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Square Enix

Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward's Alexander makes raids much more accessible

Jul 07 // Chris Carter
Endgame raids have seemingly undergone a few changes since we last left the Binding Coil of Bahamut in Realm Reborn. For starters, you can use the duty finder to enter Alexander immediately after completing the roughly 10 minute attunement quest -- the only thing you need is Item Level 170 or above, and the main story completed. Square Enix noted that they wanted the base raid to be more accessible (with a tougher challenge coming later for static groups), and I think they succeeded with that goal. There are four wings in all so far (more will be added at a later date like Coil), and the first three can easily be completed with a pick-up-group, so long as everyone is on their toes. The first fight features two mechs which need to be kept apart by the two tanks, the second battle is similar to Turn 4 of the first Coil (lots of adds, but with a fun mech-suit twist for one DPS), the third features a really cool shape-shifting water elemental, and the fourth is against a giant structure that almost feels like a confrontation with Alexander himself. I like all of them in their own way, though the fourth is easily comparable to an EX fight, and will give pick-up-groups more trouble. Loot is handled differently as well, as every fight drops "tokens" that you can use to acquire Item Level 190 gear in Idyllshire. The accessories only need one token, but the left side armor pieces will need at least two, if not four. As of today, I won two rolls for the head piece token, granting me a piece of headgear -- I have two more "lockouts" that I need to complete for the rest of the week, at which point I can't earn any other gear in Alexander. Theoretically you can get three pieces this week, with one accessory token, one waist token, and two hand tokens (some tokens share loot tables, and the body and legs take four each). [embed]295523:59398:0[/embed] It's not a perfect solution, but I really prefer it to the old system. Previously, I was raiding in Coil with my old static, and we'd find that we'd frequently get doubles of unneeded gear, leading to some of our group not getting any pieces and falling behind by sheer luck. This is typical of the MMO endgame routine, but in recent years, many developers have implemented tokens to combat this -- it's nice to see Square Enix adopt it, just in time for the new Master Loot system to make raid lead's lives easier. The actual design of the dungeons themselves are brilliant, filled with steam pouring from pipes, metallic slides, and tons of personality throughout. It's a nice departure from the overused Allegan theme of Coil, and overall, I'm liking it a bit more. I also really like the soundtrack, as it gets me sufficiently pumped to take on the new encounters.  I'm happy with Heavensward's Alexander raid debut, and Savage mode is set to arrive in two weeks from today, which will bring about the aforementioned tougher fights, more akin to what a typical static group would expect.
Square Enix photo
I braved all four current floors today
Today marks the release of the Alexander raid in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, a pretty monumental day for hardcore players. We've all been tirelessly working on our sets, ensuring that we make our way up to a respectable I...

Catwoman photo
Catwoman

Tetsuya Nomura's Catwoman figure still looks like a Metal Gear villain


I'd fight her
Jul 07
// Chris Carter
Late last year Final Fantasy producer Tesuya Nomura announced that he was working on a special figure based on Batman's Catwoman, and now we can see the fruits of his labor thanks to a retail listing from Ami Ami. The figure ...
Final Fantasy XIV photo
Final Fantasy XIV

Square stops Final Fantasy XIV Mac sales after dev team's 'mistakes'


Offering refunds
Jul 06
// Steven Hansen
As we noted last week, the Mac port of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is plagued with issues. This doesn't seem uncommon these days, but remember that Naoki Yoshida built A Realm Reborn back up from Final Fantasy XIV's ini...

FFXIV photo
FFXIV

I'm pumped to raid in Final Fantasy XIV's Alexander


Mechanical playground
Jul 06
// Chris Carter
The Alexander raid, the second real raid set to debut in Final Fantasy XIV after The Binding Coil of Bahamut, is on track for tomorrow. In the meantime you can check out this new trailer to get an idea of what to expect...

