At last night's Sony press conference, Square-Enix wowed the crowd with the reveal of two new PlayStation 4 games: Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV (formerly Final Fantasy Versus XIII). This morning, the Japanese developer and publisher held their own press conference to talk about the future of their Final Fantasy series, and threw out a few crumbs of information about the core Kingdom Hearts sequel. Here's what they had to say.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Square-Enix's second MMORPG was such a disaster that Hiromichi Tanaka, the original producer, resigned from the project and left the company. Rather than scrap the work they'd put into the beta project, they pulled it, improved the gameplay, upgraded the graphics, kept the tradition of having a character named Cid (he even pilots an airship), and renamed it with an apt subtitle: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. In terms of graphics, it looks much better, but I can't speak to how it plays. It will see a release on PC and PS3 on August 27, 2013, and will be ported to the PlayStation 4, TBR. Game director and producer Nakoi Yoshida assured us that all PS3 data will be transferable to your PS4, although why you'd want to buy a copy for both is beyond me.
Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster
Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 were originally released on PlayStation 2, and this collection gives them a fresh coat of paint, remastering both in HD. They look pretty sharp, but the voice acting in FFX doesn't hold up since its release twelve years ago. Regardless, I'm still excited to play it. It was the first game in the series to have voice acting of any kind, and I'm sure I'll find the awkwardness charming by the games' end. No firm release date has been set for the collection, but Yoshinori Kitase, director of Final Fantasy X, assured us they would be out this fiscal year.
Lightening Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
The fourth edition to the Fabula Nova Crystallis series arrives on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 on February 11, 2014. In it, Lightening is still pissed at the world, and has only thirteen hours left to save it after waking up from a 500 year nap inside a crystal stasis chamber. Keeping as far away from the linear gameplay of Final Fantasy XIII as they can, Square-Enix is offering us a sprawling open map to explore, day and night. Final Fantasy Brand Director Shinji Hashimoto assured us this would be the ultimate Final Fantasy for the current gen. So for anyone keeping score, Lightening Returns trumps Final Fantasy XIV.
Final Fantasy XV
Here we have a shining example of what the future holds for the Final Fantasy series: pretty CGI cutscenes and more action combat. Pardon me a moment as I pour one out to the homies and long-time fans who love the graphics, but want nothing more than a traditional turn-based Final Fantasy game. (*tear*) I'm right there with them. But unless I'm imagining things, there is some fan service at work. The moody vibe in the overcast lighting and CGI battle scenes in the trailer above make me think back to Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. I also see two characters who share a strong resemblance to Cloud and Zach. I will wager the game won't come out before spring 2016, but whenever it does arrive on store shelves, it will hit both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Kingdom Hearts III
We don't know much about the first core sequel to the hugely successful Kingdom Hearts series, and the footage shown at the conference today wasn't any different than what went up yesterday at Sony's show. Disney Interactive Co-President John Pleasants confirmed that Mickey, Donald, and Goofy are in it, and that a mature Sora will be the main protagonist. Kingdom Hearts III will explore new worlds in the Disney universe, and will see a release for both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, marking the series' first port to a Microsoft console.