Final Fantasy

The making of FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered

Get a look inside the creation of this beloved RPG with interviews from the original creators of the game
By Duncan Heaney
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How do you follow up a game as beloved as FINAL FANTASY VII? That was just one of the many challenges faced by the creators of FINAL FANTASY VIII - and just one of the subjects they talk about in our latest entry in the ‘Inside’ video documentary series.

‘Inside FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered’ features exclusive interviews with the team that worked on the original game, including the game’s Director, Yoshinori Kitase, Producer Shinji Hashimoto and Art Director Yusuke Naora.

They discuss everything from the creation of the more realistic art-style, the influence of Eastern and Western fairy tales on the story and more.

You can watch it right here:

About FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered

FINAL FANTASY VIII tells an epic story of war, betrayal and love, in a world plunged into disarray by conflict. The powerful nation of Galbadia has formed an alliance with the Sorceress Edea. It’s goal - nothing less than world conquest.

As the world fall into chaos, a team of young mercenaries - led by the Squall Leonhart - are dispatched into action. Squall’s a loner by nature, but when he meets the passionate and free-spirited Rinoa Heartilly, his outlook begins to change.

FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered updates the original game for a new generation. It features enhanced character models, as well as a range of boosters, such as the ability to speed up time or turn off random encounters.

It’s available now on the following platforms:

You can go behind the scenes of other classic Square Enix games, including FINAL FANTASY VII, FINAL FANTASY IX and FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE by viewing the rest of the ‘Inside’ documentary series:

For more articles about FINAL FANTASY, make sure you bookmark the Square Enix Blog, and follow FINAL FANTASY on social media:

FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers Patch 5.1 adds a NIER raid and more

UPDATED: Vows of Virtue, Deeds of Cruelty expands the game with new scenario quests, a new area, a new game+ mode and more.
By Duncan Heaney
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The first major update for FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers has been revealed - and it’s a big one.

Patch 5.1 is titled Vows of Virtue, Deeds of Cruelty, and will launch on October 29, 2019.

It adds a huge amount of content, including new main scenario quests, new crafter and gatherer content, and the first chapter of the YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse alliance raid - inspired by the NieR series and featuring the work of guest creators Yosuke Saito and YOKO TARO.

Read on and we’ll go into more detail about the new features and areas, but you can get a glimpse in the latest trailer:

Here’s a brief rundown of what’s included in the patch:

New Main Scenario Quests

Shadowbringers’ excellent story continues in Patch 5.1, with new main scenario quests adding hours of additional gameplay, and we promise fans won’t be disappointed to see what happens next.


New 24-Player Alliance Raid: “The Copied Factory”

The worlds of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online and NieR come together in the first instalment of the much-anticipated YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse raid series.

You and 23 other players will battle against machine lifeforms in a brand new raid dungeon based on the world of NieR.

The creative minds behind NieR:Automata - Producer Yosuke Saito and Director YOKO TARO - are guest developing this raid series, so expect an experience like no other.

New Game+

A much-requested feature, the addition of New Game+ means you’ll be able to replay previously completed quests, cutscenes, dialogue and battles while retaining your current progression and job level.

All the main scenario quests for Heavensward, Stormblood and Shadowbringers are included, so it’s a perfect opportunity to revisit some of your favorite memories.


New Dungeon: The Grand Cosmos

Vows of Virtue, Deeds of Cruelty adds an entirely new dungeon for you to navigate - either with fellow players or with a party of AI-controlled non-player characters with the new Trust system.


New Extreme Trial: Hades

Only the most prepared adventurers will be able to survive a rematch with this fearless foe. If you want to take on this high-difficulty challenge, you’d better be ready to think fast and use all your skills.

New Beast Tribe Quests

Want more of the mischief-loving pixies? Then head into a brand new area - the Garden of Dreams, Lyhe Mheg.


New PvP Frontline map: Onsal Hakai

Patch 5.1 will introduce a new Frontline map and ruleset to go with it. Grand Companies will join forces with the tribes of the Azim Steppe to demonstrate their battle prowess.


Crafting and gathering overhaul

Lots of changes are coming to crafting and gathering - various adjustments to actions, removal of additional actions, improvements to the user interface and more. It’ll improve the gathering and crafting experience for both new and veteran players.


New Gold Saucer GATE: “The Slice is Right”

Feeling fortunate? How’s your luck holding out? Yojimbo makes his debut at the Gold Saucer in this new mini game that will test your reflexes… and your luck.


Blue Mage Job Updates

A major update is coming for the Blue Mage job - the first since it launched earlier this year. This limited job is getting an increased level cap, new job quests, as well as new blue mage-specific battle challenges and content.

Performance Action Updates

A new ensemble feature will allow players to make beautiful music with fellow players.


Various other improvements

In addition to all the exciting new features above, the patch will also feature adjustments to jobs, updates to the Gold Saucer, system updates and more.

Patch 5.11

We also have some information about future additions in Patch 5.11:

Restoration of the Holy See of Ishgard (Patch 5.11)

Crafting and gathering classes are encouraged to come together to help rebuild The Firmament in Ishgard. They’ll have to collaborate to complete various tasks, including delivering goods.


Ultimate Raid: The Epic of Alexander

Think you’re pretty good at the whole FINAL FANTASY XIV Online thing, huh? Even the most experienced players will be tested by this new raid.


You can stay up to date with all the latest news about Shadowbringers and FINAL FANTASY XIV Online as a whole on social media:

10 amazing pieces of videogame desert music

Lie back on the dunes and listen to these amazing sandtracks
By Duncan Heaney
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Hot, harsh and full of sand - is any videogame location as ubiquitous as the desert?

Many Square Enix games lead players deep into the sandy wastes, yet despite the familiar scenery, these areas often feel completely distinct. That’s largely thanks to the music.

We took an audio tour through some of the best desert-filled games in the Square Enix library - and what’s interesting is that no two sound alike.

See (or rather hear) for yourself - here are 10 of the most memorable desert themes in Square Enix games:

Secret of the Arid Sands - Secret of Mana

There are plenty of reasons why Secret of Mana is still such a beloved game, from its unique combat system to its ingrained sense of humor - we talked about that very topic when we took a look at Collection of Mana. But there’s one more element that plays a major role in giving the game its identify - the soundtrack.

The Secret of the Arid Sands is a great example of how eclectic the music really is. The strong melody is driven along by pounding drums and incessant xylophone - and perfectly sets the mood of Kakkara Desert.

Sandstorm - Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided goes straight to the desert course, with an incredible opening mission set in an abandoned hotel complex in Dubai.

Augmented agent Adam Jensen has to contend with jamming devices, argumentative colleagues and gun-toting terrorists who are eager for a scrap. But the most thrilling moment comes at the climax of the mission, as a vicious sandstorm rips through the hotel.

Adam has to extract a valuable asset from a firefight with little to no visibility - with the sandy action underscored by this exhilarating soundtrack.

Desert Wasteland - FINAL FANTASY VII

In the middle of Corel Desert, you’ll find the Gold Saucer - a glitzy theme park full of rides, games and awkward amateur dramatics. But look deeper - literally - and you’ll see that underneath is a much less desirable destination: Corel Prison.

It’s a bleak and dangerous place, full of violent criminals who are getting their just deserts.

That’s reflected in the music - the melancholy desert theme contrasts with the upbeat Gold Saucer theme - and perfectly captures the sadness of the prison and the lost souls who find themselves trapped there.

Dalmasca Estersand - FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE

The sands east of the city of Rabanastre are a dangerous place at the best of times. - over-populated with threats including but not limited to - extremely hungry dinosaurs.

And yet, we happily spend hours wandering the dunes - largely thanks to the game’s amazing soundtrack. The sweeping melody of Dalmasca Estersand makes one of the most well-known tracks of all.

The Burning Sands - FINAL FANTASY X

The sheer expanse of Spira’s Bikanel Desert is emphasized through the swirling, constantly shifting soundscape. Unlike many of the desert themes in the series, this eschews a strong melody in favor of a more ambient, rhythmic approach.

I’ve highlighted the remastered track from FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster because personally, I think the fuller sound brings the piece to life. But if you prefer the original soundtrack (and I know that some people do) relax - that’s on streaming services too!

The Sunlands - OCTOPATH TRAVELER

OCTOPATH TRAVELER has one of the most evocative soundtracks of the last few years, and its desert area is a perfect example of this.

Composer Yasunori Nishiki has chosen a stunning, flowing melody for the Sunlands that makes this track a pleasure to listen to both in and out of the game. It drives home the feeling of a party of brave adventurers pushing through the sandy wastes.

Rise of the Tomb Raider - The Prophet’s Tomb

Lara Croft’s search for the Divine Source leads her to snowy peaks and geothermal valleys, but before all that, she takes a brief trip to Syria.

A run-in with the sinister organization Trinity leaves Lara exposed in the rocky sands, and searching for a way into - what else - an ancient tomb.

This section of the game provides a concentrated blast of everything great about the series - tight platforming, satisfying puzzles, dramatic set-pieces and an exciting story - all underscored by an excellent soundtrack by Bobby Tahouri.

The Dead Dunes - LIGHTNING RETURNS FINAL FANTASY XIII

LIGHTNING RETURNS FINAL FANTASY XIII’s soundtrack goes places - often within the same track.

The Dead Dunes moves fluidly from gentle ambient music, to pulse-pounding drums and electric guitar, through to epic orchestral action themes before settling down again. All with fragments of FINAL FANTASY XIII’s recurring themes to add familiarity. It all makes for a particularly memorable section of the game.

Sands of Amber and Deep Down - FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers

The most recent game on this list, FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringer’s soundtrack is a tour de force. One of the great things about it is the way that tracks link, with themes and arrangements developing as the area or situation changes.

The Amh Araeng desert theme, called Sands of Amber, is a great example - the lilting vocals and gentle drums create a hazy, dream-like atmosphere.

But head into Malikah's Well (the track’s called Deep Down on the soundtrack) and the melody and arrangement takes on a much more sinister vibe, as befits such a dangerous dungeon.

Memories of Dust - NieR:Automata

Speaking of soundtracks like no other… how could we not mention NieR:Automata?

The game features powerful, evocative music throughout, and the desert theme, Memories of Dust, is a particularly striking piece.

The mournful melody and beautiful vocals of J'nique Nicole combine to create a desert theme like no other.

All Saints’ Wake returns to FINAL FANTASY XIV Online for Halloween

The Continental Circus comes to Gridania… but only for a limited time
By Duncan Heaney
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The world of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online is about to get a little spooky, as All Saints’ Wake comes around once again.

Adventurers who visit the woods of Gridania between October 17 and November 1, 2019 will be able to visit the Continental Circus and check out their brand new attraction - a somewhat… unusual Ahriman.

Be aware, there could be more to it than meets the eye…

What new items can you earn?

As with previous limited time events in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online, you’ll be able to earn a variety of in-game items. These include:

  • Circus Resonator mount - this unique voidsent was bred by the Continental Circus

  • Pumpkin Carriage - embrace the spirit of the season with this spooky - but regal - outdoor furnishing item

  • Fantastical All Saints’ Wake Advertisement - a notice that will be a welcome reminder about this year’s spooktacular event

It’s going to be a lot of freaky fun, but if you missed last year’s event, don’t be scared - some items from previous All Saints’ Wakes will be available to purchase during the event.

Also, don’t forget that the next update for FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers arrives in late October - and it’s a big one.

Patch 5.1 is titled Vows of Virtue, Deeds of Cruelty adds a host of new content, including new main scenario quests, a new dungeon, the long-awaited New Game+ mode and the first chapter of the NieR-inspired YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse raid series.

You can find out more about the patch here:


To stay up to date with all things FINAL FANTASY XIV Online, make sure you follow on social media:

A look at the Viera in FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers

Take a look at one of the newest races to join FINAL FANTASY XIV Online
By Duncan Heaney
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Last week, we looked at the Hrothgar - one of the new races added in FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers. Today we look at the Viera - a hugely exciting addition for any long-time FINAL FANTASY fans who have stepped virtual foot into Ivalice…

What are the Viera?

With their tall, slender forms and distinctive long ears, Viera are one of the most instantly recognizable races in Hydaelyn.

In FINAL FANTASY XIV Online, most Viera live in South Othard, inside the Golmore Jungle, though they have other communities across the world. They live by a strict code known as the Green Word, which prohibits contact with the outside world - any Viera who breaks this code faces exile from their clan.

The race is largely matriarchal - you’re unlikely to find males in any village or town. Instead, they stick to the shadows as protectors of the wood, driving evil away from their sacred lands.

Picking a Viera character in FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers gives you a choice of two options - the Rava and the Veena.

Rava

The Rava clan live in the Golmore Jungle, where they are able to easily blend into their surroundings.

They’re adept hunters, and guard their home and their clan with a ferocity that takes many by surprise. Despite many attempts by the Dalmascans to conquer the Rava, the Viera have managed to maintain their own self-governing community and control of the jungle.

Most Rava Viera stick close to home, but recently a few have chosen to venture out into the wider world.


Veena

Paler-skinned than the Rava clan, Veena Viera hail from the forests at the foothills of the Skatay Range.

As with their sister clan, the Veena act as accomplished hunters and gatherers, and have a firm commitment to protecting their woods and nurturing nature.

Many of the Viera who have left their mountain homes were swept up into war and conflict, and a number of these battle-hardened hunters have chosen to head for the land of Eorzea.

Can I play as a Viera if I don’t have FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers?

As with the Hrothgar, you’ll need to purchase FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers to create a Viera character.

If you do have the expansion - or if you’re new to the game, the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Complete Edition (which includes all expansions including Shadowbringers), you can create a Viera character at any time.


Read more:


Can I change my character to a Viera?

You can change your character to a Viera with a Phial of Fantasia - a potion that lets you change all aspects of your appearance, including race. You can buy these from the Mog Station.

The Viera in other FINAL FANTASY games

The Viera are an iconic part of the FINAL FANTASY games that are set in, or related to, Ivalice, such as FINAL FANTASY XII, and the FINAL FANTASY TACTICS series.

The most famous Viera is FINAL FANTASY XII’s Fran - a sky pirate and partner to the disarmingly louche Balthier.

Fran is a skilled warrior, and a valuable ally in combat. More than that though, she’s also a skilled engineer, largely responsible for keeping Balthier’s airship, the Strahl, in the air.

The Viera in FINAL FANTASY XII are strikingly similar to those in FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers - they live in the Golmore Jungle, and are deeply distrustful of outsiders, and Viera who have abandoned their way of life. Sadly for Fran, that includes her.

FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE is available if you want to see Viera in other contexts to Shadowbringers. It’s the best version of the classic RPG yet, with a number of system improvements like an expanded jobs system and more commands in battle. It also features some fantastic quality of life features too, such as the ability to speed up time for faster battles and navigation.

The game’s available on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4 and Steam now.

So that’s a brief look at the two new races in FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers. Are you already playing as a Viera or Hrothgar? Are you tempted to switch or are you only just starting your FINAL FANTASY XIV Online adventure?

Share your thoughts in the comments or on social media:

New art for FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition revealed

Features characters from four tribes: Clavats, Lilties, Yukes and Selkies.
By Duncan Heaney
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To celebrate the announcement of the FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition release date, art director Toshiyuki Itahana has created a brilliant new piece of artwork featuring characters from the four tribes in the game: the Clavats, Lilties, Yukes and Selkies.

Take a look:

FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES art

FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition is coming to PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, iOS & Android devices on January 23, 2020. You can see the latest trailer here:

To stay up to date with all the latest information about FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition, make sure you follow FINAL FANTASY on social media:

Which FINAL FANTASY game should I play first?

What’s the best starting point for new players? We help you make the big decision
By Duncan Heaney
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“Which FINAL FANTASY game should I start with?”

It’s one of the most common questions we see from people yet to dive into the series, and a hotly debated topic online - ask five fans and you’re likely to get five different answers.

The actual ‘correct’ answer, of course, is… any of them. After all, almost every game in the series acts as a standalone adventure with its own distinct world, characters and even gameplay mechanics. There really isn’t a wrong or right place to start.

But we also realize that’s not particularly helpful for new players, who have a lot of options available - particularly with recent re-releases.

So to lend a hand, we’ll run through the mainline FINAL FANTASY games that are available and give you a sense of what to expect from each adventure.

Then, you can simply choose the game that most appeals most to you - we’re confident that whichever you pick, you’ll have a good time.

FINAL FANTASY

This is the game that started it all! FINAL FANTASY follows the Warriors of Light, who set off on a quest to defeat four fiends and restore their tainted crystals back to their former glory.

It may be the first, but it immediately established many of the elements that would come to define the series - vast, sprawling worlds, deep strategic combat (turn-based in this case), creative character and enemy designs and sublime music.

The version currently available on iOS and Android features updated visuals, and the Soul of Chaos and the Labyrinth of Time - two bonus dungeons that were added in later editions of the game

FINAL FANTASY II

The second FINAL FANTASY game focuses on four war-orphaned heroes: Firion, Maria, Guy and Leon. The group becomes embroiled in a conflict between the hostile Empire of Palamecia and the rebel resistance, with the fate of the whole world hanging in the balance.

Combat is once again turn-based, but even in this early stage, FINAL FANTASY was a series that innovated. Rather than sticking with a traditional leveling system, FINAL FANTASY II introduced a new proficiency system, in which characters’ skill with weapons and abilities increased the more they used them.

The current iOS and Android editions feature improved graphics and two new dungeons that were added to later versions of the game: the Soul of Rebirth and the Arcane Labyrinth.

FINAL FANTASY III

When darkness falls and the land is robbed of light, four young heroes are chosen by the crystals to head off an exciting journey across a vast and hostile land.

This critically-acclaimed entry in the series introduced a flexible job system, which lets characters change their roles in combat at any time. It was also the first to introduce powerful summons, including series mainstays Bahamut and Shiva.

The FINAL FANTASY III for PC and smartphones is an updated version, first released in 2006. It features updated 3D visuals, new story sequences, new designs for the job mastery cards and more.

FINAL FANTASY IV

FINAL FANTASY IV innovated once again, with the deepest narrative and most beloved characters in the series so far.

After questioning some troubling orders from his King, the dark knight Cecil is demoted and sent on a simple delivery job with his friend Kain. The shocking events that follow send Cecil and a group of heroes on a dramatic journey of betrayal, love and redemption.

As well as delivering one of the most powerful stories in the series, FINAL FANTASY IV was the first game to feature the Active Time Battle system, which combined turn-based and real-time elements together to create a faster, but equally strategic, battle system.

For the Steam, iOS and Android release, FINAL FANTASY IV has been recreated with full 3D visuals and even voice acting. It also features a built-in jukebox, so you can listen to the soundtrack at any time. And trust me - you’ll definitely want to.

FINAL FANTASY V

The world of FINAL FANTASY V is reliant on elemental crystals with the power of earth, water, fire and wind. These crystals bring life to and prosperity, but they have lost their power and are on the verge of destruction.

Four characters are driven together by fate: Bartz, Princess Lenna of Castle Tycoon, the pirate captain Faris and the deeply mysterious Galuf. Together, they embark on a journey to save the planet.

As with its predecessor, FINAL FANTASY V features the ATB battle system, but expands the possibilities dramatically with an incredibly deep and flexible new class system that lets you customize your characters with 26 unique jobs.

The version available on iOS, Android and Steam features recreated graphics, as well as addition content, including The Sealed Temple area and a Tetsuya Nomura-designed boss, Enuo.

FINAL FANTASY VI

FINAL FANTASY VI is one of the most popular entries in the FINAL FANTASY series - acclaimed by fans and critics alike.

This game introduced several interesting ideas, including a story with strong characters, but no central protagonist - each member of the party gets their own moment center stage and you can choose who to control for much of the game.

It’s set in a world where magic has vanished, and humankind has embraced the power of iron, gunpowder, steam engines and other technologies. But one still does have the power of magic - a young woman named Terra, who is enslaved by the evil Empire.

An encounter with an Esper - an ancient being of incredible power - frees Terra from the Empire’s clutches, and sets off a chain of events that touches countless lives, and leads to epic and terrible consequences.

And, of course we should mention that FINAL FANTASY VI features Kefka - regarded by many as one of the greatest villains of all time…

FINAL FANTASY VII

FINAL FANTASY VII changed the face of gaming forever.

It’s inspired a legion of fans thanks to its epic story, legendary characters and unsurpassed presentation. It’s gone on to inspire spin-offs, movies and even a full-blown remake (coming March 2020).

The story starts in Midgar, a city controlled by Shinra Inc - a less than ethical multi-conglomerate that is absorbing Mako energy and destroying the natural resources of the planet.

Cloud, a former member of Shinra’s elite SOLDIER unit, joins AVALANCHE in a daring mission to bomb one of the city’s reactors, but in the chaos that follows, he makes a discovery that will change his life, and the world, forever.

The game also made waves with its cinematic battles and innovative Materia system that essentially lets you slot abilities and magic into armor - this allows for an incredible level of flexibility in how you set up the party.

The version available on current gen devices features a number of useful features, including the ability to speed up time, turn off random encounters or even boost your characters to full health.

Available on:

FINAL FANTASY VIII

FINAL FANTASY VIII is set in a world where the militarized nation of Galbadia has formed an alliance with the Sorceress Edea and is making a bid for world conquest.

Amid the conflict, Squall Leonhart and a group of fellow students from Balamb Garden’s mercenary force, SeeD, are dispatched into action. But Squall’s universe it turned upside down when he meets the free-spirited Rinoa Heartilly and starts to dream that he is a Galbadian soldier named Laguna Loire…

FINAL FANTASY VIII upped the ante with presentation once again, with more detailed characters models, and one of the most adored soundtracks in the series.

It also innovated in terms of gameplay, with more real-time elements like timed button presses to enhance damage in combat, and the strategically deep ‘Junction’ system, which lets you enhance your party’s stats with magic. Also, it featured the card game Triple Triad - one of the best mini-games in the series to date!

FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered is out now for Switch, PS4, Xbox One and Steam. It's an updated version of the game with enhanced visuals, and useful boosters, such as the ability to speed up time.

Available on:

FINAL FANTASY IX

FINAL FANTASY IX is an epic story of love, war and betrayal. The game begins with an elaborate plan by the roguish Zidane and the Tantalus Theater Troupe to kidnap Princess Garnet, the heir of Alexandria.

But to their surprise, the princess wants to be kidnapped, and make her escape from the castle. Before long Garnet, her personal guard Steiner, have joined Zidane and a colorful cast of misfits, including Vivi, Freya and Quina, on an unforgettable journey across a dangerous land.

This game marks a return to the series traditional fantasy roots, after the sci-fi inspired worlds of the prior two games. More than that, it operates as a love letter to the FINAL FANTASY series as a whole. The game contains lots of references that serve to reward series veterans, while introducing many elements of the franchise to newcomers.

Available on:

FINAL FANTASY X HD Remaster

FINAL FANTASY X tells the story of Tidus - a talented blitz/ball player, , who journeys with a young and beautiful summoner named Yuna on a quest to save the world of Spira from an endless cycle of destruction wrought by the colossal menace Sin.

The game features exciting turn-based battles, and introduced the sphere grid system of character progression.

Rather than characters levelling up automatically as in prior games, in FINAL FANTASY X, you manually build their stats and abilities by inserting orbs into a massive grid. It’s very simple system to use, but it gives you greater control over how your party develops than many of the older games.

FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster is available for current-gen devices, and updates the game with high-definition visuals, and a remastered soundtrack. The collection also includes the sequel FINAL FANTASY X-2 - a memorable game in its own right, as well bonus material and extras.

Available on:

FINAL FANTASY XI

FINAL FANTASY XI was even more of a departure for the series - rather than an epic single player adventure, the game was a massively multiplayer online RPG (MMORPG). Still pretty epic though.

It’s set in the vast world of Vana'diel, and allows players team up to battle, explore, talk and trade their way through a huge number of quests, full of drama and intrigue.

While FINAL FANTASY XIV: Online has since overtaken it as the more popular - and populated - game, the fact that people still play FINAL FANTASY XI speaks volumes about its quality.

Available on:

FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE

The world of Ivalice is at war. The small kingdom of Dalmasca has been conquered by the Archadian Empire, leaving Princess Ashe the one and only heir to the throne. Meanwhile, Vaan, a street urchin and orphan, dreams of flying freely in the skies.

The two will join forces with friends, pirates and warriors to form a resistance, find a way to restore Dalmasca to its former glory, and maybe even save the world.

FINAL FANTASY XII’s biggest innovations were the critically-acclaimed Gambit system, which allows players to set the behaviors of your party to an incredibly precise degree, enabling them to act automatically in battle.

The ZODIAC AGE edition of the game - available on most platforms - expanded the options further, with even more gambits and the ability to give characters a second job in combat. It also features improved HD visuals, a remastered soundtrack and the ability to speed up time.

Available on:

FINAL FANTASY XIII

A deepening crisis threatens to plunge the floating world of Cocoon into chaos. A powerful and dangerous being called a Fal'Cie has been discovered, and in the aftermath a group of unsuspecting strangers are branded enemies of the state.

With the terrified population baying for their blood, and the military eager to fulfil that request, the group has no choice but to run - but will they be able to escape the destiny that has been thrust upon them?

One of the best things about FINAL FANTASY XIII is the paradigm system - fast paced, strategic battles in which characters must change roles on the fly to suit the constantly changing conditions. It also introduced popular characters like Lightning and spawned two direct sequels.

FINAL FANTASY XIII (and its sequels) can be played on PC and Xbox One via backward compatibility.

Available on:

  • Steam
  • Playable on Xbox One (via backwards compatibility)

FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers

FINAL FANTASY XIV Online is a massively multiplayer game set in the land of Hydaelyn - a land embraced by Gods and forged by Heroes.

It has everything you could want from a FINAL FANTASY game - a deep, engaging storyline, fantastic graphics, and a deep job system that lets you change roles whenever you want.

It’s also one of the most welcoming MMOs out there for newcomers. It eases players in gently, with a mentor system that helps newcomers get up to speed quickly.

Even better, it’s getting bigger all the time. The most recent expansion, FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers is out now, and it adds loads more content, including new races, new areas, new storylines and more.

It’s a game with hundreds of hours-worth of quests and content to dig your teeth into - not to mention some of the most compelling stories in the whole FINAL FANTASY series,

It’s a joy to play through, but of course, if you do want to skip straight ahead to join friends who have been playing it for years, you can do that too with a Tales of Adventure item.

If you want the most content, including the new Shadowbringers expansion, FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Complete Edition’s the way to go, but for newcomers who want to dip their toe in first, we’d recommend the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Starter Edition.

If you like what you play, you can always upgrade and get access to the expansions later.

Available on:

FINAL FANTASY XV

After years of fighting, the nations of Lucis and Niflheim agree to an armistice.

As a symbol of the peace, Noctis, crown prince of Lucis, plans to wed Lady Lunafreya of Tenebrae. Joined by his friends and bodyguards - Gladiolus, Ignis and Prompto - the young prince sets off on a road trip towards his bride to be. But the group is unaware of the many dangers that lie ahead.

FINAL FANTASY XV opens with a statement of intent - “A FINAL FANTASY for Fans and First-Timers”.

It offers up a large world, filled with quests to complete, vicious monsters to hunt and secrets to discover and - for the first time for a numbered FINAL FANTASY game - a spectacular action-oriented battle system.

It’s an unconventional FINAL FANTASY game in that respect, but the core of the series shines through - wonderful characters, a compelling story, exciting battles and incredible presentation.

Available on:


What about the spin-offs?

FINAL FANTASY has been around for a long time, and has spawned direct sequels, like FINAL FANTASY X-2 and FINAL FANTASY XIII-2, as well as spin-off games like FINAL FANTASY TACTICS or WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY.

But to be frank, this article is more than long enough already. Maybe we’ll cover them in a future post, but much like the main numbered titles, each is designed to be played standalone, so you can’t really go wrong.

A look at the Hrothgar in FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers

Take a close look at one of the new races in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online’s latest expansion
By Duncan Heaney
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The release of FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers has introduced two new races to the worlds of Hydaelyn and The First: the Viera and the Hrothgar.

But what exactly are they, should build a character with one of these races, and why might they look a little familiar to FINAL FANTASY fans?

Well, today let’s start today with the burlier of the two - the fearsome, feline Hrothgar.

What are the Hrothgar?

If you like characters big and brawny, you’ll naturally gravitate towards the Hrothgar.

This race, which hails from the far shores of Ilsabard, the Hrothgar, are large, imposing and dignified. Or at least the males are - there are surprisingly few female Hrothgar among their population and those are rarely glimpsed by the other races.

Here’s some interesting lore: the rather threatening appearance of the Hrothgar caused panic among the people of Eorzea upon their first meeting. This wasn’t helped by the Horthgar’s inability to communicate in the common tongue - as a result, early meetings often resulted in conflict.

Fortunately for all, the Hrothgar learned the common language and were able to allay the peoples’ fears. Now Hrothgar are known and welcome in every corner of Hydaelyn.

Different types of Hrothgar

Two varieties of Hrothgar are available to play in FINAL FANTASY XIV: Helions and The Lost.

Helions

Helions traditionally live with their respective tribes in Southern Ilsabard. They’re thoroughly devoted to their queens - scholars have observed that they largely devote their lives to serving their monarch.

For the most part Helions have kept to themselves, but they recently they’ve begun to venture out into the rest of the world.


The Lost

These Hrothgar aren’t bound to any queen or monarch. Without the warm radiance of their ruler, most have turned to a nomadic lifestyle.

In addition, many have taken up professions that suit that that type of life - think mercenary, peddler or seasonal labourer for example.

Can I play as a Hrothgar if I don’t have Shadowbringers?

You have to have purchased FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers to play as both the Hrothgar and the other new race, the Viera.

That said, you don’t have to jump straight to Shadowbringers to use them. If for example, you’ve picked up the Complete Edition, but still want to work your way through A Realm Reborn, Heavensward and Stormblood, you can use a Hrothgar from the get-go.


Read more:


Can I change my character to a Hrothgar?

If you have an existing character, you can change them into a Hrothgar (or indeed any race) with a Phial of Fantasia. You can buy these from the Mog Station.

Hrothgar in other FINAL FANTASY games

If you think the Hrothgar look a little familiar, you’d be right. While distinct, they’ll remind fans of the Ronso in FINAL FANTASY X and FINAL FANTASY X-2. Primarily found around the bottom of Mt Gagazet, this species is known for their loyalty, strength and warrior spirit.

Perhaps the most famous example of a Ronso is the Guardian Kimahri. Although smaller than a standard member of his race, Kimahri accompanies the summoner Yuna on her pilgrimage to defeat Sin.

It’s a journey full of chaos, danger and tragedy, but the brave Ronso remains a rock throughout, staying fiercely devoted to his chosen task at all times. It’s no wonder he’s such a fan-favorite character.

You can experience his journey for yourself (and the aftermath) in FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster - out now on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PS4 and Steam.


So that’s a look at the Hrothgar - but what about the Viera? Come back the Square Enix Blog next week, and we’ll look at the other new race in Shadowbringers .

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE box art revealed

Plus see lots of new screenshots from the game!
By Duncan Heaney
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We revealed a lot of new information about FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE at Tokyo Games Show (TGS) 2019, but we have just a few more things to show you.

Firstly, check out the game’s box art in North America and Europe. It depicts our hero Cloud Strife, and his iconic Buster Sword, standing in front of the Shinra Building - the headquarters of the tyrannical company that threatens the planet.

If you’re a fan it might feel a little familiar - that’s because it recreates the original North American FINAL FANTASY VII cover art!

As well as the new box art, a host of new screenshots have been released. Take a look:

Earlier in September, at TGS, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Producer Yoshinori Kitase hosted the first look at a new boss battle – the sewer-dwelling Abzu.

Not only that, but we also revealed Classic Mode - which essentially adds an optional command-based battle system, reminiscent of the original game.

It’s just the thing for people who prefer top level strategy to moment to moment action or old-school players who prefer the combat in the original fans.

You can read all about FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE's Classic Mode here.

How do I play FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE?

You don’t have long to wait now - FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE launches for PS4 on March 3, 2020.

You can preorder the game now. As well as the Standard version, these editions are available:

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Deluxe Edition

This edition features:

  • A Sephiroth Steelbook Case
  • A hardcover art book featuring stunning concept art
  • A Mini-Soundtrack CD
  • Summon Materia DLC that lets you summon Cactuar in game

Get Deluxe Edition


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Digital Deluxe Edition

Available exclusively from the PlayStation Store, this edition includes:

  • A digital art book
  • A digital Mini-Soundtrack selection
  • Summon Materia DLC, allowing players to summon Carbuncle and Cactuar in the game

Preorder Digital Deluxe Edition

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE has a Classic Mode for players who prefer turn-based combat

New gameplay and combat options revealed at TGS 2019. Here are all the details.
By Duncan Heaney
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New details of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE have been announced at Tokyo Games Show 2019. During a stage show, the game’s Producer Yoshinori Kitase gave viewers their closest look at the game yet and announced a whole new combat mode - Classic Mode.

What is FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s Classic Mode?

The new feature will thrill fans who prefer the original FINAL FANTASY turn-based battle systems to real-time combat.

The original FINAL FANTASY VII used the classic Active Time Battle (ATB) system. In that game, you would wait until an ATB gauge fills up, then initiate a command. Classic Mode recreates this style of gameplay for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

It’s a different way to play to FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s standard combat modes - which see you attacking, dodging and blocking in real-time to charge up the ATB bar and initiate a special action.

In Classic Mode, characters fight automatically, so the player can instead focus on selecting commands. It essentially turns the game into a classic menu-based RPG!

We’ve talked before about how FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE’s combat system is all about giving players a choice in how to play, and this new mode adds even more options. To learn more about the combat system, you should check out our full article on that very subject, or the E3 demo:

21st Century Squatting

As well as Classic Mode, Kitase-san went into mode detail about some of the elements revealed in the latest trailer:

Firstly, he demonstrated the famous Squats mini-game - under his skilled tutelage, the presenter was able to take Cloud to a clear victory against his lycra-laden challenger.

The Squats mini-game plays similarly to the original, requiring a series of button presses to complete each maneuver.

Aerith’s combat style and abilities

Finally, Kitase-san took a close look at a boss fight that fans will know very well - ABZU. This sewer-dwelling beast is a formidable foe in the original game, and it’s even more intimidating in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

During the battle, Kitase-san revealed some new information about how Aerith will play - and some of the things she can do in a fight.

As standard, all of Aerith’s standard attacks are long-ranged and pressing the triangle button uses her character ability ‘Tempest’.

Her Holy Circle ability looks particularly useful. Activating it creates an area on the battlefield - any spells used inside that zone can be cast repeatedly.

How Summons work in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

The battle against ABZU also provided a close look at how Summons work in the game. Each character can have up to one Summon Materia equipped at a time - and it’s up to the player to decide which one to equip for each scenario.

In the battle against ABZU, Cloud had the Ifrit Summon Materia equipped - because of this his attacks cause a Summon gauge to fill up.

Once the Summon Gauge was full, Cloud was able to summon Ifrit onto the battlefield… where he stays and joins the fight! Summons are typically controlled by the AI, but characters are able to use their ATB charges to use unique Summon abilities.

In the case of Ifrit, Cloud was able to spend his ATB gauge to make his flame-bound ally use abilities like Flare Burst and Crimson Dive. The Summon stayed on the battlefield until Cloud’s Summon Gauge depleted - at that point Ifrit activated his ultimate attack: Hellfire.


That’s a recap of all the information provided during TGS 2019. FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE releases for PS4 on March 3, 2020 - and is available to preorder now:

To stay up to date with the latest news from the game, make sure you follow FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE on social media:

So how does FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE actually play?

In an extended demo, Producer Yoshinori Kitase walked us through the fine details of the game, from the basic controls to some of the more advanced techniques
By Duncan Heaney
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Square Enix recently held an extended behind closed doors demo of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, hosted by Producer Yoshinori Kitase himself.

He provided an extended look at the famous bombing mission that opens the game, which follows the activist group AVALANCE as they attempt to destroy one of the evil corporation Shinra’s energy reactors.

As the demo progressed, Kitase-san provided commentary, explaining the reasoning behind some of the new features in the remake, demonstrating the sheer breadth of the tactical options available in the game, and delving deep into the nitty gritty of what you, as a player, will actually be doing.

How does FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE start?

The demo opens with a scene that fans of the original game will instantly recognize. A train pulls into the Sector One station in Midgar, with some unexpected stowaways aboard - Biggs, Wedge, Jessie and, of course Barret.

The group exit the train, making quick work of the surprised security officers. Then, leaping from the train, we’re introduced to everyone’s favorite SOLDIER 1st Class, Cloud Strife.

It’s a faithful reinterpretation of an iconic opening - as Kitase-san said: “How else could we start the game?”

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE - basic combat

More Shinra security arrives and the AVALANCHE members book it, leaving Cloud and his massive Buster Sword to handle them.

The square button controls Cloud’s basic sword attacks. Strikes can be chained together to create spectacular looking combos, though the damage output of these assaults is somewhat limited.

But these attacks have a dual purpose - they also fill the all-important ATB bar. Once this gauge is full, you can perform a special move, cast magic or consume an item - and these can cause serious damage.

So long as you have a full ATB bar, you can make a command in Tactical Mode. Simply bring up the command menu appear and slows time to a crawl. You can do this regardless of what your character is doing.

Kitase-san explained that this is so that people who like to take their time and consider tactics have time to make decisions in combat.

But as a bonus, it does look extremely cool - and highlights the amazing animation work in the game. We suspect we’re going to be popping that menu a fair amount when the game’s released - purely to make Cloud look as dramatic as possible.

Special attacks

With the ATB full, Cloud is able to perform one of his numerous special attacks. In our demonstration, he used a leaping attack called Braver. It’s a name that will be immediately familiar to fans - it was a Limit Break in the original game - but here it’s a special move that can be brought out whenever you have ATB meter to burn.

Cloud jumps into the air, and slices down onto an opponent with a satisfying thwack. It makes quick work of the woefully outmatched Shinra guard and Cloud continues deeper into the reactor.

Combat survival tips

More Shinra troops attack, and Kitase-san takes the opportunity to tell us about two more essential components of combat: blocking and dodging.

Holding R1 causes Cloud to hold up his massive Buster Sword, and essentially use it as a shield. Attacks ding off the powerful blade, and our spiky-haired SOLDIER takes significantly less damage.

Of course, rather than reducing damage, it’s often better to take no hits at all. A tap on the X button sends Cloud rolling in the direction of your choosing, allowing him to evade his opponent’s strikes, and retaliate when they’re open with a barrage of his own.

It’s useful to combine dodges with the lock-on, which is activated by clicking in the right stick

Staggering enemies

Cloud and his cohorts enter the next area of the facility, with the game shifts smoothly from cutscene back into gameplay. That was a big focus for the team, according to Kitase-san - the importance of story to FINAL FANTASY VII, means that they wanted the player’s experience to be as seamless as possible.

He also introduced another big mechanic of the battle system: staggering. As you deal damage to enemies, a bar begins to fill. When it reaches maximum, the enemy is staggered and susceptible to massive amounts of damage.

We get a chance to see this in action in the demo, when Shinra brings out dangerous guard dogs. After landing a few hits, the previously powerful pooches are staggered, and start to take 160% damage. In other words, Cloud’s attacks are suddenly 1.6 times more effective and the bad dogs are put down fairly quickly.

Kitase-san explained that the enemies in this starting area are fairly weak, but later in the game staggering will be vital to prevail in combat.

Shortcuts

Here’s another useful tip Kitase-san gave us: shortcuts.

Those who prefer faster combat, can map abilities, magic and items to different command shortcuts, and use them in combat without having to pause the game.

You can assign up to four shortcuts, and access them by holding L1 and pressing one of the face buttons.

A punishing operator

The final control that Kitase-san demonstrated was the ability to switch modes. With a simple press of the triangle button, Cloud switches between two states: Operator mode and Punisher mode.

As an Operator, Cloud delivers quick, fluid strikes, taking down weak enemies in quick succession.

A quick tap of the triangle button, and Cloud flips to Punisher Mode. Now, his sword swings are much slower, but damage output is visibly increased.

Elevating the characters

Just as in the original FINAL FANTASY VII, the group battles their way to an elevator that will take them down to the reactor’s core. Barret takes the opportunity to lay out the facts of the situation to Cloud - Shinra’s sucking up Mako energy, the lifeblood of the planet.

It’s a scene that highlights just how much deeper the interactions between characters go in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. Jessie’s look of resignation as Barret’s launches on his passionate tirades is a perfect example - an incidental detail that speaks volumes about those characters and their relationships.

This is another thing the development team wanted to make sure was right, Kitase-san says. When the original game was released, they didn’t have access to features like motion capture, voiceover and camerawork.

Now they’re using all these tools to make characters more detailed and compelling.

Barret Wallace enters the battle

The group exits the elevator and Barret joins the party as a playable character. Here, we get to see how distinctive each character will be.

Pressing up and down on the d-pad switches between characters - you can also assign them orders via the command menu when their ATB bars are full.

Rather than taking on foes up close, Barret deals damage from a distance with his gun arm. That’s useful because the reactor core is riddled with turrets that Cloud’s blade can’t reach.

There are other subtle differences too - pressing triangle activates a powerful charge shot rather than switching to a different mode. This fills the ATB bar much faster than his regular attacks, but it has a cooldown, which forces you to think strategically about when best to use it.

So while characters share the same basic controls, their playstyle and utility looks to be very different, allowing for interesting and challenging combat encounters, and lots of options of the player.

And that was pretty much the end of the show. Any further, and we would have seen the famous scorpion boss - and we’d already shown that extensively at E3.

Perhaps the strongest message we took from the demo is that the combat system has been designed to give the player choice in how they play.

Tactical Mode is fantastic for players who want to take their time, consider their strategy and exert maximum control over their party’s actions, while shortcuts keep the action flowing for people who want to keep the action fast-paced and flowing.

Hopefully that was some useful insight into what you’ll actually be doing when you play FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

The game is due to release on March 3, 2020, but you can preorder right now.

To stay up to date with all the news from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, make sure you follow us on social media:

New FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE trailer showcases Turks, summons and more

New footage will send a Shiva down your spine
By Duncan Heaney
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We know a lot of you have been waiting to see more of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE… well, you’re about to.

A new trailer has been released, showcasing even more details about the game, its characters and its gameplay.

The new trailer gives you a closer look of the slums of Midgar, as well as some residents who may be familiar to fans of the original game.

Equally excitingly, we also get our first look at the Reno, Rude and Tseng - the Shinra operatives known as The Turks, as well as some of the beautiful, but destructive, summons you’ll be able to use in combat.


New FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE artwork

In addition to the trailer, we’ve also released new artwork that recreates one of the most iconic images from the original game. It features Cloud and the Midgar skyline and indicates the incredible levels of detail players can expect from the final game.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE releases for PS4 on March 3, 2020 and is available to preorder now:

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Deluxe Edition

Contains a beautiful Sephiroth Steelbook case, a hardback art book featuring stunning concept art, a mini-soundtrack CD, and Summon Materia DLC allowing players to summon Cactuar in game.


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Digital Deluxe Edition

Contains a digital art book, a digital mini-soundtrack selection and DLC allowing you to summon Cactuar and Carbuncle in the game.

Top Square Enix artists take on FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered

See the iconic RPG interpreted by some of the best artists and designers in the biz!
By Square Enix Team
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FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered is out now on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One and Steam. Whether you’re revisiting the game, or you’re starting your SeeD career for the very first time, we think you’ll find it a joy to spend time with Squall, Zell, Quistis and the rest of the gang.

To celebrate the launch of the game, we invited some of Square Enix’s greatest artists to give us their take on these iconic characters.

And boy, did they deliver!

The legendary Toshiyuki Itahana – designer on both the series (Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY! available now #ShamelessPlug) and the FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES series, gives us his own take on The Man with the Machine Gun – Laguna Loire!

The WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY art director, Yasuhisa Izumisawa, has created this adorable illustration of FINAL FANTASY VIII’s cast! We love the Lilikin version of the logo!

Balamb Garden's Disciplinary Committee are out in full force thanks to Gen Kobayashi, artist on The World Ends With You!

The gunblade-wielding Squall headlines FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered, but why should he take all the glory? STAR OCEAN: ANAMNESIS illustrator Yukihiro Kajimoto has created a brand-new piece featuring the rest of the main cast of the adventure.


All these images debuted on the FINAL FANTASY social media channels - if you’re a fan of the series, you should follow them to stay up to date with the latest news, see awesome art, and discuss the games with fellow fans.

FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered is out now for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One and Steam.

What’s so good about… FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered?

The unique sorcery of this classic RPG...
By Duncan Heaney
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Fans have been asking for it for a while, and now it’s here: FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered is available for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One and Steam.

It’s the best version of the game to date, with enhanced visuals and boosters that make the game faster or more convenient to play, including the ability to speed up time, gain magic spells and more!

There’s a lot of excitement about this release, but if you’ve never played this landmark title, you may be wondering what’s all the fuss about? Allow us to explain:

First and foremost, it’s a love story

FINAL FANTASY has always had a touch of romance - think Cecil and Rosa in FINAL FANTASY IV or Tidus and Yuna in FINAL FANTASY X.

But FINAL FANTASY VIII was the first game to put a love story at the very heart of things.

The lead character, Squall, is a… complicated fellow. When we first meet the young student, he comes off as standoffish, cynical and even a little cold. He brushes off his classmates, gives his teachers one world answers and refuses to let anyone get close.

But when he meets Rinoa Heartilly, a young freedom fighter, his walls start to crumble. Her optimism and passion for her cause intrigue him, and while she’s infuriated by his demeanor, she also sees his hidden depths.

We’re there every step as the two take their awkward, faltering steps towards a deeper connection, and it’s a beautiful thing to witness.

That’s not to say it’s short of action - FINAL FANTASY VIII is one of the most bombastic games in the series, full of exciting chases, swords that are also guns, and massive battles. You’ll have out of body experiences, fight weird and disturbing enemies and travel to places you can’t predict in ways you definitely won’t expect.

But as big as the story goes (and it goes biiiig) everything remains firmly grounded by Squall, Rinoa, and their charming relationship.


The characters are more beautiful than ever

In another milestone for the series, FINAL FANTASY VIII marked the first time that the series featured realistically proportioned characters throughout the whole game.