Experience Points .17: Nier

Jul 04 // Ben Davis
Don't look at me! Nier's Emil is one of my favorite video game characters of all time. The player first meets Emil in his super creepy mansion, a young boy playing the piano alone with a piece of cloth covering his eyes. Due to the setting, his initial appearance is a little off-putting, but once he begins to open up to the player, he turns out to be anything but creepy. Emil is just about the sweetest, most kind-hearted kid you'll ever meet, but he suffers from a peculiar and unfortunate ailment wherein everything he looks at turns to stone, which is why he always wears a blindfold. His eyes are a great source of shame and guilt for him, which he has a hard time coming to terms with until Kaine, another outcast, comforts him by saying, "Your eyes are not a sin. Don't ever be ashamed of them. They're part of you. A vital part of you." Eventually, he brings the party to a secret laboratory in an attempt to find a cure for his ailment. After a few bizarre revelations and an emotional boss fight, the mission is a success. Emil regains the use of his eyes without the risk of petrification, but unfortunately this comes at a great cost. The process transforms his body into a grotesque, skeletal figure as the player finds him cowering and sobbing on the floor, horrified and ashamed by his own appearance. During a touching moment, Nier assures him that everything will be okay and that they won't treat him any differently. Poor Emil is such a tragic character. He goes from being unable to look at anyone without hurting them, to being ashamed to even be seen because of his disfigured body. But even after so much hardship, he never loses his cheery, optimistic attitude, and he never stops trying to bring happiness to everyone around him. It always makes me so happy that his friends don't treat him any differently after he transforms. Kaine and Nier are nothing but supportive and comforting, and it makes me smile to see Emil light up after being reassured. There are so many scenes with Emil that just make my heart swell. You're the greatest, Emil, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise! Those who dream Nier's gameplay is rather interesting as it's never afraid to suddenly switch things up by throwing in new mechanics from different genres. It may seem like a typical action adventure with RPG elements at first, but then it goes and adds side-scrolling platform segments, top-down perspectives, bullet hell boss fights, survival horror areas, and more like it's nothing at all. And somehow, all of these elements work well and feel completely natural. The strangest part of the game, though, is when it suddenly becomes a text-based adventure of all things, and they still manage to have it make sense within the context of the story. In the Forest of Myth, the party comes upon an odd village of sleeping people. The villagers warn Nier to beware of the words, the "contagious words," but by then it's already too late. A strange illness known as the Deathdream lingers over the forest denizens, trapping them in their dreams, and it quickly begins to take hold of Nier and Weiss. The illness manifests itself as words in the minds of the characters, which appear as text on the screen for the player to read. Rather than speaking, the characters' dialogue appears as written words and their thoughts and actions appear as narration. It's actually rather humorous, because they can read the narration being written about them, and sometimes react as though it's being unfair or deceiving (especially Weiss, who gets very irritated with the narrator's choice of words). There are several dreams the player must enter by speaking with the various villagers. Some of them require some light puzzle solving to escape, such as choosing the correct path to take or answering some reading comprehension questions which make sure the player isn't just skipping through all the dialogue. Failing these sections can actually lead to death and a game over, so players have to be careful and pay attention or they'll never escape from the dreams. It's so bizarre to see a game like Nier suddenly switch gears and try something completely unexpected like this, but somehow it worked so well that it actually resulted in one of my favorite parts of the game. I loved how they worked the text adventure mechanics into the actual story by forming an illness around it, so it actually made sense to be seeing nothing but words on the screen and it didn't feel jarring or clumsy. I'll be curious to see if they try anything else unexpected like this in the sequel! Resident Emil Speaking of the different genre elements, I have to bring up the survival horror section as well, because it's another one of my favorite parts of the game. The area in question is Emil's mansion, a wonderful homage to survival horror games, and to Resident Evil especially. Upon approaching the mansion, all of the colors of the world seem to fade slowly to gray, casting a gloomy atmosphere over the party. Inside, every room has that static Resident Evil camera angle. A butler directs the party to a waiting room, but after waiting around for a while, Nier decides to investigate. After leaving the room, Kaine mysteriously disappears. Weiss begins to panic, believing the mansion to be haunted, as strange things start to happen. Paintings begin changing, creepy, petrified statues of people start showing up, unsettling voices can be heard, a sink randomly starts filling up with blood... this is clearly not a good place to get lost! And yet, the mansion is owned by Emil, the kindest person in the world. His presence really threw me off at first. What is he doing staying in a creepy place like this? He admits to having the power to turn things to stone, so it's safe to assume that all those petrified people were his doing. But is he aware of the bloody sinks and scary paintings? Probably not, since he's always blindfolded. Or maybe he's just used to it. At least he's the one comforting thing about this place, so it's not all creepy. [embed]295242:59325:0[/embed] Play it again, Devola If there's one thing I think everyone can agree on, it's that Nier has a phenomenal soundtrack. It's legitimately one of the very best video game soundtracks I can think of. The fictional language and Latin-esque vocals are haunting and beautiful, and combined with the dreamlike music, memorable melodies, and unique sounds, the result is just magical. Every track is exceptional, but if I had to choose one track to share for those who have never heard anything from the game before, I'd probably choose the "Song of the Ancients." Like much of Nier's music, there are multiple versions, but I chose Devola's version for its peacefulness and the fact