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Final Fantasy Explorers Western Release Confirmed With New Trailer

After some trademark hints last year, Square Enix confirmed today its action role-playing game Final Fantasy Explorers is coming stateside. Square also released a new trailer and gameplay details.

Combat looks fast-paced and focused on co-op, with up to four players joining together wirelessly. In true Final Fantasy form, Explorers takes place in a world where crystals are a scarce and valuable resource. Players become the eponymous Explorers and fight off monsters in search of shards from the legendary Grand Crystal.

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The popular job system is making a comeback, featuring over 20 choices ranging from monk and ninja to ranger and white mage. Eidolons such as Ifrit and Shiva can be fought and later summoned. There is also a system for recruiting and leveling up monsters to fight by your side. Even some familiar faces are in the game thanks to the Trance mechanic. In battle, players use this feature to transform into characters like Cloud, Squall, and Lightning.

Final Fantasy Explorers will be out exclusively for the 3DS on January 26, 2016. For more, check out our wishlist for the Final Fantasy VII remake.

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Final Fantasy Explorers Western Release Confirmed With New Trailer

After some trademark hints last year, Square Enix confirmed today its action role-playing game Final Fantasy Explorers is coming stateside. Square also released a new trailer and gameplay details.

Combat looks fast-paced and focused on co-op, with up to four players joining together wirelessly. In true Final Fantasy form, Explorers takes place in a world where crystals are a scarce and valuable resource. Players become the eponymous Explorers and fight off monsters in search of shards from the legendary Grand Crystal.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

The popular job system is making a comeback, featuring over 20 choices ranging from monk and ninja to ranger and white mage. Eidolons such as Ifrit and Shiva can be fought and later summoned. There is also a system for recruiting and leveling up monsters to fight by your side. Even some familiar faces are in the game thanks to the Trance mechanic. In battle, players use this feature to transform into characters like Cloud, Squall, and Lightning.

Final Fantasy Explorers will be out exclusively for the 3DS on January 26, 2016. For more, check out our wishlist for the Final Fantasy VII remake.

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Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward – Soaring Highs Tempered By Tedious Tasks

Square Enix’s first expansion for Final Fantasy XIV is a mixed bag. While it supplies a ton of new content, including some great endgame challenges, new jobs, and a smattering of other fun ways to spend time after you hit the updated level 60 cap, the journey there leaves much to be desired.

Almost everything of substance related to Heavensward is gated behind the story from Final Fantasy XIV, meaning new players must complete a copious amount of story content in order to begin exploring level 50-plus zones, unlocking flying, and taking on new trials and dungeons. I don’t have a problem with that, as it makes sense that new players should catch up on what’s going on first and be the correct level before diving in to new content. What’s puzzling to me is the three new jobs are also gated – you won’t be able to swap to a machinist, dark knight, or astrologian unless you’ve gained access to the new Heavensward areas.

The new zones look great and have a nice mix of monsters, with most of them featuring vertical exploration to take advantage of the fact that players can now take to the sky in Heavensward zones. The catch is that you have to tag a multitude of aether currents and complete some quests in each zone before you unlock the ability. Flight is essential to have in order to unlock endgame dungeons or to complete Heavensward hunts. This wouldn’t be so bad by itself, but having to track down these locations combined with the questing options leave much to be desired in the high level game.

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Fates, which are random events players engage in for experience and other rewards, were a popular way to level up new jobs in pre-expansion content. Sadly on release, Fates in the new zones are being ignored by the player base because the reward yield was vastly inferior to almost any other activity. The rote quests that make up the leveling fare from 50-60 range from bland to absurdly annoying, sometimes going so far as to just have the player walk from points A to B a multitude of times to talk to the same characters. Maybe you need to find moogles playing hide-and-seek. Whatever the task on the standard quest front, you’re probably not having a good time. Trudging through this busy work is frustrating.

