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Final Xbox One Holiday Bundle Features A Double Dose Of Fallout

This week, Microsoft is announcing a new holiday Xbox One bundle each day. We're collecting all of the information on what will end up being nine different bundle options for shoppers this season.

The final bundle revealed this week stars a double dose of Fallout. It includes a 1 TB console, a physical copy of Fallout 4, and a digital copy of Fallout 3 for Xbox 360 (playable on Xbox One via backward compatibility launching widely in November). It will retail for $ 399 this November.

500 GB Gears of War Bundle (available in November):

Gears of War Ultimate Edition is getting its own bundle (though it's included with the 1TB Holiday package). This one comes with a 500 GB Cirrus White console, a digital copy of Gears of War Ultimate Edition, the Superstar Cole multiplayer skin, and access to the Gears of War 4 beta. It's a Walmart exclusive that will be available in November for $ 349.

500 GB Kinect Bundle (available in October):

Additionally, Microsoft is throwing the Kinect a bone with $ 499 bundle including three games that take advantage of the sensor. The 500 GB console includes digital copies of Dance Central Spotlight, Zoo Tycoon, and Kinect Sports Rivals. It will be available in October.

500 GB The Lego Movie Videogame Bundle (available in October):

The Lego Movie bundle includes a 500 GB Xbox One and a copy of The Lego Movie Videogame. Microsoft hasn't yet indicated whether this is a digital code or hard copy.

Retail price is $ 349, and it will be available in October. You can see the other bundles announced so far below.

The 1 TB Holiday Xbox One Bundle (available in October):

The holiday bundle is a 1 TB black console that comes with three different games. Included are Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Rare Replay, and Ori and the Blind Forest.

This set is priced at $ 399 and will be available in October.

[Source: Major Nelson]

Tomb Raider 1 TB Xbox One Bundle (available in November):

Microsoft is taking this week to announce a number of holiday Xbox One bundles. As predicted, Lara Croft is getting her own.

The Tomb Raider bundle includes a 1 TB Xbox One, digital copies of Tomb Raider Definitive Edition and Rise of the Tomb Raider, and the Tactical Survival Kit pack (outfit and weapon skin) for Rise of the Tomb Raider. The console is standard black version (no fancy decoration or controller).

It’s priced at $ 399 (the same price as a standalone 1 TB Xbox One) and will be available at the Microsoft Store and Best Buy. Microsoft has already announced the following bundles:

  • Xbox One Elite (1 TB solid state hybrid drive and Elite controller – $ 499)
  • Halo 5: Guardians Limited Edition (1 TB Halo console, Halo 5: Guardians, Warzone Req Bundle, alloy Guardian model, The Fall of Reach animated series, in-universe lore documents – $ 499)
  • Forza Motorsport 6 Limited Edition (1 TB Forza console, Forza Motorsport 6 – $ 399)
  • Gears of War: Ultimate Edition (500 GB black console, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition – $ 349)

Microsoft will be announcing more bundles throughout the week.

[Source: Xbox Wire]


Our Take
I’ve been expecting this exact announcement since June (when I also stated that Microsoft would aggressively bundle this holiday season). Holding the price steady and incentivizing purchases with software that doesn’t increase the purchase price was a winning success last holiday that the company is amping up in 2015. – The Feed

World Of Final Fantasy Gets New Screenshots Showing Off Characters And Creatures

Square Enix has released a ton of new screenshots from their upcoming chibi reimagining of Final Fantasy, World of Final Fantasy, featuring the game’s powerful Mirage creatures.

Mirages, which can be stacked in battle to improve stats, are designed to help protagonists Reynn and Lann turn the tide as they travel through various Final Fantasy worlds in search of new beasts to capture and raise. Notable Mirages include popular summoned creatures like Shiva, Ramuh, Ifrit, and Cerberus. Check it out in the gallery below.

You can also check out the wacky new Cactuar Conductor and the cutesy aesthetic in the previously released trailer. – The Feed

Final Fantasy Tactics Designer’s Funded Kickstarter Is In Complete Turmoil

When Yasumi Matsuno’s Kickstarter campaign in partnership with Playdek wrapped up in February 2014, 15,824 backers (who contributed more than $ 660,000) expected they’d be playing Unsung Story in July of this year. That expected release date came and went. Now, two months later, developer Playdek is finally offering an update…but the news isn't good.

