Possibly the biggest Final Fantasy event of all time just concluded, so let’s go over the insanity.
Brotherhood Final Fantasy XV
Brotherhood Final Fantasy XV is an anime prequel for Final Fantasy XV. The series is set to have 5 episodes and to be released on YouTube for free. The first episode comes out later tonight with the remaining 4 following on the coming months, and a final, exclusive sixth episode available in the Ultimate Edition. Here’s a trailer:
Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV
Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV is a movie companion to Final Fantasy XV. Whereas the game takes place following Noctis on the road, the movie follows the king, Noctis’s betrothed Lunafreya and Nyx, a member of an elite task force. The movie is fully CG and is of feature film length. There’s not much details on the plot, but the voice cast features the likes of Sean Bean, Leena Headey, and Aaron Paul. Give the trailer a watch here:
There’s a new FFXV demo out tonight too! Instead of being a piece of the game cut out to be standalone, it’s a whole new experience following Noctis as a child palling around with the cutest Carbuncle you ever did see. It’s designed to not be intimidating for people new to the FF franchise, but to give you a sense of how the combat and mechanics work. It’s also got a child Noctis using a squeaky hammer. Can’t get much better than that. Lookit this gameplay:
Justice Monsters 5
It wouldn’t be a Final Fantasy game without a minigame people sink hours of their time in to. This time it’s Justice Monsters 5, which looks to be a combination of pachinko, pinball, arkanoid, and an RPG. It’ll also be coming out for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone later this year! It’s a bit hard to explain this game, just let this trailer do the work for me:
Final Fantasy XV
We got 2 new trailers tonight as well as a firm release date — September 30, 2016! That’s only six months from now! And in that time, we get an anime series, a full length movie, a mobile game, and a demo made entirely of new content. Square is really quadrupling down on Final Fantasy XV, making it more like the Marvel Cinematic Universe in scale and it looks like it’s paying off. Check out the latest trailer here:
As New York Comic Con gets bigger and bigger, it becomes impossible to take it all in, and no matter how well we plan for it, inevitably things don’t work out. Here is our breakdown of one of the fastest going conventions in the United States.
Thursday goals included attending the 88MPH: A Celebration of Back to the Future, a panel about DC Comics imprint Vertigo’s new #1s, attempting to get into the Viz Media/Musashi Kishimoto panel, and finishing out the day at MootCon4 to talk to people about the Game of Theories webseries. While not an entirely adventurous schedule, the sheer amount of people made it impossible to navigate the exhibit hall (or the smaller, craft/creator filled area called The Block) in a timely manner. New York Comic Con was wall to wall cosplayers in different Doc & Marty costumes (and a TON of Rick & Morty costumes as well), some so well done, several double takes were needed to make sure we didn’t accidentally walk by Christopher Lloyd himself. We had to slowly step our way to the Image booth where we met up with comic creator Ivan Brandon for a scheduled interview, before attempting to make headway toward the Funko booth, hoping to get our eyeballs on some of those exclusives! There were many promotional life-size POP! figures to promote the upcoming Smuggler’s Bounty, and it was difficult to tear ourselves away and re-evaluate our plan as the hour grew late. It was here our paths split, with Tushar checking out the Games and Education panel, Kaitlyn calling it a day, and Leia preparing for a long evening of line waiting to spend an hour in the same room as Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto, before preparing for day two.
As the weekend progressed, we saw the floors even MORE packed than before and our weary correspondents loaded up their schedule with panels. First, however, Kaitlyn and Leia wandered over to the Audible booth to try out the immersive Locke & Key experience via Oculus Rift, before an interview with Sean Lewis and Benjamin Mackey, newbies in the comic industry. Artist Alley was a sight to behold this year, with greedy fingers reaching for art prints on our way to interview Justin Jordan, and get some stuff signed.
Now despite the name “New York Comic Con,” non-comic media, like television, was there in force too. The folks at Adult Swim were up to their old tricks again with roundtables for Venture Bros, Robot Chicken, and the new miniseries airing soon, Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter. (You can check out our preview at Adult Swim at NYCC – Neon Joe, Werewolf Hunter). Getting to meet TV personalities like Jon Glaser, Stephanie March, Breckin Meyer and the crazy duo of Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick went exactly as we thought it would go. Antics upon hijinks upon gut busting laughter. It was tough to get through the whole thing without addressing Stephanie March as anything other than “Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Cabot,” but ultimately composure was kept and we found that she, along with the rest of the Adult Swim actor corps, were super cool and friendly people.