FINAL FANTASY I through VI all used expressive sprites to convey their stories, and FINAL FANTASY VII a combination of stylized character models in the field, and more detailed ones during combat.

So when FINAL FANTASY VIII arrived, with its more realistic, and consistent, art style it was a massive deal. Of course, this approach also meant we got to see a lot more of the cast up close, so it was important they looked good.

Fortunately, visual director Tetsuya Nomura and art director Yusuke Naora knocked it out of the park, with iconic designs that are instantly recognizable.

And now, of course, they look better than ever. In FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered, every character model has been dramatically overhauled. They’re sharper, with increased detail, making those amazing designs pop even more than the original.


Triple Triad may take over your life

The simplest way to describe Triple Triad is this: a collectable card game that exists within FINAL FANTASY VIII. But a more accurate description would be: ‘Why-can’t-I-stop playing-this?’.

Triple Triad is one of the best FINAL FANTASY VIII side activities ever. It’s easy to understand yet incredibly deep, useful to the main quest, addictive and - most importantly - fun.


Read more:


On the face of it, it’s a simple enough game. You place cards, with four numerical values printed on them. If your number’s higher than you opponent’s you flip it to your color - whoever has the most cards at the end of a round wins.

But as the game goes on, more rules are introduced. You’ll have cards with special abilities, regional rules that change gameplay mechanics, the rewards for winning and more. The cards you win can be refined for powerful items or magic that will boost your character… or just used to beat stronger opponents.

It all adds up to a remarkable enjoyable little game. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself shirking your heroic duties over and over again in favor of just one more game.


The Junction system is supremely flexible

FINAL FANTASY VIII is a game with ambition, and that’s very evident in its Junction System.

Instead of strengthening characters with armor and accessories, as with most FINAL FANTASY games, the eighth entry in the series does something entirely new.

Characters ‘equip’ a Guardian Force - summonable creatures of great power, including series mainstays like Ifrit and Shiva. These can be brought out in battle, but their greater power is that they let you use magic to boost your stats.

So, for example, if you collect a stack of ‘cure’ spells, you can junction them to your HP for a boost to health. Similarly, if you link magic to strength, you’ll hit harder as a result.

It’s a system that puts a huge amount of power in the hands of the player, offering up loads of different ways to setup your character.

The more you dig into it, the more depth you find. You can add status effects to attacks to give you an edge in difficult fights (pro tip: sleep + T-Rexaur = survival), increase your health to withstand brutal bosses or add gain increased defense against specific elements… and that’s barely scratching the surface.

Some truly dedicated fans have even found ways to boost their characters to such an incredible degree that even boss battles become a breeze - it really is that flexible.

In short, the Junction system is one of kind. Naturally, that also makes it a little divisive - some fans love it, others prefer a more traditional approach. Either way it’s worth experiencing because there’s genuinely been nothing like it before, or since.


Nobuo Uematsu’s soundtrack is one for the ages

Here’s something we think everyone will agree on: composer Nobuo Uematsu is a genius.

From the opening cutscene, FINAL FANTASY VIII is a non-stop parade of amazing music. From upbeat battle themes like ‘Force your Way’ and ‘The Man with the Machine Gun’ to more emotional tracks like Love Grows, every track is as memorable as they come.

The soundtrack’s had a life well beyond the game too. Tracks appear in multiple titles throughout the series, including DISSIDA FINAL FANTASY NT, World of FINAL FANTASY and Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY.

Just a few weeks ago, the first raid went live in FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers, featuring… yep, music from FINAL FANTASY VIII.

That legacy goes further than games though - in 2004, Team USA’s synchronized swimming team entered the Olympics with a routine set to two particularly epic tracks from the game: ‘Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec’ and ‘Liberi Fatali’. They came back with the bronze.

So FINAL FANTASY VIII’s music really is jolly good. It’s available on streaming services, so go have a listen - you won’t be disappointed.


Those are just some of the reasons FINAL FANTASY VIII is a must-play, but what do you think?

Are you a fan, or are you one of the lucky players who get to experience it for the first time? Share your thoughts with FINAL FANTASY on social media:

FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered out now on Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One and Steam

The fan-favorite RPG is back with enhanced visuals and brand new features.
By Duncan Heaney
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Grab your gunblades everyone - FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered is out now and ready to play!

The game features all the elements that fans loved from the original PlayStation release - the intense battle system, memorable characters and incredible soundtrack (now on Spotify), but adds newly rendered visuals that bring new life to the world.

You can see the enhancements in the trailer:

What is FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered?

FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered tells an epic and emotional story about war and love. The militarized nation of Galbadia has formed an alliance with the Sorceress Edea in a bid for world conquest. Amid the conflict, Squall Leonhart and a group of fellow students from Balamb Garden’s mercenary force, SeeD, head into the conflict.

Together with his friends, Squall joins Rinoa Heartilly, a member of a resistance group, on an adventure that holds the fate of their world in its balance.

This Remastered edition of the game enhances the original adventure with some cool new features:

  • Enhanced visuals - characters and monsters have been remastered to look better than ever before.

  • Battle Assist - activate this booster to max out HP and ATB bars - and trigger Limit Breaks at any time

  • No encounters - want to explore without fear of attack? Activate this option to turn off random encounters.

  • 3x speed boost - Accelerates time by a factor of three - perfect if you want to speed through easy battles or get somewhere in a hurry.

The STEAM edition has some additional features, including All Items (gives you all items except for a few specific ones), All Abilities, GF Max Level, Max Gil, Max Magic, All Limit Breaks and All Cards (gives to maximum number of Triple Triad Cards, but not Rare Cards).


How do you play FINAL FANTASY VIII?

FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered is available digitally on all current-gen platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, the Xbox One family and Steam.

You can download the game from each platform’s online store from the following link:


Follow FINAL FANTASY on social media to stay up to date with the latest news:

An introduction to EDAMAME Arcade Channel

Drones assaults on arcades, talking life with the father of FINAL FANTASY and… farming? Welcome to the wonderful world of EDAMAME Arcade Channel.
By Duncan Heaney
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You might already be familiar with EDAMAME Arcade Channel. If you’re not, then it’s our pleasure to introduce you.

Started back in 2017, it’s a YouTube channel that looks at all aspects of the gaming world, both in and out of Japan - the arcade scene, console games, big shows like E3, tabletop games and more.

It also features exclusive interviews with some of the biggest names in gaming, including FINAL FANTASY creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, and legendary composer Nobuo Uematsu.

The whole thing is presided over by two passionate gamers: Tom Lee and Kabukin. We sat down with the duo at Gamescom 2019 to find out more about joys of EDAMAME.


Hi guys. In your own words, what is EDAMAME Arcade Channel?

Tom: We started two years ago as an arcade channel - looking to promote arcades and arcade communities in Japan. We branched out since then to games shows, Japanese gaming, Japanese culture as well. And, you know, we wanted to show the world that gaming is part of life!

Kabukin: We were recruited by Square Enix CEO Matsuda-San - he wanted to promote gaming and gaming culture - not just in Japan, but also globally.

Tom: Yeah, I think - and this kind of a broad statement - there are currently a lot of very core gaming channels out there - creators who focus on very specific games. But as EDAMAME, but we wanted to take a lighter approach - make stuff that’s informative, and fun at the same time.

Kabukin: So, yeah, we do creative things like fly a drone inside an arcade (starts to laugh).

Tom: That… didn’t go very well.


That sounds potentially expensive...

Tom: We burnt a hole in the floor.

Kabukin: It was one of the first our first shootings. We had a drone and flew it inside the arcade, but it crashed into the wall!

Tom: And then it crashed into one of the arcade machines and fell on the floor and burnt a hole in the plastic tiling.

So eventually you changed focus from arcades?

Tom: When we started, we really did want to promote a lot of arcade games, but what we found were that arcade gaming, console gaming… well, all gaming really - it all links together. In that way we sort of branched out organically.

Kabukin: So while we started out as an arcade channel, we do so much more now. We were farming last month!

Tom: Yeah, we planted some edamame, which is you know, soybeans. So we actually planted 1,500 soybean plants. So we went from arcades to gaming to farming! It’s a very wide spectrum of things that we’re doing (laughs).


While we’re on the subject of edamame, why the name EDAMAME Arcade Channel?

Kabukin: Well, I heard it’s one of Matsuda-san’s favourite foods (laughs).

But in Japan, you eat edamame at any time, and once you’ve had one, you have two and three and more. You don’t just stop with one edamame.

Tom: So it ties together nicely. It’s Matsuda-san’s favorite food and we hope that if you watch one video, you’ll want to watch another.

How did you get involved with EDAMAME Arcade Channel?

Tom: I got a message on Twitter, from someone at Square Enix, saying ‘we’re looking for people who speak both English and Japanese’ to work on this new project - would you be interested?’

And to be honest, I thought it was a fake message! Because I love FINAL FANTASY VII - it’s my favorite game ever - so when I got a message saying it was from Square Enix I was, like, “this has got to be a lie!”

So I let it sit for about 24 hours, and then I replied. And it wasn’t a lie!


How did the two of you start working together?

Kabukin: Hmm… we started working together when Edamame channel started.

Tom: Before Edamame started, we were in contact with each other - we’d known each other for a while.

So when we found out about this project, I said: do you want to jump in with me and try this out? And now we see each other, what, four times a week?

Kabukin: We’re the same age, so we grew up with the same games. So we have a lot of things in common that let us work well together.

Tom: And we each bring different skills to the table. For example, Kabukin is very musically-talented, and I am… am not (laughs). But then I play fighting games, which he doesn’t.

Kabukin: But we do play games together - we’re both playing FINAL FANTASY TRADING CARD GAME and FINAL FANTASY XIV Online at the moment!

So what were you doing before EDAMAME Arcade Channel started? How did you get to this point?

Tom: I’ve been living in Japan for twelve years now. I’ve sort of been doing TV, radio, internet-based programming as well.

At the time that EDAMAME was starting, I was working a lot in the pachinko industry, which is a very unique part of Japanese culture. It’s another part of gaming really. So I guess I was a YouTuber to some degree.

Kabukin: I grew up in Japan and the United States. And Singapore. So I’ve been around.

My first career, I was playing in a band, so I was living as a musician. I transitioned to making videos on YouTube around four years ago. That’s when I started this makeup.


What is the reason for the makeup?

Kabukin: I don’t really know why (laughs). I wanted to stand out.

Tom: At the time, YouTube was picking up, and there were a lot of YouTubers - so the facepaint really did make you stand out!

Kabukin: I wanted to reach a wide audience and talk to lots of different people. And now we’re in Germany - so I guess it worked!

You’ve had some truly amazing people on EDAMAME Arcade Channel - FINAL FANTASY creator Sakaguchi-san, FINAL FANTASY VII’s Kitase-san, and FINAL FANTASY XIV Online’s Yoshida-san... What’s the most memorable interview?

Kabukin: FINAL FANTASY composer Nobuo Uematsu san - no question.

We did a video where I showed Uematsu-san my own covers of his music. I mean, meeting him made me nervous, but to also show him my music? That’s just about the most daunting thing I’ve ever done.

But he was such a nice guy!

Tom: We’ve met him, what, five or six times now? Just a couple of weeks ago we met Sakaguchi-san and Uematsu-san together and we all had drinks, and food and just.. chatted about life for about four hours.

Kabukin: It’s just a dream come true.. I mean…

Tom: There aren’t any words to describe that experience.


Are there any others that stand out?

Tom: Meeting [FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Producer) Yoshinori Kitase was a huge one for me.

There was a big collaboration with FINAL FANTASY VII on one of the train lines in Japan, and we had an opportunity to do a Q&A.

I think there were about 15 questions, but there were two or three that were cut from the interview. I heard the answer, and Kabukin heard the answer… but we’re not allowed to say! But moments like that, growing up loving a game like that and then getting secret answers from one of the creators! It’s emotional!


What are some of the most memorable things you’ve experienced as EDAMAME Arcade Channel?

Tom: Growing plants! This is the second year we’ve planted edamame plants. Last year we planted 500 edamame plants, this year we did 1,500.

When you eat food, you don’t know realise how hard it is to grow - what’s involved in making it. So actually harvesting and eating the food we’ve planted is an amazing growing experience. Pun intended!

Kabukin: There was one project - the Starwing Paradox project.

It’s an arcade game and we got to see how it made from scratch. Not just that, we also got to some of the game’s sound effects ourselves.

Tom: We used a knife, and axe, a machine gun bullet box to make the sound of the wings of this robot opening!

Kabukin: So not only did we see how that part of the game was made, we got to actually be involved in making it!

If you had to showcase just one video that you think represents the best of EDAMAME Arcade Channel, what would it be and why?

Tom: The interview with Uematsu-san, Sakaguchi-san, Kitase-san in Taiwan is a good starting point. It shows that we’re gamers, and we get to talk to these legends just as people.

There’s often a barrier between developers and gamers - so its good to see them interacting so openly.

Kabukin: For me, it would be my video with Uematsu-san. It was just… epic.


Finally, what message would you give to people who are watching your videos for the first time?

Kabukin: Have fun in life!

Tom: Laugh with us, laugh at us. Also try some edamame.

Kabukin: Exactly!


Thanks to Tom and Kabukin for their time.

You can follow EDAMAME Arcade Channel on YouTube. Make sure you subscribe to watch all their videos from E3, Gamescom and beyond.

5 great dogs in Square Enix videogames

We pick out 5 memorable pooches in this mutts-read article
By Duncan Heaney
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This website’s really going to the dogs.

And you know what? We’re fine with that - dogs are awesome and we’ll take any excuse to talk about man’s best friend.

Fortunately, videogames afford plenty of opportunity to do just that. Many games - Square Enix titles included - feature dogs in prominent roles. Sometimes they’re faithful companions, and sometimes they’re an obstacle to overcome, but we love them each and every one.


Interceptor - FINAL FANTASY VI

You won’t find many videogame pooches as brave and loyal as this.

Interceptor is the partner of FINAL FANTASY VI’s mysterious ninja Shadow. You’ll encounter the two a few times in the story, even having them join your party at some points. In battle, Shadow can call on Interceptor for devastatingly effective attacks.

There are downsides to dog ownership though. It seems Interceptor has expensive tastes - at one point you’ll have to shell out a whopping 3000 gil to feed the greedy little gourmet. That’s like buying six phoenix downs!

It’s worth it though, because Interceptor is a true hero. Perhaps his finest moment comes in the town of Thamasa. A sudden blaze breaks out in the middle of the night, and the young Relm is trapped inside a burning house.

Three of the party, Locke, Terra and Strago leap into action but are knocked out by the fire monsters inside. But unknown to them, Interceptor has followed them - the fearless furball stands guard over the unconscious trio, keeping the monsters at bay long enough for his master to arrive and pull the group to safety.

Even when things get their bleakest (and as anyone who’s played FINAL FANTASY VI knows, things get pretty bleak), Interceptor remains loyal to his master throughout it all.

‘Woofles’ - The DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 dog

You’ll spend a lot of DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 making a community. As you explore islands and complete quests, you’ll build up a rag-tag group of friends and allies, including the most adorable little pooch you’re ever likely to see.

The good news is that you can indeed pet the dog. The bad news is that the poor thing’s a little nervous - approach too quickly and it’s likely to run off.

You’ll need to sneak up nice and slowly, but if you do successfully stroke the adorable ball of fluff, you’ll make a friend for life. The dog joins your team and will help you out as you explore for the rest of the game. What a good dog!

Perhaps the coolest thing though, is you get to decide what to call her. I went with ‘Woofles’, which is therefore the best and canonical name*. But other less awesome names are available too I guess.

(*The DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 team would like it to be made clear that Woofles is in no way the ‘official’ name. Spoilsports.)

Meow Wow - KINGDOM HEARTS 3D DREAM DROP DISTANCE and KINGDOM HEARTS III

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: is a Meow Wow a dog ? Sure, the design combines elements of both dogs and cats, but does it really qualify for this list?

Truth be told, it’s a debate that raged here at Square Enix HQ too, but ultimately, Meow Wow did feature in the prestigious Can You Pet the Dog? Twitter account, so we defer to their authority on the matter.

Whatever your opinion, you can’t deny that Meow Wows are awesome. They’re a type of Dream Eater - helpful spirits that eat bad dreams and defend against Nightmares.

A Meow Wow was the first Dream Eater introduced in KINGDOM HEARTS 3D: DREAM DROP DISTANCE, and features one very cool distinction over the others: it was designed by director Tetsuya Nomura himself.

It’s also a helpful, loyal companion to Sora throughout his ill-fated Mark of Mastery exam, assisting him in battle and looking out for him in other ways too. Meow Wow makes a welcome return in KINGDOM HEARTS 3, where Sora can summon it for what might be the happiest, bounciest attack in the game.

While not all Meow Wows are quite as benevolent as Sora’s, there’s no denying that that this catty canine is one of the best sort-of-dogs in all of gaming.

Umbra - FINAL FANTASY XV

Umbra fulfils many roles - he’s a protector, guide and the world’s fuzziest messaging service.

The loveable pooch serves Lunafreya Nox Fleuret, and acts as a go-between for the young Oracle and her beloved Prince Noctis Lucis Caelum. Though the two are kept separated by duty, the magical pup ferries a notebook between the love-birds so they can share their intimate thoughts.

When Noctis and his lads leave Lucis, Umbra takes on a new role. He allows the party to relive memories of their road trip together - in gameplay terms, he sends you back to the open world so you can mop up side quests, complete hunts or chow down on some fine Ignis cuisine.

And when things for Noctis are at their bleakest, and he’s stranded alone in a changed world, Umbra is there to guide him to where he needs to be.

In short, he’s a very good boy.

Sant’ Angelo di Roma - FINAL FANTASY VIII

A lot of fans are excited to reunite with Squall, Selphie, Quistis and the rest of the team when FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered launches on September 3, 2019. But there is an extra, often overlooked, member of the party that we’re particularly excited to see in HD: Angelo.

Sant’ Angelo di Roma, to give her full name, is Rinoa’s faithful hound and constant companion. She’s a regular source of comfort to the troubled resistance fighter, not to mention super-adorable.

But where Angelo really comes into her own is battle. She acts as Rinoa’s limit break technique - if her master is in danger, Angelo can rush out to launch a special attack. She’ll also occasionally dive in to heal and buff the team

Sadly, Angelo’s skillset is a little limited early one - she only knows a couple of moves. Fortunately, she’s a dog with brains to match the brawn - a quick flick through a copy of the magazine Pet Pals and she’ll pick up a new trick in seconds.

That said, our favorite move is available from the start: Angelo Cannon. This attack sees Angelo essentially become a fur lined ballistic missile. She jumps into Rinoa’s arms, and is fired off like a rocket, causing an explosion that devastates enemies.

No, we’re not quite sure how it works either, but it’s undeniably awesome.


Those were just some of the most capable canine companions in computer games, but what do you think? What are your favorite videogame dogs - share your thoughts in the comments and on social media:

Moonfire Faire 2019 now live in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

Find out how long the event runs for, and the items you can get this year.
By Duncan Heaney
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It’s that wonderful time of the year once more - the Moonfire Faire is now live in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online!

The seasonal event brings a range of new quests to complete, activities to partake in and items to collect.

You’ll have to be quick though - it started Wednesday August 7, 2019 at 1.00am PDT and ends Monday August 26, 2019 at 7.59am PDT.


What is the Moonfire Faire?

The Moonfire Faire is a timed event that takes place each summer in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online.

It’s a highlight of the year that sees players from all over Hydaelyn take a break from being big brave heroes, and head to the city of Limsa Lominsa to see hang out at the festival, complete entertaining new quests and collect cool limited time clothes and items.


How do you find the Moonfire Faire?

First you’ll want to travel to the Upper Decks of Limsa Lominsa and seek out Mayaru Moyaru.

The excitable Lalafell can barely contain his enthusiasm for this year’s event - speak to him, and he’ll be only too happy to tell you all about the many wonders that await attendees.

His exact co-ordinates are: X:11.5, Y:13.8


What items can you get this year?

One of the best things about the Moonfire Faire is that it gives you a chance to change up your wardrobe with exclusive clothing. This year, you’ll have access to some particularly stylish threads, including:

  • Moonfire Hachimaki
  • Red / White / Black Moonfire Happi
  • Moonfire Tabi
  • White / Black Painted Moogle Masks
  • Painted Namazu Mask

You can also get event-exclusive items like these:

  • Portable Pool - a peculiar rubber enclosure that can be filled with water for purposes of mild entertainment (Editor’s note: I MUST have this).

  • Wind Chime - nothing says “summer” like the dissonant tinkling of half a dozen wind chimes at once

  • Moonfire Faire Advertisement - A hand-painted notice advertising the Eorzean Nimble Warrior course

If you missed previous Moonfire Faire items, here’s some good news: you’ll also be able to buy some of them from vendors at the festival!


The 2019 Moonfire Faire is live, so head over there now to look, leap and live it up!

For more information on the event, check out the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Lodestone website.

What is Square Enix bringing to Gamescom 2019?

Visitors can dive in and enjoy playable demos for Marvel’s Avengers, FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE and more
By Duncan Heaney
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Gamescom is just a few weeks away - and we’re excited to announce what Square Enix is bringing to this year’s show.

MARVEL’S AVENGERS

In a worldwide first, fans at Gamescom 2019 will play a hands-on demo for MARVEL’S AVENGERS!

Gamers at the Square Enix booth will battle as Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk, Black Widow, and Thor experiencing the preliminary incident of this original Avengers story, launching on 15 May 2020, simultaneously for the PlayStation 4, the Xbox One family of devices including Xbox One X, Stadia, and PC.

Play the Beta first on PS4. Pre-Order for Beta Access at www.playavengers.com

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

For the first time in Europe, visitors will experience the highly anticipated FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, with a hands-on demo showcasing the reimagining of the iconic original game that re-defined the RPG genre.

Across 72 stations, show attendees will get their first look at the game before its release for the PlayStation®4 system on 3rd March 2020.

Trials of Mana

This remake of an RPG classic makes its global debut at Gamescom with a new playable demo!

Trials of Mana completely rebuilds the original (which is playable in COLLECTION OF MANA), with modern 3D graphics and new action RPG battle, levelling and skill systems.

Attendees will be able to experience an early section of the game at the Square Enix booth, and try out just some of the amazing characters that will be playable in the full game, when it comes out in 2020.

FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

It’s going to be a good Gamescom for FINAL FANTASY XIV Online fans. The critically-acclaimed MMORPG arrives at the show, bringing intense challenges and great prizes with it.

There will be a number of stage shows across the week, featuring makers of the game, including Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida and Main Scenario Writer and World Lore Creator Banri Oda. The programme culminates with a big cosplay competition on Friday 23 August.

Also, on the evening of Friday 23 August is the next FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Fan Gathering. It’s going to be the biggest FINAL FANTASY XIV Online fan gathering to ever take place in Germany, so Cologne had better get ready…

Life is Strange 2

Life is Strange 2 will debut a trailer for Episode 4 ‘Faith’ at gamescom 2019, ahead of the episode’s release on 22 August.

In ‘Faith’, the Diaz brothers’ journey towards a new life in Mexico reaches its most thrilling and complex stage yet.

The trailer releases 19 August, so watch out for that.