Playdek CEO Joel Goodman opened up about his company’s troubles to backers today, offering an apology for the long silence and assurances that Unsung Story has not been canceled. He indicates that outside publishers have shown interest, and that some of those conversations might bear fruit. 

“Currently there is still interest from some parties, and while we will continue to explore what a partnership like that will mean for the development of the game, we can’t continue the silence due to those matters, and therefore why we are updating you now, and will continue from here on out on a regular development basis,” Goodman writes. “I understand that in hind sight it might appear that we could have just shared this with you all, but without knowing how it was going to impact the development and any announcements concerning the game, we chose to wait it through that timeframe. So again, my sincere apology for keeping the curtain closed.”

Unsung Story was pitched as a tactical RPG in the spirit of Matsuno’s past work on Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre. The focus of the original campaign was a single-player experience on PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and Windows tablets. 

In his post, Goodman lays out a new development plan that pushes delivery out until a beta in mid-2016. Further, the focus has shifted to a multiplayer-first approach. PvP gameplay is landing first, with the first solo experience now scheduled for late 2016.

He suggests that Playdek’s internal financial issues led to layoffs of key staff across departments, which led to a delay in development.

Backers in the comments of yesterday’s update are accusing Playdek of a bait and switch. Many of them are demanding refunds, claiming that PvP was never part of the plan. In the comments, Playdek disputes this.

“The game has always been planned to have both a PVP aspect and Single Player story mode,” a company representative writes. “I believe most of the PVP discussions occurred in Updates, the comment section, and in interviews. The single player is going to be exactly what you are expecting. The campaign is where the story and characters will all come to life and will play similar to the other great tactical RPGs, while the PVP aspect will draw its inspiration from the story line and world of Rasfalia and will allow you to play against friends and other players.”

An examination of the Kickstarter pitch (the main page of the campaign) does not reveal any mention of multiplayer or a player-vs-player mode. We’ve reached out to Playdek to inquire about how it will respond to requests for refunds and the change in the game’s design. We’ll update should we receive a response.

[Source: Kickstarter via Kotaku]


Our Take
Playdek has a good track record (Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer, Summoner Wars, Agricola, and more on iOS), and when combined with Yasumi Matsuno’s resume, backers believed in the Unsung Story campaign. While delays happen, the lack of communication and the subsequent significant shift in development have left backers feeling jilted. I don’t blame them. 

This is a textbook case of Kickstarter gone wrong. It’s not because of Playdek’s unfortunate financial situation, though. It’s the terrible communication and drastic change in focus that are bad form here.

For those considering backing any Kickstarter, remember that it is not a store or a pre-order system. It's a risk that doesn't always pay off. – The Feed

The Protagonists Go Fishing And Chocobo Riding In Latest Final Fantasy XV Video

The latest video for Final Fantasy XV shows a much more laid-back version of the game with relaxing activities and a nice meal.

Alongside showing Chocobo riding and fishing, as the headline promises, you will also see a new swamp area of the game, new wildlife inspired by crocodiles and herds of antelopes, and a really nice look meal.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

For more on Final Fantasy XV, which releases next year, head here.

[Source: Square Enix on YouTube] – The Feed

Get A Job! Final Fantasy V Lands On PC This Month

Final Fantasy V is making the leap to PC, bringing with a number of enhancements it’s picked up along the way. The best part is that you won’t have to wait long to play it.

Since its original release in 1992, Final Fantasy V has been re-released a couple of times. The Game Boy Advance version added visual changes and an additional dungeon. Those remain intact for the upcoming release.

There are also Steam achievements and trading cards, as well as new controls to fit the platform. Square Enix has also tweaked the active-time battle system.

Final Fantasy V will be out on PC on September 24 for $ 15.99.


