E3 2019: Square-Enix | Press Conference Rambles

Square-Enix didn’t even have a conference last year, but they were definitely prepared to put on a show in 2019. They had a games lineup they knew would be the talk of the show, and they covered those games in a way that, for the most part, did right by those games and the audience.

Literally the first minute of the conference is among the most exciting E3 moments of all time. Everyone knew they were starting with Final Fantasy VII Remake and it was still incredible to see that menu with the options “New Game? Continue? Remake?”. From there, it was just hits left and right. FFVII Remake will be on two blu-ray discs. Part one is a full game, and not some weird, episodic thing. They spent a significant amount of time just explaining that they understand why fans are concerned and that they’re making the game with those concerns in mind. This was best represented by the 5-minute segment focused on how combat works in Remake.

Honestly, the execution of their FFVII presentation was outstanding, top to bottom. I don’t want to make this whole piece a review of the FFVII footage but just know you should watch that segment if you’ve ever remotely cared about that game. You’ll come away from watching the first 20 minutes of this Square-Enix conference with more information about this game than any other game at E3. They had the huge task of representing an extremely popular, extremely controversial game in front of a rabid fan base, and they knocked it out of the park. These moments are why we love E3.

The bulk of the rest of the show was about pleasing fans of Square-Enix’s brand, which means lots of RPGs. They showed remastered versions of several games (we can finally play Final Fantasy VIII on something other than PS1) and sequels to modern stuff like Dragon Quest Builders 2. Naoki Yoshida (producer/director of Final Fantasy XIV) walked out like the game development legend he is, and the crowd rightfully went nuts. FFXIV will have its E3 moment in a few days but Yoshi-P did debut a trailer for the Shadowbringers expansion with some important story details. There was even a very early trailer for this Winter’s Kingdom Hearts 3 DLC. And I wouldn’t sleep on their smartphone game segments, either. Square-Enix has some of the best mobile RPGs I’ve ever played, so I imagine there were plenty fans losing their minds seeing War of the Visions on stage.

Their publishing side looked strong as well. I forgot Dying Light 2 was a Square-Enix title, but it is, and the footage they showed looked great. They spent too much time on Battalion 1944 for my tastes but I’m sure that game has its fans. People Can Fly (Painkiller, Bulletstorm) showed Outrider which is another not-Square-Enix-looking game that seems interesting. I commend them having such a diverse lineup.

Then there’s that other big Square-Enix game, Avengers. I don’t think it looked bad, but their presentation brought up lots of concerns. Crystal Dynamics made the choice not to get the actors’ likenesses from the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, and that’s understandable. But they also still made the game’s aesthetic and the characters’ costumes look exactly as they do in in those movies. We have characters that don’t look like the actors, but in a world that looks the part, so it makes the whole game kind of distracting to look at. It has the vibe of being a knock-off or maybe like you’re watching Bizzaro Avengers.

The other weird thing about this presentation, is they told basically nothing about the game. The presenters covered that you’ll play as customizable Avengers characters and that they’ll be adding more in the future, but that doesn’t mention what is is. It’s hard to know if this is an RPG, an action adventure game, something like a Destiny or Anthem… It’s fine that they don’t have a ton of info now, considering they showed a lot more in-engine footage than anyone would expect, but that lack of info makes it hard to be excited about a game with blockbuster sales potential. Also, the presenters themselves got a little too wrapped up in the crowd’s hype and it got pretty awkward.

Square’s E3 show had to reveal some of the most-anticipated games in modern history, and they did right by those expectations. They had perhaps the second best showing of E3 2019 behind Ubisoft, without carting out celebrities, showing any non-game stuff, or relying on CG trailers with no gameplay footage. It was mostly real footage of real games and most of those games look like they’re living up to expectations.

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