This year’s E3 is just a few weeks away, and there’s plenty to be excited for as a Final Fantasy fan. So with that in mind we’ve decided to take a moment to pause and scope out road ahead. We have several Final Fantasy titles that will be releasing throughout the year as soon as summer and into the autumn. Of course, there may be more to look forward to next year, but the details are currently a well-guarded secret! Here are our expectations for Square Enix Japan’s upcoming Final Fantasy projects at this juncture:
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn may as well be the polar opposite of Final Fantasy Versus XIII. A game that needs to prove everything to fans and fire on all cylinders; a game that needs to shed the stigma of the original failed release and deliver a Final Fantasy-worthy experience. In the run-up to E3 and beyond, you can bet your gil that this game will be at the forefront. That’s not only because it’s releasing this summer, but it needs a spotlight moment where it can proudly say: “look at me, look at how far we’ve come”. They say you never get two shots at a first impression, however, the team behind the game is doing their damnedest to try.
Led by Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida as the new director, the team may be gaining some new eyes from the single-player Final Fantasy community with the inclusion of fan favorites such as Final Fantasy VI‘s Magitek armor units and classic locales as Final Fantasy III‘s Crystal Tower. While some may brush this aside as fanservice-y pandering, it’s important to the team to show many that these elements exist within the game. It’s understandable that their selective promotion of these elements has been a touch overstated. If it makes sense within the world of Eorzea, then they’ve done a good job incorporating it. Don’t expect the team to skimp on what makes Eorzea what it is — more trailers are incoming even before the show begins. The third phase of beta testing looks like it will coincide with the show itself, but an official start date has yet to be posted.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD is also a likely candidate for demo, along with Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD ReMix. Square Enix is kicking off two remastered collections of PlayStation 2 games for PlayStation 3, and they’ve come with quite a box. The latter of which will be releasing on September 13th this year, but it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that a release date won’t come around E3 time.
Things have been quite quiet on the Lightning Returns front, and with the previously-scheduled autumn release just a summer away, it might seem like time is running short. Square Enix Japan’s fall release schedule in North America is also looking a bit more crowded than usual. Don’t count the game out just yet! While I may figure FFXIV as the E3 Final Fantasy breadwinner, Lightning Returns could sport a modest performance — but ramping up late in the game around Tokyo Game Show (September) or later. What better time to show off a brand new trailer or a decent chunk of brand-new information to keep you sated until its release? E3 is still very much likely!
The elephant in the room is the fate of Final Fantasy Versus XIII. After a long wait, the game’s director Tetsuya Nomura hinted that a “warm spring” was coming. Cryptic as it was, many began to speculate that E3 (technically in Spring) would be the grand re-reveal of the seven-year absent title. Later, on Square Enix’s MD Radio, Nomura divulged that we would know more about “Versus” soon. The turbulence around the game’s status only increased when previous reports of the game’s death were greatly exaggerated. In contrast to Final Fantasy XIV, even the smallest breadcrumbs of the game’s development generated buzz across the internet for days — most of them a fantasy based on reality.
However, the breadcrumbs have become a bit more substantial, with the re-surfacing of a new Noctis eau de toilette the very evening of this post. (Previously revealed in February.) Other bits include Roen’s “FINAL FANTASY 15″ entry on his website’s resume. Roen, you may remember, was chosen to design the new clothes Noctis & Co. wear and are seen in the most recent 2011 trailer.
At February’s PlayStation 4 reveal, Final Fantasy series executive producer Shinji Hashimoto teased an announcement of a brand-new title in development for Sony’s console before uttering the now famous “please be excited for E3″ line. In the following months, two large camps emerged. One camp that believes that Final Fantasy Versus XIII will be renamed to “Final Fantasy XV” and release on Sony’s next-gen console. Others place their eggs in the Agni’s Philosophy basket, despite Square Enix’s statement that it is Luminous’ tech demo solely. Rumors of “cross-generation” PlayStation 3 and 4 development have been more palatable to anxious Versus fans.
It’s quite understandable to expect the myriad rumors swirling about in the electric pre-E3 climate, with some having more credence than others. To those of you reading who have become distant with the Final Fantasy franchise or know someone who is, this E3 will be your time to take another look and keep your mind open. You are your own best salesman, and should you choose to buy into hype or deflect it, keep the merits of the game that appeal to you in mind rather than the buzz around it! To those who are greatly anticipating the upcoming announcements and fretting over every breadcrumb, what better time kick back and let it all wash over you? The eve of great Final Fantasy announcements are, for me, some of the most exciting times to be a fan of this series. It’s not going to last forever! In the case of Versus, well… I readily admit the amount patience required is more than a person has any right having!
Either way, the future of Final Fantasy will be revealed soon! Please be excited!
So, what I want to know is: how do you think this year’s E3 will play out? What are your expectations for appearances at the show and what must Square Enix show for you to be satisfied? What are your thoughts about the Final Fantasy Versus XIII project, Final Fantasy XIV’s upcoming relaunch, or the conclusion to the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy?