Square Enix Goes on the Defensive With Final Fantasy

Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns, Kingdom Hearts III, and Final Fantasy XIV touted as the games to revive the company's fortunes, but Final Fantasy XV remains its most impressive offering.

There was a distinctly defensive attitude about Square Enix's much-touted "Future of Final Fantasy" conference. And, some would argue, rightly so. After the disaster that was the launch of the massively multiplayer online Final Fantasy XIV, the fan backlash over the linear nature of Final Fantasy XIII, and the departure of president Yoichi Wada after an "extraordinary" financial loss, is it any wonder the company had to reassure fans of its future?

"Final Fantasy has always been a focus of attention," Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda told the packed room. "With all these strong titles in our lineup, we would like to reassert how important Final Fantasy is. We are making every effort to measure up to fans' expectations."

And he didn't stop there, even referencing the atrocious financials and changing of the guard at the company. "Since last fiscal year with the news of our earnings call and changing CEO, I'm sorry that we've caused many worries. With E3 2013 as our base point, we will vigorously push forward in a stronger and bigger way."

So far, so apologetic then. But when it comes to the Final Fantasy series at least, the company is now in a better place. The reveal of Final Fantasy XV (formally Versus XIII) was a highlight of Sony's already impressive press conference, drawing huge cheers from fans. And it's an impressive game in action, even if we've had to wait far too long to see it.

It is, however, very different to previous games in the series. The action takes place entirely in real time, with none of the command-based combat that Final Fantasy is famed for. Protagonist Noctis leaps around the environment with aplomb, uses walls to take cover, and unleashes brutal-looking sword attacks while climbing up the sides of buildings, or gliding across the city. On the surface at least, FFXV appears to offer much more freedom of movement, and that can only be a good thing for a series that has been so keen recently to limit what the player can do.

"If FFXV were the only thing going for Square Enix, I'd argue it would be enough."

If FFXV were the only thing going for Square Enix, I'd argue it would be enough (just watch the gameplay demo above!), but every single game that the company showed off at its conference looked impressive. Kingdom Hearts III has crisp, colourful visuals and levels brand new to the series; Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns has a satisfying new combat system; and Final Fantasy X HD, Final Fantasy X-2, and Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX all look fantastic in HD. And yes, even the much maligned Final Fantasy XIV put on a good show: its clean UI and control system on the PlayStation is a thing of beauty. There has clearly been a shakedown at Square Enix, and its games--and by extension, its fans--are reaping the benefits.

Of course, there's still a chance that Final Fantasy XV could be stuck in development hell for another seven years. And with Final Fantasy XIV, any goodwill that game once had may have been lost forever. But there's hope that at next year's E3, Square Enix won't be apologising to its fans. Instead, maybe its games will be so good that its fans will be apologising for ever doubting it in the first place.

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Discussion

1683 comments
Nameless-Ace
Nameless-Ace

i just want to give my 2 cents because it looks like alot of fans are kind of stuck in the same thing i was for years. The world changes-things change. I loved every final fantasy up until 10(liked 11 and now the new FFXIVARR) but it wasnt the turn based game play-it was the imagination and the story-and the fact that they could immerse me in the world and into the characters. You guys are losing sight on what is the most important things-i liked turn based systems too-but who knows. They could add a very tactical way of how you manage your team and just not have random encounter-random encounters are total shit anyways and ive almost always hated it lol. Point is if this game has the imagination-the story-the depth-the drama and the love interest-the action all of it-then it will still be deserved to be called Final fantasy. of course gameplay changes-its a waste of effing graphics to just have them all line up-let them hit each other in the face and now its the other teams turn. i care also about the free roam and non linear play and expansive and creatively incredible world. Wait to see if this game has these qualities rather then have a pms over something you barely have any info on. I do agree that maybe they shoulda kept it as a spinoff title to see how well it would go then release something like this-BUT come on. Final fantasy started as a last ditch gamble with all their remaining funds and it turned into a legendary series. I have a feeling that after all the mishaps that SE might be returning to their roots-if you need examples go play FFXIV ARR. The story involves crystals-jobs-summons-epic storyline-drama-death-intrigue-and magitek esc empire. You people close your eyes and then complain how everything sucks! why not give it a chance? FF13 was terrible and im sure they get that now-where i do agree with you all is why the hell is it getting a 3 sequel...that does upset me <.<. Beyond that though this isnt a sequel-and every final fantasy has differed somewhat from title to title. So lets just see if SE lives up to their word and give them a shot-if you were a true fan-youll give them another chance until they prove incapable of performing-and so far FFXIV ARR has restored my faith in SE so much so that im still kind of shocked lol.

jemrax
jemrax

I don't get people's obsession over the past. Things change! Live with it! Does anyone stop to consider how ridiculous the antiquated ATB system would be on a next gen engine?

RavenXavier
RavenXavier

This looks like it should be called "Devil May Fantasy" or "Final Cry"...LoL. It's a shame what happened to this series over the years.