Our Take
From a preservation perspective, I’m glad to see Square Enix releasing these games on PC. I wish there were a way to toggle between original release and updated version, though. This version seems to have some of the odd visual changes that were included in the mobile version rather than directly emulating the Game Boy Advance edition. – The Feed

What Works (And What Doesn’t) In Dragon Age: Inquisition’s Final DLC

Dragon Age: Inquisition has been out for almost a year, and its story is coming to a close. The final DLC, Trespasser, is an epilogue set years after the conclusion of the main campaign. Compared to previous single-player DLC for the game, this one is a more focused, narrative-driven experience. That's what fans have been wanting since the beginning, but is it enough to make Trespasser worthwhile?

I played through the new content with my Inquisitor, and though some aspects will be different depending on your choices, these are the primary things that this finale gets right and the areas where it stumbles.

Note: The entries below have some basic details, but I won't spoil any story revelations or cool character moments.

Works: Follower Interactions
The story opens two years after the defeat of Corypheus. With the dust settled and your organization's original purpose fulfilled, a meeting has been called to determine the fate of the Inquisition. This premise has the benefit of drawing back together all of your party members who have been off pursuing their own adventures since the end of Dragon Age: Inquisition's main story. I spent my first hour in Trespesser just walking around and catching up with these old friends. With one exception, all of my previous allies were gathered in one place, and I love how all of the scenes and conversations with the characters highlight their best qualities and give a sense of how they've changed over time. What (and who) you see will be different based on decisions you made, who you romanced, and how certain personal quests resolved, but it's all a fitting tribute for the fans who grew attached to this memorable crew.

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Doesn't: The Mark
In addition to the impending decision about the Inquisition's fate, something is also wrong with the mark on the Inquisitor's hand. It's getting worse, though this isn't really explained or even presented as much of a concern until the end. It seems shoehorned into the plot, and its gameplay applications aren't much better. Your unstable mark provides a neat wrinkle in the final battles, but for the most part, it serves as a glorified torch that you need to spend your focus meter to (briefly) activate in order to navigate dark caves. Both in terms of mechanics and story, this aspect of Trespasser feels under-develeoped.

Works: The Environments
Unlike the Jaws of Hakkon DLC, Trespasser isn't a massive new zone to explore freely. It's more like a long story mission that has you traveling through several smaller and more linear areas. That's not a bad thing; the places you visit are interesting and varied, and the pacing means that you're never spending too long in one place. Plus, the smaller scope means that the spaces you move through feel more carefully and deliberately designed, so they're more fun to explore. They're also loaded with new codex entries to pore over.

Doesn't: Boss Fights
Trespasser has two bosses, and I did not have fun with either of them. The first one presented me with an optional "mercy" objective that I could not complete because my foe got caught on objects in the world, so I was forced to kill it instead. The second boss just went on for too long. As post-game content, I expected Trespasser to have some tough foes, but the last major enemy felt like a damage sponge that I was just hammering on endlessly, even with all of my high-powered spells and meticulously min-maxed gear. The fight doesn't really have a trick or challenge, it's just an endurance match.

Works: The Climax
Despite my disappointment with the boss fights, the climax pays off big. I don't want to say too much for fear of ruining it, but uncovering the reasons (both ancient and current) behind Trespasser's events was the highlight of this DLC for me. Figuring out the "who" won't be hard, but they "why" and "how" weren't what I was expecting, and I was hanging on every word of this cathartic conversation.

Doesn't: The Resolution
After the action comes to a head and you have the answers you were looking for, you decide the fate of the Inquisition. Even though you technically have several choices, it really just boils down to two actual outcomes. Unfortunately, neither of them seemed right to me, which was a bummer. I was still stinging from that when the ending montage started, showing "where are they now?" slides about all of the main characters' fates. However, the text during this sequence advances too quickly and the art presentation doesn't meet the bar set by the previous ending, leaving your final seconds with Trespasser feeling rushed rather than something you can savor.

Final Verdict
It may not be perfect, but Trespasser is still a must-play for fans of Dragon Age: Inquisition. It concludes the arc that began in the base game, and gives you plenty of time to spend with the characters and remind you why you like them. It also expands certain areas of the lore in compelling ways that has me excited for the future. Though it's an epilogue, don't think of this as a "true ending" that you need to buy. Inquisition told a complete story, and Trespasser feels more like an interstitial episode bridging the gap between the last game and the next. It gives players closure for most of the characters and lingering story threads, but presents new questions along the way. All in all, it's a satisfying way to say goodbye to one of the best RPGs I've ever played.