that it could be considered a main theme, since it plays in the hub village. It's one of my favorite vocal tracks, along with the themes for Kaine, Emil, and the Shadowlord. Even if you haven't played Nier, I highly recommend giving the rest of the soundtrack a listen if you enjoy this track! Defense against the dark arts Nier often gets criticized for its mediocre gameplay mechanics, most likely because of the combat, since the sword techniques are rather limited. However, there's one aspect of the combat that I found to be especially satisfying: the Sealed Verses. Nier's Sealed Verses are basically magic attacks which are learned by Weiss and can be used by Nier in battle. There are eight Sealed Verses to learn, and two can be equipped at a time. They're all very different and useful in various situations. Dark Blast shoots out small, quick projectiles; Dark Lance fires a barrage of large spears; Dark Hand summons up giant fists for lots of damage; Dark Phantom calls forth a shadowy doppelganger to fight for Nier; Dark Whirlwind creates spinning blades which block enemy projectiles and cause damage; Dark Execution causes spears to burst up out of the ground in straight lines; Dark Gluttony absorbs enemy projectiles and fires them back; and Dark Wall creates a shield around Nier. Combining the various Sealed Verses with the limited physical attacks honestly left me feeling very satisfied with the combat. Even though I usually stuck with Dark Lance, as it seemed to be the most useful for just about any situation, I had a lot of fun experimenting with all the other spells as well. Dark Execution is especially cool, since the spears can pop out of the ground in every direction, impaling enemies all around Nier. I loved that I could be slashing Shades with a sword one second, summoning a huge, magical fist to pound them into the ground the next, and then finishing them off by impaling them with spears popping out of the ground below them. Honestly, the Sealed Verses simply felt amazing to use, and I thought they more than made up for the lackluster swordplay. The bold and the beautiful Initially, I didn't like Kaine very much. Scantily clad woman with an attitude? I've seen that before, plenty of times. Show me something new! Well, surprisingly for me, Nier did show me something completely new with none other than Kaine herself. Kaine's backstory isn't revealed to the player until New Game+, and it sure as hell does its job in getting me to care about the half-naked heroine. Much like the forest text adventure part of the game, Kaine's backstory is told entirely through text. It opens with a young Kaine, running from a group of bullies in her hometown. The bullies throw rocks at her, call her a freak, and beat her up before finally dropping an unexpected revelation by saying, "I don't get you, freak. Whatcha acting like a girl for, huh? Everyone knows what you really are!" As it turns out, Kaine is actually a hermaphrodite. Because of this, she is viewed as an outcast and is bullied relentlessly, leaving her depressed, suicidal, and feeling as though she has no place in the world. The only person who stands up for her is her grandmother, a tough, admirable woman who doesn't take shit from anyone and isn't afraid to retaliate against those who have been bullying her granddaughter. She comforts Kaine by saying, "You're my granddaughter, and I love you, and if folks have a problem with that, they can just go to hell." What a wonderful woman! It may seem strange for a character to wear skimpy, revealing clothing, especially in combat situations, but in Kaine's case I totally get it. Her entire life, she was bullied about her body and made to feel ugly and bad about herself. But as an adult, she's become hardened to all of those criticisms and has decided to finally own her body and feel proud about herself. She may be different from everyone else, but she's no less beautiful, and after so many years of being ashamed of her body, she's finally comfortable enough to show some skin and not care about what anyone else thinks. Personally, I think that's terrific. If there was ever a good way to justify a character dressing in next to nothing at all, Nier certainly pulled it off successfully with Kaine. Shady business MAJOR NEW GAME+ SPOILERS AHEAD Few games utilize the possibilities which New Game+ can offer better than Nier. For any game, there needs to be a good reason for players to want to continue into New Game+. Usually, this means new content or more difficult challenges to keep the player engaged and wanting to come back for more. But in Nier's case, New Game+ offers so much more. In fact, it pretty much changes the tone of the story entirely. A major part of Nier's New Game+ experience focuses on explaining the game's main enemies, the Shades. It's revealed that the Shades are actually the souls of the original humans, also known as Gestalts, and they are meant to fuse with the Replicants, which are their corresponding shells and the characters that the player has gotten to know all this time. So essentially, the player has been killing off the souls of their human counterparts, without even realizing it until the second playthrough, at which point the killing spree must continue if the player ever hopes to see the final ending. And the game certainly tries to make the player feel as bad about this as possible. Many of the boss Shades are given sympathetic personalities and backstories, and then the player is forced to fight them all over again. It's true that they were trying to fuse with the Replicants, who had developed their own consciences and obviously didn't want to lose them, but it's unfortunate that the Gestalts and Replicants couldn't just live peacefully together. It really started to dawn on me after a while that there were clues to this all along. I mean, I always wondered why these creepy Shades were dropping items like coloring books, photo albums, earrings, and other personal things, and why I seemed to hear garbled human speech whenever they were killed. At first, I figured it was because the Shades had been killing humans and taking their stuff, but oh how wrong I was. New Game+ made me feel like a monster, and Nier deserves all the praise in the world for that very reason. Past Experience Points .01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.02: Shadow of the Colossus.03: EarthBound.04: Catherine.05: Demon's Souls.06: No More Heroes.07: Paper Mario.08: Persona 4.09: Final Fantasy IX.10: Mega Man Legends.11: Rayman Origins.12: Metal Slug 3.13: Animal Crossing.14: Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King.15: Super Mario Sunshine.16: Final Fantasy VII
Nier highlights photo
Weiss! You dumbass!
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

