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What to expect from Square Enix’s E3 2018 livestream presentation

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Screenshots | Hands-on
Square Enix

Japanese developer/publisher Square Enix hasn’t held an E3 press conference since 2015. In May, it announced plans to return to the preshow limelight this year with a video presentation on Monday, June 11, at 10 a.m. PT. That said, with very few imminent games on the way, it’s hard to say exactly how the iconic developer will fill its presentation. Considering the format, it seems plausible that we’ll see a collection of trailers and gameplay rather than a whole bunch of commentary. The studio has several games on the horizon for 2018, as well as seemingly far off, but hotly anticipated titles. Here’s what to expect from Square Enix’s E3 showcase.

‘Shadow of the Tomb Raider’

Square Enix

After skipping E3 last year, the leaked-and-then-confirmed third entry in the Tomb Raider reboot will definitely be shown at E3. Shadow of the Tomb Raider rounds out Lara Croft’s origin story. Whereas Tomb Raider and its sequel Rise of the Tomb Raider focused on survival, this time Lara will hunt down the treacherous organization known as Trinity.

We had a chance to check out the Edios Montréal-developed sequel at a recent preview event and found it to be the darkest entry in the reboot to date. The story seems to focus on Lara’s gradual descent into violence and the consequences of her own actions, rather than of those around her. The overarching narrative revolves around a Mayan relic that connects back to her father and sees Lara in search of that elusive relic across Latin America. As far as gameplay, expect more of the same. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, as the first two entries were excellent action-adventures.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider launches September 14 on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC.

‘Kingdom Hearts III’

Kingdom Hearts III

The long awaited third act of the Disney/Final Fantasy action RPG crossover series was announced way back at E3 2013 during Sony’s press conference. Fans of the franchise have been waiting — well, trudging through non-sequels with strange names like 358/2 Days — for more than a decade looking for a true followup to PlayStation 2’s Kingdom Hearts II. But we have faith. We really want to believe that Kingdom Hearts III will make a strong showing during Square Enix’s presentation this year.

Kingdom Hearts III picks up after the 3DS game Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, and sees Sora and his pals Goofy and Donald continue on their quest to find the seven masters of light, while King Mickey and Riku search for keyblade masters of the past. They’ll travel to a ton of Disney-inspired worlds, including levels based on Toy Story, Wreck-It Ralph, Big Hero 6, Hercules, Frozen, Tangled, and more. There’s even a novel world called Classic Kingdom which riffs off of old-school LCD games like Nintendo’s Game & Watch.

Kingdom Hearts III is currently expected to launch on Xbox One and PS4 in 2018. If that window holds, we expect to hear a firm release date during the stream.

‘Octopath Traveler’

Octopath Traveler

Octopath Traveler will almost undoubtedly be shown off at E3, as it launches a month later on July 13. The question is whether it will be shown by Nintendo, Square Enix, or perhaps even both. The retro RPG with a high-definition, 16-bit aesthetic is a Nintendo Switch exclusive, and one of the most intriguing summer titles. Octopath Traveler features eight unique protagonists, each of which has a different journey and abilities. The turn-based battle system has a boost point system that is similar to the Bravely Default (another Square Enix RPG), which lets players attack multiple times in one turn.

If you’re looking forward to Octopath Traveler, you can download a demo from the Switch eShop ahead of its July 13 launch.

‘Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age’

Dragon Quest XI

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age originally launched in Japan last year. With the North American localization set to launch September 4, it’s likely that we’ll see the latest entry in the epic turn-based RPG during Square Enix’s presentation. We expect to see the game on PS4 and PC, even though we’re really holding out for the Switch version of the game.

While Square does plan to release the game on the Switch release in the states eventually, it’s said the port won’t come until “much later.” The localization has a few improvements over its Japanese counterpart, namely a refined user interface and the addition of a hard mode. Like other entries in the series, no knowledge of previous games is needed, as Dragon Quest XI is a brand-new hero’s story.

‘Life Is Strange 2’

Life is Strange

We know next to nothing about Life is Strange 2, the sequel to Dontnod Entertainment’s episodic game Life is Strange, a breakout 2015 hit published by Square Enix. All we know is that it will feature a new cast of characters, be set in a different location, and led by the first game’s directors. Consider this more of tentative expectation. A March blog post about Life is Strange: Before the Storm suggested Life is Strange 2 news is on the horizon.

“We now look forward to the coming months, when Michel Koch and Raoul Barbet’s team at Dontnod returns to present the new story and characters of the next Life is Strange,” the post read.

The timing lines up with E3, so it’s certainly possible.

‘The Avengers Project’

“The Avengers Project”

The first game born from Square Enix’s partnership with Marvel will be based on the Avengers comic book and movie franchise. Next to nothing has been revealed about The Avengers Project since it was teased early next year. All we know is that Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics — the studios currently working on Shadow of the Tomb Raider — are attached to the project. Square Enix initially said it’d provide more info about the game in 2018, and perhaps Crystal Dynamics has taken the reins since Edios Montreal is the primary developer on Tomb Raider. This is all speculation at this point. Is it possible The Avengers Project will be shown at E3? Yes, but this one seems more like a “one final tease” opportunity. We’ll see.

‘Final Fantasy VII Remake’

Final Fantasy VII Remake

This is probably the most anticipated game for legions of Square Enix fans. It’s also almost certainly the furthest away from release. Announced at E3 2015, the game has been subject to rumors of development disarray and constant changes. At this point, we’re still under the impression that the game will be released in several parts, and Square Enix wants to completely overhaul the gameplay and graphics. It’s clear that Square Enix isn’t treating this like a standard remake or remaster. And it probably shouldn’t, considering Final Fantasy VII is one of the most beloved games of all time.

It’d be nice to get a fresh look at Square Enix’s progress at E3. Though, considering how far off the game probably is, it might make sense for the game to stay underground for a while. We’ll see what approach Square Enix takes.  We suspect fans will be talking about FF7, whether we see it or not. Here’s everything we know about the game so far.

‘Dragon Quest Builders 2’

Dragon Quest Builders

Dragon Quest Builders was one of the more surprising games of 2016. It combined the role-playing elements of the Dragon Quest series with the building aspects of Minecraft, wrapped together with a cutesy aesthetic. A sequel is in development for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. So far, we know the game starts with the protagonist washing up on a deserted island and Malroth, the villain from Dragon Quest II, will play a major role in the story. Notable gameplay additions include the ability to swim and four-person multiplayer.

A release window hasn’t been announced, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see Dragon Quest Builders 2 show up at E3.

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