Aside from old-school JRPG fans, the mention of Star Ocean might not mean much. The series has always been two or three steps down in popularity from the likes of Final Fantasy or even Dragon Quest, but those who have dug into this slightly more obscure series are quick to sing its praises. First established in 1996, the Star Ocean games have come at an irregular pace, with only five total games in the mainline series released so far, the latest being Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness in 2016. That game, and the previous entry, were not all that well-received, leaving fans unsure about this smaller franchise’s future.
Sony’s October 2021 State of Play event wasn’t full of many big surprises, but the announcement of Star Ocean: The Divine Force was one that meant a lot to fans of the series but also has made fans of JRPGs in general curious about this strange game that mixes fantasy elements into a sci-fi-inspired universe. The trailer we got was only a brief two and a half minutes, but more information has been trickling out. If you were intrigued by this unique-looking JRPG from the masters of the genre, Square Enix, here’s everything we know about Star Ocean: The Divine Force.
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Star Ocean: The Divine Force was not given a specific release date just yet. The trailer does end with “coming 2022,” so we know it will be sometime next year. Depending on the rollout of Square Enix’s other games that year, and based on how far along the game appears in the trailer, a mid-to-late 2022 seems perfectly likely. Once the game pops up again, we should at least know the season we can expect it.
While the trailer made for Sony’s State of Play event only listed Star Ocean: The Divine Force as coming to PlayStation 4 and PS5, it will also be coming to Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and S, as well as PC. It will hit every platform day and date, so there’s no platform exclusivity, timed or otherwise. Obviously, we expect the current-generation versions to have benefits over the previous ones, but for now, we don’t know what those differences will be. Graphics, load times, and frame rates are the usual suspects, however.
Just like the Final Fantasy series, each new Star Ocean game is a stand-alone experience. The story and characters are all new here, so there’s no need to have played any of the prior games in the series to enjoy Star Ocean: The Divine Force.
The trailer begins with a crew flying through space as their ship’s warning alarm blares. They’re forced to abandon ship due to an incoming attack, where we cut to a sweeping shot of a lush planet with giant transparent spheres in the sky. We get to see some glimpses of one of the protagonists running through the world with a floating robot companion that allows him to dash and glide through the air.
As some gameplay and action play out, the text reads, “When our two heroes cross paths the fate of the universe awakens.” From there, we get quick lines from more characters, shots of more environments, including a majestic, castle-like city, and some massive enemies that are both fantastic, such as dragons, and futuristic, like a flame-spewing robot.
Overall, this trailer had little substance in terms of story or characters, but outside sources have sprouted up with much more information. Just like in Star Ocean: The Second Story, Star Ocean: The Divine Force will use the dual-protagonist system. Our two leads in this game, who we saw in the trailer, are named Raymond and Laeticia. Raymond is the captain of the ship we saw in the trailer, named the Ydas, and hails from a more technologically advanced civilization. On the other hand, Laeticia is a princess as well as a knight from the planet the crew finds themselves on, which is still early on in developing technologies.
Raymond is detailed as being from a planet not associated with the federation, called Verguld. He captains the Ydas for his family’s company named Lawrence Logistics and cares deeply for his crew.
Laeticia is the princess of Aucerius on the planet Aster IV. She is admired by just about everyone in her kingdom, yet hides her combat ability. When a rival country threatens her own, she embarks on a secret mission to find an unnamed ally to help, eventually crossing paths with Raymond, who has become stranded on her world.
The game’s narrative, including which characters will be included, will change depending on which of these two protagonists you play as and what choices you make during the story. The game is designed to encourage you to play through the game twice, once from each perspective, to see the full breadth of the story. The only other two named characters known so far are Elena and Albaird. Aside from that, nothing of the specifics of the plot have been shared, though we can expect the story to have wide-reaching consequences. The “fate of the universe” is repeated often, so it should be safe to expect an epic tale.
While each game in the series is separate from the rest, fans of past games will recognize some returning mechanics in Star Ocean: The Divine Force. We already know there will be the dual-protagonist system, but whether you’re playing as Raymond or Laeticia, exploration and traversal were major points shown off. Verticality in particular was a focus, with characters flying in all directions up and around the environments. The game will encourage full 3D exploration, which should make the world even more fun to live in.
Combat also got a good deal of screen time, plus some more hints via official statements. Right off the bat, this JRPG is going full-on action combat, meaning it’s not a turn-based affair. Star Ocean: Integrity and Faithlessness used a mix of real-time and turn-based combat, but this time, they’re leaning in on the action side of things. Combat and exploration will have no seams between them and no random battles. Enemies all exist in the world for you to engage with or avoid at your discretion. If and when you do decide to fight, there’s no transition into fighting, and attacking looks swift and responsive so far.
Beyond normal strikes, skills and abilities will be a major component in combat. We see characters dashing around battles, leaving behind neon trails while attacking everything in their path, plus what look to be animations of the characters interacting with the robot companion leading up to massive attacks. Magic and other attack skills seem to have a small startup time that will leave you vulnerable if done at the wrong time.
Other systems appear on screen, like something called Best Avoidance and Sight Out, that give different bonuses. It’s unclear what will trigger these buffs at the moment.
Aside from Raymond and Laeticia, the other party members also appear playable. We see moments of Elena running around a canyon-type environment and attacking with some sort of laser whip weapon, and Albaird casting ice magic. We can then assume that all party members, assuming the cast is larger than just these four, will be playable.
While they technically haven’t denied it, there’s no reason to think there will be any multiplayer component in Star Ocean: The Divine Force. There was an optional versus mode in Star Ocean: Till the End of Time Director’s Cut, and the mobile game Star Ocean: Anamnesis does allow for players to team up, but it’s never been included in the proper game itself. JRPGs typically don’t incorporate multiplayer, and for the most part, fans don’t really want them to. This looks like it wants to follow in the footsteps of something like Tales of Arise and focus on reintroducing the series by focusing on making the most solid single-player experience possible.
The only DLC we can foresee Star Ocean: The Divine Force getting, based on the series’ past, is possible pre-order bonus items. This series has never had any truly substantial DLC, like story expansions, new characters, side stories, or anything of that sort. A lot has changed since the last game in the series, however, and who knows what opportunities might be open to expand the game outside of the main story. While we wouldn’t put our money on it, until we know for sure, we can’t rule out DLC coming in the future.
Star Ocean: The Divine Force has only just been announced, with a very wide release window of the entire year of 2022. Until that time frame is narrowed down to a specific date, don’t expect any pre-orders to show up. However, as soon as any info on the actual release date, pre-orders becoming available, and any special editions you can get is released, we’ll make sure you’re up to date.
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