Erdi90
Erdi90

Lets hope it doesn't take another 6 years to actually publishing the game...

nemesis9632
nemesis9632

I need a new game in the Chrono series, soooo bad. I don't think that I'm the only one.

dark_kartos
dark_kartos

I think square needs to review their previous successful FF games. In my eyes, you went wrong after FF 9.

TheDoomTurtle
TheDoomTurtle

If they really want to make me happy, they can drop FF13 and this infatuation and obsession with Lightning.  No FF character should have an entire game named after them, especially not one like her.

I'm all for them changing things up so that every FF game isn't the same as it was at the start - this 15 shows promise I think - but direct sequels?  Lighting Returns??  I missed the part in 13 where Lightning was so freaking awesome that she deserved to be elevated to godhood and given her own game.

xfanrpgx
xfanrpgx

Final fantasy Type-0 is the last masterpiece of ff series bring back old-school like FF8, and i've just known Hajime Tabata is a co-director for ffxv. I keep it hype for ffxv

sr_arthur3
sr_arthur3

I wasn't interested in Final Fantasy at all.  But after watching the E3 trailer, I don't know...  Something about the story drew me into the game.  FF to me has mostly always been about the story, from a personal point of view.  I don't know about most of you guys.

jonb4play
jonb4play

Remake FF7 and I'll be happy. I've played that game so many times, unlike the other games.

Rasu89
Rasu89

They should keep the turn-based aspect of FF since that is a key element in the series. If they want to incorporate a real time battle system without breaking into a battle screen like FF XIII, they should use a similar system as FF XII "fusing" the field with the battle screen.

clouduos
clouduos

the only problem i see here THERE IS NO DATE CONFIRM YET?????

Contrabot1564
Contrabot1564

So...all im seeing is everything that ever made Final Fantasy fun is no longer in Final Fantasy. Right got it!

Siggentut
Siggentut

don't get why people complain so much about the female characters :/ A monotonous group-setup, gender-wise, is something square has done very rarely. This is a breath of fresh air!

FlameAmarant
FlameAmarant

I prefer the FFVII battle system.Regardless,still picking this up.

willus87
willus87

this game looks friggin awesssssssssssssssssssome

BLaverock
BLaverock

Looks enticing! Hopefully the FF series can keep to its compelling story plots, with open world exploration, mini games, and comic moments! 

Dubbya44
Dubbya44

haven't really played an ff game for its combat (though this looks interesting), i play ff games for their story and exploration. tbh, i don't think they have anything to be defensive about at this point, so far, their line up looks great. keep your fingers crossed for after the releases.

Star_Skywalker
Star_Skywalker

Remake VII, VI or VIII!!!! Do SE really hate money?!

MtlSyr
MtlSyr

A FF game with only two female characters, more action less rpg, more weapons less aeons, more fighting less emotion. Whatever happened FF makers after FF-X, return to your senses. You are losing us-your fans and you are not gaining any new ones. 

Siggentut
Siggentut

love the turn based battle system, but I agree that the system can feel very slow with time.  Played every single ff except 11,12 and 14 and in my opinion the time you have to wait in between the commanding is really a double edged blade. It may give you time to think and so on, but all that waiting..

alkobissi
alkobissi

i hope it will the same of watch dog in the first it was only PS4 and then all of consels

alkobissi
alkobissi

is it only for PS4 and Xbox one ?????

it will not be in PS3 ?



Bo_Hussain84
Bo_Hussain84

Love the almost not new battle system if u play other RPG's

Will definitely purchase it! Cant wait !

Nodashi
Nodashi

FINALLY a FF title that makes me excited. Let's see how it turns out!

Eraldus
Eraldus

If you look back at the previous titles, you can see that they've been making changes on the battle system ever since the first game... (the inclusion of a job system was one of them) and it worked pretty good in the end... but why did it worked? Because they didn't had messed with the core factor that made the series shine since the first games...  the turn-based system!

Now this??? This is just Devil May Cry with a lvling system and summons...

This is not a true Final Fantasy game anymore...

xfanrpgx
xfanrpgx

Because the stupid FF13-3 continuing for the dumbass ff13 series, the XV can't release the same time on feb/2014. The japanese   version exclusive ps4 comming out first, hopefully before june/2014 

rez_1kabir
rez_1kabir

Maybe the title of this article is wrong...do we really think that SE is going on the defensive? If anything, with the game-play video of FF XV they're going on the offensive.

Finally it seems like they're getting their act together! Lets hope we get some great title out over the next few years!

