One of the longstanding titans of the Japanese gaming industry, Square Enix is also one of the few remaining with a notable presence at E3, as other Japanese developers like Konami have been gradually abandoning console gaming in favor of mobile platforms. After disappointing sales numbers for games like Hitman Absolution and the Tomb Raider reboot, Square Enix will be looking to make a splash this year, and thankfully they have a few big guns they can pull out.
When: 9 a.m. PST, June 16
What to expect
Square Enix has a few big franchises that they can always rely on, and at least a few of them are guaranteed to be at E3. Of course, the big question is whether we will see something new from them. Here are some of the games to look forward to.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Square Enix made a big play when they resurrected the Deus Ex franchise after a decade of silence, and it was a move that paid off. Deus Ex: Human Revolution was a hit, drawing adoration from critics and consumers alike. As such, it’s no surprise that Square’s announcement of a sequel drew cries of “We did ask for this!” It seems that the developers are intent on giving people what they want–one of the few big criticisms of Human Revolution was a lack of freedom in dealing with (or avoiding entirely) bosses. The developers seem aware of this, having announced their intent to ensure that players will have far greater freedom to play the game the way they want in Mankind Divided.
Final Fantasy XV
Final Fantasy is one of the pillars of Square Enix; in fact, Square was facing bankruptcy when they made the first game in the franchise back in 1987 (the name referred to the development team’s belief that it would be the last game they made). The game became a runaway hit, and the last few decades have shown the Final Fantasy moniker to be a bit far from accurate.
Final Fantasy XV is the fifteenth main entry in the series (not counting direct sequels, spinoffs, rhythm games and everything else) and footage shown so far indicates that it will take the franchise in a new direction, incorporating open-world gameplay and third-person shooting. It certainly sticks with the franchise tradition of being really, really weird, as the game seems to revolve around characters taking a road trip across an alternate universe Earth, complete with motorhomes.
Kingdom Hearts 3
One of Square Enix’s most ambitious franchises, Kingdom Hearts brings together characters from Final Fantasy and Disney in one of the craziest shared universes ever made. The first game became an instant sensation, and although the series has seen plenty of spin-offs and mobile games, fans have been salivating over the idea of a third main entry into the franchise ever since Kingdom Hearts II back in 2005. Square Enix confirmed KHIII was in development back in 2013, but news has been scarce since then. There’s no guarantee it will be showing at E3 this year, but if Square feels they need a showstopper, this is the game to present.
Rise of the Tomb Raider
2013’s Tomb Raider brought the classic franchise into the next generation, rebooting the story and crafting a gritty adventure to compete with Naughty Dog’s action adventure series, Uncharted. One of the core premises of Tomb Raider was that players would control a young Lara Croft, not yet experienced in the ways of tomb raiding. Rise of the Tomb Raider continues that premise, showing a Lara still grappling with her adventures on the island of Yamatai. Survival will play a greater role in Rise, as players will be able to forage for materials and craft items and weapons while avoiding natural hazards and wildlife.
Three Kingdoms of Gods and Demons(?)
Square Enix recently registered a trademark for this title in Japan. There’s no indication of what kind of game it is, but the listing mentions both consoles and arcades. Will we find out more at the press conference? Nobody knows except the people at Square Enix, but it would certainly be fun to see a new IP.
The press materials for the Square Enix conference referenced a “Secret Title” appearing at E3 this year. It could be the aforementioned Three Kingdoms of Gods and Demons. It could be a reboot of a classic franchise (Chrono Trigger fans collectively gasp). Barring leaks, we won’t know until the conference.