TV wasn’t the only non-comic media to make a splash this year. Video games made their presence felt too. If you had (like we did) a bit of trouble getting through the main entrance to the con floor because of a pure sea of concentrated humanity, you were probably going by the Capcom booth. Lining the booth was an army of Street Fighter enthusiasts, and it WAS possible (but not probable) to slither your way in to get a crack at seeing some gameplay from Street Fighter V. The game played faster than its predecessor Street Fighter IV, and you could see some of the classic cast like Karin making their return from the Alpha/Zero series of Street Fighter games. There was a tournament going on as well, so there was always the chance that if you went in to get schooled, it would be public on a lot of large screens.
Square-Enix decided to take the quieter route and had a media suite set up a Shop Studios, just a couple blocks away from the Javits Center. It was nice to get away from the bustle of the con floor for guided demos of their games to small groups of people, and the fact that they fed us definitely did not hurt the experience. Making the rounds through Shop Studios we saw the upcoming Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (check out our preview here), Hitman, Just Cause 3, and the finale to Life Is Strange with Episode 5. The biggest and friendliest surprise though was that Lara Croft: GO wasn’t the only appearance our girl Lara Croft made that day. The full playable demo of Rise of the Tomb Raider looked and played absolutely great.
The Star Wars franchise decided to take an in between approach, setting up their Star Wars Battle Pods outside of the con floor but still inside the Javits Center, making it easy to get to and a beacon of the force as people entered the building. The battle pods let you take command of a few different vehicles from the Star Wars universe, from going on a Death Star bombing run in an X-Wing to trying to hang on for dear life on a speedbike on Endor. Either way, the ride was complete with vibration and pod shakes that one would presumably feel taking your X-wing out of the hangar.
Our last day was spent tying up loose ends, such as taking photos of the creepiest cosplay we could find, picking up more stuff to give away to you guys, and making our last stop at the phenomenal Women of Marvel panel, before shambling off home.
Be sure to check out our other convention coverage and we hope to see you guys in the future! We can’t wait for next year, and leave you with this awesome cosplay video from our friends, SneakyZebra.
In case you haven’t already, don’t forget that we are giving away a bunch of stuff for those of you who didn’t get to attend! Enter below.
Last week at New York Comic Con, Square-Enix was one of the major gaming presences in the city. Among the previews and demos they offered was the upcoming Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Mankind Divided picks up where the story left off, with our favorite augmented human Adam Jensen rocking a few new upgrades from past titles in the series. I will say this – the game looks really good, and adds a new formula for gameplay that makes this the most attractive entry into the series yet.
Eidos Montreal has the player reprise the role of Jensen, following the Aug Incident of 2027, when a malicious signal broadcast by Hugh Darrow to all augmented humans caused them to glitch and go insane, forcing them to violently attack anyone around them. After the death of millions, augmented humans (Augs) are viewed worldwide as a threat to humanity, forcing Augs underground into slums and squalor, while Aug manufacturers shut down around them. This environment – that of repressed Augs in a Apartheid-style world of forced segregation – is where the game begins.
Jensen is still working as a covert operative, whose job it is to help find the people responsible for the events of Deus Ex: Human Revolution. While the series has been known to offer players some choice in gameplay, the options in the new title go beyond that, giving the player complete control over how they want Jensen to act, and thus augmenting how the story unfolds.With his various new upgrades, Jensen can be played a number of different ways. As this is a Deus Ex game, the combat option is there, allowing the player to progress through the game through running, gunning, and dispatching their foes with extreme prejudice. There’s also a non-lethal option, giving players the opportunity to progress through levels without killing – for example choosing to knock someone out with a takedown after sneaking up on them instead of a ferocious aug-based attack. Also available is the ability to stealth through the entire game, forgoing violence altogether and focusing instead on not being seen. This might be a great plus for gamers who love stealth games like Thief Assassin’s Creed.