For BioWare's perspective on what this final piece of DLC offers, read our interview with creative director Mike Laidlaw. – The Feed

Battle Chasers Meets Final Fantasy In Ex-Darksider’s Developer Kickstarter

WildStorm originally started publishing Battle Chasers in 1998. It was a fantasy story about several unlikely allies who explored an arcanepunk world as they hunted down a group of powerful villains. The comic quickly became one of the most popular comics of the late ‘90s, but after only nine issue it came to an abrupt cliffhanger. Creator Joe Madureira soon transitioned into the world of game development and helped build the Darksiders series. Now, Joe Mad and a few fellow ex-Vigil Games developers have formed a new studio, Airship Syndicate, and the team just launched a Kickstarter project for Battle Chasers: Nightwar – a video game revival of the comic franchise that also looks to emulate the classic turn-based RPG action of classic Final Fantasy games.

In addition to the game’s Kickstarter, Joe Mad is planning a return to the Battle Chasers comics, which will pick up where it left off over 12 years ago. While the game will include many of the same characters and settings seen in the comics, it will also be its own standalone story that Madureira believes will be a perfect jumping-on point for people new to the franchise.

“We’re writing the game as if you’ve never seen these characters before,” says Madureira. “It takes place shortly after the events of the comic, but it’s sort of like a side story. Basically, the heroes arrive on this mysterious continent that’s shrouded in mist and they find this deserted village. The game really unfolds like a mystery where the heroes discover a new villain, who has not been introduced in the books, who rises to power and starts building an army on this continent.”

In terms of gameplay, Battle Chasers seeks to emulate the classic Final Fantasy formula, but this turn-based RPG formula sometimes doesn’t play as well today as it did back in 1994, so the team is updating it for a modern audience. For example, there are no random battles in Battle Chasers: Nightwar; players will be able to choose when they dive into combat by attacking enemies roaming around the screen.

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“Combat looks familiar, because it’s presented like those old-school classics, but we’re really using 3D heroes superimposed over hand-painted backgrounds,” says Airship Syndicate co-founder Ryan Stefanelli. “The biggest combat difference is in how we handle attacking. Every move you do takes some kind of resource, and replenishing your mana pool isn’t always easy, so you’ll have to be strategic when picking which moves to perform. This encourages players to use a variety of attacks and makes the combat less boring.”

The Battle Chasers: Nightwar Kickstarter is now live, and the Airship Syndicate team is aiming to raise $ 500,000 in a bid to resurrect the Battle Chasers franchise on PC and Mac. Battle Chasers: Nightwar is also on Steam Greenlight. If successful, the team also hopes to bring the game to consoles. Thankfully, the Airship Syndicate team isn’t a group of unknown developers; the team has already cut its teeth on the Darksiders series, and its prototype for Nightwar already looks very promising. We’re excited to see where Joe Mad and friends go from here. – The Feed

BioWare Answers The Big Questions About Dragon Age: Inquisition’s Final DLC

Over the last year, BioWare has added to its fantastic RPG with DLC like Jaws of Hakkon and The Descent (as well as free updates and multiplayer content). At a PAX panel today, the studio revealed Trespasser, the final piece of content for Dragon Age: Inquisition. To get more details about this narrative-focused epilogue, we spoke with creative director Mike Laidlaw about what we can expect, including the status of the Inquisition and how the fates of characters like Cassandra and Solas figure into the tale.

This story was originally published on August 29 at 7:30 p.m. Central. Dragon Age: Inquisition – Trespasser is due out on Xbox One, Playstation 4, and PC on September 8.

What exactly is the Trespasser DLC?
It’s a bit of an experiment on our part. It’s something we haven’t done before – we’re producing an epilogue. Like, an actual “after the game is done, restricted to players who have finished the game” beat that explores something that has always been fascinating to me: the adventure after. What’s it like being in an organization built to save the world after the world has ostensibly been saved? This comes after a number of discussions and panels where people said “It would be nice to find out what happens in the later beats.” We realized that we had an opportunity and a challenge – we created a lot of story threads, and we had a lot of fans keen to learn about certain characters and their outcomes. We don’t want to just wrap all of that up in a single DLC, but there’s a real opportunity to take the Inquisition’s story and rather than extending it forever, instead give it a real conclusion where you play through its last days and end the story in this series of events that happen two years after the core game.