KINGDOM HEARTS III

Having surpassed 5 million shipments and digital sales following its launch earlier this year, the critically acclaimed action-RPG KINGDOM HEARTS III returns to Gamescom 2019 with playable demos from worlds inspired by Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Hercules and Disney Pixar’s Toy Story.

Merch and board games

Anyone who heads over the Square Enix booth will also get a first-hand look at some of the latest merchandise and board games.

As well as a sneak peek at merchandise prototypes for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, you’ll also be able to get some hands-on with the latest Square Enix board and card games, including Tomb Raider Legends: The Board Game and FINAL FANTASY TRADING CARD GAME.


To stay up to date with all the news from Gamescom, make sure you follow Square Enix on social media.

These videogame meals will make your mouth water

Take a culinary tour through FINAL FANTASY XV, Life is Strange, DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 and more
By Duncan Heaney
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Feeling snacky? If you’ve been playing videogames we can’t really blame you.

Food plays a big role in many of our favorite games, from managing hunger meters in DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 to buffing your buddies in FINAL FANTASY XV. And that’s just for starters.

So let us be your maître d, and showcase just a few of the things we have on the menu…

Joyce’s Belgian waffle - Life is Strange

You face many choices in Life is Strange, but few as difficult and emotionally draining as this big one in episode 2: what do you want for breakfast - a bacon omelette or Belgian waffle?

Wow. Yeah, that’s a toughie. Erm…I guess I’d go with the omelette.

Wrong. The correct answer was waffle.

I thought Life is Strange doesn’t have wrong choices?

Well, it technically doesn’t but… what kind of crazy person would choose an omelette over a waffle?

I like eggs!

Ugh - I can’t even look at you right now.

Anyway, the choice comes before an important discussion where Max proves to her friend Chloe that she has the power to rewind time at will. It’s a fantastic scene that’s a perfect accompaniment for that buttery battered beauty.

If I could, I’d rewind time so I could eat the waffle again.

Right? And yet Max never does! It’s a real wasted opportunity.

Pork bun - Sleeping Dogs

No trip to Sleeping Dogs’ version of Hong Kong would be complete without trying one of the city’s famous pork buns.

Ooh, that sounds delicious!

Yep. A man who never eats a pork bun is never a whole man.

Um… excuse me?

It’s what the vendors say. Again. And again.

And again.

Okay, but what does it mean?

I think it means they want you to buy a pork bun.

In fairness, they do seem to be remarkably nutritious. A quick nibble on this meaty treat and your character Wei Shen gets a health regeneration buff that lets him even shake off knife wounds.

And that’s very useful when you’re trying to infiltrate the Triad.

I see. So you could argue that unless you eat a pork bun, you’ll never be at full health. And therefore, never a whole man.

Oooooh! Now it all makes sense!

…no it doesn’t.

Gysahl Greens - Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY!

If you want a really healthy option, try a pile of Gysahl greens. These vegetables - a staple of the FINAL FANTASY series - are big, green and absolutely delicious.

I dunno, they don’t sound all that good…

They do if you’re a chocobo!

Our fine feathered friends love their greens - particularly the descriptively-named Chocobo from the wonderful Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY!

Exploring dangerous temples is tough work and Chocobo gets hungrier and hungrier as he explores. If the hunger level gets too high, the poor little chap will pass out.

I feel like that at work sometimes.

…well ignoring your obvious cries for help, there is one thing that can keep Chocobo going - Gysahl Greens.

Not only do they sate his hunger, the contented little ‘wark’ he gives out when he chows down is will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

But presumably still hungry.

Well if you’re hungry, this next meal will definitely solve that problem…

The Stacked Ham Sandwich - FINAL FANTASY XV

FINAL FANTASY XV is an inspiring story about four friends who travel the world trying to eat every meal in existence.

I don’t think that’s exactly what it’s about…

It is the way I play it.

FINAL FANTASY XV is a food lover’s dream - wherever you go, you’ll be confronted with the most mouth-watering meals imaginable.

But few meals are quite so drool-inducing as this: The Stacked Ham Sandwich.

Oh wow. That is… ample.

Pretty big right?

Yeah. Shut up and give it to me already!

Ah. Well about that. First it has to be made at camp by super-chef Ignis.

That seems fine…

But before that, he has to learn the recipe.

So buy him a cookbook already!

Actually, to get the recipe you need to eat another sandwich: the Fat Chocobo Triple Decker.

That doesn’t seem so bad…

But first you have to go to Wiz’s Chocobo Post….

Inconvenient, but okay.

And then you have to get the owner to add it to the diner’s menu.

…I’m starting to get a bad feeling about this one.

He’ll only add it when you’ve completed a series of quests for him, mostly involving risking life and limb to save different types of chocobos.

And how long will that take!?

Well, depending on where you are in the story, you can probably get through them all in a few hours.

Seriously!?

Look at it this way - to eat a sandwich that size, you’ll need to work up an appetite, right?

sob

Okay, okay! We’ll look at something a bit quicker.

Soul food - Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

Now this is the definition of fast food. Raziel, the lead character of Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, spends much of the game sucking up vampire souls like they’re lemonade.

He eats… souls?

Yep. As a wraith (sort of a double-undead vampire), Raziel’s health constantly drops. He needs regular feeds to avoid losing his corporeal form and disintegrating into the spectral realm.

So he eats souls.

He does. Take vampires - which have become bestial monsters during the time of the first game. Simply find one of these snarling beasts, tenderize them a bit and finish them off with water, sunlight or a good old fashioned stake…

…not the kind of steak I was hoping for…

Once defeated, the enemy’s soul emerges, and Raziel has a few seconds to pull down his scarf and gobble it up.

Blimey. That all sounds jaw-droppingly unappetizing.

For us maybe, but not for Raziel.

Besides, he doesn’t really have a jaw.

Sigh. Suddenly those Gysahl Greens sound a lot more appetizing...

Okay - I get it. You want options.

All the food - DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2

There’s a lot of food in DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2. Like, a lot.

Eating plays a big role in the game. It’s important to keep your hero and allies well fed - and fortunately, the game contains more delish dishes than you can count.

Wow. More than 10?

A lot more than 10, yes.

From simple snacks like a freshly cooked cabbage, to elaborate dishes with multiple ingredients, there’s sure to be something that will make you lick your lips.

Awesome. So it’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Well more like an all-you-can-make buffet. You’re a Master Builder remember - if you want something nice, you’ll have to create it yourself.

Aw man… you mean I have to cook my own dinner?

Well yes, but it’s actually really fun!

Remember - DRAGON QUEST BUILDERS 2 is all about creativity and experimentation, and playing around with the different meals is every bit as rewarding as building a house or slicing up a Slime.

As you explore, you’ll collect all sorts of ingredients, which you’ll be able to combine and cook up in all sorts of ways. You can even make your own farm to create a steady supply of eats to throw on the grill.

Actually that does sound pretty awesome.

Yep. It just goes to prove that when it comes to cooking, the more effort you put in, the more rewarding the result.

Well there’s some food for thought.


That was just a small canapes-worth of the culinary delights (and not so delights) in Square Enix games.

But we want to know what you think. Did we miss any examples? Do you have any alternate selections? Did you successfully get and eat the Stacked Ham Sandwich? Share your thoughts in the comments and on social media:

FINAL FANTASY Spotify playlists to suit any mood

From the best of the battle themes to chilled out tracks for some rest and relaxation, we’ve built a playlist for every occasion
By Duncan Heaney
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A few weeks ago, we added dozens of FINAL FANTASY albums onto major streaming services. Subscribers now have access to game soundtracks, orchestral arrangements and more.

The thing is… there’s a lot of FINAL FANTASY music out there. Like… a lot. With so many amazing tracks to listen to, where do you even start?

Well, allow us to help. We’ve created a series of FINAL FANTASY playlists for Spotify that should suit any mood you may have.

Heading off on a journey? The Drive playlist will keep things moving. Feeling weepy? We’ve collected some of the most emotional tracks in one place. Or if you need a pick me up… hey, there’s a playlist for that too.

Here they are - simply click the link at the bottom of each to listen on Spotify.

Drive

Sometimes you just want to channel your inner Noctis (or Ignis), jump in the car, and hit the road - all, of course, accompanied by some awesome driving music.

That’s exactly what this playlist offers. It’s a collection of tracks that emphasize movement and momentum. It’s all here - airship themes from FINAL FANTASY IV and beyond, soundscapes like FINAL FANTASY XIII’s The Sunleth Waterscape and action themes like FINAL FANTASY VIII’s The Man with the Machine Gun to name by a few. There may even be a hint of Chocobo in there too…

Unfortunately we can’t supply you with your own Regalia, but this collection of music will still make every journey something to look forward to.

Fight

FINAL FANTASY’s amazing battle themes can’t help but get the blood pumping - and his playlist gathers together many of the most adrenaline-inducing.

It covers everything from FINAL FANTASY VII’s iconic Let The Battles Begin! to pulse-pounding modern themes like FINAL FANTASY XV’s Veiled in Black. It even has room for some quirkier - but still epic - tracks like FINAL FANTASY IX’s Festival of the Hunt.

If you’re in need of motivation, this action-packed playlist will hype you up and make you feel ready to take on any situation.

Relax

Kick off your shoes, sit back and let this peaceful playlist wash over you like a cleansing balm.

This set of tracks is all about relaxation. You’ll hear melodic character themes like Vanille’s Theme and Rydia, pleasant location tracks like FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS’ Peaceful Village, calming tunes like FINAL FANTASY XIV Online’s Where The Heart is or FINAL FANTASY XV’s quietly upbeat Bros on the Road.

We all live busy lives, but it’s good to take a break every now and then and just enjoy a moment of peace and reflection. Hopefully, this music will help you do that.

Cry

Amid the battles and Bahamuts, FINAL FANTASY can be an incredibly emotive series - and that’s reflected in the music.

This playlist features some of the most emotionally-charged tracks in the series, such as the plaintive piano of FINAL FANTASY X’s Zanarkand, the melancholy guitar of A Flower Blooming in the Slums (CRISIS CORE - FINAL FANTASY VII), and the sad strings of A Forlorn Heart (FINAL FANTASY TYPE-0).

There’s much more, of course, and it’s some of the most powerful videogame music ever written. So put on some headphones, pick this playlist and just… let the tears flow freely. It’s cathartic!

Cheer up!

You shouldn’t wallow in misery forever - and if you listen to this playlist, you’ll find it’s impossible to anyway.

The Up! playlist is full of tracks that will simply make you happy. It highlights the sheer joy that the series inspires - moments of triumph, wonderful characters, and even those silly bits that can’t help but raise a smile.

It’s an eclectic mix to be sure. Among the mix you’ll hear bouncy ragtime of FINAL FANTASY VI’s Spinach Rag, the childlike (and unambiguously-named) Happy Melody from World of FINAL FANTASY, and Penelo’s Theme - a fun track as upbeat and bouncy as the FINAL FANTASY XII hero herself.


We hope you enjoy these playlists. If you’d prefer to dig more into the music of FINAL FANTASY, check out our article: Explore the history of FINAL FANTASY through its music to find links to each FINAL FANTASY soundtrack on Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music.

Discover the Legacy of FINAL FANTASY

Some of the greatest games in FINAL FANTASY history have come to PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Steam. Find out all about them here...
By Square Enix MEMBERS
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A whole host of legendary FINAL FANTASY titles are available on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Steam in 2019! Take a look:

Here is a guide to tell you exactly which games are on the way, and what exactly you can expect from each one.

FINAL FANTASY VII

The game that not only revolutionised the way in which videogames are both created and talked about, but also what they can represent. FINAL FANTASY VII changed the face of gaming back when originally released, going on to inspire an entire generation of FINAL FANTASY fans. We’re bringing the original FINAL FANTASY VII to both Nintendo Switch and Xbox One!

The story starts in Midgar, a city controlled by the mega-conglomerate Shinra Company, where the No. 1 Mako Reactor has been blown up by a rebel group, AVALANCHE.

AVALANCHE was secretly formed to wage a rebellion against Shinra Company, an organisation which is absorbing Mako energy, destroying the natural resources of the planet. Cloud, a former member of Shinra's elite combat force, SOLDIER, was involved with the bombing of the Mako Reactor.

Can Cloud and AVALANCHE protect the planet from the huge, formidable enemy, Shinra Company?

Out Now on: Nintendo Switch | Xbox One  

 

FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered

FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered is coming to current gen systems in 2019! The release updates the classic RPG with improved character models and more.

The game is set during a time of war. The nation of Galbadia has declared war on Dollet, a country whose training academy is home to two personalities: the hot-headed Seifer and the 'lone wolf', Squall Leonhart.

Both are equally at conflict with each other as their country is with Galbadia - Squall appears to lack team spirit, while Seifer does not have the discipline of his rival.

However, a chance encounter with the free-spirited Rinoa Heartilly turns Squall's universe upside down. He also begins to dream that he is a Galbadian army soldier called Laguna Loire…

Coming in 2019 to: Nintendo Switch | Xbox One | PS4 | Steam

FINAL FANTASY IX

FINAL FANTASY IX tells a grand story of love, war and betrayal.

Zidane and the Tantalus Theater Troupe have kidnapped Princess Garnet, the heir of Alexandria.

To their surprise, however, the princess herself yearned to escape the castle.

Through a series of unusual circumstances, she and her personal guard, Steiner, and a colorful cast of misfits band together with Zidane and set out on an unforgettable journey.

Meeting unforgettable characters like Vivi and Quina along the way, they learn about themselves, the secrets of the Crystal, and a malevolent force that threatens to destroy their world.

Out Now on: Nintendo Switch | Xbox One | Windows 10

FINAL FANTASY X | X-2 HD Remaster

The only thing better than picking up a FINAL FANTASY game is picking up two!

FINAL FANTASY X absolutely lit up the sixth generation of consoles with stunning production values, including gorgeous graphics, a stunning soundtrack and a moving story.

FINAL FANTASY X tells the story of a star blitzball player, Tidus, who journeys with a young and beautiful summoner named Yuna on her quest to save the world of Spira from an endless cycle of destruction wrought by the colossal menace Sin.

FINAL FANTASY X-2 returns to the world of Spira two years after the beginning of the Eternal Calm. Having been shown a mysterious but familiar image in a sphere, Yuna becomes a Sphere Hunter and along with her companions Rikku and Paine, embarks on a quest around the world to find the answers to the mystery within.

Two of the greatest RPGs of their generation have been completely remastered to match modern standards, and FINAL FANTASY X | X-2 HD Remaster is the perfect way to experience both of these titles one after the other.

Out Now on: Nintendo Switch | Xbox One

FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE

FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE improves upon the 2006 classic FINAL FANTASY XII, now more beautiful and easier to play than ever.

The high-definition remaster introduces several modern advancements, including reconstructed battle design and a revamped job system.

With newly implemented modern advancements, as well as stark visual and sound improvements in true HD for the first time, players both returning and new to the game will experience a grand adventure that spans the world of Ivalice in an entirely fresh and improved way.

Enter an era of war within the world of Ivalice. The small kingdom of Dalmasca, conquered by the Archadian Empire, is left in ruin and uncertainty.

Princess Ashe, the one and only heir to the throne, devotes herself to the resistance to liberate her country.

Vaan, a young man who lost his family in the war, dreams of flying freely in the skies.

In a fight for freedom and fallen royalty, join these unlikely allies and their companions as they embark on a heroic adventure to free their homeland.

Out Now on: Nintendo Switch | Xbox One

Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY!

Chocobo doesn’t just kick, and isn’t just cute!

Take one step forward and change the world in this spectacular return to 2007’s FINAL FANTASY FABLES: Chocobo's Dungeon, specially designed for new gaming systems.

The rules to this mysterious dungeon are simple… every time you enter, the world around you changes shape, but it only moves whenever Chocobo moves, whether Chocobo walks, kicks, or uses an item.

Fight monsters alongside your buddies and adventure through countless dungeons, all whilst enjoying a deep and engaging story, it even includes 2-player co-op play!

Out Now on: Nintendo Switch | PlayStation 4

FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition

The classic co-op action RPG FINAL FANTASY Crystal Chronicles has been completely remastered, and now even includes a new online multiplayer mode so that you and up to three friends can adventure together!

For those of you who have played the original title, there are even new areas inside dungeons, so there’s so much more to explore than ever before!

Releasing 2019 on: Nintendo Switch | PlayStation 4

FINAL FANTASY XV POCKET EDITION HD

If you’d like a more light-hearted play through of the latest in the line of FINAL FANTASY titles, explore the world of FINAL FANTASY XV with a cast of adorable characters in FINAL FANTASY XV POCKET EDITION HD!

Take the journey and experience the FINAL FANTASY XV story in the cutest way possible!

After years of fighting, the nations of Lucis and Niflheim at last agree to an armistice.

As a symbol of this promised peace, Noctis, crown prince of Lucis, is to wed the Lady Lunafreya of Tenebrae.

The prince sets forth for his wedding on the eve of the signing ceremony, sent off by his father, King Regis. Unbeknownst to Noctis, however, the journey ahead is fraught with perils…

Out Now on: Nintendo Switch | Xbox One | PlayStation 4

WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY MAXIMA

If you want a crash course on what FINAL FANTASY is all about, as well as the chance to meet many of the heroes from different FINAL FANTASY games in one place, then WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY MAXIMA is for you!

WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY MAXIMA is the powered up version of WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY which was originally released in October 2016.

Embark on a magical journey with siblings Reynn and Lann as they explore the vast land of Grymoire to rediscover their past and save the future.

With charming and stylised visuals, you can capture, customise and evolve iconic creatures by stacking them to form adorable yet strategic monster towers.

New characters from FINAL FANTASY lore (Champions) and monsters (Mirages) add even more fun and excitement to this unique adventure in WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY MAXIMA!

Out Now on: Nintendo Switch | Xbox One | PlayStation 4 | Steam

FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers - we answer your questions

We answer some of the most frequently-asked questions about the new Shadowbringers expansion
By Duncan Heaney
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1

FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers is out and loads of you have already embarked on your journey to become the Warrior of Darkness.

But with a new release comes new questions. So we thought it might be helpful to answer some of the most common here.

Starting with…


What level do I have to be to play Shadowbringers?

To prepare for FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers, you have to have met a few criteria.

Specifically, you need to have a level 70 Disciple of War or Disciple of Magic character, and have completed the main scenario of FINAL FANTASY XIV: Stormblood.

Fortunately, you’ll almost certainly have achieved that if you’ve played through the expansions. If not… that actually brings us to another query…


Is it difficult to catch up to Shadowbringers if I’m behind, or just starting out?

We’re now three expansions in and there’s a lot of content in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online.

While most of it’s fun to play through, you don’t need to worry about catching up if you’re a long way behind. If you want to boost your story progression to get closer to the Shadowbringers content, you can do so by purchasing a Tales of Adventure item.

These items fast-track your job level and progression, so you can get both to the required level to start playing Shadowbringers. Simply head over here to get one:

Should I skip ahead to Shadowbringers?

Hmm… that depends.

If you have friends embarking on their journey into The First, and you want to join them, a Tales of Adventure item lets you do it. Alternatively, if you simply must play the new stuff as soon as possible, this will let you get to it faster.

But truth be told, if you don’t need to catch up with other players, and you’re willing to wait, you shouldn’t feel the need to hurry.

Heavensward and Stormblood are both packed full of fantastic quests, stories and areas that are absolutely worth experiencing. You shouldn’t let FOMO make you rush - Shadowbringers isn’t going anywhere.

So basically, it’s entirely up to you.


Can I run FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers?

Here are the basic requirements you’ll need to play the game.

Minimum system requirements:

  • OS: Windows 7 64 bit, Windows 8.1 64 bit, Windows 10 64 bit
  • Processor: Intel Core i5 2.4GHz or better
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA Geforce GTX750 or better AMD Radeon R7 260X or better
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 60 GB available space
  • Sound Card: A sound card which supports DirectSound

Recommended system requirements:

  • OS: Windows 7 64 bit, Windows 8.1 64 bit, Windows 10 64 bit
  • Processor: Intel Core™i7 3GHz or higher
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA Geforce GTX970 or higher AMD Radeon™ RX 480 or higher
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 60 GB available space
  • Sound Card: A sound card which supports DirectSound

Oh, and regardless of specs, you’ll need an active broadband internet connection. Obviously.

What’s the song in the Shadowbringers trailer?

Yeah, awesome isn’t it? It’s called ‘Shadowbringers’ and it was composed by the great Masayoshi Soken.

You can listen to it here:

Which brings us to another common question about the song:


What are the lyrics in the Shadowbringers trailer song?

A lot of you have wondered about the words spoken during the Shadowbringers theme.

Well, wonder no longer. In a recent blog on the official FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Lodestone website, Bayohne from the North American community team posted the full lyrics to the song. We’re not going to write them all out here, because it’s pretty long, but here’s an excerpt:

One brings shadow, one brings light

Two-toned echoes tumbling through time

Threescore wasted, ten cast aside

Four-fold knowing, no end in sight

One brings shadow, one brings light

One dark future no one survives

On their shadows, away we fly

They’re packed with meaning - when you’ve played Shadowbringers, you’ll definitely have an ‘ahhhh - I get it!’ moment.

You can read the full lyrics here:

What new jobs are in Shadowbringers?

Two new jobs have been added to FINAL FANTASY XIV with Shadowbringers: Gunbreaker and Dancer.

Gunbreakers are a tank class - they stand up front taking hits for the party and dishing out some serious pain in return. Oh, and they use gunblades - which are among the coolest weapons in FINAL FANTASY.

Dancers, on the other hand, use their smooth moves to hurt foes, buff their allies and more. It’s a very different way to play the game, but with the right setup, they can be devastatingly effective.


What’s the best job in Shadowbringers?

Well... there isn’t one. That’s kinda the point, right?

Every job is viable, so it really comes down to what kind of player you are. For example, some people want to keep things simple and hit things with something big, sharp and shiny - Gunbreakers, Dark Knights (the job featured heavily in the Shadowbringers trailers) and Warriors fit the bill there.

On the other hand, some like to stand back and use ranged abilities or magic to hurt or weaken enemies - they’ll likely gravitate towards jobs like Dancer, Black Mage or Red Mage.

Basically, it’s your call. But one of the coolest things about FINAL FANTASY XIV Online as a whole, is that you can change jobs quickly and easily - so just experiment and find the one you like!

There’s a great guide to the different jobs on The Lodestone - we recommend you take a look at that to help you make a decision.

Can I play FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers for free?

You’ll need to have bought the Shadowbringers expansion and have an active FINAL FANTASY XIV Online subscription to play the game.

That said, you can certainly get a taster of the base game for free! There's a free trial that lets you take A Realm Reborn for a spin. It lets play through the scenario quests and try out all the original jobs up to level 35.

Then, if you like the game, you can either get the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Starter Edition, which lets you pay a one-off fee and play through the A Realm Reborn scenario and take all jobs to level 50, or the Complete Edition, which gives you all expansions including Shadowbringers.


How can I listen to the FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers soundtrack?

FINAL FANTASY XIV Online wasn’t short of great music already, and Shadowbringers adds even more amazing tracks.

As with the other releases, the soundtrack will be made available to buy - we’re afraid we can’t say when that is just yet, but we’ll let you know as soon as we can.

For now, you can listen to some of the music in-game via the Orchestrian rolls.