In stark contrast, the dungeon, trial, and story content is the most interesting in available in Final Fantasy XIV. Square includes some excellent nods for old-school Final Fantasy fans to explore, from Matoya’s Cave filled with curious brooms to an awesome library dungeon clearly inspired by the Library of the Ancients in Final Fantasy V. The endgame content is robust and interesting, and you’ll have plenty to do even with current offerings – two level cap dungeons, two EX (Harder versions) trials, crafting, gathering, a meaty Alexander raid, and hunts for seals to upgrade your gear to prepare for even more content down the line. 

The roulette system offers endgame currency on a daily basis for players willing to dive into random content from within the entire game. This is a great way to keep things fresh for level 60 players and ensures that low-level players have people to party with as they come up through story dungeons and trials.

Heavensward offers a ton of content for existing players and has many fun and engaging things to do – once you’re at cap. Until then, get ready to run around looking for lost moogles and, if you’re new, working through a ton of existing content before taking to the skies on your warking chocobo.

Impressions were generated by taking an existing story-complete character as a new job (machinist) through expansion content to level cap (currently item level 168). Gameplay was experienced on PC.

You can check out some gameplay in our Test Chamber or listen/watch us chat about Heavensward in a recent podcast!

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Test Chamber – Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

The Final Fantasy XIV expansion has been out for a few weeks now, and players are chugging through new content, new zones, flying, jobs, trials, and dungeons, along with the new Alexander encounter that was added this week.

There's a whole lot to see and do in the new zones, and plenty of endgame content to explore in the form of dungeons, trials, hunts, crafting, gathering, or even just a relaxing game or 100 of Triple Triad. Join Andrew Reiner and Daniel Tack as they play through a trial encounter in Heavensward as one of the 3 new jobs available in the expansion, the machinist!

(I'm level 60 and have been participating in endgame content for a bit now, can't wait to tackle Alexander. For more on my thoughts on this expansion, expect our review soon and be sure to check out the Game Informer Show later today for a deeper dive into what i liked – and didn't like – about this massive content pack)

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For more Test Chamber, click the banner below, or check out our hub.

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GI Show – Tacoma, Final Fantasy XIV, Her Story, Dissecting Batman: Arkham Knight

The slow release dredges of summer are upon us, but our heads are still overflowing with things to talk about. Final Fantasy XIV's Heavensward expansion is out, several us have become infatuated with the mysterious Her Story, and Fullbright's space-station exploration game Tacoma graces the latest cover of Game Informer. This week we also see the return of listener emails and have an in-depth conversation about Batman: Arkham Knight's gripping ending (saved for the post-credits of the show so you don't have to worry about spoilers).

Your co-hosts Ben Hanson and Tim Turi are joined by the adventure game-lovin' Kim Wallace and calculatedly cunning Dan Tack for the general game chat and email answering segments. Ben and Tim hit our studio's version of the Batmobile's ejection seat button when it comes time for the Batman: Arkham Knight conversation, however. Andrew Reiner, Kyle Hilliard, Jeff Cork, and Bryan Vore invade the podcast for a post-credits spoilery conversation that's perfect for listeners/viewers who'd want to hear some great talk about the game's dramatic conclusion or don't intend to finish it.

There's plenty of fun to be had this episode, so watch the video below or subscribe and listen to the audio on iTunes.

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To jump to a particular segment of the podcast, check out the timestamps below…

3:18 – Our Tacoma cover story

16:35 – Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

29:10 – Rocket League

33:12 – Her Story

45:40 – Portal Stories: Mel

51:00 – Tales from the Borderlands

58:00 – Telltale's Minecraft: Story Mode

1:00:47 – Listener e-mails

1:30:52 – Spoiling all of Batman: Arkham Knight


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Reader Discussion: What Do You Want From The Final Fantasy VII Remake?

Final Fantasy VII is an old game that's getting a modern makeover, but does it need more than just a visual update? Would it be sacrilegious to change the game's combat system? How many changes are too many, and when does it stop being a remake?