Two years is a long time – how did you arrive at that?
We wanted to make sure there was enough time for the political situation to have evolved. For the world to have dealt with some of the immediate fallout. The Inquisition is not disregarded by any means at this point, but there’s still the fact that they are a military organization, they have spies everywhere, and they were formed to deal with the crisis of Inquisition. It was such a fascinating thing to ask the questions, “How would Ferelden react? How would Orlais react? What would happen in the later stage of this organization’s life?”

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Do you mean it just follows these later beats in the story through, or are you saying that this is effectively the end of the the Inquisition as an organization?
Well, that’s up to you. Ultimately, one of the core goals approaching this experience was that you would decide what the final fate of the Inquisition would be. This is our final piece of content for the Inquisition chapter of the Dragon Age world, so it puts it in a unique space. We’re making a commitment that this is an ending, not a DLC slotted somewhere in the story. This is how it finishes. Of course, with Dragon Age, we’ve always been committed to providing an experience that has chapters, with new protagonists and news stories being told, because we see it as a series about a time and a place rather than an individual character.

It seems obvious, but just to be totally clear: You need to have a post-game save in order to access the content in Trespasser?
Yep, it becomes available to any character who has completed the core storyline for Inquisition. It adds an operation to the war table, and once you start that operation, you begin this content set years later.

I know they’re different BioWare teams, but some of the the goals of Trespasser remind me of Mass Effect 3’s Citadel DLC. Did you take any inspiration from that?
I would say we took some notes there. Citadel happens in the timeline – it happens mid-mission, before the end. It’s not an epilogue in the same way, though when it was released, for many people it was their last experience with Mass Effect. This big thing about Citadel that we found resonant was that opportunity to hang out with your friends again and saddle up for another mission. There’s a bit of a joy in seeing these folks again and seeing how they’ve evolved. How are things with Dorian now? How are things with Blackwall? Of course, we can change elements of that based on how you played Inquisition and the decisions you made. There is a chunk of Trespasser where you get to catch up with old friends, and that is certainly our most hotly requested thing for DLC. When we look at critiques for The Descent, it’s often “Well, I just wanted more out of my followers.” We wanted to make sure that you have the opportunity to deal with your advisors like Cullen and Josephine, but also that the followers are there and you have a chance to see how things have turned out for them.

Can you give any examples of how some of the characters might have changed?
For several of the characters, depending on where you took them with their personal plots, they may or may not appear at all. One that leaps to mind: If you didn’t really dig into Cole’s personality – if he remained a cipher – then he won’t appear in this. He won’t have that connection that would draw him back to the Inquisitor two years later. It also goes beyond that – it’s not just "do they appear or do they not?". One part of Cole’s personal arc is whether he’s more of a spirit or a human, and that’s going to change his circumstances. The more human Cole is going to look and feel quite different than the Cole that was pushed toward spirit. So, you get to see some repercussions with your followers. And, of course, we want to make sure that you have one great last adventure with them. It’s not just politics and so on; there is a threat that emerges, which brings interesting tension to the storyline. You have these characters who are concerned about the fate of the Inquisition who will bring up decisions and things that you did over the course of your critical path – in some ways as condemning actions. “How dare you take a keep in Ferelden!?” “Well, it was run by bandits. Do you want me to give it back to them?” The end result being these things are called up, and yet the Inquisition remains relevant as you play, so it creates this interesting tension between perception and reality.

Some characters aren’t accessible in post-game play, based on different factors. Will you get them back two years later?
It depends, yes. For instance, one obvious example would be someone who became Divine. Obviously, they’re probably not in a position to get up and galavant around, but we’ve accounted for that. We’ve tried to make sure that the characters who recognize the immediate threat – the Qunari have made a move, and that’s the challenge that comes up – that’s the kind of thing that the Divine would say “I’m going to put the armor on for one last round, because this is ridiculous.” We wanted that flashpoint crisis to make it possible for those rules to be broken, because it would be a shame if you had someone like Cassandra – who you probably liked and were maybe even taking – up there as Divine and she just says, “Good luck.”