Dragon Quest 3DS photo
Dragon Quest 3DS

Reports: Dragon Quest VII and VIII coming west


Creator allegedly makes unplanned reveal
Jul 04
// Kyle MacGregor
[Update: Square Enix declined to comment when asked about Horii's remarks.] Word out of Japan Expo in Paris this weekend is that Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii is running around telling folks that Dragon Quest VII and Dragon...
Dragon Quest XI photo
Dragon Quest XI

Don't worry, Dragon Quest XI isn't a mobile MMO


Back to basics
Jul 04
// Kyle MacGregor
Whenever it arrives, it sounds like Dragon Quest XI will be a return to form for the franchise. Speaking with Final Fantasy Ring at this weekend's Japan Expo in Paris, Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii hinted at what sort of ex...
Final Fantasy VII photo
Final Fantasy VII

Final Fantasy VII G-Bike is still a thing, Phoenix is in it now


Jul 02
// Chris Carter
Yep, Final Fantasy VII G-Bike, the mobile "runner" based off the popular franchise, is still around. This week, Square Enix is adding a Phoenix event, alongside of a new in-game bike reward. I have to say the boss fight actua...
Bukkoro photo
Bukkoro

Nier, Drakengard creator starts new company


Still doing Nier 2!
Jun 29
// Steven Hansen
Taro Yoko (Nier, Drakengard) has started a mysterious new company, Bukkoro. There's a website and not much else to go on. It does have adorable drawings done by Taiko Drum Master artist Yukiko Yokoo. According to Siliconera, ...
Mana o' mana photo
Mana o' mana

Square working on new Final Fantasy Adventure


Mana o' mana
Jun 29
// Steven Hansen
Final Fantasy Adventure (Mystic Quest in Europe,Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden in Japan) turned into the Mana series with Secret of Mana. Unfortunately, its entries have been relegated to Japan-exclusive cell phone ga...
FFXIV photo
FFXIV

Final Fantasy XIV's Mac port isn't great


Moogles prefer the Surface over the iPad
Jun 29
// Joe Parlock
Players of Final Fantasy XIV are reporting major performance issues in the recently released Mac client. Low framerates, hanging launchers, and graphical errors are all being seen. On the official forums, and reddit, many pla...
SQUARE ENIX photo
The market is moving on
There comes a point in every console's life cycle where we all collectively decide the party is over. Some people start filing out around midnight. Others will disappear later on. Eventually it's just one guy trying to keep t...

FFVII remake photo
FFVII remake

Surprise! Nomura didn't know he was directing Final Fantasy VII remake


Who's on first?
Jun 26
// Steven Hansen
But if I'm here...and you're here...who's driving the boat?! Tetsuya Nomura is directing the Final Fantasy VII remake, and he's already talked about ways in which it will differ from the 1997 original aside from just the visu...