BloodyAura
BloodyAura

There's nothing wrong with SE trying a different approach to the battle system for their FF games, it's just that THAT was what set them apart from other games (in the '90s,when the company was still Square Soft)-it's what gave the games strategy, but now if they go full steam ahead with an action rpg, they'll loose their identity and what made them unique.

xeis-net
xeis-net

I have given up on the Final Fantasy franchise, milked to death.  The final straw FF XIII, with its easy push forward, press X to win game play.  Have to say though the above game play does look very good.  If the reviews do not contain the word linear, easy or casual I might take a look ;-)

Alpaq
Alpaq

It seems too many gamers have a sens of entitlement towards the franchises they love. I think Square(Soft)Enix has been defining what Final Fantasy is since the beginning. They might have started and based their early success on traditional turn-based combat, but that doesn't mean they can't change the formula. It is still Final Fantasy. Don't be so afraid of changes.

I have to admit that I do enjoy turn-based JRPG more than anything, and in my opinion the gameplay of FFX is the peak of the series, although all the previous FF games are great. I haven't played FFXII, so I can<t comment on that one. As for FFXIIIs, it isn't nearly as bad as people say in my opinion. It might be the FF game I liked the last, but it didn't suck at all. It was just not the same awesome experience as prevous entries in the series, but still a fun JRPG.

I think this change to non-turn-based combat could be quite interesting. After all, there are a lot of examples of very fun RPGs following that formula, namely Tales and Star Ocean franchises. Although I was as many others looking forward to a new turn-based FF game, I will definitely not pass judgment before I play the game. As long as the story is great and gameplay is fun, it can ba an awesome game. We'll have to wait and see. But I think it is utterly tiring to see all the whining coming from fans of the franchise. Don't be so conservative and be more open. You might enjoy your gaming life a lot more that way. And if you don't like the final product, it's not the end of the world people.

VallekStrife
VallekStrife

I'm not buying this...it may look nice and may be a good game but Final Fantasy it is not.

Call it something else but don't try to push this on people who expect a certain type of product.

ChaosUndivided
ChaosUndivided

It looks awesome but I feel if you take away the turn based combat and replace it with hack n slash mechanics it stops being  a true FF game and becomes just another flashy hack n slash title that is using the FF name to sell.

CleitonMagno
CleitonMagno

Looks like just me in the world prefer the time based FFs!!!!!!

Looks like nobody want to think anymore!!!


Erdi90
Erdi90

@dark_kartos FFX was superb and FFXII was also a treat. Arguebly FFXIII would be a little less on par with those two but it was still a fantastic game to play

Bastion00
Bastion00

@Star_Skywalker I want Xenogears.. Extremely underrated.  Hope they don't make another piece of trash like FF13.

TheDoomTurtle
TheDoomTurtle

@Eraldus So they're not allowed to change the battle system?  Is that the ONLY thing that makes an FF game an FF game?

I've played FF 6, 7, 8, 10, 12, and 13.  ALL of them are turn-based to some degree or another.  Even 12 uses aspects of that system.  Would it really be so bad if, just once, they DIDN'T do turn-based?

As much as I liked the game, I was disappointed when 13 departed from the real-time-ish system FF12 had introduced, coming back to the more classic system.  I think it just might be getting a bit stale.  I'm glad to see them mixing it up again.

Dubbya44
Dubbya44

@xeis-net all ff games have been pretty easy where in most of the turn based battles you could just hold X till you won, and tame when it character 'building' which mainly amounts to equipping the last thing that dropped. despite my whining, i still enjoy them for the most part.

rez_1kabir
rez_1kabir

@xeis-net You definitely should. I can understand your frustrations with the recent installments...but all of us have been waiting for FF XIII Versus (now FF XV)...and with good reason. Yes they are breaking away from the traditional game mechanics of the golden years of FF...but maybe it might be something really spectacular that will galvanize and draw back the fans! 


I want to keep an open mind about the new game mechanics...and I'll definitely purchase the game.

rez_1kabir
rez_1kabir

@Alpaq I totally agree with you...


For me at least the main lacking that I found with the FF XIII installments was that the story was just not engaging at all. I wanted to discover the story as the game went on...and not necessarily read about it when it went from chapter to chapter. This is why we play RPG's and JRPG's...we live the story!


I remember how I just could never take a break from playing previous FF titles because it was so engaging...but with FF XIII I remember taking month long breaks every now and then.


In my opinion...Fix the stories...Fix the series!

Aenara
Aenara

@silvergol @RavenXavier Their marketing people should look at bringing new people in not sacrificing their existing player base.

Baschable
Baschable

@rez_1kabir @Alpaq I agree with you, story telling is what made FF well FF, i could not get involved in FFXIII story at all but its not bad compared to other rpgs, just not as good as we wouldve expected from a FF, but XV seems like its goin to have a strong story, god knows we've been waiting for it

Alpaq
Alpaq

Totally agree with you. I just think the developers have the freedom to shape their product the way they want. Square created FF and it became a great franchise. I don't think it is really smart to dismiss the work they do because it doesn't exactly match what some gamers expect. They are simply trying to redefine the franchise to move forward and I'd rather give them a chance than simply whine about it. Doesn't mean people can't share their opinions, especially after the game comes out and they've played it. I'm just suggesting it is more pleasant to be somewhat open to new ideas.