Of course, then there’s the tech! Jensen’s new upgrades would make any IT department on earth jealous (mine included). New skills include the Icarus Dash and Icarus Ram, some of the skills that are helpful in a non-lethal play option. The coolest upgrade, in my opinion, is the Titan Shield. This baller-as-hell aug upgrade lets Jensen encase himself in a sweet shield, rendering him impervious to damage as he handles business. Also visually probably one of the most satisfying things from the demos.
Mankind Divided also provides an upgraded hacking system as well as smart vision, allowing Jensen to see loot that would normally not be seen by the player’s naked eyes.
But there’s a bit more to it than that. Even though this was a big demo at NYCC, I recall a conversation I had with Stéphane Roy, Executive Producer on the project back at E3 this summer about some major themes in the game. I asked him about some of the details of this separatist society portrayed in the game evoking player emotions, and whether or not there was any social commentary involved in that aspect. His response:
“It’s complex. It’s complex because we work on that type of details for guys like you, you know? We want to make sure that if you play and pay attention you will notice all these small things and you’re going to start really being in this universe. Nothing is black and white in real life so we want to make sure that the subtleties are around you and you truly believe in this. So it’s a lot of work for us because if we decide to change something here there are ripple effects and it could mean that we have to change something in this mission by changing something here. So it’s demanding for the team, but at the same time at the end when everything is like this, I really want to suck you into the story and you’re trapped. And to be able to do that, we have to have this kind of details.”
He went on with some more commentary on choice in games:
“We want to make sure that choices and consequences are really important. I want to make sure when you’re faced with choice, it won’t be easy. ‘What should I do? Who am I? What are my values?’ So like you just said because you saw this guy and think it’s unfair, when it will be time to make a decision, I guarantee it’s going to affect your judgement, and I think this is where the richness of the product will flourish. You can see it.”
Mankind Divided so far looks like way more than than just a shooter or an action game. Eidos Montreal has really used the medium to try to deliver something that’s more than pure basic fun. Want to see what we did at the last couple of shows? Check out the gameplay trailer below complete with commentary.
Look for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided to release on February 23, 2016.
Like most of you, I was still reeling from the shock of the end of Life Is Strange Episode 3, where we find out what happens to Chloe by saving her dad from the car accident in our little time-travel adventure. Episode 4 jumps right into the story at that point in the alternate timeline – where William is alive, Joyce never marries David, and Chloe is paralyzed from the neck down from an accident. On the meta level, weird things are still happening like they have been in our “original” timeline in Arcadia Bay that we’ve had for the first 3 episodes.
This is the backdrop Dark Room plunges us into, and is in my opinion, the most emotional episode in the series so far. The episode’s opening is beautiful and sweet as Max gets used to this new alternate reality and new relationship with Chloe, until she (and you) are forced to make a very difficult choice regarding her life. What really impressed me about it was how giving the alternate timeline’s Chloe a severe disability never portrayed her as a victim – there were a number of scenes where Max and Chloe were hanging out and having fun just like we’re used to in the original timeline. And in the background, while you were walking around the Price house without Chloe, what players see is a family surrounded in mountains of debt trying to make ends meet and pay for medical care, showing the very real emotional and financial hardships this kind of tragedy can bring. After agonizing over that choice and rewinding as many times as I possibly could before locking a decision in, I was relieved to see that either choice brought you back our timeline. I’m not sure how this game would even progress without Chloe.
The big “rewind” scene in Dark Room takes place shortly after that, in the form of an encounter with Frank – the not-so-lovable drug dealer, who Chloe loathes and who has ties to her friend Amber. This scene, no joke, took me roughly 30 minutes to get through until I was satisfied with the choices that I made. With over five choice branches and combinations, the majority of which end up very very badly, I was on the verge of outlining my own flowchart before I finally came out on top. Every other option was horrendous. DONTNOD actually furnished a flowchart for that scene in a rare behind-the scenes look, and though while running through that scene I shouted numerous times “WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME??” at my screen, it’s really cool to see how complex a (sans rewind) 5 minute scene can be on game’s decision engine. You can check out the flowchart in the gallery below (click or right-click/download to blow it up to full size).
And that complex logic, with all of its twists and turns, broke the fourth wall and spilled over into my real life discussions with people. You see in a lot of other episodic games, the choice engines generally brought you right back to a main timeline with only subtle differences in details with no real alterations on the plot. Dark Room really shows how this game differs from other popular titles like The Walking Dead. You were able to see some of the short term consequence from Chrysalis in Out of Time and Chaos Theory, but Dark Room was the first episode where some real differences took place in the main storyline due to your choices.