Review: Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

Jun 26 // Chris Carter
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Square EnixPublisher: Square EnixMSRP: $39.99 ($12.99 per month)Released: June 19, 2015 (Early Access), June 23, 2015 The "40 hours" of questing claim by Square Enix for the main story (levels 50-60) is accurate, but there's a caveat. You'll have to do a combination of sidequests, daily hunt marks (which can be done solo), and dungeons to push through some gaps, particularly in the middle levels. A few portions can be off-putting sometimes in terms of pacing, especially since the sidequests aren't nearly as good as the main story questline. Having said that, there wasn't any point, even the aforementioned lows, where I stopped having fun. There's just so much to do at this juncture of Final Fantasy XIV. I would frequently stop to do world hunts, which respawn every few hours or so in each area. They're even more fun now once you've unlocked flight for that particular zone, and all of the old hunts still exist too, albeit with smaller rewards for kills. You could hunt all day if you wanted to. I'd visit my new apartment in my friend's beachfront property villa in the Mist, and see what was going on with their new workshop -- a feature that lets you build Free Company (guild) airships in Heavensward, which go on expeditions for more items, similar to Retainer quests. Although I don't tend to craft in any MMO I play, I hung out with a group of crafters and chatted for hours about the new crafter meta and theories for some testing, which are insanely deep. For those who aren't aware, each crafting and gathering class has its own miniature storyline, and crafters in particular now have a even more complicated method of creating new high quality items. Crafting was always like a puzzle, allowing players to learn the best rotations for creating the best items, but now, there's an "endgame" of sorts for the profession, featuring a separate system of crafting in guilds to help build airships, and more complicated patterns that will fetch big gains on the auction house. Flying makes gathering nodes more fun, which is a big improvement on the 2.0 system -- and more nuanced with new gathering abilities. I also took a break and started a Dark Knight, Astrologian, and Machinist, which are all new jobs in Heavensward. Although there's a debate going on regarding the latter's low damage output, I've grouped and played all of them, and each brings something unique to the table. The Dark Knight is really fun to tank with, as he can drop his "Grit" stance (having it on lets you take less damage) on occasion, which unlocks a whole host of damage-dealing abilities. [embed]294750:59242:0[/embed] As a general rule you always want to be doing your core job and tanking with Grit, but when you need that extra push, the Dark Knight is ready and willing, and feels far more engaging than the existing Warrior. The Astrologian sacrifices a bit of firepower (compared to the White Mage and Scholar) but makes up for it with a variety of different healing tricks, and the Machinist is one of the most complicated DPS classes in the game. They are all worthwhile additions, and each role (tank, healer, ranged DPS) fits perfectly in the current meta. By the time I was done with the story and hit level 60, I had played far more than 40 hours. While there are some predictable plot points and far too much Final Fantasy grandstanding, I have to say I enjoyed it as a whole. I really dig the dragon theme that permeates throughout the expansion (they commit to it), and I was satisfied with the conclusion, especially the final boss, which Final Fantasy fans will love. The epilogue also does its job of sufficiently teasing all of the upcoming free content updates, so I'm pumped to see where this goes. The dungeons are all par for the course, which again, is a theme with this expansion. Every dungeon, including the three level 60 ones at the end, have the same linear design that is crafted to prevent you from speedrunning them. Gone are the labyrinthine paths of some low-level dungeons, as well as the tricks of the trade of the vanilla endgame areas; the structure is basically the same every time. Thankfully, the boss fights are spectacular, and nearly every zone features an encounter that has something I've never seen before. Without spoiling it, my favorite dungeon has a fight where a bird flies up into the air, and causes the entire battlefield to fill with fog, forcing you to find his shadow before he comes back down. Another hilariously tasks players with picking up totems and placing them in certain areas to prevent a boss from casting a ritual that ties his health to them. Every fight is intuitive so you won't be scratching your head going "how does this work?" but you will have to actually try. It's a good balance, even if I wish some of the dungeons were a bit more open. The two Primals (Ravana and Bismarck) are worthy additions to the game, and both have EX (extreme) versions that will test your might at level 60. Ravana is an awesome fight that I refer to as "the ninja bug," and it basically feels like how Titan should have been, with a circular arena that you can fall off of. Bismarck on the other hand is like nothing else in Final Fantasy XIV, featuring the titular whale flying right next to a floating rock that the party is standing on. Players will have to hook him with harpoons (you can shout "call me Ishmael" while doing it) and whale on the whale's weak point temporarily. I feel like Ravana is faster-paced and more fun, but again, Bismarck is unique. Currently the endgame consists of gathering law tomes (obtained by high-level dungeons and hunts), buying item level i170 gear, and upgrading them to i180 by way of items from seals. Bismarck EX will net you i175 weapons, and Ravana earns you i190. You have two weeks to fully upgrade your left and right-side gear to face the first part of the Alexander raid, who will debut at that time (with the tougher "Savage" difficulty unlocking two weeks after that). Said raids will be even better thanks to the new loot systems, which can give a raid leader more control over who gets what (finally). With everything there is to do in the game though, it doesn't feel like a grind to get to that point. Did I mention Heavensward was beautiful? I'm pretty sure I have often, but I'll do it again just to drive the point home. It looks fantastic, from the snowy landscape of Ishgard to the Souls-esque Dravanian Hinterlands, complete with lush plains and hellish mountains filled with fiery depths. I would often stop just to admire the scenery, which is even easier thanks to flying mounts. Every time I visit an old content area I long for the chance to use a flying mount, but alas, it's only available in new zones. Specifically regarding the PS4 version, it's starting to feel the sting of the more open areas a bit, particularly when it comes to longer load times (which can be a pain while zoning in for hunts) and some slowdown. I should mention that said slowdown never becomes unplayable, even with 50 other players slashing away at the same world hunt target. It can just get a bit sluggish is all. My view is partially colored by the fact that the new Direct X 11 version on PC looks gorgeous and runs smoothly. Down the line you have new storylines to look forward to, as well as the aforementioned Alexander raid, more 24-player casual raids (which aren't currently in yet), a new PVP map, and a new multi-part relic weapon quest that will debut next month for all jobs. None of this was factored into this review, but it's something to be aware of -- based on its past track record, Square Enix will continue to evolve the game and make it better. Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward is more A Realm Reborn, which is a fine thing to strive for in my book. Whether you're the type of player who enjoys crafting, endgame content, or role-playing, there's so much to do here for people of all skill levels it's insane. While I fizzled out a bit after completing the main story in 2.5, Heavensward has rekindled my flame. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Heavensward review photo
Par for the heavens
When our story began last week, I was a level 53 Paladin, soldiering through the new content for Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward. I stand before you now as a level 60, having played everything that's currently available. My opinion on the expansion hasn't changed much, which is a good thing.

Dragons Quest VI photo
Dragons Quest VI

Dragon Quest VI is available on mobile devices right now


2015 port of 2010 rerelease of 1995 game
Jun 25
// Joe Parlock
Square Enix have announced that Dragon Quest VI: Realms of Revelation is coming to iOS and Android devices right now. It literally just got released for the fairly hefty price of $14.99. The game originally came out in ye old...
Hmm photo
Hmm

Final Fantasy VII remake: No new characters, more realistic gameplay


Hmm
Jun 23
// Steven Hansen
First, I'd like to know if "there won’t be new characters" includes previously invented Final Fantasy VII characters, say from Advent Children, or if it means no new characters added relative to the original Final Fanta...
Release date planned photo
Release date planned

Kingdom Hearts III worlds set, mostly new


Tangled up in...Tangled
Jun 23
// Steven Hansen
Hoping some fan favorites from series past would make it into Kingdom Hearts III? Well you should let it go. That notion, I mean. Let it go, like from the movie Frozone. Tangled was also confirmed at E3. Anyways, Gematsu tra...

