In my defence I didn’t mean a direct cut and paste of most 90’s RPGs with prettier graphics; more like turn based with a few added features thrown in – a little like Final Fantasy XIII’s battle mode, which was about the only thing that game did right. After watching gameplay footage of Final Fantasy VII recently I was starting to think maybe a more action-oriented approach was the right decision (especially armed with the knowledge that the game is a ‘re-imagining’ rather than a straight up remake), but after seeing the following footage from Final Fantasy XV I now appreciate that this way of fighting is the only way forward.
This just looks incredible, and we’re hopefully approaching a release date too – rumours are rampant for a Summer 2016 release, with the announcement hopefully being made at the end of March.
This week at Gamescom Square-Enix showed us another new and frankly strange trailer for their upcoming title Final Fantasy XV (15), which you can view below. Entitled ‘Dawn’ it’s more like a hugathon for nearly half of its duration than anything worthwhile:
The idea here is to give a little back story to the game, 15 years before we’re introduced to it, but little was given away in terms of… Anything really. There’s nothing in the way of general story progression and most importantly a release date, which at this stage wasn’t expected but most definitely hoped for. Instead we got main character Noctis hugging it out with his old man King Regis for nearly two minutes of a 3:14 video and little else that could be considered relevant.
Square also put together a presentation teasing a few story details and showing a little more gameplay footage, but there wasn’t even a hint of a release date for Final Fantasy XV – only that they were still ‘on schedule’ to finish the game by a set date. That date could be damn near anything they please as now the game had been in development for more than a decade, anything from three months to another three years probably wouldn’t raise too many eyebrows. The original plan was for Square to kickstart a marketing campaign starting with Gamescom and presumably building from there, fans were hoping they would at least start with a release window and gradually share more information throughout the PAX Event in three weeks time and then end with a solid release date with a ton of new info/gameplay at the Tokyo Game Show in September, aiming for a release sometime between winter this year and summer 2016. As it stands it looks like Square-Enix has the intention of doing nothing more than showing that trailer again at PAX. Then again at TGS. And that’ll most likely be it for this year, so it looks certain we won’t be playing the game this year, and even next year is looking doubtful if the rate of new information that has been made available this year is anything to go by.
Let’s start with the latter. Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada went on record about three years ago to say that a Final Fantasy VII remake would never happen until the company had made a Final Fantasy title – or possibly even any title – that surpassed VII in terms of sales and quality, which made sense in a way, despite gamers’ frustration at the decision. Around that time the company had just released Final Fantasy XIII-2, the sequel nobody wanted for the game very few people liked, and were about the release Sleeping Dogs which they were very confident of being a big seller; despite good reviews it’s only sold around 2 million copies, way below the expectations of Square Enix. Hitman: Absolution and the Tomb Raider reboot followed the same formula, so it looked like while they were developing games that maybe matched Final Fantasy VII in terms of quality (certainly regarding review scores, all three games have aggregates of 80+) they were not matching the sales. Final Fantasy VII has sold more than 10 million copies since 1997 across a variety of platforms, and no game they’ve made since has come close to matching that figure.
What were Square Enix to do? By that point they’d released the relatively unpopular Final Fantasy XIII and ultimately two unnecessary sequels, two top quality games that few (by their lofty standards) wanted to play and a game that has until recently been in development hell for nearly ten years, and the company were struggling. It seemed like their was no way Square Enix would please their fans by making a Final Fantasy VII remake, and the fans in turn generally weren’t interested in anything the company were throwing at them.