard Scorpion, the basic tutorial boss from the start of the game, is now an epic battle that involves lasers, lightning spells, shields, and hiding behind debris while the room collapses around you. The nice thing was that it all felt familiar. Nothing seemed drastically out of place; it's just fancier and shinier than ever before.

That was also the theme of the trailer they showed. It seems like the first episode of Final Fantasy VII will cover the entirety of the Midgar section of the game. We saw shots of the Shinra Tower, Wall Market, and several familiar boss battles. There is going to be some updated content as well, such as appearances from some specter of Sephiroth before the Kalm flashback. All in all, it looks remarkably faithful to the original game.

Avengers

The end of the show was the reveal of Marvel's Avengers. Sort of like the PS4 Spider-Man game, this isn't a game set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but a very similar one. It brings together the familiar faces of Black Widow, Captain America, The Hulk, Iron Man and Thor for an adventure. Mixing an obvious pastiche of the Marvel movies with elements of the comics, it seems to be its own original thing.

The cinematic trailer gave us an idea of the basic plot. The heroes are together in San Francisco to christen the West Coast Avengers. Unfortunately, their new experimental Helecarrier comes under attack, and the experimental power source goes haywire, killing thousands. In the aftermath, Captain America is seemingly killed, and the Avengers are disbanded and shamed. Five years later, a new danger brings them out of retirement to save the day once again.

We didn't get a lot of time or gameplay footage. What little we saw makes it look a bit like an action/shooter in the vein of Anthem, but that may just be the Iron Man aspects. We're told that it's going to be an episodic game with new content and characters being delivered over time. (The first seems to be Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man and one of the iconic West Coast Avengers.) Hopefully, we'll find out more at Square Enix's booth tomorrow.

Remasters

A fair chunk of Square Enix's conference was dedicated to ports, remakes and remasters. Beloved fan favorite Final Fantasy VIII will finally be joining FFVII and FFIX in getting an updated port of the original game. Like the others, it will have cleaned-up visuals and presumably the same speed-up and cheat options. There are also similar ports coming of Romancing SaGa 3 and SaGa: Scarlet Graces, previously for the SNES and Vita, respectively. Likewise, Dragon Quest XI is getting an updated port for the Switch, complete with an SNES-style "classic" mode. Rounding out the list is The Last Remnant Remastered, which is available for Switch now.

The GameCube's Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles is also getting a full remaster, which will update the original game for more traditional multiplayer. For those unaware, the GameCube version was one of the few games to use the GameCube's Game Boy Advance connection, which required players to use their GBA as a controller. It was a much-beloved game, but the controller limitations gave it a limited audience, so hopefully replacing them with traditional online play will give the game a chance to shine.

Upcoming Games

We also got a glimpse of a few other of Square Enix's upcoming games. People Can Fly, the folks behind Bulletstorm and Painkiller, are working on a cooperative adventure shooter called Outriders. It appears to be a loot-based shooter in the vein of Borderlands, but info was scarce, so we'll have to see more about it later this year.

We also got a glimpse at two of Square Enix's indie games. Circuit Superstars is a cute top-down racer that seems to combine charming super-deformed graphics with an attempt to create a complex and in-depth racing experience. It looks interesting, and hopefully, we'll hear more about it later this year. We also got a glimpse at Battalion 1944, which is a WWII shooter that looks to be trying to capture the feel of classic Battlefield or Call of Duty. It's hard to say much about it, but there's an audience out there looking forward to it.

We also got a look at Kingdom Hearts III's upcoming DLC, which gives players new powers and the chance to play as fan favorite protagonists Aqua, Riku and Roxas, as well as what appears to be new story and boss fights. Massively popular MMO Final Fantasy XIV is also releasing its Shadowbringers expansion at the end of this month, and from the looks of it, there are going to be even more over-the-top boss fights than ever before. Likewise, Dragon Quest Builders 2, the second in the Minecraft-meets-Dragon Quest spin-off franchise, is looking even better than the first, and it's also due out early next month.

All in all, Square Enix had a strong conference. The lack of information about Avengers was a bit disappointing but easily balanced by the otherwise robust lineup and the fact that Final Fantasy VII Remake looks really cool. Hopefully, the solid list of games can live up to their potential, as it seems like a formidable year in the making for Square Enix.

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