Yesterday, our very own Joe Juba made some controversial opinions about Sqaure-Enix's upcoming Final Fantasy VII remake, saying that the updated game should change some of FF VII's familiar combat system, story beats, and mini games, among other things. What do you think about this? Does Final Fantasy VII need more than just a facelift? Do you think the original combat system is still fun? Does the game's story still match the new art design? Director Tetsuya Nomura has already said that the remake could deviate from the original, but what exactly would you want to see changed in the Final Fantasy reboot?

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Opinion – The Final Fantasy VII Remake Needs To Make Changes

The unveiling of Square Enix’s upcoming Final Fantasy VII remake at E3 seemed almost too good to be true. With the reveal, Final Fantasy fans united in joy and surprise at the prospect of the RPG classic’s return. But that was only the first step. Now that the game is confirmed, Square Enix faces the more difficult task of living up to fan expectations that have been percolating for a decade.

Like many RPG fans, I was obsessed with Final Fantasy VII when it released back in 1997. It is one of my fondest gaming memories, and one of the most significant titles in the industry’s history. Square Enix first sparked rumors of a remake at E3 2005 with a tech demo showing off a visually upgraded version of FF VII’s intro. In the 10 years since, many gamers have agreed that they want to revisit the story of Cloud and company. However, what form should that new version take? Should it be a faithful adaptation of the original, with the only visual changes to make everything look better? Many fans are hoping for that – but it would be the biggest mistake Square Enix could possibly make.

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The original PS3 tech demo from 2005

After the remake’s announcement, I wrote a feature about the things that should and should not change for the Final Fantasy VII remake. I received some passionate and strongly worded responses via comments, email, and social media. Some of them were disputing specific points I brought up (like the battle system), but many of them also were resistant to the idea of any change whatsoever. Here’s a small sample:

“are you sure you want the remake??? Cuz, it should mostly stay the same, that's the point… if you want garbage, play new ff”

“Leave Final Fantasy VII alone. The fans that have demanded a remake of the game want the game they bought 20 years ago to simply look better. They do not want a completely different game.”

“FF7 needs to stay the same base game and mechanics. Maybe a graphic/audio update, voice acting, and more opt content. No dif.”

“If you even played (or appreciated) final fantasy 7 in its entirety you would not try to alter the game in anyway. It won the hearts of gamers because it stayed true to a formula, not ‘what would sell.’ I hope you do not write another article.”

These sentiments are coming from a reasonable place; I am, in fact, among the millions who played (and appreciated) the original, and I understand the desire to re-experience something you love with a modern sheen. There’s nothing like playing a great game for the first time, and I’ve often wished I could recreate that sensation with certain titles. However, the success and popularity of games are products of their time and place, and that isn’t something you can replicate with a visual overhaul. The only way you’re going to capture all of the highs and lows exactly the way you remember them is by playing the original. For the remake, Square Enix needs to expand its horizons and bring in a new audience.

Even though fans have wanted it for years, the Final Fantasy VII remake isn’t just for them. Why would Square Enix spend the money and time necessary for a project of this scale only to sell it to people who are already fans? Appealing to nostalgia is certainly a part of the strategy, but Final Fantasy VII is 18 years old; many gamers today weren’t even born when it came out, so Square Enix can’t rely on faithfulness to the original to make the remake relevant. Video games – and RPGs in particular – have evolved a lot in the last two decades. Not just graphics, but battle systems, voice acting, interface, cinematography, pacing, and progression have changed with the times. To have a shot at success, this needs to be something that can stand alongside its competition on store shelves – not something that plays like a PlayStation game with a new coat of paint.