You can easily cut off content in Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Jun 22 // Zack Furniss
The demo was snappier than Human Revolution when it came to interface and movement. I expressed concern about the balance of streamlining the gameplay without scaring off players who don't want this to be just another shooter. "We are never taking away control," DeMerle said. "Deus Ex has always been a game about playing it the way you want, finding the path that works for you. A big change for us is that when stealth gets screwed up, it was too tough to get back into the shadows so we want to change that. We want you to be able to mistakes but continue on the way you want. Of course, it won't be too easy, as there needs to be a challenge." I personally play the Deus Ex series in a dumb, compulsive way where I stealth to an objective, and then run back through the empty areas, scouring vents, hacking computers, and digging through trash to get every bit of experience I could. So would they find a way to stifle this, maybe locking off areas so that you have to do another full playthrough of the game? "We are encouraging multiple plays in many different ways. How you handle certain characters will bring entire new storylines. These will come back and have an effect on the critical path. I'm not talking about sidequests per se, but there will be plenty of those as well (and they'll also have an effect on the critical path). You can easily cut off content by killing the wrong person." Human Revolution was sorely lacking the permanent character choices from prior entries in the series. By the end, Adam Jensen could have practically every augmentation. Should we expect the same here? "We can't get too specific. I just realized there's one thing that I can't say, that wouldreally answer your question. There might be certain things that you can do that would cut off certain ways of...upgrading...That's all I'll say!" Then came the Mechanical Apartheid question. I apologize for not detailing the controversy on that one, folks. I didn't want to link to Twitter accounts and open that door. I still feel it was worth getting their response. Anyway...one more question, to leave it on a fun note. I'm sure we'd all love an augmentation or two, so I had to know what DeMerle would want. "I want an augmented ear like a babel fish! I know it’s not in the game but I would love to be able to understand all languages!" And that's all we had time for. Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is coming early 2016.  
Deus Ex photo
Here's the rest of the interview
After watching twenty or so minutes of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, I sat down with executive narrative director Mary DeMerle. We spoke about the streamlined gameplay, Human Revolution's flaws, and their plans for tackling sensitive issues in a critical medium.

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It's not a mobile game factory just yet
Back when word broke regarding Tri-Ace's acquisition at the hands of mobile group Nepro Japan, the early speculation was the studio's days making games for consoles were over. Then, just a couple months later, Square Eni...

FF7 photo
FF7

The Final Fantasy VII port you don't want is coming in October


Contain your excitement
Jun 22
// Brett Makedonski
[Update: Square Enix reached out to "...confirm that the published release date for this title is incorrect. As discussed at this year's E3, Final Fantasy VII will be ported to the PlayStation 4 in Winter 2015. The pricing ...
E3 demo photo
E3 demo

25 minutes of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided gameplay


E3 demo
Jun 22
// Steven Hansen
There's so much to talk about in the first minute or two alone. Going in on mechanical Apartheid. Sexy leather pants. Jensen's spiky ass designer facial hair (and skull hair). The fucking Illuminati!!! A game that isn't piss...

Extended Rise of the Tomb Raider video is way better than the E3 trailer

Jun 22 // Steven Hansen
This goes along with bigger tombs, either secret ones or ones on the narrative path. At one point Lara came up on an abandoned Cold War installation, which was apparently one of the game's "hubs" that contain quest givers, crypts, secrets, and story missions. There are also "systems that celebrate Lara's intelligence and archaeological background." Reading documents and murals throughout the ancient world gives Lara more experience and improves her proficiency, allowing her to uncover greater secrets. Like the secret of immortality hidden in a lost city beneath a lake, which Lara is fighting evil organization Trinity to get to. One other major gripe I keep having with the snow-ridden portions shown off is that Lara refuses to zip up her jacket and instead keeps showing off that cute infinity scarf. On top of that, no hat or gloves despite that fact that you lose heat fastest through those extremities. Bad guys, too, are not appropriately bundled for Siberian winter. [embed]294565:59186:0[/embed]
E3 preview photo
E3 preview
I was beefing a bit with Rise of the Tomb Raider for its heavily scripted sequences in which you hold forward on the analog stick as the game just sort of nonthreateningly happens around you (except for when a brutal cutscen...

Nier New Project photo
Spoilers?
Interviewing developers can sometimes feel like pulling teeth. For example, when I spoke to Nier producer Yosuke Saito and director Taro Yoko about their game the other day, the pair spent a good portion of the interview dodg...