How does Solas figure into all of this?
If you’ve seen the ending, you know Solas is a special circumstance. I’m not going to promise that he rejoins the party and things are great, but he will make an appearance. I know people are excited about that. Solas remains an exceedingly complicated and enmeshed character in the world. In the course of the DLC, we’re not going to wrap up his storyline – that’s just way too complicated. But we can add a lot of texture and information to it, so it isn’t just this one note of confusion. Instead, it’s an opportunity to learn more about his situation in a way that we may be able to explore in future games. If there are future games.

So, Solas is a factor, but the epilogue isn’t about him?
I would say no. You will certainly come away with a greater understanding of his situation by playing Trespasser, but it’s not just the Solas story. Instead, this is one where the crisis, the regrouping, a last hurrah, a chance to see your friends and followers, and Solas are all a part of it. Seeing how things turned out for Solas is just as much a part of the adventure as seeing how things turned out for Blackwall – it’s just that his plays out differently from the others.

What does the name “Trespasser” refer to?
In the course of the story, the Inquisitor is going to be involving the Eluvians – the mirrors that can be used to travel between spaces. In a way, the idea of Trespasser is that you’re entering into some places that no one has gone for thousands of years, so you are “trespassing” in that space. There are some other meanings to it as well, but I will leave those for people to mull over and uncover on their own.

If you’re traveling via Eluvian, where does Trespasser occur?
Events take place at the Winter Palace, but everywhere else you go is completely new, and completely constructed to tell the Trespasser story.

In terms of structure, is it like the Jaws of Hakkon DLC, which gives you another large area to explore freely? Or is it more focused?
It’s much more narrative in the way it flows. There’s clear goals, clear next steps to take, and it’s much higher in cinematic presentation than Hakkon was. We look at the feedback, and that’s something people have been looking for – something dealing more directly with the followers. We’ve had this cooking for quite a while; it was coming, and we knew this was there. Hakkon was a chance to refine some of what we learned about exploration, and The Descent was an opportunity for us to work more closely with the Austin team to make more of a dungeon crawl. This one is the more narrative heavy of the three.

Even though this is a wrap-up to the Inquisition story, do we see any hints about the direction Dragon Age may take in future installments?
Absolutely. One of the things I’ve always tried to do with Dragon Age is make sure we have our eyes cast one or two games ahead. That we have a good awareness of the kinds of stories we could tell…Again, this is all presuming we do another Dragon Age; I’m certainly not confirming that today. But I always want there to be a fertile world. I want there to be interesting mysteries, and I like to explore those. But I think the other interesting side to Trespasser is that it provides a lot of answers. It provides some fascinating looks into elements of the Qunari and the elves.

You mentioned that Trespasser is the final piece of official DLC. Are there any more features coming via free updates?
Yeah, knowing we were wrapping up Inquisition, we wanted to do a couple of treats for people. These will be available in the next patch [for PS4, Xbox One, and PC]. In addition to some bug fixes and code stuff that need to be done for Trespasser, the two big features are that players will be able to – it’s not quite New Game+, it’s a system we’re calling “the Golden Nug.” Once you complete the storyline for Inquisition, there will be a golden nug added to the undercroft in Skyhold. If you click on it, it synchronizes all of your collectibles to the cloud. Once you’ve done that, things like your potion recipes, tapestries, schematics are all synced up. In future games, even those in progress, you will be able to click on a golden nug in Haven, Skyhold, and Trespasser locations I won’t reveal, allowing you to sync again. Meaning any character [on the same hardware platform] who doesn’t have those high-end schematics – maybe you beat The Descent with one of your characters – you can now access that schematic and craft that armor at low levels. So, if you find a really rare schematic, you can share it across all of your characters – or choose not to. If you don’t click on the nug, it won’t sync.