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Reveal trailer for the FF VII remake

In the ‘90s, Japanese RPGs were juggernauts. Today, the games that adhere to the traditional format only have niche appeal. I don’t like this fact, but it’s the truth. Personally, I would love to see the market flooded with more modern forays into the genre in the vein of Lost Odyssey, Ni no Kuni, and Persona 4. I’d also like to see more developers emulate the 16-bit style (like 2011’s Radiant Historia). Unfortunately, the sales numbers seem to show that these games can’t be as successful as they once were.

You can say that this is a cynical approach, focused more on what will sell than what is the best artistic vision for the game. But sticking to an outdated formula doesn’t seem any more authentic or wise. Only the developers can decide the best direction for the re-imagined version of Final Fantasy VII. One vision for the game was already executed years ago with the best tools available at the time. With all of the new advances, hardware, and opportunities, why assume that creators would want to adhere to a design rooted in the late ‘90s? In fact, some of those decisions may have been necessary concessions due to technical limitations, and this could be the chance to do things that weren’t possible at the time. Even if that’s not the case, assembling a replica of something you’ve already made does not seem interesting from a creative standpoint. Shouldn’t the team be free to modify its vision according to the options available?

All other points aside, everything boils down to one simple argument: If the remake doesn’t bother to rethink or reinterpret anything, it’s a wasted opportunity. The story, characters, and mechanics of Final Fantasy VII are known quantities; the whole point of a remake is to reinvigorate the familiar with the surprising. If all of the battles and narrative beats are the same as they were before, what’s the point of making something new? If it only looks better, but doesn’t contribute anything unique to the world or the gameplay, then there’s no reason for it to exist. If you want the same game you know inside and out, play the PlayStation original. If you’re excited to explore new facets of the Final Fantasy VII universe and see how it can expand, keep an open mind and start coming to terms with the inevitable changes on the horizon.

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Weekend Deals: PlayStation Fantasy Flash Sale, Tropico 5 For A Song

Earlier today, we shared with you a big sale on Sega’s Total War games. If you’re looking for something a little different, there are some other options courtesy of the PlayStation Store and Kalypso.

Sony is running another PlayStation Flash Sale, this time with a fantasy theme. There are a number of titles on deep discount, including the following highlights on each of the platforms:

PlayStation 4

  • Game of Thrones Season Pass (Telltale) – $ 12.50 (50 percent off), also available on PS3Dr
  • Hand of Fate – $ 8.00 (60 percent off)
  • Shadow Warrior – $ 7.50 (75 percent off)

PlayStation 3

  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – $ 3.75 (75 percent off)
  • Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen – $ 13.20 (67 percent off)
  • Lego Lord of the Rings – $ 5.00 (75 percent off)

Vita

  • Soul Sacrifice – $ 4.50 (70 percent off)
  • Tales of Hearts R – $ 14.00 (65 percent off)

PSP

  • Valkyria Chronicles 2 – $ 5.00 (50 percent off), Note: Vita compatibility requires copying uninstalled file from PS3.

TurboGrafx 16 (Compatible with PS3, PSP, Vita)

  • Bonk's Adventure – $ 1.20 (80 percent off) Note: Vita compatibility requires copying uninstalled file from PS3.
  • Dungeon Explorer – $ 1.20 (80 percent off)
  • New Adventure Island – $ 1.20 (80 percent off)

More titles are available, with deals available through Monday, June 29, at 11 a.m. Pacific / 2 p.m. Eastern. For complete details visit the PlayStation Store.

Kalypso also let us know that its most recent entry in the Tropico series is on its deepest discount ever. The fifth entry in the dictator simulation franchise is available for $ 9.99 this weekend, a savings of 75 percent. This discount extends to multi-copy bundles and the Steam special edition.

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The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited – Returning To An Expansive Fantasy World

Day two of my latest adventure in the lands of Tamriel on PlayStation 4 begins with me dodging town guards – apparently stealing every loaf of bread has drawn the ire of the city. It didn’t help that I “accidentally” launched a fireball blast at a citizen that was napping on the docks either. If the guards catch me, I’ll have to pay a hefty fine, but I can deal with that – my coffers are overloaded with all the pickpocketing and stealing I’ve been doing, so I have more than enough to purchase a mount and some nice gear, even though I’m only around level 10.