How and why Platinum Games is making Nier 2

Jun 19 // Kyle MacGregor
"So, with the previous game, we got some feedback from our fans, not only in Japan but also from abroad, that for being an action RPG, the controls weren't great," Nier producer Yosuke Saito told Destructoid (through a translator) earlier this week at E3 in Los Angeles. "And that's one of the things we've really learned from the previous game." "When I thought about developers that are really known for great gameplay and design (in terms of gameplay implementation), there aren't that many," Saito continued. "But Platinum is one of them. They're known for great gameplay and development of gameplay engines and so we brought up this conversation dialogue and decided to make this collaboration project." "Honestly, in my personal opinion, the best action game developer in Japan has to be Platinum Games," Nier director Taro Yoko added. "So, being able to collaborate with them on this endeavor on the new Nier project is a great feat for us." But Platinum Games is known for action titles, not role-playing games. I wondered how different from its predecessor the sequel might turn out. Would it just be a straight-up action game? "It's more of a varied approach," Yoko replied. "It's not necessarily going to be the same way as before. I want to keep trying new things. And obviously with Platinum Games, they're renowned for their action game controls. So, we may do a little re-balancing and redesign in terms of some aspects, but we are considering a varied approach." [embed]294470:59163:0[/embed] What does that mean exactly? "Obviously Platinum Games are known for their quick, speedy combat. But if we go too far that direction, it gets too difficult for other people to really enjoy. So, since this is a JRPG we're trying to do that good balance with typical Platinum Games-style action elements with JRPG-element combat." "A lot of people think of action when they think of Platinum Games, but with this team they really showed a lot of respect to the original Nier. We actually have several fans of the previous game on the team, and through that respect they haven't completely deconstructed the old combat system or created a completely new one. They've taken the old combat system from the original and out of respect sorted of added onto it, added their own sort of flair here and there to improve upon what we already had and make a better game experience." It sounds like people needn't worry about this being a linear action game. "It's not going to be a game on rails so to speak," Yoko said when asked about the game systems. "It's not going to be one straight path. You are going to have room for exploration similar to the previous Nier." Yoko has long lived in Tokyo, but the director recently moved across the country to Osaka, where he is now embedded at Platinum's offices. So I asked him to talk about the studio, while also expressing some concern about the sheer number of titles Platinum is working on at the moment. "I don't know what Platinum Games was in the past. I've only been with them recently. I can't really comment on Platinum Games. But for my team specifically -- it's a very young team. For example, the game designer [Takashi Taura] is 29 years old." "So it's a very young, but passionate team. They have a lot of desire and passion for our project to do a good job. They're extremely skilled and very quick. Obviously we may do overtime here and there, but it's not like we're slave drivers necessarily. They love their job, they love being in the industry. Honestly I've been in the industry and I'm just amazed at the amount of skill and how efficiently this team works." We can look forward to seeing more of what the team has been up to sometime this fall.
Nier 2 interview photo
An interview with the RPG's creators
Nier isn't the sort of game you would expect to get a sequel, but that's exactly what's happening. Square Enix surprised (and delighted) folks the world over when it announced the new project at E3. That news alone would...

NieR interview photo
Director explains how they came to be
Nier is a game of extremes. For all its strengths, it has as many weaknesses. One of the roughest elements of the experience is fishing. The whole thing is poorly implemented and just as badly explained. And one of them wasn'...

