From Disney heroes like Iron Man and Mickey Mouse, to spiky-haired soldiers with buster swords and uncomfortably long-limbed creepy hat creatures, few publishers have as varied a portfolio to show off as Square Enix. Square had quite the wild 12 months, with long-awaited (and long-delayed) games finally seeing the light. Let’s take a look back, and content warning: I hope you aren’t already sick of the words “Final Fantasy”, because you may be after we’ve finished here.
Final Fantasy Fruition
First though, I’m going to cheat. Let’s talk about Final Fantasy 7 Remake which technically did come out over 12 months ago, but it just doesn’t feel right to talk about Square’s year without it. Not only was the long-awaited RPG a critical success, but it went a long way towards ensuring Square was a profitable company in 2020. In fact, it did so well that the company’s releasing it again this month as Final Fantasy 7 Remake Intergrade, complete with PS5 improvements and new story content centered around everyone’s favourite Materia thief, Yuffie.
But what about the next full part of the remake? With no word on when to expect it, maybe a reveal is an outside bet for what we could see at this E3’s showcase. There’s plenty more Final Fantasy 7 to tide us over until then though, with both The First Soldier and Ever Crisis recently revealed – the former, a mobile battle royale game, and the latter another (yes, really) remake of FF7, this time reverting back to its traditional turn-based combat.
Is that enough Final Fantasy for you? Well Square certainly doesn’t think so. The past 12 months have seen the continued resurgence of Final Fantasy 14 Online, with more players joining the MMO than ever, an upgraded version released, plus the announcement of the Endwalker expansion coming later in 2021 that will take players to the moon (insert “that wizard came from the moon joke here”).
Yes, we are almost halfway through this thing but there’s still more Final Fantasy to talk about (I did warn you). Revealed at September’s PlayStation 5 event, Final Fantasy 16 looks to be bringing the series back to its medieval fantasy roots. With little known apart from some backstory about the game’s fictional setting of Valisthea, there’s plenty more we’d love to find out, and this year’s E3 looks like the perfect place to do that.
Looting, Shooting and Mixed Fortunes
And now for something completely different. Last Summer saw the long-awaited arrival of Marvel’s Avengers, which turned out to be a game of two halves. Crystal Dynamics’ interpretations of beloved superheroes – and the single-player campaign that introduced us to them – was a fun, action-packed 6-8 hours. Sadly, its post-game gear-chasing online component didn’t really live up to billing. It’s been a rocky few months since launch for Avengers, with a dwindling player-base and lack of content: two major issues for any live-service game.
There is a potential saviour on the horizon though in the form of Black Panther. The War for Wakanda expansion is set to drop later this year, which needs to give players enough reason to flood back in order to steady the ship. Square does at least have form here – it more than made up for a troubled start to Final Fantasy 14’s life – let’s hope the same attitude is applied here.
It’s not all been doom and gloom. People Can Fly looter-shooter, Outriders, hit the spot for many thanks to its power-trip combat and addictive gear loop. People Can Fly has previously teased big expansions that will add to Outriders’ story, so that’s something to keep half an eye out for this E3.
Nier Replicant ver.1.22474487139… showed off more unique delights from the mind of Yoko Taro with this upgraded version of the Nier Automata prequel, Bravely Default 2 gave us a beautiful RPG to play on the Nintendo Switch, and rhythm-action spin-off Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory hit all the nostalgic notes it needed to. And then there was Balan Wonderworld! Maybe the less said about that one the better.
So what can we expect from Square Enix soon? We know that Life Is Strange: True Colors is due to come out in September, and while we’ve got a decent look at it recently, a reveal of this entry’s spin on the series’ gameplay seems like something we’ll see soon.
Neo: The World Ends With You, the long-awaited sequel to the 2007 action RPG The World Ends With You is arriving as soon as July. Plus Babylon’s Fall, the painterly looking epic full of trademark Platinum Games action that we’ve heard pretty much nothing about since this time last year – surely it must be time to see more there.
Then there are the games currently scheduled for 2022. Project Athia was recently retitled as Forspoken, another game we know very little about apart from a post-apocalyptic setting and an abundance of dragons. Then there’s Project Triangle Strategy, the spiritual successor to Octopath Traveler that hasn’t even been given a proper title yet, but has received a full playable proof-of-concept demo . These are both games we’d love to know more about, but wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t hear anything for a while yet.
The E3 Guessing Game
So that’s everything we know is going on in the world of Square Enix, but what about the reveals we can only guess at right now? It’s always fun to speculate, right? So let’s have a go at it.
It’s been a couple of years since we’ve heard about what Lara Croft is up to. Has the time come for Tomb Raider to make a comeback at this E3? Yoko Taro has confirmed he’s begun work on a new game that he “has no idea how to explain or sell”. Might be a bit of a long shot to see it right now, but you never do know with him. There’s also Deus Ex and Thief, franchises with passionate fan bases who would surely love to see more.
The truth is there’s no way of knowing until Square shares all with the world this summer (Although surely they don’t have yet another Final Fantasy game to announce just yet. Surely…) . One thing is for certain, though – very few publishers are able to match the variety that Square Enix offers us on a yearly basis, and you can more or less guarantee that will continue.
Find Simon Cardy here on Twitter, but please don’t blame him if all these guesses as to what we’ll see at E3 are wrong.