I was at work and a friend asked me if I had finished playing Episode 4 yet, and my response was:
“Not yet. I’m still at the part where you’re visiting Kate at the hospital.” He looked at me for a second confused, and asked when that was because he didn’t remember the scene.
“Huh? But in my game Kate died.”
So I had a full and complete scene in my version of the game that he never got to see, because of the differences in a 4-question scene way back when. Consequently he’ll be replaying that, as will I, to see the other potential events that cascade from the other side of that particular coin.
The new mechanic in Episode 4 was possibly one of my favorites. After collecting a slew of clues from around Blackwell and Arcadia Bay, Max and Chloe (i.e. you) go to work on an evidence board matching up license plate numbers, code names and GPS information to get answers for what’s going on. Matching the right clues got you to the next bit of the mystery – and when it’s over, you get a sense of CSI pride for making it work.
The culmination of the episode was a collection of scenes that was some of the most tense and harrowing sequence of events I’ve seen in a video game. After assembling the clues and investigating what happened to Rachel, Max and Chloe find information find the titular dark room in what was one can only be described as legitimately frightening. Scenes around the famed Vortex Club party follow where Max is looking to get answers. I’m not going to tell you what happens, because it’s something you have to see for yourself and honestly I’m not sure I have the right words (I know, and I call myself a writer) to describe the shocking and quite frankly, unsettling conclusion to the episode.
Having started on the journey with Max and Chloe way back in Episode 1, we see the wow factor of the mechanics make way for storytelling, and subsequent episodes show what it can accomplish through the video game medium. DONTNOD hasn’t shied away from making the audience emotional and uncomfortable, and situations in-game have made me more uncomfortable that some actual decisions I’ve had to make in real life. Dark Room continues that trend with a hard crescendo and takes a very dark turn in plot and character development. The sheer number of events, both personal and meta, with the knowledge that there’s only 1 day left for Max to fix this adds a lot of anticipation and a sense of urgency while finishing this chapter, and continue to deliver with endgame twists and turns.
Setting up those kind of logical trees with this kind of depth is not easy. Everything has to be mapped out down to the last detail for it to work smoothly and have real short and long-term consequence. How do I know how hard that is? Because over a decade ago as a 19 year old sophomore in my Digital Logic class for engineering school, mapping out the logic for something as simple as the coin return on a damn vending machine took a couple retries to get right.
The release date for the upcoming and final episode is next month on October 20th, and if you haven’t gotten a chance to play this series through then I highly recommend that you do before Episode 5: Polarized comes out to play.
Just Cause 3
Everyone’s favorite ridiculous action adventure stunt game is back and better than ever. The series whose staple is over the top stunts set in a giant open world with an iconic grappling hook has taken it to the next level. By having a triggered grappling hook, you can hook multiple things together, then pull the trigger to have them all pulled close, opening up tons of awesome enemy death possibilities. The wing suit also makes escaping situations and dive-bombing enemies look so gorgeous with the updated graphics and better lighting. If you liked Just Cause 2, you’re going to be excited about Just Cause 3
Nier *insert static words*
No, that’s really the title, as far as we could see it. Fans have been asking unhopefully for a new Nier game, and being expectedly disappointed. But now Square Enix has partnered with Platinum Games to continue the saga in an as yet unsubtitled name Nier game. It’s coming out for PS4 and there isn’t any word on Xbox One yet. There aren’t many more details other than the heads of Nier are back and that this is definitely a Nier game. Color us excited, though, as the E3 of unexpected dreams coming true continues.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Lara Croft just can’t catch a break. Not unlike Nathan Drake, she’s in all sorts of trouble lookin’ for dem tombs to raid. The trailer starts out with her ice climbing with a companion. Predictably, things go awry after some death-defying leaps and an avalanche begins to fall. The avalanche looks great and the sense of impending doom and trouble are very present. Rise of the Tomb Raider appears to be running on the same engine as its predecessor, meaning the lighting and graphics are especially good for dark moments with little lighting. Overall the game looks beautiful and seems even more anxiety-inducing than the previous game. Fans of the series, or just fans of action games in general, should keep an eye on this.
