After a much needed three-year hiatus from the E3 press conference game, Square Enix is easing back into things with a recorded, Nintendo Direct-style presentation on Day 0 of E3.

Other than Kingdom Hearts, what do they have to talk about and show? And how do they keep the Kingdom Hearts fans from falling into an even deeper depression after the delay of the game into 2019?

Why E3 2018 is Important for Square Enix

Square Enix has a lot of different irons in the fire to address at this year’s E3. They’ve made multiple announcements and promises in the past that tend to all come to a head in this 2018-19 time frame.

After Rise of the Tomb Raider’s struggle to gain an audience in a crowded marketplace in 2015 and 2016 with its exclusivity deal on XBox delaying its release on PlayStation 4 and a change of developer over to Eidos Montreal, there are lots of questions as to whether Shadow of the Tomb Raider will be able to pick the momentum of the series back up.

At the same time, long awaited games like Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy VII Remake have fans restless for more details and specifics to calm their concerns. Especially after another delay into February 2019 for Kingdom Hearts, Square Enix needs to give more stuff to fans to help tide them over and keep them confident in this long awaited game being at least somewhat worth the around decade-long wait.

At the same time, Square Enix has multiple other games that are listed for a 2018 release, including the new Switch IP Octopath Traveler, the also long awaited Dragon Quest XI, last years announced Left Alive, and the more recently announced Just Cause 4 – as well as their MMO Final Fantasy XIV to possibly give a bit more information on. On top of it all, there is the lingering wait for what is coming from their Avengers property that they announced a partnership with Marvel Games on about two years ago now.

What Was Announced?

There were actually a decent amount of surprises revealed as well.

  • Just Cause 4 had a lengthy trailer showcasing more crazy over the top grapple action and explosions. The news of it was the announcement of the release date of December 4, 2018.
  • A new game from Platinum Games was announced, Babylon’s Fall. The reveal trailer took a look at a background lore for the world they are creating and ended with a faceoff with a giant warrior bearing down on a kneeling character, who then steals the sword away and strikes back. The game was given a 2019 release window.
  • A marketing partnership was announced between Final Fantasy XIV Online and Monster Hunter, featuring Rathalos from Monster Hunter as an enemy as well as what seemed like adding the helper creatures Palicos into FF XIV.
  • The Quiet Man was announced, displaying what seemed like Full Motion Video (FMV) cutscenes blending into action fighting sequences. The main protagonist is deaf, which may play into the characters other abilities or something along those lines. The trailer ended with saying more information will be coming in August, most likely at Gamescom.

How Did Square Enix Do?

For the most part, Square was successful with the things they did show during the showcase. Shadow of the Tomb Raider has an extensive game play demo as well as an intro story cutscene that they displayed, helping to explain the setup for the newest entry in the series. The gameplay was very stealth oriented and also showed off the earning of experience for defeating different enemies as well as earning extra XP for performing stealth kills.

Even some of the games that they just displayed a trailer of had good showings: Dragon Quest XI also received a more in-depth story trailer that helped to pique the interest of fans as well as the uninitiated alike; Just Cause 4 showed off even more of its off-the-wall and over the top gameplay, which seems to be taken to an even higher level than Just Cause 3; the two new game teases that they displayed, for The Quiet Man  and Babylon’s Fall, did a good job of piquing the interest and wanting to learn more about what these games might be attempting to do.

Also, more context around how The Amazing Adventures of Captain Spirit plays into Life is Strange was provided in a new trailer that discussed why they went free with this game and that it is easing players into the fact that they want to show more stories from various different characters in a more expanded universe. It ultimately left me even more excited for the end of the month and seeing what Dontnod has in store for us with the continuation of this series.

However, the one trailer that they showed that didn’t accomplish what it needed to do was Kingdom Hearts III. The trailer was a slightly modified trailer of what was shown at the XBox conference the day prior and failed to really give much more information about what is coming that hasn’t already been seen before. With the game being delayed into 2019, they have more time to be able to blow out more information on the game, but in the meantime they might end up receiving a lot of backlash from fans starving for more information and justification for the most recent delay.

The other area where Square Enix fell back a lot in this presentation are the games that were conspicuous in their absence. With no mention of Final Fantasy VII Remake, that makes it clear that the likelihood of that game coming out in 2019 is starting to fade quickly. And while fans that are honest with themselves have girded themselves for that inevitability, the problem is that fans will start to lose faith not only in the FF VII Remake, but Final Fantasy games in general, due to the protracted development of Final Fantasy XV, the numerious issues at launch with Final Fantasy XIV, and even the divisiveness of the fanbase surrounding the Final Fantasy XIII games. Losing faith in the brand can cause long term harm to Square Enix as a company and is something that they will have to be majorly concerned about whenever Final Fantasy XVI comes to light.

The other game that was extremely conspicuous in its absence is the Crystal Dynamics developed Avengers game. Rumors recently have come out saying that the new game is a reboot of the old Ultimate Alliance games, but with a very different gameplay design. Reading into the absence of the game, it is becoming much more likely that this isn’t going to be a game that is released on the current generation of consoles and might not be released until after we get the release of the next Playstation and XBox in 2020.

The risk they run at that point is that is much more time for the superhero market to get saturated even more in the entertainment space; with more and more Avengers/Marvel movies coming in the next couple of years.

All in all, what Square Enix showed was intriguing, but what was missing ended up speaking a lot louder than what we actually saw. That 800 pound gorilla problem is what Square Enix is going to continue to struggle with until they are able to push more of that information out to fans. They still have one more chance in the conferences at E3 this year, with the Sony conference the evening of June 11, so we shall see if they are able to get that gorilla off their back.