Can I play my FINAL FANTASY XIV Online character on both PS4 and PC?

Yes you can. Any character you create with your Square Enix account can be used on PC and PS4 - provided you have purchased each platform’s version.

Bear in mind that the user interface for each platform is slightly different, so you’ll have to set up your character, shortcuts, et cetera again if you move from one to the other.


What’s the max level in FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers?

The launch of the new expansion has raised the level cap for all standard jobs to 80.

Cue cheers and confetti from long-term players.


How do I play the Nier:Automata Raid?

FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers will get a new raid from the creative minds behind NieR:Automata.

We’ll have more information to share about it in the future, but we can confirm that it will be added to the game in a future patch, and you’ll need to be level 80 to do it.

Also, it’ll be very cool.

The making of FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE

Hear development secrets direct from the creators of the classic RPG
By Duncan Heaney
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The latest entry in our ‘Inside’ documentary series takes a look at one of the most ambitious FINAL FANTASY games ever made: FINAL FANTASY XII.

In the video, the game’s Director Takashi Katano and Producer Hiroaki Kato take a look back at the game.

They discuss the challenges of creating a seamless world that feels alive, the development of the acclaimed Gambit system, the inspirations for the amazing settings of Rabanastre and Ivalice and much more.

It’s a must-watch for any fan of the game and FINAL FANTASY as a whole.

About FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE

FINAL FANTASY XII tells a timeless story of conflict, honor and duty, set in the war-torn world of Ivalice. The kingdom of Dalmasca has been conquered by the powerful Archadian Empire.

Princess Ashe is left as the last heir to the throne, and joined by a group of misfit including orphans Vaan and Penelo, charming sky pirate Balthier, and Viera Fran, sets off on a journey to free her country from the occupying forces.

THE ZODIAC AGE edition of the game upgrades the original PlayStation 2 release with new features, and quality of life improvements, including the ability to speed up time, and a revamped job system that allows for greater specialization of roles within your party.

The Nintendo and Xbox One versions add additional improvements, such as extra options for the Gambit system and the ability to reset jobs.

All said, we’re big fans of the game here on the Blog team - here’s why we think it’s a must play entry in the series:

FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers - Eden Raid now live

New raid features bosses and a character designed by FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Director Tetsuya Nomura
By Duncan Heaney
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The first high-end raid for FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers is now available and ready to play for anyone looking for new challenges after completing the main scenario questline.

The new content went with Patch 5.01. Called Eden, you and your party will have to force your way through difficult battles in a new instance that… well, let’s just say some elements may be quite familiar to FINAL FANTASY fans.

It’ll be memorable challenge, not least thanks to the new character design by FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Director Testuya Nomura. Here’s a look at the new character called Gaia:

How do I start the Shadowbringers Eden Raid?

To embark on the new raid, you need to meet certain criteria:

  • You must be a level 80 Disciple of War or level 80 Disciple of Magic.
  • You must have an average item level of 425
  • You must have completed the main scenario quest for Shadowbringers

If you’ve met those criteria, you’ll be good to start the quest: ‘In the Middle of Nowhere’.

As this is one of FINAL FANTASY XIV’s 8-man raids, you’ll need some friends to join you. If you don’t have a party, you can queue via the Duty Finder once you’ve unlocked the raid.

When will the savage difficulty raid be out?

You can currently play the Eden raid at the normal difficulty level, but if you really want a even greater challenge, the savage raid is scheduled to release on 30 July 2019. Why, that’s just a few weeks away!

This savage raid will push you and your party to the limits - you’ll have to make smart use of your abilities, communicate effectively and adapt on the fly if you want to survive it.

Good luck!


FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers is out now for PC, Mac and PS4.

7 reasons to be excited for WAR OF THE VISIONS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS

FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS producer Kei Hirono and Global Version producer Hiroki Fujimoto talk about the new game
By Duncan Heaney
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0

SQUARE ENIX Live E3 2019 brought a number of exciting new announcements to fans and newcomers around the world.

While the original FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS recently celebrated its third anniversary (alongside more than 39 million downloads globally), E3 also gave the world its first look at WAR OF THE VISIONS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS – a brand new project from FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS team.

We sat down with the producer of the FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS series Kei Hirono and FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS Global Version producer Hiroki Fujimoto, who gave us seven reasons you should download it onto your phone when it releases worldwide.

1. You don’t need to know anything about FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS to jump in!

Although it may be part of the FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS universe, WAR OF THE VISIONS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS is a completely new title. It’s been designed from the ground up to ensure you need no prior-knowledge of the series to get going.

Because it’s set centuries before the story of FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS, you can feel safe in the knowledge that you’re discovering this brand new story, characters and gameplay systems all alongside die-hard fans.


2. But if you are a fan of the first game, you’ll love it even more!

As fans of the original FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS, it’s exciting to think we’ll be getting a whole new experience set in an already familiar world, with lots of nods to in-game historical events.

According to Hirono: “If you look at the main FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS game, Lapis can be considered to essentially be the planet. If you look on the world map on the lower right there is a continent that hasn’t been revealed yet, and that’s Ardora - where this particular story takes place.

“They are interconnected in terms of the history of the world, so if you know the main FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS game, then there will be certain aspects or mysteries, that may be unravelled through WAR OF THE VISIONS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS.

“So, you will be able to enjoy the game even more if you have played FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS. But of course, as always, we want to ensure that those who haven’t played FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS will also be able to enjoy this game.”

3. WAR OF THE VISIONS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS is a tactical FINAL FANTASY title for your Smartphone

Which is a hugely exciting prospect for those who love tactical RPGs!

WAR OF THE VISIONS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS allows you to position your units strategically within a 3D map, taking turns to move and attack your enemies. Added tactical depth includes potential changes in elevation, so your positioning can really make a difference.

Fujimoto says: “There are various elements that come into play here, but we believe that for those of you who like tactical RPGS and FINAL FANTASY TACTICS in particular, most of the elements that make up the genre can be found within the gameplay systems of WAR OF THE VISIONS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS.”


4. There’s limitless depth to tactical play…

With a controllable 3D camera, and a party of heroes with varying skills and capabilities, it’s up to the player to make the best call as to how they take on their objective.


Read more:


Hirono says: “It is a pure kind of tactical RPG but it also includes various types of objectives throughout the field, where you may need to press on a switch in order to open certain gates, or you can occasionally, for example, blow up a bridge in order to proceed.”

Using the environment to the best of your party’s ability will play a huge role in the success of the mission.

“It also includes a very deep and expansive character growth system and various types of characters will also make an appearance in this game, it is a very deep experience.”

5. …and an expansive story that will continue for years to come

WAR OF THE VISIONS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS tells a sprawling tale of nations at war - a more involved story and a more mature approach than would be necessarily expected from a smartphone game.

According to Fujimoto: “The original FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS is focused on one main character and the growth of that main character is similar to the themes that are often carried in traditional boys’ manga.”

Hirono adds: “WAR OF THE VISIONS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS depicts war as the title entails, it really delves into depicting human nature at its core. It is kind of like an ensemble drama so to speak.

“Basically this is a war between countries and regions, and beyond this there is a greater/wider world that unfolds.” With the original game now into its third year, and such an ambitious sounding story behind WAR OF THE VISIONS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS, we asked how far into the future they’ve planned for.

Hirono said: “It is our duty to not let it stop, and make sure it continues on. We feel like we do need to at least continue it for another 10 years or so!”


6. But you can still get a few battles in during your lunch break

Despite this ever-growing story of warring nations, and an ever-expanding roster of characters and abilities, WAR OF THE VISIONS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS still wants to ensure you’re able to enjoy the experience - even if you only have a little time to play.

Hirono explains: “Many people find these types of games to be difficult, so we will have an auto mode but also we will have a fast forward mode for anyone who doesn’t want to wait for these actions to unfold.”

This means you can equip your characters to the best of your ability, set them loose on the battlefield, and watch as they (hopefully) finish off your opponent while you finish off your dinner!


7. Its free to download!

Despite featuring fully-3D skirmishes, CG graphics from the team at Visual Works and a deep narrative, WAR OF THE VISIONS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS is, like FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS before it, free to download and play!

With lots of brand new characters planned for the future, and some surprises for FINAL FANTASY fans (we haven’t even mentioned summons yet!) there’ll be plenty of reasons to download WAR OF THE VISIONS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS when it releases later this year.

How to get ready for FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers

Prepare yourself for the incoming expansion - and find out how to get early access!
By Duncan Heaney
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5

We’re just a few days away from the launch of FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers (unless you’re reading this after July 2, 2019 in which case… why aren’t you playing Shadowbringers right now!?).

The new expansion has a veritable mountain of new content, piling on new jobs like the Gunbreaker and Dancer, new races, new areas to explore and, of course, a host of new quests and characters to discover.

It’s a big one then - and you may be wondering: ‘What do I need to do be ready for Shadowbringers’?

Well, allow us to lay it out:

Play to the end of FINAL FANTASY XIV: Stormblood’s main scenario

Firstly, you need to have a level 70 Disciple of War or Disciple of Magic character, and have completed the main scenario of FINAL FANTASY XIV: Stormblood.

The final main scenario quests for the second expansion were released back in March, and they revealed the shocking conclusion to the Stormblood scenario.

Not only that, but the patch set the stage for FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers, which sees you become the Warrior of Darkness, and set off on an epic quest to push back an overwhelming flood of light threatening to obliterate the First.


If necessary, get up to speed with a Tales of Adventure item

Of course, it’s possible you’ve yet to reach the start of the Stormblood expansion, let alone the end. After all, new players are joining FINAL FANTASY XIV Online all the time - particularly with the recent free Heavensward promotion.

You could play through the full scenario - and have a lot of fun doing it - but if you do want to jump right into Shadowbringers on launch day, you should pick up a Tales of Adventure item.

These can boost your progression all the way up to the start of Stormblood, thus saving you a lot of time and putting you much closer to the latest adventure.

Even better, the Tales of Adventure items are currently on sale, with as much as 60% off. The sale ends on Thursday 27 June 2019, so if you do want the boost, now’s a great time to get one.

Design a Viera or Hrothgar character

One of the things I’m personally most excited for in Shadowbringers is the ability to play as a big, burly Hrothgar. But if you’re more of a Viera person - hey, I get it. Ever since the long-eared warriors burst onto the scene in the Ivalice titles, the community’s been desperate to see them in Hydaelyn - and the wait’s now over!

Either way, you don’t have to wait until Shadowbringers launches to make your character - the recently-released Benchmark tool features a comprehensive character creator.

Download it and not only can you create your character right now, you’ll be able to carry them into the game.

You can get the tool here: https://na.finalfantasyxiv.com/benchmark/


Check out The Lodestone… if you haven’t already

If you’re a long-term FINAL FANTASY XIV Online fan, you’re probably familiar with The Lodestone already. But we thought we should highlight it, just in case.

The website gives you all the information you could ever want about FINAL FANTASY XIV Online and its expansions. Just this morning, for example, the premilinary patch notes for Shadowbringers were posted, so you can read all about the myriad tweaks and features coming to the game .

Not only that, you’ll also be able to check out the Community Wall, featuring posts and blogs from players from all over the world. There’s also a comprehensive Help & Support section - so if you have a question about the game, it’s very possible that the answer’s available here.

Preorder for early access… this week!

While FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers doesn’t officially emerge into the light until July 2, 2019, there is a way to get in a few days earlier: pre-order.

Anyone who preorders the expansion gets early access and will be able to play from June 28, 2019. That’s Friday this very week!

That’s the full experience mind you - not a sneak peek or a demo. So if you’re desperate to leap into the First and start exploring as soon as possible, that’s the way to do it.

5 videogames we’d love to take a vacation in

Take a welcome break with these gaming getaways
By Duncan Heaney
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Whew! I don’t know about you, but after all that E3 excitement, we could use a bit of a vacation. But where to go?

Fortunately, the worlds of Square Enix games are full of wonderful resorts that perfectly positioned to help you get away from it all.

So let us play travel agent and show you some of our most primo vacay spots.


A beach break in Costa del Sol - FINAL FANTASY XIV: Online

You may be thinking: “Hold on - isn’t Costa Del Sol in Spain?” Or perhaps you assume we’re talking about getting the ferry from Junon.

Well, both are wrong. We’re actually thinking about the Costa Del Sol in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online’s Hydaelyn.

This warming wonderland has everything you could want out of a beach resort - sun, sea, sand, and a soundtrack that just screams “relax” (but, y’know, screams it in a really chilled out way).

There’s lots to do here too. Why not hang out on the beach with friends, go fishing, or have a swim in the sky-blue sea? There’s quite a banquet to be had too, if you don’t mind doing a little legwork.

It’s a little slice of paradise - and the ideal place for a weary Warrior of Light to take a well-earned break before diving into FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers.


A road trip in Solís - Just Cause 4

Sometimes all you want to do is jump in a car, and hit the road - and Just Cause 4’s Solís has plenty to choose from.

The nature of the road trip is entirely up to you. We recommend you jump into a comfortable sedan and just drive - head off in a random direction and see where you end up.

Perhaps you’ll reach a rustic village, or find a lovely coastal road to enjoy. Most likely you’ll end up in an exploding military base full of angry people trying to kill you, but hey - that’s part of the fun of a road trip, right? …let’s just say it is.

If you want your vacation to be a bit more focused, you can check out the many stunt spots littered across Solís - they encourage you to drive fast, and try out different cars and bikes. But for maximum vehicular thrills, we suggest the island of Isla Santuario.

Added in the Dare Devils of Destruction DLC, this landmass is crisscrossed with twisty-turny tarmac that will get any driving enthusiast’s engines revving.

Not only can you engage in three very different type of driving challenges, including neon-drenched checkpoint races and explosive rampages, you also get to keep the cars!


A city break in Altissia - FINAL FANTASY XV

Road trips and adventures are all well and good, but if you’re anything like me, you prefer something a little more sedate. A city break fits the bill perfectly, and I can’t think of many places as well-suited as FINAL FANTASY XV’s Altissia.

This bustling city is a tourist’s dream. The architecture is absolutely stunning, with beautiful bridges over sparkling canals, ornate houses, and a towering colosseum.

It’s a pleasure to explore, but if you’re in need of more structured activities, there’s plenty to do - you can test your bravery in the arena, check out a beautiful wedding dress exibit, or go shopping in the expansive market.

When it’s time to go to bed, you’ll get a great night’s sleep in the Leville Hotel. The best rooms are pricey, but you’ll wake up feeling at least three times better than you did the day before.

And then there’s the food… oh man, the food. Lasagna is a popular local dish, but if you really want to push the gondola out, fine caviar canapes are definitely the way to go.

…you might have to sell your house to afford it though.

Of course, there’s an even more immersive way to take a trip to the world of FINAL FANTASY XV…


A fishing trip in Eos - Monster of the Deep: FINAL FANTASY XV

While most games let you imagine being somewhere else, virtual reality game Monster of the Deep: FINAL FANTASY XV makes you experience it.

With VR, you can inhabit Eos like nothing else. You’re not just witnessing the world through a screen - you’re actually in it. The real world melts away, and it’s just you, your fishing rod, and your new best bud Noctis.

You can spend hours (and I have) just sitting by a lake, letting the sights and sounds of the world wash over you. Aside from the occasional crossbow battle with daemon fish, it’s pure peace and relaxation - just as a vacation should be.


Take your mind off things in Lostime - Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon EVERY BUDDY!

Some people take a vacation to get away from their troubles. We all face stress - at home, at work or at school… a trip is a welcome chance to take your mind off it for a while.

There’s one thing we can guarantee about a vacation in Lostime - you’ll definitely forget about your troubles. We mean that literally - every time the bell in the center of town chimes, people in town lose their memories.

You have to hope a plucky chocobo restores your memories at some point, but for a while at least, it would be wonderful to experience such blissful ignorance and peace of mind.


Those are just some ideas for where to take a break - but which game locations would you choose to take a vacation in?

Let us know in the comments or on social media - and check the blog every day for more news and articles.

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE details revealed at E3

An AVALANCHE of details revealed, including the English voice cast and special editions
By Duncan Heaney
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Square Enix Live E3 2019 started in dramatic fashion with a detailed showcase of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE.

Over the course of the presentation, a wealth of information about the highly anticipated RPG was revealed, including the setting, the characters and the strategic real-time battle system.

What is FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE about?

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE reimagines the iconic RPG for the modern age.

It’s set in a world that has fallen under the thumb of the Shinra Electric Power Company - a sinister corporation that controls the planet's life force as mako energy.

In the city of Midgar, the anti-Shinra organization Avalanche have recently stepped up their resistance. Cloud Strife, a mercenary and former member of Shinra's elite SOLDIER unit, lends his aid to the group, unaware of the consequences that await him.

How does FINAL FANTASY VII’s battle system work?

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE features a hybrid battle system that merges real-time action with strategic, command-based combat.

You can watch the battle system in action in the trailer:

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE English voice cast revealed

One thing that wasn’t mentioned in the conference was who’s voicing these beloved group of characters. We’re excited to announce an all-star cast now, including:

  • Cloud, voiced by Cody Christian (All American, Teen Wolf)
  • Barret, voiced by John Eric Bentley (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Independence Day: Resurgence)
  • Aerith, voiced by Briana White (Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Occupants)
  • Tifa, voiced by Britt Baron (GLOW)
  • Jessie, voiced by Erica Lindbeck (Spider-Man, Persona 5, ThunderCats Roar)
  • Biggs, voiced by Gideon Emery (Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Teen Wolf)
  • Wedge, voiced by Matt Jones (Breaking Bad)
  • Sephiroth, voiced by Tyler Hoechlin

When will FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE be out on PS4?

FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE will be available on PlayStation 4 from March 3, 2020, with English, Japanese, French and German voiceover and English, French, Italian, German, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese subtitles.

The release date was announced on Sunday 9 June during the magnificent FINAL FANTASY VII A Symphonic Reunion concert, in LA, along with some beautiful new key art:

How do I get FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE?

The game’s available to preorder right now. Choose any version before launch to get the Chocobo Chick Summon Materia DLC when the game is released (from select retailers).

Those who pre-purchase any digital edition from the PlayStation Store will receive the Cloud & Sephiroth Dynamic Theme for the PS4.

We’ve also revealed information about three special editions of the game: the Deluxe Edition, Digital Deluxe Edition, and the Square Enix Store-exclusive 1st Class Edition. All are available to preorder today.


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Deluxe Edition

This edition features:

  • A Sephiroth Steelbook® Case
  • A hardcover art book featuring stunning concept art
  • A Mini-Soundtrack CD
  • Summon Materia DLC that lets you summon Cactuar in game

Get Deluxe Edition


FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE Digital Deluxe Edition

Available from the PlayStation Store, this edition includes:

  • A digital art book
  • A digital Mini-Soundtrack selection
  • Summon Materia DLC, allowing players to summon Carbuncle and Cactuar in the game

FINAL FANTASY VIII REMAKE 1st Class Edition

Exclusive to the Square Enix Store, this edition lives up to its name. It packs in loads of cool extras:

  • A Sephiroth Steelbook® Case
  • A hardcover art book featuring stunning concept art
  • A Mini-Soundtrack CD
  • Summon Materia DLC that lets you summon Cactuar in game
  • Summon Marteria DLC that lets you summon Carbuncle in game
  • A Play Arts Kai Cloud Strife and Hardy Daytona box set (bundled separately)

Please note that quantities are limited for the 1st Class Edition, so you’ll want to move fast if you want it.

Producer Yoshinori Kitase talks FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

Producer of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE talks vision, gameplay and more
By Square Enix Team
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Direct from E3, Yoshinori Kitase, Producer of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE gives us an overview of the REMAKE project:


"FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is a reimagining of the iconic original game that goes much deeper into the world and characters of FINAL FANTASY VII than ever before.

Our goal with this project is to rebuild FINAL FANTASY VII for a new era. We’re not making a straight 1:1 copy or a simple remaster of the original game.

It’s a huge volume of work and data to re-imagine this world. Each game in the project will have a volume of content comparable to a standalone FINAL FANTASY. The disc version of the first game is actually a 2 Blu-Ray Disc set. This approach allows us to remake the original without having to scale back on everything players loved."

Yoshinori Kitase, Producer of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE


“While the development team finish the first game in the project, we are continuing to plan and outline the overall volume of content for the second.

Due to the work already done on the first game we anticipate development of the second game to be more efficient. We have our own internal schedule and plan, but for now we’d like to focus our information on the first game in the project.

The key creative values of the core FINAL FANTASY series are innovation, pushing boundaries and surprising players, this project shares these same values and the development team view it as the next mainline FINAL FANTASY release.

For the original core members of the development team, simply recreating the original game with improved graphics wasn’t enough to get us invested and excited about remaking VII. To return, we want to go beyond the original, telling a deeper story and providing a modern gaming experience. We really want to go above and beyond what is expected of a remake.

As well as some of the core members of the original development team, we also have a dedicated in-house team of international gaming talent. Many of our new team members were young fans who played the original VII when it was first released. It’s very exciting and exhilarating to work with this talented team on such an ambitious project."

“The first game in the project takes place in the eclectic city of Midgar, we chose to focus on Midgar as it best represents the world of VII as a location more than any other. Midgar is full of imagination with myriad influences and surprises around every corner.

While many people may think that Midgar is very dark at first glance, we have a design aesthetic where the city has strong elements of colour and variety. The lighting and colouring we are using throughout Midgar accentuate what is unique about FINAL FANTASY VII’s world. We decided not to use a photo-realistic approach with the design, but instead something more stylised, honouring the artistic designs and choices of the original.

A lot has changed since the release of the original FINAL FANTASY VII. Back then we didn’t have access to things like voice acting, performance and motion capture, or close-up cameras outside of cut-scenes. For FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE there’s a greater emphasis on character storytelling through the use of these techniques as well as some other new tech. This allows us to make these characters more expressive than ever, enhancing the levels of immersion and enjoyment through performance.

In REMAKE we are giving voice to the original FINAL FANTASY VII for the first time. By bringing in a new generation of actors, we hope to provide the best experience for original fans and new players."

“For the gameplay, we are aiming to create a new take on classic concepts with an accessible evolution of the ATB system giving you greater action with tactical control.

The system we’ve created retains the strategic decisions of controlling multiple party members, allowing you to select from a wide range of abilities and spells. You can control your favourite character while issuing orders to others, or leave them to AI. And choose when to switch to a different party member to make best use of their unique abilities in battle. This allows all players to choose and enjoy your favourite way of playing.

Finally, yes we still have Materia. You can use it to tailor your play style and abilities.

We’ll go into greater detail on lots more gameplay elements as we get closer to the release next year. For now, I hope you are all excited by what we revealed at E3 and we look forward to sharing more news and updates with you across the year ahead.”


Many thanks to Kitase-san. For more information, and to stay up to date with all the news about the game, follow FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE on social media:

Explore the history of FINAL FANTASY through its music

Take an audio tour through the soundtracks of the FINAL FANTASY series
By Duncan Heaney
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Which FINAL FANTASY game has the best music?

It’s a hotly debated topic among fans of the series - and it’s a tough one to answer because all the games have absolutely incredible soundtracks. As a result, ask five different people, you’ll likely get five different answers.

It’s never been easier to make your own mind up though - music from the FINAL FANTASY series is now available to stream on music streaming services, including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music!