My lawbreaking adventures are just one aspect that has been added to Elder Scrolls Online since its PC launch last year, and a noticeable feature in the newly released Tamriel Unlimited on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. In addition to adding more of the freedom we have all come to know and love through other Elder Scrolls titles, there’s a hefty endgame component, essentially an alternate advancement system, that lets players continue to grow and develop after level cap. As always with an Elder Scrolls game, it’s up to you to determine the direction of your character through item use and exploration – if you want to be rogue that wears plate armor,  or a two-handed cloth wearer, you can create a template of your very own as you explore the vast world.

The Elder Scrolls Online’s control scheme lends itself well to controller mapping and for combat. Because there’s a focus on a few key skills and the timing of basic attacks, you have a full range of powers at your fingertips without having to worry about overbearing and overloaded hotbars. The sparse UI does an excellent job allowing you to see what abilities are available without taking up valuable screen real estate. The game’s controls feel fitting for console, and the combat seems to have bit more weight behind sword strikes and offensive actions than my trip to Tamriel last year. On the subject of crafting, it’s incredibly satisfying to load your pack up with dungeon loot, and then break it all down to craft fantastic equipment.

Ability morphing lets you hone your powers by adding special features to skills that may seem basic at first. Each class line contains ultimate abilities that can only be used for additional complexity and fun to combat. For my time on console, I piloted a heavily armored storm mage, who essentially turns into Emperor Palpatine, capable of electrocuting packs of enemies.

Voice chat is easy to access and use, though you may wish to turn it off in heavily populated areas. The game’s dungeon grouping system has improved some of the issues I had with risk/reward ratios during my first trek through ESO, but it’s still slightly frustrating that the group finder doesn’t simply match players and dump them directly into an instance – you still have to port around a bit to get to your final destination.

The crown shop contains a motley assortment of consumables and cosmetics for those that want to continue supporting the game after initial purchase. Things like pets, mounts, jester outfits, and other assorted items are available for a price. Players can also opt to sign up for “membership plus” which is essentially a subscription that provides crowns each month, and presumably other content offerings down the line.

Due to a comfortable control scheme and a buy-to-play model that takes the pressure out of being forced to “get the most efficiency” out of your playtime, Elder Scrolls Online is a solid fit for console – it’s far more fun to wander aimlessly, farm gobs of consumables and craftables, and spend thirty minutes trying to steal a goblet undetected if you’re not constantly thinking about a subscription fee ticking in the background.

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[Update] Square Enix Says Final Fantasy VII October Release Date On Its Site Is Wrong

Update: Square Enix has responded to our inquiry regarding the Final Fantasy VII PlayStation 4 port. Unfortunately, the date the company listed is incorrect.

"We can confirm that the published release date for this title is incorrect," a representative told us via email. "As discussed at this year’s E3, Final Fantasy VII will be ported to the PlayStation 4 in Winter 2015.  The pricing has already been announced last December to be set at $ 15.99."

Original Story:

Despite announcing the surprising Final Fantasy VII remake at E3 2015 last week, Square Enix is pushing ahead with its port of the original for PlayStation 4. The publisher has dated the game for this October.

Square Enix’s website lists a price of $ 15.99 and release date of October 16. The page also mentions the PC Only features, including achievements and the character booster, but those have not yet been confirmed for PS4.

We anticipate that a press release with full details will arrive later this morning. We’re also reaching out to Square Enix and will update as more information is available.

[Source: Square Enix]

 

Our Take
With the remake likely years out, it’s no wonder Square Enix is cashing in with a PS4 version as it announced at PlayStation Experience. With huge western titles coming this fiscal year, a Final Fantasy VII port on PS4 is just the cherry on the publisher’s cash flow sundae. 

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