E3 2018: Square Enix Press Conference Round Up

Square Enix have had it good recently. Games such as Deus Ex, Tomb Raider and Hitman being some of the most critically acclaimed and fan engaged games of the last decade. The only people who don’t think that are Square Enix who have constantly held their franchises to impossible sales standards. They even tossed aside Hitman after one of the most incredible resurgences I’ve ever seen from an IP with their episodic content. This year’s announcement that they were returning to showcase their goods on gaming’s biggest stage set the public’s imagination alight. After all, the Final Fantasy VII remake has gone off the radar and the Avenger’s Project still hasn’t had any official announcements.

Well, a paltry half hour of trailers and one Shadow of the Tomb Raider gameplay demo later, we still know next to nothing about both projects. Frankly, I’m starting to feel like both those games were a part of the conference and got pulled last minute, but Square had already committed. Now the conversation around them is all about what we didn’t see rather than what we did. Sometimes it’s better to just let it go. Speaking of which.

Kingdom Hearts 3

Kingdom Hearts looks amazing. Perhaps not in the game-playing sense, which we didn’t get a huge look at, but more in a ‘dear-lord-how-much-money-are-they-spending?’ sense. I saw at least three different gameplay systems across five different art styles, and I’m certain that’s actually the original cast of Frozen, and I can’t believe those weren’t some hefty price tags for an afternoon’s work in a booth. Given the value of both of those brands in recent times, expect this one to be one of the biggest selling video games of all time in 2019.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

The new Shadow of the Tomb Raider gameplay demo was disappointingly predictable. Instead of focussing on the bits that made Rise such an amazing game, i.e. the actual Tomb Raiding, this showcased the thing that grabbed all the headlines in the 2013 reboot. Lara turning into a Walking Dead style survivalist. Yep, she does all of that stalking her enemies (just like in Batman, Metal Gear, Assassin’s Creed) and screaming in a crashing plane (just like in every set piece ever). Still though, while this isn’t my most anticipated part of the game, it still looks good. The muddy camo is a nice touch too.

Final Fantasy x Monster Hunter World

While there was an announcement of an expansion, I doubt anyone can even remember what its name was after what came next. In the biggest and most genuine surprise of the night, Final Fantasy online is getting a crossover with Monster Hunter World. Two of Japan’s biggest ever franchises are colliding in a move that will doubtless break the internet.

The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit

Glad I get a second chance with this one as I really wanted to talk about it after seeing it at the Microsoft conference. I love seeing games that don’t look like anything else the industry currently has to offer and a small, narrative game about a kid who finds things around his house to make a sweet superhero costume out of, all the while an air of melancholy hangs over him and his house, certainly meets that standard. From the makers of Life is Strange, and the set up to the sequel, I can’t wait to fall in love with these characters and to have my heartbroken when that melancholy comes crashing down on them. Getting the tissues ready for this one.

Dragon Quest 11

Dragon Quest is a blind spot in my gaming history. So have a look at the trailer and judge for yourselves.

Babylon’s Fall

I’m not big into the Soul’s games. I find them discouraging. When I know a load of my souls are lost in the aether or that I have a mountain to climb to get back to where I was, I turn the console off and never go back. I never thought anything could happen to make me go through an experience like that. And then people started comparing the below trailer to Dark Souls. A Platinum Games’ Soul’s game? That might just keep me going. This is, of course, pure speculation on the media’s part, but Platinum is  name that always gets me interested, hit or miss.

Just Cause 4

Wow, this seems to be a departure from the crazy, colourful, Michael Bay style vibes this series is known for. The muted pallet, thick smoke and dour voice over tells me Square Enix’s executives have been paying too much attention to dreaded market research. Having said that, these weather effects look like they could provide me the kind of mass destruction I crave from a game like this.

The Quiet Man

The biggest oddity at this year’s show, The Quiet Man starts out as a cinematic FMV, then cuts to a traditional game, and then back to FMV again. If the promise of this trailer is realised, then The Quiet man will flow seamlessly between the narrative of a mainstream film and the combat of an action videogame. However, so far, we’ve seen such small slices of either element that there has to be more to show. If there isn’t, this game might not have the substance to impress in either medium.

Verdict

When you create a showcase for all the world to see why you’re one of the biggest game developers in the world, you don’t want ‘You shouldn’t have bothered’ to be the main take. A lot of videos without much explanation, many of which appeared on Microsoft’s stage the previous day, do not a conference make. This conference has created more questions than has provided us with answers and leaving the media no choice but to speculate as to why this conference was missing so many of its most-anticipated titles.