The other big feature – and I know this comes a little late – we finally added a wardrobe to you bedroom in Skyhold so you can choose from about a dozen different outfits for your casual wear as you make your way around the castle. There are some that are a leather look, some that are a lightly armored look. There’s a couple variations on the formal wear. Hopefully, people find something they like and are comfortable with. Certainly people have asked for it. I know people will probably miss the current outfit, so it’s still there for the people who are in love with it – all three of them.

If this information below sounds exciting, you will also be happy to know that Trespasser releases “soon,” coming sometime in September for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. – The Feed

Tabata Teases That Final Fantasy XV Will Reflect Gaming’s Move Online

At PAX Prime 2015, I spoke with Final Fantasy XV director Hajime Tabata and art director Tomohiro Hasegawa about a variety of elements and inspirations that are forming the upcoming Final Fantasy XV. Tabata displays infectious enthusiasm as he chats about his upcoming project, and has no qualms firing back questions my way during the course of the pleasant conversation. There are a lot of interesting hints and takeaways over the discussion that range from Steam, the community, Tonberries, and enjoying regional delights during road trips.

GI: Looking at the new footage, can you tell me a little more about the car elements? Is this a huge element of the game? Does the car level up like a character would?

Tabata: So the game was built upon the idea of a road movie to some degree, converting that concept to a game and being able to experience it. The concept follows around taking a journey. The player really feels the world, experiences the world, along with your companions that you’re traveling with. The biggest point is that the players themselves will feel the connection to the characters and the journey, like they’re experiencing it firsthand. So, the car mechanics follow this in the game itself, but we’re really aiming to make the character feel like they are part of this larger journey – the car mechanics support that feeling as a secondary element. The gameplay will feel much different than typical offline Final Fantasy games in that sense, it’s not just following a story, you’re really thrown into a world to experience it in the form of a trip.

With his father’s car, Noctis and his companions travel around from destination to destination. You’ll have auto or manual controls to steer the vehicle and deal with other travel issues like running out of gas, like a realistic road trip. We feel it’s a unique game experience, as the car is more of a modern, realistic element that’s placed into a fantasy environment; it’s a unique take and balance. The car is really just an item that will help you enjoy the world to its fullest. You’ll be able to customize the car so you can change up the specifications of the car, and the paint job, really make it your own.

Above: Hajime Tabata

Outside of Final Fantasy XV, what’s your favorite Final Fantasy game and why?

Tabata: Final Fantasy VI. A high-level fusion of sci-fi mechanics like the Magitek armor blending into the fantasy world, a cool environment that could only be done in Final Fantasy.

Hasegawa: Final Fantasy V. I felt the drama was very strong, and I designed a lot of monsters that left a lasting impression on me.

Tabata: What’s your favorite?

My favorite is actually IV. 

Tabata: We all like the classic Final Fantasies! The way that we’re creating Final Fantasy XV is kind of drawing upon all the good aspects of the classic Final Fantasy games and trying to create them in a modern landscape with the latest technology. So there should be a lot of elements to enjoy in Final Fantasy XV from these – especially from say, Final Fantasy IV, V, and VI, one of the crucial elements we felt were the dungeons. The dungeons had less order, and you could come across especially vicious monsters. So there were frightening elements to it, you may be in a water dungeon or a cave but come across creatures you may never expect, it’s an element that we loved from the classic games. The amazing, spectacular world exists above ground, but underground anything can happen.

Okay, so we’ve got your favorite games, what about your favorite monster from the series and why?

Tabata: Odin. It’s a summon but yes, I like Odin.

Hasegawa: The Ultima Weapon, because it always transforms and you never know what’s coming.

Tabata: How about you, what is your favorite?

The Tonberry!

Tabata: We’re sort of evaluating whether or not the Tonberry will show up in FFXV. What is your memory  of the Tonberry?

Well it’s just sort of a really strange and unique enemy the first time you encounter it. You ask yourself what is this enemy doing; it’s not really doing anything, it’s just this little green guy with a lantern and then BAM, and someone is instantly killed. Like you mentioned earlier, it has something to do with sort of a vicious surprise in the dungeons with monsters you’re not really prepared for.

Tabata: What do you think the appeal is of Final Fantasy?

I’ve always really liked the combat systems, the summons, the characters, and the job systems. I’m not really a story-oriented kind of guy, but I think the classic style stories are just really strong, especially in the older games, backed up with excellent environments, music, and design.