The news was announced as part of the Square Enix E3 Live event and will give users of streaming services access to full original soundtracks and arrangement albums from the FINAL FANTASY series.

A lot of you are probably streaming Liberi Fatali we speak (well, type), but for everyone else, you may be wondering: with all this music, where should you start?

To help answer that question, we thought it would be interesting to take an audio tour through the history of FINAL FANTASY. We’ve picked a track from each game that we think represents the unique sound and feel of that entry in the series - and would make a good starting point for your audio adventure.

FINAL FANTASY - Opening Theme

If we’re talking iconic, how could we not start with the Opening Theme to FINAL FANTASY. Composed by the great Nobuo Uematsu, it’s one of the tracks that defines the entire series. It may change in style and instrumentation across games, but it stays FINAL FANTASY through and through. Simply put, this is where it all started.


FINAL FANTASY II - The Rebel Army

Uematsu could do genuinely impressive things with the limited sound capabilities of the NES. If you need evidence, look no further than The Rebel Army from FINAL FANTASY II. With a powerful melody, and a rich, full sound, it’s one of the most recognisable pieces of music from the early games.


FINAL FANTASY III - The Boundless Ocean

The adventure and endless possibility of FINAL FANTASY III shines through in the music, and The Boundless Ocean in particular. It’s a hauntingly beautiful track - but unfortunately you don’t hear it for very long in the actual game.

Now that it’s on streaming services though, you can play it for as long as you like.

FINAL FANTASY IV - Main Theme of FINAL FANTASY IV

This theme, which plays when you’re exploring the overworld, has a sense of momentum that makes for perfect travel music.

What really makes it stand out though, is how elegantly it fits into the game’s central themes of longing and redemption.


FINAL FANTASY V - Four Hearts

Another overworld theme? Why the heck not?

Four Hearts from FINAL FANTASY V makes for a fascinating counterpoint to FINAL FANTASY IV’s overworld theme. It’s much more strident and optimistic - appropriate for when you hear it in the story.

Of course, fans will know that Four Hearts isn’t the only overworld theme in the game…


FINAL FANTASY VI - Maria and Draco (starting with Overture)

From the melancholic beauty of Terra’s theme, to the utter insanity of Dancing Mad, FINAL FANTASY VI has one of the most iconic soundtracks in the series.

It’s also one of the most ambitious - and nowhere is that clearer than in the famous opera scene, which sees party member Celes forced to step into a major theatrical production.

On the FINAL FANTASY VI soundtrack, the opera is split into multiple tracks, starting with Overture, moving onto Aria Di Mezzo Carattere, Wedding Waltz - Duel and finally Grand Finale.

That’s right, we’ve technically picked four tracks - deal with it.

This sequence demonstrates Uematsu at the top of his game. Despite all the excitement, drama and petulant octopi in FINAL FANTASY VI’s opera, it’s the music that holds it all together.

Oh - and a bonus mention for the version from the Distant Worlds: Music from FINAL FANTASY, which orchestrates the whole suite into a full 12 minute performance. It’s a mini-epic.

FINAL FANTASY VII - One Winged Angel

Estuans Interius

Ira vehemti

Estuans Interius

Ira vehemti

Sephiroth

Sephiroth!

FINAL FANTASY VII is one of the most famous soundtracks in videogame history, and One Winged Angel is arguably its most famous tune.

An expected choice perhaps, but when something’s this good we don’t mind being predictable.


FINAL FANTASY VIII - Love Grows

The fledging romance between Squall and Rinoa sits squarely at the heart of FINAL FANTASY VIII (coming to Switch, PS4, Xbox One and Steam later this year as FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered - yay!).

Love Grows captures that theme beautifully and reminds us that while FINAL FANTASY VIII does bombast well, it’s the human drama that holds it all together.


FINAL FANTASY IX - Vamo alla Flamenco

FINAL FANTASY IX is a much more light-hearted adventure than its immediate predecessors, and this is reflected in its soundtrack.

A few seconds of Vamo alla Flamenco is all you need to understand exactly what FINAL FANTASY IX is going for - fun, humor and sheer, unadulterated joy.

FINAL FANTASY X - Zanarkand

FINAL FANTASY X begins on a desolate landscape, and the plaintive piano of this beautiful piece of music.

It’s an effective opening - the world of Spira is defined by loss and sadness, and Zanarkand gets this across better than 100 lines of dialogue ever could.


FINAL FANTASY X-2 - Real Emotion

Spira is a far less oppressive place following the events of FINAL FANTASY X, and that’s clear from the opening cutscene of its sequel.

Real Emotion is a fantastically upbeat slice of J-pop that sticks in your head like it’s made of brain-glue. It’s silly and fun and will almost certainly put a smile on your face - much like the game itself.


FINAL FANTASY XI - Opening Theme

The Opening Theme of FINAL FANTASY XI is a long track that covers a lot of ground musically. The highlight is a vocal section known as Memoro de la Ŝtono. It starts relatively sombre, but as more and more voices join, it reaches a dramatic crescendo that will send shivers down your spine.

FINAL FANTASY XII - The Dalmasca Estersand

Wide open space, dangerous beasts and starkly beautiful scenery make the Dalmasca Estersand one of the most memorable early locations in FINAL FANTASY XII.

Actually, there’s one more thing that helps - this piece of music. We advise you to go with the remastered Dalmasca Estersand from FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE - it has a slightly richer sound in our opinion. But honestly, you can’t go wrong with any version of this track.


FINAL FANTASY XIII - Blinded by Light

It’s something of a musical departure from the earlier games, but FINAL FANTASY XIII’s soundtrack really works. The battle theme, Blinded by Light, is one you’ll hear over and over in the game, but somehow it never gets old.

A serious earworm warning before you listen though - it’ll jam itself in your head and refuse to leave.


FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 - Etro’s Champion

As one of the few direct sequels in the series, FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 has a rare opportunity to directly build on its predecessor’s musical themes. And oh boy, does it.

Etro’s Champion takes the central melody of Blinded by Light and puts a whole new spin on it. It’s familiar and fresh at the same time - and if that’s not a perfect description of FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 as a whole, I don’t know what is.

LIGHTNING RETURNS: FINAL FANTASY XIII - Luxerion

The town of Luxerion is one of the most interesting areas of LIGHTNING RETURNS: FINAL FANTASY XIII - both visually and musically.

The track that plays as you explore the town - appropriately called Luxerion on the soundtrack - is incredibly dynamic. It moves from mellow and hypnotic, to up-tempo and back again. It’s not a conventional FINAL FANTASY track, and that’s exactly why it’s worth a listen.


FINAL FANTASY XIV Online - Torn From the Heavens

The FINAL FANTASY prelude is almost as famous as the original Opening Theme itself - it appears throughout the series. It’s typically pretty gentle, but not so in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online.

Composer Masayoshi Soken’s incredible Torn From the Heavens deftly works those famous notes into a thrilling track that sparks wonder and excitement.


FINAL FANTASY XV - Apocalypsis Noctis

The most recent FINAL FANTASY game has one of the most eclectic soundtracks in the series, ranging from breezy guitar riffs to brassy battle tracks. But when it goes big, its soundtrack really sings.

Apocalypsis Noctis is about as big as you can go. This choral track is almost overwhelming in its intensity - but my word, it’s exciting.


Those are just some of the incredible tracks ready to stream right now on your streaming service of choice! There’s so much more to discover though - so dig in and get lost in a world of music.

Oh, and by the way - the definitive answer to which FINAL FANTASY has the best soundtrack? THEATRHYTHM FINAL FANTASY CURTAIN CALL.

Now that’s how you dodge a question.

What are your favorite FINAL FANTASY tracks? Share your tips on social media:

A look at some of the Japanese titles announced at E3 2019

ONINAKI gets a release date, exciting news for fans of the SaGa series... and much more!
By Duncan Heaney
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During the Square Enix E3 Live presentation, we revealed new information about many of our Japanese titles, from RPG legends heading to the West, to whole new adventures we can’t wait for you to play.

Here’s a closer look at what was revealed:


ONINAKI release date announced

ONINAKI will release for Nintendo Switch, PS4 and Steam on August 22, 2019.

It’s the latest game from Tokyo RPG Factory - the talented team behind 2016’s I am Setsuna and 2017’s LOST SPHEAR.

This latest release combines beautiful art direction, deep characters and a compelling story to create an experience that hearkens back to classic RPGs, but retains its own unique identity.

ONINAKI follows the story of Kagachi, a young watcher who is responsible for guiding Lost Souls into the next world. But after meeting the mysterious girl Linne, his fate becomes linked with blood and death.

Soon Kagachi embarks on a dangerous journey, that will introduce him to new allies and dangerous enemies.

If you’re a fan of classic Square Enix RPGs, you’ll definitely want to pick this one up come August 22.


FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES Remastered Edition

The classic co-op action RPG has been remastered, and enhanced with a new online multiplayer mode that lets you team up with up to three friends.

Of course, if you’d rather play solo, you can. Either way, you get to explore a beautiful word filled with memorable characters.

The game is out this Winter. We also announced that the game will release on smartphones too.

Take a look at the new trailer:

THE LAST REMNANT Remastered out now on Nintendo Switch

Release dates are all well and good, but how about some instant gratification? THE LAST REMNANT Remastered is available to download now on Nintendo Switch.

This enthralling RPG updates the 2008 original with beautiful new graphics, enhanced by Unreal Engine 4, and user interface improvements that make it feel better to play than ever before.

It also features a unique morale system that can have a dramatic effect on the outcome of fights, and an intricate battle system where commands change depending on the status of both friends and foes.

THE LAST REMNANT Remastered can be downloaded now from the Nintendo eShop for $19.99 / £15.99 / €19.99. It’s also already available on PlayStation 4:

Romancing SaGa 3 makes its Western debut

One of the most respected JRPGS of all time is coming to the West for the first time as Romancing SaGa 3!

Developed by industry veterans, including Akitoshi Kawazu - the acclaimed director of Romancing SaGa, SaGa Frontier, and THE FINAL FANTASY LEGEND - Romancing SaGa 3 improved high-definition visuals, as well as new dungeons to explore, new scenarios and even a New Game+ mode.

The game will be out for Nintendo Switch, PS4, PlayStation Vita, the Xbox One family including Windows 10, Steam, Google Play and the App Store.

Take a look at the new trailer:

SaGa SCARLET GRACE: AMBITIONS also revealed

Also announced, was SaGa SCARLET GRACE: AMBITIONS - an enhanced version of the previously Japan-only SaGa SCARLET GRACE.

It’s a game that lets you shape your own experiences by choosing between four protagonists - Urpina, Taria, Balmant and Leonard - each with a distinct standalone storyline. Essentially, it’s like having four RPGs in one.

SaGa SCARLET GRACE: AMBITIONS builds on the 2016 original with a whole host of improvements. The game now sports improved graphics, character voiceovers, new weapons, skills and more.

You’ll also have access to more than 70 allies who can potentially aid you in the new deep and tactical turn-based timeline battle system.

The game will launch for Nintendo Switch, PS4, Steam, Google Play and the App Store.


WAR OF THE VISIONS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS

A new Global mobile strategy RPG is on the way: WAR OF THE VISIONS FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS.

As the name rather implies, it comes from the same universe as FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS, and charges players with winning tactical battles where they’ll have to strategize carefully to triumph.

With multiple battlefields to explore, and powerful summons at your disposal, it’ll be a satisfying and tactical FINAL FANTASY experience that people can play wherever they are.

FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS

Speaking of FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS, did you know its three years old already? To celebrate its third anniversary, we’ll be hosting a livestream event on June 29, 2019. To watch, head over to the FINAL FANTASY BRAVE EXVIUS YouTube channel at 5pm PST / 8pm EST / 1am BST.

And what would a celebration be without music? We’re pleased to announce another collaboration with the iconic Katy Perry. The collaboration starts June 12, 2019. Here’s the trailer:

6 reasons FINAL FANTASY XIV: Heavensward should not be missed

Dragons! Snow! It’s free!
By Duncan Heaney
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Who doesn’t love free stuff?

In case you missed it, FINAL FANTASY XIV: Heavensward is currently available at no additional cost to any players who own FINAL FANTASY XIV: Online Starter Edition, or FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn.

Considering the price (or lack thereof), the expansion is a must-get for old and new players alike. But you may be wondering: why? What makes Heavensward so good?

Here are just six reasons:

1. It has dragons and snow… wait, why does that sound familiar?

For some reason, lots of people have spent the last few weeks arguing about dragons and snow. Can’t possibly imagine why.

Whatever it was, it seems thematically appropriate because Heavensward is all about dragons. And also snow. There are big walls too. Not sure why I felt the need to mention that.

The main crux of the expansion’s story concerns the Dragonsong War. This conflict between Ishgard and the scaly Dravanian Horde has simmered for thousands of years, without a satisfactory resolution for either side.

The Warrior of Light (that’s you by the way) gets drawn into the conflict, and starts to work towards peace - even if that involves taking on an old, powerful (and very angry) dragon.

So you have snow, dragons and conflict with a strange and ancient enemy. How much more 2019 could it be?

Oh, and just putting this out there for no particular reason… Heavensward’s story actually has a satisfying ending.

2. It adds a whole new race - the Au Ra

One of the joys of the first FINAL FANTASY XIV Online expansion is that it adds new races. Not only do these add tons of new customization options for players, they also richness and diversity to the world of Hydaelyn.

The Au Ra, making their debut in Heavensward, are no exception. Players can choose between two clans: the conflict-focused Xaela and the more settled and spiritual Raen. Each has a distinct look and culture that’s well worth digging into for lore fiends.

3. It adds new jobs too

Heavensward opens up your gameplay options in a big way. The expansion adds three new jobs: Dark Knight, Astrologian and Machinist.

If you’ve seen the excellent trailer for the upcoming third expansion, Shadowbringers, you’ll have seen the Dark Knight in action. If you haven’t… well, here you go:

Dark Knights act as tanks, using greatswords to inflict high levels of damage on their foes. They have the ability to draw on the powers of darkness to enhance their weapons, using their skills to dish out damage and drain HP from enemies.

Astrologians specialize in magic and healing. They use their knowledge of the constellations to draw cards and help allies in battle.

Machinists can build lots of fancy mechanical gizmos to help them in battle, including turrets, cannons and more.


Read more:


To access any of these jobs, players must have completed the main scenario quest of A Realm Reborn, and achieved level 50 with at least one job. If you’re still working through the initial storyline, don’t despair - you can use a Tales of Adventure item to boost yourself to the required level - more on that in a bit.

4. Haurchefant is just the coolest dude

Haurchefant Greystone is the true definition of a fan-favorite character.

Although he first appeared in A Realm Reborn, it’s in Heavensward where he truly comes into his own.

Despite being the illegitimate son of Count Edmont de Fortemps, Haurchefant has the respect and advantages that come with being part of a noble family. He separates himself from his noble peers in Ishgard in one way though - he’s friendly, and welcoming to player characters.

He’s helpful too, even joining the party at one point in the story. He’s a regular presence throughout the main Heavensward storyline, and offers both practical support and words of encouragement to the heroes.

Long story short, Haurchefant is the man, and being in his company is time well-spent.

5. You can fly! High up in the sky!

One of the most popular new features in Heavensward is the ability to fly.

Okay, so you need a flying mount, a certain level of progress in the main scenario and an understanding of Aether Currents, but when you have all that, the sky’s the limit.

After hours of being stuck on the ground, launching into the air feels liberating. It’s fast and fun… not to mention a good way to escape from a fight if you get in over your head.

6. It’s still currently free!

Worth reiterating - Heavensward is currently available at no cost to anyone who owns the FINAL FANTAY XIV: Online Starter Edition or FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn on PS4 or PC/Mac.

The promotion’s also the perfect opportunity for anyone who’s even remotely curious about the game to give it a go. If you like what you play (and you will because FINAL FANTASY XIV Online is great), you get hours of additional quests, story and more - all absolutely free.

But maybe you’re wondering: what if I want to skip straight to Heavensward? After all, snow and dragons right?

That’s where the Tales of Adventure items come in.

Tales of Adventure - now on sale

These items exist to help players get straight to the content that they want to play.

For example, if you want to play Heavensward immediately, without going through the entire storyline of A Realm Reborn, you can purchase a Tales of Adventure item to boost your character up to the required level, or push through story progression.

There’s currently a sale on these items, and they’re going for as much as 60% off. That means right now, you can pick up the Tales of Adventure item that skips A Realm Reborn and immediately access Heavensward content for only $6.99.

For more information, and to see the sale, head over to the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online website.

5 under-appreciated FINAL FANTASY villains - community edition

You had your say - here are the bad guys you think deserve some more time in the spotlight
By Duncan Heaney
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Warning: spoilers for FINAL FANTASY, FINAL FANTASY IV, FINAL FANTASY VI, FINAL FANTASY VIII and FINAL FANTASY XIII-2.


A few weeks ago, as part of Villains Week on the Square Enix Blog, we listed some of the FINAL FANTASY villains we thought were somewhat… under-appreciated.

Naturally, the community had their say. For example, a fair few of you argued that Hojo and Ultros, who appeared on the previous list, aren’t under-appreciated.

After all, Hojo’s the architect much of the conflict in FINAL FANTASY VII, and Ultros has appeared in a fair few FINAL FANTASY games and even a movie (KINGSGLAIVE: FINAL FANTASY XV).

I take your point - about Hojo at least. But come on guys - Ultros is giant purple octopus with an ego bigger than his tentacles. He could be on the cover of a magazine, and he still wouldn’t have sufficient appreciation - at least as far as this writer’s concerned.

But that’s enough fanboying - the fans had plenty of alternate suggestions, so here are some of the FINAL FANTASY villains that you think deserve more attention.

Caius Ballad - FINAL FANTASY XIII-2

Early on in FINAL FANTASY XIII-2, you could be forgiven for thinking that Caius Ballad is just another madman who wants to destroy the universe.

But as the game progresses, you realize that there’s much more going on beneath the surface, and Caius is actually a deeply complex and tormented figure, and FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 is essentially a deeply twisted love story.

See, Caius is head over heels for the seeress Yeul - a servant of the Goddess of Time Etro. Unfortunately, Yeul is cursed with a constant cycle of death and rebirth - a life of eternal suffering.

His logic is that if he can stop time itself, he can free Yeul from her fate - and he’ll go to any lengths to achieve that goal. And without wishing to spoil too much… he’s pretty darn effective.

Biggs and Wedge - FINAL FANTASY VI

You meet these two Gestahlian soldiers right at the start of FINAL FANTASY VI, as they search the town of Narshe for an esper - a rare being of incredible power.

Wedge and Biggs (or Vicks if you’re old school) don’t say all that much, outside of voicing their distrust of their magical companion Terra, but their actions speak volumes. Our should we say our actions - unlike many FINAL FANTASY villains, we actually get to control them.


Read more:


It’s immediately clear that the esper hunt is not a mission of peace. We’re forced to use Biggs and Wedge’s uber-powerful Magitek armor to cut a swathe through the town’s defences (all those poor dogs!).

It’s a brutal scene - the town is no match for their advanced technology - but eventually the pair reaches their target. Unfortunately, the esper reacts to Terra’s presence and a huge explosion puts an end to the no-longer dynamic duo.

They may not be in the game for long, but Wedge and Biggs still managed to make a big impact. And possibly a crater.


Rubicante - FINAL FANTASY IV

The leader of the four archfiends in FINAL FANTASY IV is a far more nuanced villain than you might expect.

Rubicante makes an immediate impression in the game - he’s the one who leads the bloody attack on Eblan and essentially destroys the life of party member Edge in the process.

But while he’s definitely a bad guy, Rubicante is also surprisingly honorable. Every time your party faces him in combat, he heals them up first to make it a fair fight, and should you win, he accepts defeat with surprising grace. After all, you earned his respect.

Surprisingly, he’s also revealed to have at least something approximating a code - he condemns the mad sciencey antics of Dr Lugae, for example (another villain who could easily make this list).

All that makes ol’ Rubes (as nobody calls him) one of the most memorable figures in the FINAL FANTASY IV saga.

Plus that dude can really rock a cape.


Ultimecia - FINAL FANTASY VIII

Like Caius, I don’t think FINAL FANTASY VIII’s Ultimecia is under-appreciated. She’s prominent enough to feature as a playable fighter in DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY NT, at least.

But one FINAL FANTASY player put up such an impassioned defense of the sinister sorceress that we feel it’s only right to include her here.

In fairness, I can see why she might be considered overlooked. Some villains make their presence known in a big way. They make themselves the center of attention, with big actions like burning down your childhood home, taking over the underworld, or blowing up half a continent.

Ultimecia isn’t like that. She prefers to manipulate events from afar - about as far as it’s possible to get, in fact. She’s a major threat throughout the whole game, but rarely an obvious one. For a long, long time, the party doesn’t even know she exists.

When they do though, and see the full extent of her insane (but commendably ambitious) plan, they find that she’s a major physical threat too. The battle with Ultimecia is one of the most memorable and challenging boss fights in the FINAL FANTASY series.

So while she may not be as in your face as some other FINAL FANTASY antagonists, she’s every bit as dangerous - if not more so.


Warmech - FINAL FANTASY

Warmech is one of the best and worst things about the original FINAL FANTASY.

Best because it’s definitely one of the coolest enemies in the game - a super-powered bipedal robot, that looks like it stepped right out of a sci-fi movie.

The worst, because Warmech can mess your party up. On a bad day, it can atomize the Warriors of Light before they can even think the word curaga.

As if its high HP and nuclear-powered attacks weren’t bad enough, the mechanical monstrosity’s capable of self-repair, and automatically heals itself each turn. We’ll be honest - your chances of survival are not great.

But if you do somehow triumph against Warmech, you’ll be rewarded with a ludicrous amount of experience and gil. But more importantly, you’ll feel reeeeal good.


FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers free character creator available for download

New Benchmark tool lets you build Viera and Hrothgar characters ahead of the expansion’s launch.
By Duncan Heaney
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One of the most exciting things about the upcoming FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers is the chance to play as one of the new player races coming with the expansion.

The Viera and Hrothgar races will become available when the expansion launches, but some of you may be already wondering: what will these new races look like in-game?

The good news is that you won’t have to wait until July 2 to find out - you can create your character right now and save that data to use at launch! We’ve just launched official FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers benchmark software - not only does it include brand new footage of the expansion, it also features the character creator tool!

You’ll be able to build your character, and see how they’ll look in game. Then, when Shadowbringers finally steps into the light, you’ll be able to carry your creations into the game!

The software can be downloaded here: https://na.finalfantasyxiv.com/benchmark/.


16 million Warriors of Light

The character creator and benchmark tool was announced during a Letter from the Producer LIVE steam, live from San Francisco.

In the stream, FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida also revealed that the game now has more than 16 million registered users - that’s more than the population of Belgium!

He also gave some new details about the upcoming FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers expansion, including:

  • Some battle system changes, including the addition of the charged action system
  • Updates to the FATE system, side quests as well as the addition of role quests
  • Some adjustments to job synergy - also many jobs will be rebalanced
  • Quality of life changes, and updates to the user interface.

You can watch an archive of the Letter from the Producer LIVE steam here:

FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers is just a few short months away - the much-anticipated expansion releases July 2, 2019. We’ve already taken a look at what to expect - read that article here - and the game is available to preorder right now:

Preorder FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers

5 fantastic FINAL FANTASY weapons

Tools of destruction or works of art? You decide
By Duncan Heaney
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There are many elements that make FINAL FANTASY such an enduring series: the amazing characters, the wonderful stories and, of course, the weapons.