Review in Progress: Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

Jun 19 // Chris Carter
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Square EnixPublisher: Square EnixMSRP: $39.99 ($12.99 per month)Released: June 19, 2015 (Early Access), June 23, 2015 Picking up directly where the last campaign left off, the first quest of Heavensward is located in the Coerthas Central Highlands, directing you to Ishgard. Yep, you heard that right -- it continues the story of the core game, so you'll need to complete the main campaign (ending with "Before the Dawn") and reach level 50 first. Newer players will find at least double the experience from the original vanilla quests to help boost them up a bit. According to Square Enix, the new Heavensward story is roughly 50 hours, and based on my pace so far in at 10, that's fairly accurate. It's about the same length as the original game, which is quite a feat, and about the sweet spot for a campaign in my mind. There's so much other stuff to do to keep you busy at this point. The flow of the process is to get from levels 50 to 60 with mostly story quests, which has worked out for the most part with my first character -- so far, I'm level 53 and counting. I decided to take on the leveling process with my trusty Paladin, who would be able to jump into queues at a moment's notice. Most classes have a handful of new abilities, and in the Paladin's case, there are five in total. I've acquired one so far -- the power to use a pinch block ability to give him some extra durability. There are a few new combo abilities that mix up your rotation quite a bit, as well as a few tweaks (like an accuracy buff to Shield Oath). It's just enough to keep you on your toes and get you interested in leveling without making things too tricky. Ishgard is the new capital city and the expansion hosts nine new locations, all of which are much larger than the original zones in A Realm Reborn. This is mostly because they now support flying mounts, a brand new mechanic in Heavensward. You can't just fly right off the bat, though -- you'll have to attune to each zone through a combination of locating aether and completing key quests. The idea is that you'll have fully explored the area by the time you're done, opening up a more vertical approach later on. [embed]294029:59024:0[/embed] It sounds like it could be annoying, but you'll get a compass item that will help you find said aether currents with instructions that aren't too vague and aren't on-the-nose either. It's a fun mechanic that reminds me a lot of the same design philosophies found in Guild Wars 2. Some of the currents are even built around jumping puzzles. Flying isn't as glorious as in, say, Aion, but it's very fun to soar about when tracking down hunt targets. I can see Square Enix doing a lot of cool things with future updates like hidden areas and quests; there's some of that already now. Speaking of flying, your personal Chocobo will allow you to do just that at a certain point in the story, so everyone can easily get on track and enjoy the ride. Having said that, the PlayStation 4 version is starting to show its age already. Although this is launch so there's lots more people concentrated in specific areas, the frame rate crawls a bit more than it used to in vanilla Realm Reborn, especially since most of these zones are so much bigger. It's not game-breaking, but it is odd. The PS4 was previously a powerhouse and nearly on par with the PC. I haven't tested it for that long, but the newly minted DirectX 11 engine on PC (that also released today) is drastically better than ever before, alleviating nearly all of my concerns. I'll provide more information on this in the future. The quality of the story is improved overall, drawing from what the development team learned from all of the superior updates. It deals with a thousand-year conflict between Ishgard and Dravania. I'm interested in seeing where this goes, and I'll provide a spoiler-free update when I complete it. The actual quests haven't been any better or worse than A Realm Reborn, and so far, the theme of the expansion seems to be "more of a good thing, without re-inventing the wheel." There are two starting zones to alleviate the congestion, which have worked, on top of the fact that roughly half of the post-level-50 community is going back to the old content with the new jobs anyway. As for other content, there are a handful of new dungeons, one of which I've tried out already called Dusk Vigil. It's about on par with the recent additions in the newer updates. That is to say they're very flashy, filled with their own lore bits, and while they cut down on exploration quite a bit, they're all designed to be completed casually with the occasional peppering of a challenge. The pacing is spot on, and they don't drag like a few of the vanilla dungeons. The same goes for the first hard mode trial (read: group instanced boss) I've encountered, which features a really badass bug that I don't want to spoil here. Suffice to say, it's a little more interesting than the initial Primals you meet in A Realm Reborn. Several other classes have gotten a few major shakeups, like the Bard, who now has a DPS-based Limit Break, and the Black Mage, which must stay within Ley Lines, a magical circle, to gain extra damage by way of haste. Every class now has a unique level-three Limit Break animation, which is great. All of these changes help make your job feel more unique and make Final Fantasy XIV a more well-rounded MMO as a whole. Switching to my other jobs for a few moments felt different, especially the Bard. You can really notice even just a few extra skills in dungeon runs. As for the three new jobs, I had a chance to try out Dark Knight, but there's also the Astrologian and Machinist. Unlocking them is as easy as reaching Ishgard and talking to a specific quest starter in town, then doing a 10-minute quest for each -- that's it! They all start at level 30, and come equipped with a few pieces of gear and roughly 10 skills each at first. It's perfect, as there's just enough there to give you plenty to do right away, but not so much that you're overwhelmed. While I need more time to test them, I think they all bring something unique to the table, and I love the Dark Knight's risk-reward mechanic. It's the freshest take on tanking yet. Other extras that I still need to dig into include the all new Au Ra race, the DirectX11 visual upgrade on PC, new hunt targets, a more comprehensive loot system for raids, the power to queue for dungeons with less than five players, Free Company (guild) upgrades like Workshops and Airships, crafting upgrades, Bismarck and Ravana as new Primals, more Triple Triad cards, a future new Frontlines PVP map, an all-new Relic questline set to debut in 3.1, and a new Alexander raid, which will unlock at a later date. Stay tuned as I continue to play through Heavensward, work my way up to level 60, and try out the new classes. Only then will I provide my full review for the expansion.+ [This review is based on a retail build provided by the publisher.]
Final Fantasy XIV review photo
Par for the heavens
The story of how Square Enix turned Final Fantasy XIV around is still incredible to me. I always tell people about playing it at E3 in 2010 for the very first time, pre-Realm Reborn, and how it was one of the least fun MMOs I...

FFXIV photo
FFXIV

Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward's launch is bumpy, but it works


Server issues, but not nearly as bad
Jun 19
// Chris Carter
Well, this is a lot smoother than Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn's initial launch, which left some people unable to log in for weeks. The Heavensward expansion debuted today for early access subscribers (read: pre-ord...
Square Enix photo
Square Enix

Yoichi Wada leaves Square Enix


さよならとがんばろう!
Jun 19
// Vikki Blake
Once-upon-a-time Square Enix boss, Yoichi Wada, has left the company. Wada stepped down as president in 2013 following a disastrous year for Square Enix but remained on as chair of Square Enix Tokyo (albeit one with no execut...
Heavensward photo
Pretty standard stuff
The Heavensward expansion launches for Final Fantasy XIV in a few hours, and Square Enix has sent over a copy of the Collector's Edition. For $130, it includes the expansion, a special box, a dragon mount figure, an...

Hitman release plan photo
Hitman release plan

New Hitman releasing unfinished, will get free content updates


Content updates through 2016
Jun 18
// Steven Hansen
Square Enix announced something of a reboot for the Hitman series this week. It's just called Hitman and is coming December 8. It won't be finished then, though. It will be $60. There will be "no DLC or microtransactions." St...

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