E3 2015 is a big year of firsts, marking the first ever E3 keynotes for both Bethesda, and Square Enix. This year’s conference has also been a huge year for Square Enix, with big showings including Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, Rise of the Tomb Raider, and yes, even Final Fantasy 7: Remake. However, despite all of these gigantic heavy hitting announcements, Square Enix’s E3 2015 keynote proves that sometimes, style does win over substance.
The presentation began with a short trailer for Just Cause 3, cutting straight to some exciting gameplay footage, punctuating the stage entrance of CEO of Square Enix Americas and Europe, Phil Rogers. “We believe the next 12 months will be remarkable for Square Enix.” remarks Rogers.
In the tradition of the E3 presentations of yore, Phil Rogers took a moment to reminisce on the last year at Square Enix. He noted the re-launch of Final Fantasy 14, and noted that Square Enix was pushing to have a more open mind, helping to support the Just Cause 2 multiplayer mod, and publishing Life is Strange. He then went on to note that their new franchises, such as Just Cause, will one day stand side by side with their iconic gaming worlds. To a backdrop of logos, he stated that their independent developers, published through Square Enix Collective, will one day stand on the same stage as their larger compatriots. Notable game logos included Goetia, Black the Fall, Moon Hunters, and Tokyo Dark.
For those unaware, Square Enix Collective is a user-curated platform which allows developers to post game concepts, for gamers to judge whether or not they receive support through Square Enix, and crowdfunding.
After this brief introduction, Roland Lesterlin from Avalanche Studios took the stage to discuss Just Cause 3, and showcase an extended gameplay trailer. This trailer revealed a wing suit, upgraded grappling hook (which allows you to retract and tense the lines at will, as well as fire multiple lines to chain objects together), and much more. The in-game world is confirmed to be over 400 square miles (1036 square kilometers), contrasted with the first game’s 356 square miles (923 square kilometers). Just Cause 3 will feature over 80 vehicles, new online challenges (such as wingsuit hoop courses, land races, and wrecking challenges), and online play. It will be launching globally on December 1st 2016.
In a sudden and stark contrast with Just Cause 3’s bombast explosions, a number of high profile names from Square were then shown to a backdrop of somber music and art, as a new sequel to Nier 2 was announced as in development in collaboration with Platinum Games. Names attached to the project include: Yoko Taro, Atsushi Inaba, Akihiko Yoshida, Takashi Taura, and Yosuke Saito. The presenter, who talked very briefly about the game without revealing much (not even a subtitle), came out on stage wearing a somewhat embarrassing outfit based on one of the characters from the game. Well, it wouldn’t be E3 without something completely embarrassing, right?
Brian Horton from Crystal Dynamics then took the stage to introduce a trailer for Rise of the Tomb Raider. Unfortunately it was the same trailer from Microsoft’s press conference, but he did give a bit of a behind the scenes look into the details that went into creating Lara Croft’s look. Scars from the first game were carried into this one to create a sense of cohesion between the stories. A great level of detail also went into making the character’s “acting” more realistic. Hammy language aside, you can tell this is something the developers truly cared about, and it’s always great to see this level of passion come out during a keynote.
After showing Rise of the Tomb Raider, Square Enix Montreal introduced Lara Croft Go, a vector-graphics turn-based puzzle platformer for mobile devices. Not much was shown, but it looks interesting.
Then the producer of Kingdom Hearts, Shinjio Hashimoto, made his way up to the mic. I don’t know if his translator was on a bathroom break or what, but there was no translation for what he said. This lead into the same trailer for Final Fantasy 7 Remake that was shown at the Sony conference (this is a continuing trend).
Afterwards, another mobile game – Kingdom Hearts Unchained Key. This featured a sleek and cute art style, and appears to have four different collectables that players will need to grind for, and they appear pretty rare. I’m guessing these are used as some form of currency, and will likely be part of a microtransaction feature. Either way, it seems that the game’s story runs into the story for Kingdom Hearts III, so this is one that fans of the series will probably want to pick up.
Moving on to Kingdom Hearts 3, they spent about 5 minutes with two of the creators of Tangled, who noted that Tangled will be making a debut in this latest entry into the Kingdom Hearts series. Then, they showed a trailer for Kingdom Hearts 3 that proceeded to show absolutely nothing about Tangled. That being said, it did look pretty action packed, and had a lot of neat super moves that appeared to be based off of theme park rides.
Then another repeat trailer for World of Final Fantasy, followed by a bit more about Hitman. A gameplay trailer was shown, which revealed quite a lot about the game. It will be simply titled “Hitman” and will feature unique online challenges. For example, some targets may only appear once. Those hit contracts may come up at random and only exist for 48 hours or less. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. Contract hits earn you points to upgrade your gear They’re describing it as a “high definition sandbox where every NPC has a name, and every room matters.”
They noted that players will be able to take out targets with “complete freedom of approach.” Each hit can go from bloody murder, to a “genuine masterpiece assassination.” The game will feature new locations and missions which will appear over time, and will be available for purchase on December 8th 2015.
After, Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness was revealed with a cinematic trailer. Then, beta gameplay was shown, featuring (surprisingly) non-sci-fi themes, art, and weapons. Despite being a game about space travel, it appears to be closer to high fantasy. That being said they are aiming for a Winter 2015 release in Japan, and targeting “sometime in 2016” for US and Europe. How about that title though? Hopefully they change it.
Eidos then took the stage for an extended look at Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. The original developers behind Human Revolution are going to be working on this one, and instead of using the CryEngine as they did for Human Revolution, they’ll be using a custom engine for Mankind Divided.
The game takes place two years after the events of Human Revolution. Mechanically augmented people are outcasts – feared and even hated by a majority of people. Many are branded as terrorists, forced to live in aug-only ghettos under police surveillance. They’ve dubbed this “Mechanical apartheid.” Adam Jensen is back, but he has left Serif to join a new division of Interpol. However, suspecting that Interpol has become corrupted by the Illuminati, Jensen has become a double agent, working together with hacker activists to uncover the truth.
A gameplay teaser trailer was shown, revealing the game’s conversation system, as well as some combat. This would have a great place to end the keynote, but Square wanted to reveal one more thing.
“RPG fans from all around the world have supported us throughout the years. We are devoted to creating incredible new RPG titles” says Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda. He then goes on to reveal a half dozen pieces of concept art for a new project called “Setsuna” by their newly established studio “Tokyo RPG Factory.” Yup, they ended the show with some concept art. Beautiful concept art, don’t get me wrong, but when Bethesda is dropping DOOM, Sony is dropping The Last Guardian, and Microsoft is dropping Hololens, you step up your game. It almost seems like a trend this year to start off on a sprint, and end the keynotes on a low note.
So, there you have it. One show left after this, and that’s the PC Gamer show. Check back for our coverage later tonight. Miss any of the other conferences? We’ve got you covered:
BAM, the whole crew is there. Once again, thank you for reading!