How Many Times Can Square Enix Let Down Fans?
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It’s hard to come down on Square Enix too hard, because I have been a fan of the company for a long time. I’m still a fan, and I continue to love a good deal of the company's stuff. But the way it is currently run sure leads to a lot of disappointment. It is now at a point where I don’t even get excited about news regarding Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts, because I know that things are bound to change and are often misrepresented. There are countless examples of reasons that it’s hard to keep your faith in the company, but let’s take a look at Final Fantasy XV for starters.

Final Fantasy XV started its life as a project called Final Fantasy Versus XIII and was intended to be part of a three game project called Fabula Nova Crystallis. This series of games eventually became three unrelated titles, and fans were disappointed to see Versus XIII seemingly disappear. This project was announced in 2006, and its metamorphosis into Final Fantasy XV was announced in 2013. In 2014, it was announced that Tetsuya Nomura, a maximalist known for convoluted plots, would be leaving the project.  The game was finally released in 2016.

When Final Fantasy XV came out, I was excited, even though I’d seen games go down this long road. At launch, the title’s story was undeniably incomplete and a lot of important information was contained in supplementary material. There were strong elements to the game and the bonding between the characters was integral, but I felt the epic story I came for was nowhere to be seen. What’s worse, the gameplay felt extremely lackluster, and even after completing the game, I had no real understanding of its systems. 

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It is now nearly 2019, and Final Fantasy XV has seen a lot of work. Various DLCs have added to the story. There have been cutscenes, bosses, and modes added to the title. There is already a new version of the game containing all of this stuff, with more DLC on the horizon. It has been an absolute mess, but I’ve still wanted to revisit the game just to see how much it’s grown. Every time I’ve tried, I’ve enjoyed it, but then something new was announced and I just figured that perhaps it would be best to wait for Square Enix to actually complete it. The game may never feel complete, though.

Square Enix had announced four more DLC packs, including one that would further build on the main protagonist’s story. One of the packs, in which we will learn more about the antagonist, will still be released, but the other three have been canceled. Maybe it was silly of me to think that this game would ever feel as fulfilling as some of the company's earlier titles, and maybe that’s why I’ve held out hope. Hope that is now gone.

Other titles still have a chance, although times may be tough. I want Kingdom Hearts III to blow away my middling expectations when it releases. Many gamers have been waiting for this game for a decade now, and its relative absence from E3 for many years has left us in the dark. The game has certainly changed significantly in the time since its launch, and movies that hadn’t even released yet will be included. This is all probably a good thing, but the game is also a baby of Tetsuya Nomura. I am half expecting that the convoluted mess of a narrative that has been growing out of control with the franchise’s handheld titles isn’t going to be condensed or concluded in this game, even though it is said to be the end of the protagonist’s saga. By all accounts, the game is looking good, but Square Enix games are almost always beautiful. It’s hard to imagine this game being the one that restores my faith.

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It was nice that the company decided to port a healthy collection of its older titles to modern generation systems. Ports are a large part of what Square Enix does now, though, and it feels like the company is spending money to remind me how much I loved them.

Am I running on nostalgia at this point? It’s entirely probable. I mean, I’ll buy extra Nintendo Switches, if that’s what it takes to play Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles with other people. I wouldn’t do anything of the sort for any more recent Square Enix products. Well, I wouldn’t do it again, after buying a second PlayStation 4 for Dissidia NT. Hopefully. I can barely muster any enthusiasm for the company’s upcoming remake of the iconic Final Fantasy VII, because I’m pretty used to it messing things up at this point. Maybe the healthiest thing to do is to treat Square Enix like the company treats Final Fantasy VIII and just forget about them for a bit.

Benjamin Maltbie
Benjamin Maltbie

Contributing Writer
Date: 11/22/2018

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