Final Fantasy VII
Yes, we already wrote about this announcement. Yes, this is a repeat. Yes, it’s that important. Final Fantasy VII may be one of the most over-hyped games in the series. The protagonists may be a little bland, the story kind of convoluted, and the fanbase an absolute nightmare, but the announcement of this remake is important for reasons beyond just one of the best Final Fantasy game being remade. It’s even more important than the implication that other Final Fantasies could get remade. It’s a symbol of Square Enix finally using its ears to listen to the fans in addition to their money. This started with Bravely Default when fans demanded a traditional, huge JRPG and Bravely Default was barely made. Barely any expectations, but then it started to sell and sell and Square may have realized “maybe the fans should be listened to?” And despite all the previous denials, all the times they’ve said “it would require a massive amount of resources and people,” or “we would love to, but remaking an old classic is daunting,” they’ve sucked it up and committed. That’s a powerful symbol. And now we’re here, in a year where Nier 2 and a Final Fantasy VII remake are actually being worked on. Maybe, just maybe, the Square we grew up with is starting to phoenix down.
Kingdom Hearts Unchained X (pronounced like key)
As usual with Square Enix Kingdom Hearts games, before we get any more info on the next console version, a mobile game has to be released to lead in to the story. Kingdom Hearts III is no exception and its prequel is Kingdom Hearts Unchained X. The graphic style go a completely different direction than Chain of Memories, Coded, or Birth By sleep. Instead, the new game is done in a 2D almost half Paper Mario half Theatryhythm style. The gameplay is ambiguous, but seems similar to Final Fantasy All the Bravest. No word on how this fits in to the Kingdom Hearts lore or where it is on the chronology, but current plans are to release it worldwide.
Kingdom Hearts III
Now this is more like it! Every time we see this game, it seems it gets twice as exciting. They started off the KH3 portion of the show by talking about how it will feature the world of Tangled, something surprising as Kingdom Hearts isn’t really known for doing newer Disney IPs. Then the gameplay start and everything looks absolutely gorgeous. The colors in Kingdom Hearts III are more vibrant and exciting than any of the previous titles, making a really visually interesting landscape to enjoy. And there’s a lot of landscape to enjoy, with the scale of worlds seeming to go way way up. Olympus in particular seems far bigger than it ever has. The next upgraded aspect of the game seems to be in the combat, with something that looks akin to forms in KH2, but with a lot more variety. Guns, chain keyblades, and something like War Machine’s Repulsor Cannon all make this game look fresh. Add in the theme park inspired summons/specials of the electric parade, tea cups, and boat swing and Disney fans are sure to find something new to enjoy with this game. On the story side, two new unknown characters were introduced playing a version of chess with one another. They appear to be younger versions of Eraqus and Xehanort, but that’s nowhere near confirmed. The game continues to wow us with its previews, and we can’t get it fast enough. No word on a release date, but you can bet as soon as there is one, our calendars will be marked, days taken off, supplies bought, and tissues prepared for what looks to be the best Kingdom Hearts game to date.
World of Final Fantasy
The entry barrier to a series like Final Fantasy seems kind of high to someone who’s never played the games before. In order to try and alleviate this, World of Final Fantasy was created. There’s not many details on the game other than it seems to be a turn based combat game in which you control monsters who fight one another, not unlike Pokemon. The graphics seem to alternate between 3D Theatrhythm-style graphics and less cartoony models. Not many details on this yet, but this seems like Square Enix’s answer to not have many casual-friendly games, so at the very least, it should be an interesting experiment.
Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness
Star Ocean has been needing some love for sometime and fans of the series are finally getting sweet relief. Integrity and Faithlessness is definitely built for the current generation, featuring wide landscapes, HD textures, and what looks to be no load screens for fights. Couple that with the wide variety of landscapes featured in the trailer and Star Ocean fans have a reason to be squirming in their seats. The six person party system and open combat look like a lot of fun too. The game is coming out in Japan later this year with a worldwide release planned for 2016.
A completely new IP was announced that doesn’t even have a title yet. The development company handling this title was just created by Square Enix with the name Tokyo RPG Factory. Though no real details are known about the game, its storyline or even the goals of Tokyo RPG Factory, the trailer for their game, codenamed Project Setsuna, looks visually stunning already. We can’t wait to hear more about this title.