Remaster of None: A Recap of Square Enix Live E3 2019

Square Enix is a publisher unlike any other. On one hand it has a library of classic Japanese role playing games, on the other it has Western studios making conventional AAA blockbusters. No more was this dichotomy made clear than with the staging: On a raised platform over at East of the stage stood its Japanese studio staff, whilst on the West was a producer from the American office. It was slightly uncomfortable, which is apt given the publisher’s handling of these two halves.

Everyone looked to this live show for more details on Final Fantasy VII Remake, and Square Enix delivered. The game will come on two Blu-Ray discs, with produce Yoshinori Kitase touting that the expanded Midgar sections could be a stand alone story in their own right. The game’s combat will use a hybrid real-time/tactics-based system. Characters perform standard attacks with the square button, which feeds into an Active Time Battle bar. Once that bar is filled, players can pause the action and, from the traditional FF menu, unleash a powerful attack or cast a spell. The game also looks to use an enemy stagger system similar to that of Final Fantasy XIII Break system.

There was plenty of fan service on offer during the boss gameplay and extended version of Monday’s date reveal teaser: You could almost feel the crowd’s enthusiasm when Cloud performed his Cross Slash, or when Tifa was unveiled. Fans will be able to return to Midgar and Gaia when the game released on 3 March 2020. There will be a collector’s 1st Class Edition which will include, among other things, a statuette of Cloud and his motorcycle.

Among the list of other remasters unveiled or reinforced at this show include:

The remaster announcement that surprised nobody but nonetheless delighted was Final Fantasy VIII Remastered. “To the fans that have been waiting,” this remaster will bring newly-rendered visuals (whilst still retaining the PS1 look) to the Switch, Playstation 4, Xbox One and Steam later in 2019.

It wasn’t all just remasters that were announced. Kingdom Hearts III will be getting its first piece of DLC, Re:Mind, this Winter. The mobile-based Final Fantasy Brave Exvius will be receiving a spin-off in War of the Visions, which depicts a war between five rival nations; it is still in development. In addition, we got extended trailers for the upcoming Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers and Dragon Quest Builders 2, as well as a 22 August 2019 release date for Tokyo RPG Factory’s Oninaki.

Let’s not forget that Square Enix also occasionally deals outside of JRPGs. We got a first look at Outriders, a third person shooter from People Can Fly (Bulletstorm, Gears of War: Judgment). It was a quick look, however, with little revealed other than the game’s sci-fi setting and three player co-op. Outriders will be released in Winter 2020 on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC.

From the Square Enix Collective, the publisher’s indie publishing initiative, we have two new games. The recently released Battalion 1944 is a classic-style World War 2 multiplayer shooter with esports aspirations. Circuit Superstars, meanwhile, aims to bring together various eras of motor racing in a top-down hybrid of arcade-racing with realistic driving models; the game is set for release in 2020.

Square Enix closed things off with superhero action-adventure title Marvel’s Avengers. The game takes place five years after an attack on San Francisco which was blamed on the Avengers, causing their disbandment. You will play as Bruce Banner/Hulk (Troy Baker), Captain America (Jeff Schine), Thor (Travis Willingham), Black Widow (Laura Bailey) and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Nolan North) either in single player or in co-op with up to four players. The lead studio Crystal Dynamics said it will release new story and characters over the coming years, and that all of these will be free — no loot boxes or pay to win. Marvel’s Avengers will release on 15 May 2020 for Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC; PS4 owners will get exclusive content and access to a Beta.

Square Enix knows what its dyed-in-the-wool fans want, and it felt the most comfortable when it was diving into the details of Final Fantasy VII Remake…or announcing its fifth JRPG remaster of the night. When it came to announcing the Western titles, you could tell the ambition was there but the momentum was lacking; a tale of Square Enix’s recent Western blockbuster games. Either way, Square Enix is at least earnest in its attempts, right down to its East-West staging.