Tabata: Does that mean you’re more interested in the classic Final Fantasy games than the more modern ones? I’m sorry; I shouldn’t be interviewing you!

I would say that’s accurate, I consider perhaps I-VII to be my favorites in the series, but I’m extremely curious as to where Final Fantasy XV will take the series.

Tabata: In that sense, XV does carry on a sort of a simpler narrative. Rather than focusing on human drama, it takes a step back to draw you in as a player to look at the big picture. But obviously technology has significantly advanced, so we’re trying to add more value to the experience and make you feel like you’re traveling with your companions. XV is kind of a major turning point for us, it’s our chance to make the best RPG with the best technology. So you know, in the classic games you’d play it at home and then you’d go to school and talk about it with your friends. Today, the community has shifted, it’s online. Regardless of it being console or Steam, the importance of the community has changed, and even though this is a standalone title, we want elements that play to the community that they can draw on.

Above: Tomohiro Hasegawa

So what do you like to do with your time when you’re not making games?

Tabata: I like to go on drives! Sort of what we’re creating right now. I like going into nature, experiencing the outdoors, and cooking. In the world of XV, there’s the concept of time. It’s constantly moving from morning to night  there’s a time cycle. So when it’s night you can camp, and enjoy eating the regional specialty. Honestly speaking though, we haven’t had a whole lot of time to do anything but work on this title. There’s no personal time, it will come after.

What’s your favorite character from the Final Fantasy series?

Tabata: Zack from Final Fantasy VII. Post Final Fantasy VII there was Crisis Core and I liked diving deep into his character in that game.

Hasegawa: I like Tidus from Final Fantasy X. I worked on the team for X, and it was the first title that was voiced so I think it was easier to become more emotionally attached to the characters.

So what about XV, what’s your favorite character in XV?

Tabata: Regis. As the father of Noctis, the main character, he plays an important role in the story. Also with that you start to think about the bonds that you may have with your own father. I think he’s turning out to be a really great character.

Hasegawa: My opinion may change, but in the game, as it is currently – I like Ignis. He’s someone you can count on (he’s the driver), he cooks for you, and you can count on his friendship.

Tabata: One kind of unique aspect of XV is that not one particular character is superhuman, we’re taking it as the group itself and that relationship and how they come together – that’s sort of the “main” character, so it’s a new perspective on Final Fantasy. Because they’re depicted so humanly, they’re more believable in that sense. As more story becomes available, I’d like to talk about other characters, but I can’t right now.

Will there be any mini-game such as Triple Triad available in XV?

Tabata: We will have a few mini-games, we’ll be mentioning this at the earliest during Tokyo Game Show. One thing that’s kind of already been communicated is the fishing aspect; you can fish up things and eat them at your camp. There will be something else you’ll be able to play at a facility, and another available on smartphones. Also, it’s not really a mini-game, but you’ll be able to ride chocobos and jump around for leisure.

Last one! Outside of the Final Fantasy series, what’s your favorite game, and why?

Hasegawa: It’s a really old game: Romancing Saga 2. After I joined Square Enix, I really wanted to be part of the development of this game. It’s a unique title even to this day – it stands on its own and has its own characteristics.

Tabata: It’s hard for me to identify one title. Currently, I don’t have a real reason why, but I’d say it’s Legend of Zelda. But there was a time in the past where it was Civilization. I really like core PC titles. – The Feed

Final Fantasy XV PAX Panel Shares New Concept Art And Gameplay Footage

Square Enix showcased some new details about Final Fantasy XV last night during its PAX panel, and the full stream of the panel is now archived for viewing online.

You will find some uninterrupted gameplay starting at the 40:54 mark. It focuses mostly on the car driving aspect of the game and includes interesting tidbits like the fact that your car can run out of gas, and you will have to push the car to the nearest gas station if that happens. Additionally, you will see lots of new concept art, as well as some behind the scenes development footage and early work done on the game.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

The big news from the PAX panel was revealed when the panel wrapped up
last night. Final Fantasy XV releases next year and its exact date will
be revealed in March. You can find more on those details here. – The Feed