We wanted to highlight a few of the amazing armaments available in the games, but with so many to choose from, where do you even begin?

We’ve just gone with our guts - these are weapons that we, the Square Enix Blog team, remember most fondly. They’re not necessarily the strongest, the prettiest, or the most famous, but we love them anyway.

Chicken Knife - FINAL FANTASY V and FINAL FANTASY XIV: Stormblood

Most weapons in the FINAL FANTASY series are elegant tools of destruction, that reward the bold adventurers who march proudly into battle.

The Chicken Knife is different. It’s a weapon that rewards cowardice - no wonder we gravitated towards it in FINAL FANTASY V.

At first, the Chicken Knife’s stats seem a little paltry… or should we say ‘poultry’? (Editor’s note: No. No you should not.) But this weapon actually gets stronger the more you run away from battles. In fact, if you can flee a fight more than 250 times, the Chicken Knife becomes one of the strongest weapons in the whole game!

Since debuting in FINAL FANTASY V, the Chicken Knife has appeared a few more times throughout the series, most notably reimagined as a Red Mage-exclusive weapon in FINAL FANTASY XIV: Stormblood. But that first Chicken Knife will always be special to us as a reminder that discretion really can be the better part of valor.


World Champion - FINAL FANTASY X

If you ask us, Wakka from FINAL FANTASY X is one of the toughest video game characters out there. While others go into battle with swords, spears and even magic, Wakka dives into the fray with nothing more than a gung-ho attitude and some sports equipment.

Most of Wakka’s weapons are variations are blitzballs - knobbly orbs used for the sport of the same name. They’re effective in battle, but part of you has to wonder if it wouldn’t be more efficient to use something… sharper.

That’s why we love World Champion so much. It’s technically a blitzball, but completely covered with razor-sharp blades. We doubt it’s regulation.

And somehow Wakka can kick and spin it without slicing his limbs into ribbons. See - we told you he was tough!


Read more:


Seitengrat Bow - FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE

FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE’s Seitengrat Bow isn’t the best looking weapon ever. In fact, it doesn’t look like anything at all because it’s completely invisible.

Fortunately, looks aren’t everything (or anything in this case) - it’s what the bow does that makes it stand out. This weapon has incredible range, and devastating power. With the right gambits set, you can use it to chew through the rank and file enemies with terrifying efficiency. If you want to feel uber-powerful, this is the weapon to equip.

There is a downside though - it’s notoriously difficult to get. The Seitengrat Bow is a combination of both secret and rare - finding it really requires a walkthrough, and even then it’s not a sure thing.

But if you can get your hands on it, you won’t want to put this invisible weapon of mass destruction down. Because if you did - how would you find it again?


Omega Weapon - FINAL FANTASY X

A while back, we posted a Valentine’s Day article: 5 great FINAL FANTASY love stories. A number of Facebook comments pointed out that the ultimate FINAL FANTASY Valentine would be… Vincent Valentine.

It was a good joke and genuinely made us laugh. But it also made us furious for missing the obvious gag ourselves - it was sitting right in front of us!

So this time, we’re beating you to it. Omega Weapon one of the coolest weapons in FINAL FANTASY history. Tee hee - aren’t we clever?

Omega is an optional superboss in FINAL FANTASY X. While most of the weapons on this list let you deliver a beating, Omega Weapon can take one. In FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster (which just came out on Switch and Xbox One - shameless plug!), it has nearly a million HP!

Not only is it resilient, it also hits hard. As if that’s not bad enough, it also throws status effects like confuse into the mix, complicating your strategy further. Of course, Omega Weapon’s also mostly immune to your status effects - hardly seems fair, does it?

While it may not be the strongest ‘Weapon’ in series history, Omega Weapon is still a long, tough fight that will require all your skill to complete.

Revolver - FINAL FANTASY VIII (and soon FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers!)

Gunblades may not be the most practical type of weapon ever conceived, but they’re definitely one of the coolest. Held like a gun and swung like a sword, wielders can shoot and slice their opponents at the same time - and look awesome doing it.

Few gunblades are as recognizable as Revolver - the starting weapon for FINAL FANTASY VIII’s Squall Leonhart. It’s a weapon that captures the imagination from the very first cutscene and continues to impress through the game.

Plus, with a bit of effort (ok, a lot of effort), you can even upgrade it to the ultra-powerful Lion Heart.

Revolver’s not just limited to FINAL FANTASY VIII though - it’s also coming to FINAL FANTASY XIV Online in the new Shadowbringers expansion. If you pick up the FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers Collector’s Edition, you’ll be able to use Squall’s iconic weapon with the new ‘gunbreaker’ job.


Those were 5 weapons that we are fond of - but what about you? Do you agree with our choices? Angry we didn’t include the Buster Sword (it just felt too obvious)? Have some alternate suggestions? Share your thoughts in the comments and on social media:

FINAL FANTASY XV novel and more books releasing in the west later this year

Best of Japanese manga, art books and novels coming to English readers in 2019
By Duncan Heaney
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There’s nothing quite as satisfying as setting down with a good book - and there are some rather marvelous ones on the way this year.

We’re excited to announce that we’ve partnered with Penguin Random House Publisher Services to release a new line of Japanese manga, novels and art books in English worldwide.

Square Enix has been a prolific book publisher in Japan for many years now, but this is the first time we’ve brought many of these titles to English-speaking readers directly. So it’s all rather exciting.

The first wave of books in the new imprint will start to release in the latter half of 2019 - here’s a little glimpse at some of the titles you’ll be able to pour over:

  • FINAL FANTASY XV: The Dawn of the Future - First released in Japan in April, this novel takes readers back to Eos for a new chapter in the FINAL FANTASY XV mythos. Featuring beloved characters, including Noctis Lucis Caelum (still hanging around in FINAL FANTASY XIV by the way), Lunafeya and Ardyn Izunia, it provides new insight into the characters, and the world of FINAL FANTASY XV as a whole.

  • Hi Score Girl - You may have seen the hit anime on Netflix, but you’ll soon be able to read the excellent manga it’s based on. Rensuke Oshikiri’s series focuses on gamer Haruo Yaguchi and the changing arcade scene in Japan - charming, funny and romantic, it’s definitely worth a look.

  • A Man and His Cat - called Oji-sama to Neko in Japan, this emotional manga focuses on a lonely cat, who is adopted by an elderly owner. The heart-warming tale hit a chord with audiences - it was the best-selling new manga in Japan during the first half of 2018.

  • SOUL EATER - this manga series was a global mega-hit, spawning games, anime and more. You’ll be able to read the complete edition when it launches late this year.

That’s just a sample of some of the excellent titles coming in 2019 from Square Enix and Penguin Random House Publisher Services. Which are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments and on social media:

Moogle Watch - a look back at Twitch’s most adorable stream

Bunnies! So many bunnies!
By Duncan Heaney
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Cast your mind back to the long, long ago of July 2017.

Despacito was tearing up the charts, Spider-Man was enjoying a Homecoming in movie theatres, and - most importantly - hundreds of thousands of us were transfixed by a 24/7 Twitch Stream of rabbits doing… well, rabbity stuff.

Moogle Watch was launched to celebrate the launch of FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE. The stream followed 5 adorable Moogles for a full week, watching their day to day activities to get a sense of how they live their lives.

Okay, it was a technically bunch of rabbits on Vauxhall City Farm in London, but sometimes they’d stick their head through a cardboard cutout to look like Moogles and oh my gosh it’s so cute - look at it!

Moogle Re-Watch

To celebrate the release of FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Windows 10 platforms, we thought we’d take a look back at our flopsy friends and share some of their best moments.

Those rabbits - sorry, I mean Moogles - got up to some truly adorable shenanigans.

In truth, the bunnies didn’t really understand the whole Moogle idea - getting three to pose together was a rare and precious thing:

But at least one really milked its role…

FINAL FANTASY XII’s Gambit system is all about helping your team behave intelligently. These rabbits… not so much. Three bunnies, three holes. So of course they do this:

Mealtimes could become real free-for-alls.

But when they got some space to enjoy a much on some straw, they really enjoyed it.

You can relive the full stream above. It’s soothing and heart-warming… but be careful - it’s also weirdly compelling.

FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE out now on Switch and Xbox One

FINAL FANTASY XII is an epic tale of magic and political machinations, set in the beautiful, but war-torn, world of Ivalice. Princess Ashe, the last surviving heir to the Dalmascan throne, joins forces with a rag-tag group of pirates, street urchins and warriors to liberate her kingdom and save the land.

FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE updates the PlayStation 2 classic, with improved visuals, remastered music, and quality-of-life features, such as the ability to speed up time to make battles and traversal faster.

The Nintendo Switch and Xbox One versions of the game include new features that further enhance the game, including the ability to reset jobs assigned to each character and the ability to switch between three sets of Gambits - to better match different battle conditions.

It’s available to buy now:

Best Bits: Operation Mi’ihen, FINAL FANTASY X

Beware - this article contains major spoilers for FINAL FANTASY X
By Duncan Heaney
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In Best Bits, the Square Enix Blog team looks at some of our favorite moments from Square Enix games, and why we think they stand out. To be clear, we’re not declaring them to be the pinnacle of the game, merely one of many moments that we love. So don’t get upset with us if you disagree, okay?


One thing that makes FINAL FANTASY X such a distinct game is its tone. While there’s plenty of humor and high adventure to be had, there’s also a thick undercurrent of melancholy.

The specter of Sin hangs over the world of Spira at almost all times - the aquatic monstrosity devastates life, and people rely on summoners like Yuna to earn the power to stop it. And as Yuna and her Guardians are all too aware - that ain’t easy.

All other attempts to stop Sin typically end the same way - death and carnage. Operation Mi’ihen is one such disaster.

What is Operation Mi’ihen?

Yuna’s pilgrimage takes her to the Mi’ihen Highroad. The highroad’s a flurry of activity, with soldiers and chocobos scurrying around to prepare for a large-scale assault against Sin.

The party discovers that this is an unprecedented collaboration between the Crusaders (an anti-Sin military force), and the technologically-minded Al Bhed. What’s more, it will be witnessed by a major bigwig - Maester Seymour Guado himself. Seymour takes a shine to Yuna, so he invites the gang to come watch events play out.

The Crusaders plan to gather multiple Sinspawn - the monsters that emerge from Sin’s body - and use them to lure the moist menace to the area. The Al Bhed will then use powerful cannons to blast it away once and for all.

As plans go, it’s simple and to the point - what could go possibly go wrong? Other than, y’know, everything.


The aftermath

Firstly, the Sinspawn escape confinement, which forces the team to wade into the fray. After defeating a monstrosity, the heroes watch in horror as Sin withstands the powerful attack, and retaliates with one of its own.

When the dust is cleared, hundreds of Crusaders are dead, the party is scattered, and another Sinspawn boss is on the prowl. Fortunately, Seymour is there and, assisted by Yuna takes the beast down without too much trouble.

So what exactly is it that makes this section so memorable?

It’s thematically rich

Let’s go back to the subject of tone. FINAL FANTASY X is not a bleak game, but it is a sad one. Beneath the people’s enthusiasm, the friendships, the family, and the laughs is a gnawing sense of inevitability.

Sin is an unbeatable force of destruction. Even when a summoner’s pilgrimage is successful, it only marks a temporary reprieve. Sin always comes back. So too are the Crusaders’ operations doomed to failure. As one character explains, they exist to drive Sin away from settlements - but they’ve never succeeded at actually hurting the beast.

Operation Mi’ihen drives this home in most vivid way possible. The assault on Sin is doomed to failure - Auron knows it, the Maesters know it and we, the audience, know it, too. It’s never overtly stated, but you have to imagine that a number of the Crusaders know this also. But they go ahead anyway, because it’s better to do something than nothing at all.

Sure enough, the operation is a bust, and hundreds are left dead or injured. Nothing is left but for the survivors to pick themselves up and move on. After all, that’s what you do in Spira. It’s inevitable.

It helps us start investing in the questing

The early stages of FINAL FANTASY X take place largely from Tidus’ perspective. We follow his struggles, learn about his childhood, and get introduced to the world through his eyes.

Even when he becomes a Guardian, Tidus does so without any deeper understanding of the pilgrimage’s implications. So, there’s a risk that the complex religious and political aspects to Yuna’s pilgrimage could become little more than a backdrop to his struggles.


Read more:


Fortunately, the developers are smarter than that. By giving us a close-up look at Sin through Operation Mi’ihen, Yuna’s story moves to the forefront of the game. We’re reminded us that stopping Sin really matters, and that helps us invest in the quest.

It makes the world richer and more cohesive

Stop me if you’ve heard this before - the ‘world is a character in its own right’.

It’s not the most original statement, but I maintain it holds true for FINAL FANTASY X. One of the greatest things about it - at least from my perspective - is how fleshed out Spira is. It’s a fully-realized place, not just in terms of the lands and races, but society itself.

For example, there’s a persistent tension between the devout followers of Yevon, who see the use of machina, or machinery, as taboo, and the Al Bhed, who tinker and use machina as a matter of course.

This is alluded to throughout the early parts of the game, but Operation Mi’ihen swings the spotlight directly onto it.

The Crusaders’ collaboration with the Al Bhed and their technology is a source of major controversy - many of Yevon’s followers are horrified by it, particularly Wakka.

When it all falls apart, many of the survivors face something of an existential crisis, and believe that their failure to follow the tenets of their religion is to blame. Many head to the temples after the battle to work with the priests and atone for their sins.

Getting such a detailed look into the relationship between Yevon and technology enriches our understanding of the world.

We see the power religion has over all aspects of society. We see the role old technology plays in this land. We see how the followers of Yevon resent and mistrust the Al Bhed.

Thanks to Operation Mi’ihen, Spira feels like a fully-formed place for the characters to inhabit.

It builds character through gameplay

We already know that Seymour is powerful - we’ve seen it earlier in the story. But by putting him under our control, we get a sense of just how capable he is.

Every member of your party has a specific role to play in battle - Yuna’s a white mage, Lulu’s a black mage, Wakka specializes in ranged attacks and so on.

So it’s eye-opening when Seymour joins your party. He’s got powerful offensive magic, he can heal, and he hits like a tank. He’s a jack of all trades, and a Maester of most of them.

Combined with his elevated position in Spiran society, it hammers home a key point - this is a dude you should take seriously.

Despite his reluctance to button his shirt up.


So those are some ruminations on one of our favorite parts of FINAL FANTASY X - but we’re sure you have your own. Share them in the comments, or on social media:

A message from Tetsuya Nomura about FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

And watch the new trailer for the game here.
By Square Enix
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"Here's the Teaser Trailer for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE that was introduced at State of Play. Most of the plans are already in place in the run up to launch, so please bear with us a little longer until we can release more information next month."

Follow us on social media for updates on FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE:

When is it okay to reveal spoilers about a videogame?

This article about spoilers is spoiler-free. Except for one pretty major one about… erm… Gex: Enter the Gecko.
By Duncan Heaney
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You may have noticed that the Square Enix Blog has sprung into life over the last few months - we hope you’ve enjoyed the articles so far and continue to check in regularly for new content.

But today, I want to discuss something a little more sensitive than usual: let’s talk spoilers.


The problem of spoilers

Spoilers are a constant concern when putting material together for this blog.

It’s always there at the back of our minds because when somebody spoils something that you’re excited about, it’s just the worst.

It’s a pain I know all too well - back when I was just a wee lad, someone casually blurted out how Star Wars Episode 1 ended before I’d seen the movie.

It was devastating - I spent the entire movie waiting for the moment I knew was to come. And when it did, I felt… nothing. It all fell flat - for me, the movie had been spoiled (and hold any Jar-Jar Binks comments because it would be too obvious).

So I get it. Spoilers are bad, and it’s important to be careful when talking about our various games. But how far does that caution need to go - and what really counts as a spoiler?

What is a spoiler?

Sometimes avoiding the trap is straightforward - if a game’s been released in the last year - Shadow of the Tomb Raider, for example - it’s too soon to start tossing plot points around with wild abandon.

But when you have a back catalogue as big, rich and diverse as that of Square Enix, the situation gets a little more complicated. It raises questions about how best to handle any discussion of these games. For example:


Is there a statute of limitations on spoilers?

Does the age of the game matter? If a game has been out for more than a console generation, and the hype has died down, is it safe to assume that anyone who really cares will have played it?

This is on my mind at the moment, due to the recent releases (or announcements) of FINAL FANTASY VII, as well as FINAL FANTASY IX, FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 and FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE on Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Windows 10.

Let’s take FINAL FANTASY VII specifically. A classic that’s more than 20 years old, with some of the most famous moments in videogames history. Particularly that bit - you know the one I mean.

...except, maybe you don’t - and if not, do we want to be the ones that spoil it? Should we be?


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Opinions differ, even within Square Enix HQ. But moments that iconic in games are rare and precious - and they surely deserve to be experienced the ways the creators intended.

That’s the position we’ve ultimately settled on, but that raises another question: realistically, is that even possible?Put a post about FINAL FANTASY VII up on Facebook, for example, and someone will almost certainly mention it anyway. Big spoilsports that you are (don’t worry - we still love ya).

Does availability matter?

Some have suggested that availability plays a big part in when you should tiptoe around spoilers. Even when a game is years old, if it’s still available to buy, then there’s a chance someone could be about to experience it for the first time.

FINAL FANTASY IX would be a perfect example. It’s now available on all current gen platforms, including PS4, Switch, Xbox One and Steam - which means a whole new generation of players have access to Zidane and Co’s excellent adventure. Therefore, it seems to me that it would be rather cruel to share some of the biggest moments.

On the other hand, we have something like Gex: Enter the Gecko (if you remember playing that… congratulations, you’re old). That’s not available to buy on current gen systems, so I could mention that Emperor Rez ends the game trapped in a TV without any complaints, right?

…right?

What can you do if you can’t avoid it?

Then there are times where you simply can’t avoid spoilers. For example, did you read our interview with the co-directors of Life is Strange 2? It would be rather difficult to discuss the game in a meaningful way without going into the details.

Or sometimes you need to mention a minor plot point in order to point out patterns between games, or make a terrible joke - like this article about places to live, for example.

In those cases, all we can do is mark clearly in the article that spoilers are incoming - hopefully that’s enough.


So what was the point of this again?

So for now, we’ll continue to stay our course, warn you about spoilers when we use them, and for the most part try to refrain from discussing major story or gameplay moments, unless there’s a particularly good reason.

But really, we want to know what you think - how do you think we should handle spoilers? When is it okay to spoil a game? What rules would you set? How much responsibility do we - as this blog - have to keep spoilers to a minimum? And can you believe that President ShinRa was Cloud’s father and Barret was a ghost the whole time ?

Spoil us with your thoughts with us in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter.

FINAL FANTASY XIV: Heavensward is free for a limited time

The award-winning expansion is available to select players until June 27, 2019.
By Duncan Heaney
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13

If you’ve been looking for a reason to return to the world of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online, we have a pretty good one for you. Select FINAL FANTASY XIV Online players can play the game’s first expansion, Heavensward, at the best possible price - free.

The offer’s available to any players who own the base game A Realm Reborn, or the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Starter Edition, from now until June 27, 2019.

To be crystal clear (and what would FINAL FANTASY be without crystals), this is the full version of Heavensward, including all content from its updates, and once you download it, it’s yours to keep in perpetuity.

What is FINAL FANTASY XIV: Heavensward?

The Heavensward expansion takes you to the city state of Ishgard, which is embroiled in a thousand-year war with the Dravanian Horde. It’s up to the Warriors of Light to explore the ancient secrets hidden in the city’s past, and put an end to the Dragonsong War. Take a look at the trailer:

The version available to players includes all content from the expansion and its patch update cycle, including main scenario quests, dungeons, side-quests, trials and more.

You’ll also get access to flying mounts, three additional jobs - Dark Knight, Astrologian, and Machinist - an additional playable race: the Au Ra.

How do you get FINAL FANTASY XIV: Heavensward?

If you own either FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn or the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Starter Edition on PC or Mac, you can download Heavensward now.

PS4 users can download the expansion from the PlayStation Store. If you have an existing copy of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Starter Edition, or A Realm Reborn, it’ll be marked as free to download.

Also worth noting - the Heavensward offer’s not just good for existing players - it’s also a fantastic opportunity for anyone who wants to get started in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online.

If you pick up the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Starter Edition today on the PlayStation Store (assuming ‘today’ is before the June 29), you’ll still get access to the full Heavensward expansion.


Heavensward is a fantastic, content-rich expansion to FINAL FANTASY XIV Online, and if you're yet to play it, you should definitely pick it up while it’s available at no additional cost.

To remind you, the offer runs until 27 June, 2019 - go grab it while you can!

The making of FINAL FANTASY X/X-2 HD Remaster

Get an inside look at these classic RPGs from the creators themselves.
By Duncan Heaney
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1

The next in our ‘Inside FINAL FANTASY’ series is out now.

The latest documentary feature takes a close look at the development of FINAL FANTASY X/X-2 HD Remaster - recently released on Switch and Xbox One.

Inside FINAL FANTASY X/X-2 HD Remaster features exclusive interviews with some of the creative minds behind the games, including Yoshinori Kitase (Producer), Motomu Toriyama (X Event Director / X-2 Director), Yusuke Naora (X Art Director) and Takashi Katano (X Event Main Programmer).

They talk about how the game was made, the in-Spira-tion (sorry) for some of their decisions and more. Now that I’ve Tidus up (double sorry!), take a look:

For more deep dives into the creation of the FINAL FANTASY series, check out our other videos:


About FINAL FANTASY X/X-2 HD Remaster

FINAL FANTASY X/X-2 HD Remaster is out now on all major platforms including Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and Windows 10, PlayStation 4 and Steam.

It includes two games - FINAL FANTASY X and its sequel, FINAL FANTASY X-2, updated with improved visuals, remastered music and even additional content.

5 Square Enix houses we’d live in - Community Edition

We’re still looking to get on the property ladder, and the Square Enix community had some ideas for where to go…
By Duncan Heaney
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0

A few weeks ago, we posted an article about the Square Enix locations that we’d consider moving into.

In case you missed it, we looked at a lot of hugely desirable properties from many of our best games. So naturally, most of you told us we were wrong.

Instead, you had plenty of ideas of your own - and, in fairness, many of them were better choices than ours. Most of them are still standing for one thing.

So here are 5 Square Enix locations that YOU, the fans, would live in.


Note: Spoilers for FINAL FANTASY VII, FINAL FANTASY X-2 and Deus Ex.


Balamb Garden - FINAL FANTASY VIII

One of the most suggested locations was FINAL FANTASY VIII’s Balamb Garden.

Ooh - a garden! Nice.

Yeah, about that… don’t get fooled by the name. It’s actually a training academy.

Wait - are you telling me that of all the places in all the worlds of Square Enix, fans would choose to live in a school?

I know - I was surprised too. I mean, just think about it - tiny dorm rooms, school dinners and regular exams. And the constant Phys Ed - duels, fighting bombs in fire caverns … oh boy, I’m getting tired just thinking about it.

Ugh. Does it at least have a garden in it?

Well, it does have the training center. Nice outdoorsy space, beautiful scenery with lots of trees… it’s pretty nice actually.

Cool. Sounds like a good place to eat lunch.

Yeah… might be more accurate to say it’s a good place to be lunch. There are man-eating T-Rexaurs in there!

I thought this place was a school!?

Okay - I con-SeeD that there may be better places to live.

Stop.


Adam Jenson’s apartment - Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

So great news, under advisement from the community, we’ve moved you into Adam Jenson’s Prague apartment from Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.

I didn’t ask for this.

Stop complaining. It’s one of the most fully-featured homes on this list, with all the mod-cons you could ever hope for. Well, future-cons technically.

There’s a fully fitted kitchen, with all the cereal you can eat, a computer so you can check your email, hidden compartments, a smart security system… even a full-blown armory.

And it’s secure right?

Of course! Apartments in the Deus Ex universe are fully protected with locks, passwords… all the security features you could hope for.

…all of which are admittedly fairly easy to hack if you know how. Or can afford some Nuke software. Or have a multi-tool.

I… see. Anything else to watch out for?

Well the neighbors are an… interesting bunch. I mean, how many apartment complexes have machine-worshipping cults and their own black market tech dealer?

And it’s not out of the question that your apartment may be ransacked by mercenaries every now and then.

Yeah, I’m going to Deus Exit this one, I’m afraid.

Fair enough.


Zozo residence - FINAL FANTASY VI

At least one member of the Square Enix community suggested a property in the FINAL FANTASY VI town of Zozo.

It has lots of high rises, so there’s plenty of inside living space available. That’s pretty important in this town. Because it’s always raining.

Always?

Afraid so, It may not be the nicest town in all of Square Enix, but it’s probably the wettest.

Wonderful. Are the people nice at least?

In the words of one of the residents: “Great people here! You can trust everything they say!”

…unfortunately, everyone in the town is a liar.

In fact, it’s a pretty rough neighborhood to be honest. You’ll definitely be mugged if you walk the streets. Multiple times in fact.

Bad weather, violent neighbors… so basically, I’d be trapped in the apartment watching the clock?

Well, actually clocks are kind of a problem too in Zozo. You can’t see the time without solving a logic puzzle first.

Is there anything good about this place?

Erm… the background music is pretty awesome?

Sigh. Maybe we should look for somewhere away from other people…

Well actually, the community suggested the perfect place!


Read more:


The Celsius - FINAL FANTASY X-2

They say that your perfect home should move you. If that’s the case, the Celsius is the perfect place to live.

It’s an… airship?

Yep! You can soar the skies in your very own airborne home. The Celsius has everything you could want - beds, stores, and regularly replenished treasure chests. And most importantly, no neighbors to annoy you.

Sounds like the perfect place for some peace and quiet!

Ah… not really.

See, there may not be neighbors, but there is a crew, and they can be a little… boisterous. Buddy, Brother and Shinra are each lovable in their own way, but Brother especially… well, quiet he is not.

And then there’s the fact that you never know when the Celsius deck might be used for an impromptu pop concert.

Plus the engine noise… the alarms when the sphere detector goes off. You know, the more I think about it, the worse an idea this seems.

Land this thing. Now.

The Gold Saucer - FINAL FANTASY VII

Okay, here’s another common suggestion then. The Gold Saucer combines glitz, glamour and one heck of an upbeat theme tune.

Help! I can’t get it out of my head!

I know, right?

Anyway, this world-famous tourist attraction isn’t quiet, but it makes up for it by offering up a crazy number of things to do.

Yeah? Like what?

How’s about (deep breath): snowboarding, motorcycle racing, submarine piloting, chocobo racing, arena battles, Moogle stories, the theatre, a rollercoaster, a gondola, fortune tellers, a violent prison, shopping… the list goes on!

Wow. That’s a lot of… wait, a PRISON?

Ah. Well, the Gold Saucer is built over a desert, and that sandy nightmare is used to incarcerate some of Gaia’s most violent criminals.

But don’t worry, they almost never get up into the building itself and cause mayhem.

I’m concerned by the use of 'almost'.

And you probably won’t be blamed for those crimes and thrown in prison yourself.

I’m even more concerned by the use of 'probably'.

And all this for just a 3,000 gil entry fee. Or 30,000 for a lifetime pass.

30,000 gil?!? You know what? I’m just going to take my chances in Midgar instead - I see that a number of fans recommend Sector 7.

…Well, it’s probably quite easy to find an available flat.

Good - if I went all that way for nothing, I’d be crushed.


Those were the Square Enix houses you suggested. Got any more ideas? Let us know:

FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE out now on Switch and Xbox One

Here's everything you need to know about the game, and how to get it
By Duncan Heaney
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1

It’s already been an amazing year for FINAL FANTASY on the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, and things have just become even better. FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE is out now on both platforms!

Read on, and we’ll take a look at what the game is, some cool tweaks in this release, and how you can get it.

What is FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE?

FINAL FANTASY XII is a timeless story of conflict, honor and duty, set in the war-torn world of Ivalice. The small kingdom of Dalmasca has been conquered by the technologically-superior Archadian Empire.

Princess Ashe, last survivor to the throne, is doing her best to resist the occupation and, joined by a ragtag group, comprised of street rats, sky pirates and disgraced warriors, sets off on a quest to liberate her country.

THE ZODIAC AGE edition of the game upgrades the original PlayStation 2 classic with new features, and quality of life improvements, including the ability to speed up time, and a revamped job system that allows for greater specialization of roles within your party.

The game is out now on Switch and Xbox One. You can buy the game here:

The game’s also out on PS4 and Steam:

What new features have been added to FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE on Switch and Xbox?

The Switch and Xbox One editions of the game add some additional features that that improve the game even further.

The battle system in FINAL FANTASY XII allows you to set up ‘gambits’ - easy to set, but detailed instructions for how your party should act in battle.

In this latest release, you can now have up to three sets of gambits and switch between them at any time. So if, for example, you run into a boss where your current setup is more hinderance than help, you can quickly switch to another that better suits that scenario.

Another useful addition - and one requested by fans - is the ability to reset the jobs that are assigned to your party members, and change them if necessary. It means you’re not locked into a decision - if you think you made a mistake when picking a role for one of your characters, you can have a do-over.

Finally, you can now carry items over into New Game+ - something that should make subsequent playthroughs even more enjoyable.

How much is FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE?

The Nintendo Switch version of FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE is available both digitally and as a boxed physical release. It costs $49.99.

The Xbox One version is also available digital and as a physical release for $49.99.


How do I get FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE on Nintendo Switch?

The game is available digitally from the Nintendo eShop.

Alternatively, you can pick up a physical release from most games retailers, including the Square Enix Store.


How do I get FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE on Xbox One and Windows 10?

You can buy the digital version of FINAL FANTASY XII right now from the Xbox Games Store.

If you prefer a physical version of the game, you can pick up a copy from most games retailers, including the Square Enix Store:

What’s so good about… FINAL FANTASY XII?

Five reasons Xbox One and Switch owners should be excited.
By Duncan Heaney
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1

FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE is out next week on Nintendo Switch and Xbox One - and it’s fair to say that fans are pretty excited. That includes those of us on the Square Enix Blog Team.

But what makes FINAL FANTASY XII - and THE ZODIAC AGE in particular - such a classic? Here are just some reasons we think it’s aces:


1. The Zodiac Job System

The levelling system in THE ZODIAC AGE has been revamped from the original FINAL FANTASY XII release. The Zodiac Job System included in this latest release allows for much greater level of specialization among party members.

Character progression in FINAL FANTASY XII is managed through License Boards. Rather than automatically levelling up, you instead control how your character grows by selecting tiles on a grid - for example, you can select squares to upgrade health or magic, make them hit harder, or imbue them with entirely new abilities.

In the original release, all jobs, and the associated skills, were contained on the same board, but this has changed with the Zodiac Job System. Now, every job has its own unique License Board, and each time a party member joins, you assign them a permanent role in the party.

What job they take is entirely up to you, and over time you’ll also be able to imbue them with a secondary job too, extending their usefulness in different situations. And new to the Switch and Xbox version is the ability to reset jobs - so if you’re worried you made the wrong decision, you can have a do-over.

All said, it’s a system that retains the flexibility and depth the original License Board system was known for, but makes it easier to use, and gives you much more incentive to switch out your party to try out new tactics.


2. This is the game that introduced the Gambit system

The Gambit system is one of the most innovative and rewarding systems built for an RPG. With just a few button presses, you can set incredibly precise tactics for your party in battle.

For example, you could get a heavy hitter like Basch to always target the enemies with the most HP, so you can focus on taking down the toughest targets first. You could get Penelo and Ashe to always focus on the party leader’s target, but break away for healing duties if your band takes a battering.

Or, you could have Fran toss potions at enemies every time you damage them, thus self-sabotaging your chances of winning a fight. I mean, that would be silly, but hey - the system’s flexible enough to let you do it.


Read more


Somehow the Gambit system affords all this control without becoming complicated or cumbersome. Easy to use, but with incredible depth it’s something you really must try for yourself. Bear in mind that the same strategy won’t work for every foe, so be prepared to experiment - something that will be easier than ever before thanks to another addition added in the Switch and Xbox One version.

You can now set up to three sets of gambits, and switch between them whenever you want. Previously, you’d have to manually rebuild your commands when you needed to change your strategy, but now you can have some alternative behaviors ready ahead of time.


3. It’s been given a facelift

While FINAL FANTASY XII originally came out in 2006, it’s had a bit of work done for its latest release. The PlayStation 2 classic has been fully remastered in true HD, so characters and movie scenes are crisp and clear.

It’s a particular visual treat on the Xbox One X, where you can play the game in super-sharp 4K. The game has never looked better!


4. The soundtrack is joy

The FINAL FANTASY series isn’t short of amazing music, but Hitoshi Sakimoto’s score for the twelfth mainline game is particularly special. Take ‘Dalmascan Estersands’ for example - that’s an amazing track that makes the soundtrack worth picking up alone!

In FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE, the music has been re-orchestrated so it sounds better than it ever has before - this is definitely a game you’ll want to play with the volume set high.

That said, if you’re a purist, don’t worry - you can still use the original PS2 release’s soundtrack if you prefer.


5. It has Balthier in it

Those who’ve played the game before know that there’s one particularly good reason to play FINAL FANTASY XII - Balthier.

Everyone has their favorite FINAL FANTASY character, but Balthier is one of the greats. The self-proclaimed leading man is suave, smart and always ready with a snappy one-liner. Plus he’s a sky pirate, which as professions go is up there with ‘ice cream taster’ as one of the coolest.


That’s just a small sample of the wonders that await in FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE. There’s loads more we could mention, from the excellent hunts, including that battle with Gilgamesh, to the fact you can now carry items into New Game+.

But we’ll leave you to discover them for yourselves. The game is available on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch from April 30.

What’s so good about... FINAL FANTASY X-2?

Here are five reasons why FINAL FANTASY X-2 is more than just a sequel
By Duncan Heaney
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1

We’ve talked before about why FINAL FANTASY X is such a classic, but what about its direct sequel? FINAL FANTASY X-2 takes the series in a new direction, with an altered structure, a lighter tone, and an expanded battle system.

It’s far from a predictable sequel then, and while it’s inevitably connected to the original it also stands apart as a distinctly different game - one that is very much worth playing when it releases for Xbox One and Switch on 16 April.

Here are five reasons why:

Find out more about FINAL FANTASY X/X-2 HD

1. It’s set in the same world as FINAL FANTASY X… but isn’t

Like its predecessor, FINAL FANTASY X-2 is set in the world of Spira, but things have changed. Without wishing to get into spoilers, the events of FINAL FANTASY X have had a profound impact on both the world and its peoples.

Your journey will take you through many of the same locations you visited in FINAL FANTASY X, and it’s fun to see how they, and their inhabitants, have adapted to the new status quo.

It’s an interesting blend of the familiar and the unrecognizable, that continues to fascinate throughout the whole adventure.

2. The structure keeps things interesting

The structure of FINAL FANTASY X-2 is very different from most games in the series. If FINAL FANTASY X was an epic movie, FINAL FANTASY X-2 operates more like a TV miniseries.

Unlike the continuous story of the first game, in this adventure, you select distinct missions. Some are compulsory and some are optional, but each can be completed relatively quickly. What’s more, you don’t have to do them in a set order, giving you far more control over the narrative.

It’s a change that fits Yuna, Rikku and Paine’s roles as treasure hunters, and makes for a game that’s easy to dip in and out of.

3. The battle system adds timing and strategy

The FINAL FANTASY X-2 battle system is flexible, fun and robust, but there are two elements in particular that I think are worth talking about.

The first is the Garment Grid system. Rather than change party members to fulfill different roles, you instead equip characters with dresspheres, which imbue them with new abilities (and clothes). In effect, it means you’re able to switch characters’ jobs at any time, and learning how to best combine these different roles can be the difference between success and defeat in a scrap.


Read more:


The other thing to highlight is the return to an active time battle system. While still turn-based, enemies won’t wait for you to make decisions, and when you attack is almost as important as how. With good timing and a well-thought out strategy, it’s possible to plan your moves to disrupt enemy turns, combine skills to devastating effect and discover .

That said, if you do prefer a little more thinking time, you can switch back to Wait mode - enemies won’t attack while you’re taking your turn. Essentially, the game lets you play how you want.

4. There’s so much to see and do beyond the story

Final Fantasy X-2 is packed full of minigames and side activities, from the entertaining shooter Gunner’s Gauntlet, to a revamped version of Blitzball. My personal favourite though, is the Creature Creator.

Set up a pod in a monster-infested area and you’ll be able to trap creatures and add them to your bestiary. From there, you can develop them, level them up, battle them and uncover each’s ‘fiend tale’.

It’s a fun diversion, and with nearly 200 fiends (and even some characters) to collect and level up, completionists will be kept busy for a long, long time.

5. FINAL FANTASY X-2 LAST MISSION is included

FINAL FANTASY X-2 HD is the first time players outside Japan have been able to experience LAST MISSION - a playable epilogue that reunites the characters for a final adventure.

Actually, calling it an epilogue doesn’t really do it justice. It’s essentially a fully featured game in its own right. Set after the main game, heroes Yuna, Rikku and Paine must climb a tower, battling traps and monsters along the way.

What’s really cool is that FINAL FANTASY X-2 LAST MISSION features unique mechanics - there are roguelike elements, for example, where each floor of the tower will be randomly generated. That means your experience could be very different to a friend’s.

It’s challenging too - bad luck, or poor strategy can send you down a floor or even to the start entirely. It’s a great way to test your skills and a fitting farewell to the main characters.


FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD launches on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch 16 April. But it’s available to preorder right now:

Alternatively, the bundle of both games is out now for PlayStation 4 and PC:

For more information on FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster, make sure you follow our social channels:

5 times we were undone by our own stupidity in Square Enix games

The Square Enix blog team take a look back at their multiple gaming inadequacies
By Duncan Heaney
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0

Square Enix games feature a broad and diverse collection of characters. Most - the likes of Cloud Strife, Lara Croft and Adam Jenson - are brave, intelligent and highly competent individuals. But unfortunately they all share the same basic flaw - they’re controlled by us.

And we’re idiots.

Here are five times we cheated ourselves out of success in our favorite games:

Taking on a T-Rexaur at level 8 in FINAL FANTASY VIII

We don’t know much about running a school, but we probably wouldn’t put giant carnivorous dinosaurs on the curriculum. That said, we’re not running a mercenary training academy.

Within Balamb Garden, potential SeeD recruits like Squall Leonhart can take on monsters to practice their skills and raise their stats. But one monster towers above them all - both physically and in terms of raw power: the T-Rexaur.

You can first encounter this scaly nightmare at around level 8. If you do, your instructor Quistis will offer up some sage advice: “Sometimes it’s better to run!”

A sensible student would take the hint, but unfortunately for Squall, we’re far from sensible. One (very short) battle later, that T-Rexaur had a full belly and a nice shiny gunblade to use as a toothpick. We assume that counts as a failing grade.


Taking on a Wild Saurian at level 1 in FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE

Why do we keep making the same mistakes?!

In FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE, one beast is undisputed master of the Dalmascan Estersands - the Wild Saurian.

Much like the T-Rexaur, this bipedal behemoth will obliterate under-levelled adventurers in seconds - only the foolish would try to take one on near the start of the adventure.

Obviously we tried to take one on.

Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter how well thought out your battle strategy is, or how meticulously you’ve set up your gambits (the pre-determined behaviors you set for your party), taking on the Wild Saurian with a single figure level is the fast track to an early game over.

Upon reflection, we should probably start avoiding dinosaurs in FINAL FANTASY games.


Giving Lara Croft a big hand - Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider: Anniversary

In the very first Tomb Raider game (and it’s excellent remake, Tomb Raider Anniversary) Lara Croft is already an experienced explorer, with years of adventures under her belt.

So she would definitely be aware of the legend of King Midas, whose touch turned everything to gold - and that if you’re in a place called Midas’s Palace, and you see a giant hand called the Hand of Midas, you probably shouldn’t touch it!

It’s a shame we’re in the driving seat, because we clambered right onto that inviting, open palm… and watched in horror as our heroine was painfully turned into a solid gold statue.

Sorry we accidentally killed you Lara - but on the plus side, you’ll make a fantastic find for a future Tomb Raider!


Read more:


Getting Ending T in NieR:Automata

One of the many joys of NieR:Automata is collecting chips that enhance your android characters’ stats and abilities. They do come with some fitted as standard though, including one very notable one: the OS chip.

Anyone that knows anything about computing understands that damaging or removing the operating system causes problems, so if we had half a brain cell, we’d leave it alone.

Unfortunately, we don’t - that bad boy was torn out of poor 2B and sold for a tiny bit of cash. The resulting game over was rather obvious in hindsight.

But that’s just one of NieR:Automata’s many endings. You can learn more about them here:


Going to the toilet during FINAL FANTASY VII’s bombing mission

FINAL FANTASY VII starts with an exciting mission to destroy a reactor that’s sucking life from the planet. After a furious battle past robots and soldiers, our heroes Cloud and Barret set the bomb and have ten minutes to escape.

It was around this time that we had to take a break to use the facilities - so we did what we typically do when we want to take a break in a FINAL FANTASY - we left the game on the menu.

What we should have realized is that the countdown timer doesn’t stop while you’re in those menus - it just keeps ticking away.

So while we were answering the call of nature, poor Cloud, Barret, Wedge, Biggs and Jessie were left to stand around awkwardly and await their fiery demise.

A demise caused entirely by player stupidity. And arguably a weak bladder.


Those are just some of the ways we ended our own games through our own failings. But what about you - have you ever self-sabotaged yourself in a moment of madness? Let us know in the comments, and on social media:

FINAL FANTASY XIV Online & FINAL FANTASY XV Collaboration

Here's everything you need to know about the new event: A Nocture for Heroes
By Duncan Heaney
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10

Prince Noctis Lucis Caelum has arrived in the world of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online… and he’s brought his car with him.

The new event, A Nocturne for Heroes, is available now and runs until May 27, 2019. You’ll team up with FINAL FANTASY XV’s leading man in an epic battle against the worst that his world has to offer.

That means you’ll face magitek infantry, magitek armor, and even the Messenger herself, Garuda. You can read more on Lodestone, or watch the trailer here:

That’s cool and all, but you know what’s cooler? Getting stuff.


What kind of in-game rewards are available?

The event features various FINAL FANTASY XV-themed goodies that FINAL FANTASY XIV Online players can earn. Keep in mind you’ll need to do various things to get all of them!

Here’s what’s available:

  • The Regalia Mount – A replica of Noctis’ amazing car is the first four-person mount in the game. Round up your friends and hit the road together!

  • Noctis’s hairstyle and outfit - Rock some royal style with this new haircut and all-black outfit.

  • Noctis Lucis Caelum Triple Triad Card - FINAL FANTASY XV Pocket Edition’s not the only way to have a Noctis in your pocket. This card can be used in Triple Triad matches across Hydaelyn.

  • Various Orchestrion Rolls - Add some great music from FINAL FANTASY XV’s amazing soundtrack to your collection.


How do I participate in the FINAL FANTASY XIV x FINAL FANTASY XV Collaboration Event?

You’ll need to have reached level 50 and completed the main scenario quest: The Ultimate Weapon.

If you meet those requirements, simply find Kipih Jakkya in Ul’dah on the Steps of Nald. She’s investigating some juicy rumors for her latest article and… we think that’s enough to get you started.


If you don’t meet those requirements, don’t worry. You can fast-track to level 50 with Tales of Adventure Items - find out more about them here.

Alternatively, if you preorder the upcoming FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers expansion, you’ll get the experience-boosting aethertye earring to help you level up much faster.

And finally, if you haven’t played FINAL FANTASY XIV Online at all… well, why not? There’s a free trial version available - it lets you play every job up to level 35, so you’ll be able to see if the game’s for you without spending a single gil.

FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster out on Switch and Xbox One

Bundle of two classic RPGs now available on all current gen platforms
By Duncan Heaney
|
0

Tidus, Yuna and the world of Spira have arrived on Nintendo and Microsoft platforms!

FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster features updated versions of the classic FINAL FANTASY X and FINAL FANTASY X-2, with improved visuals, remastered soundtrack and a host of extra features.

Read on, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about the release.

Can I get FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster as a physical release on Switch and Xbox One?

FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster is available both physically and digitally on Nintendo Switch. The boxed Switch release features FINAL FANTASY X HD on the cartridge, and a download code for FINAL FANTASY X-2.

On Xbox One and Windows 10, FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 Remaster is available to buy both physically and digitally.


Read more:


How much does FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster cost on Switch and Xbox One?

Here’s the price for the game on both platforms:

The Nintendo Switch version is available as a digital download and a boxed release. It costs $49.99.

The Xbox One and Windows 10 version is available as a digital download and a boxed physical release. It costs $49.99.

How do I buy FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster on Nintendo Switch?

If you want to get the game on Switch, you have a few options.

The full game bundle can be downloaded from the Nintendo eShop now:

Boxed copies are also available to order from most major retailers, including the Square Enix Store:


How do I buy FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster on Xbox One and Windows 10?

You can preorder FINAL FANTASY X|X-2 HD Remaster for Xbox One now via the Xbox Games Store:

You can also buy a physical version of the game from retailers, including the Square Enix Store:

What’s FINAL FANTASY X about?

If you’ve never played FINAL FANTASY X before, you are in for a treat!

The epic adventure follows Tidus - a sports superstar who embarks on a journey with the beautiful summoner Yuna to save the world from a destructive monster known as “Sin”.

Along the way, they’ll gain followers, discover hidden truths about themselves, face unexpected challenges and - if you’re as dedicated as us - spend a large amount of time trying to dodge lightning bolts.

Here on the Square Enix Blog, we love it - here are 5 reasons why.

What’s FINAL FANTASY X-2 about?

A direct sequel to the previous game, FINAL FANTASY X-2 follows Yuna, Rikku and Paine - collectively a trio of treasure hunters known as the Gullwings.

Together they’ll embark on numerous adventures across a world that has been dramatically changed following the events of FINAL FANTASY X.

As well as a brand new story, FINAL FANTASY X-2 innovated with a unique episodic structure, unprecedented levels of side content and an exciting active time battle system that rewards both strategy and timing.

Here are 5 reasons we think the game’s more than a mere sequel.