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Square Enix - E3 2014 booth photo 1280 Samit Sarkar/Polygon

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Square Enix at E3 2018: What to expect

Huge fan-service titles seem ripe for discussion

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Square Enix is back for E3 2018, and apparently for very good reasons. The publisher last did a showcase for its wares in 2015, and while this time it won’t be doing a traditional stage event, there is much to talk about, beginning with Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

This is what we expect from Square Enix’s E3 Showcase, which will be a pre-recorded video airing Monday, June 11 at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET.

Eidos Montreal/Square Enix

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

The third installment of Lara Croft’s rebooted storyline is coming Sept. 14, 2018. Shadow of The Tomb Raider, formally announced in April, takes Lara Croft to Mexico in a story that developers envision as darker and more challenging for Croft, but one that will certify her as an adventurer and hero worthy of her 20-year lore. Since reintroducing her in 2013, Square Enix has used these showcases to deliver unrelenting action, harrowing escapes and suspense-filled combat. More of that is likely here.

A player character mounted on a horse overlooking a cliffside vista in Dragon Quest 11. Image: Square Enix

Dragon Quest 11

Dragon Quest 11: Echoes of an Elusive Age, a high fantasy adventure is getting its western launch on Sept. 4. The series skipped a western release with 2012’s online-only Dragon Quest 10, but the developers think the time is right to reconnect with an overseas audience after years out of view. We got a look at it at PAX East 2018 and talked with Square Enix’s North American branch about what the company wants to bring to JRPG fans here with the Dragon Quest series. For sure we’ll see more in Square Enix’s show.

Disney / Square Enix

Kingdom Hearts 3

The fact that Square Enix is coming back with an E3 event after two years on the sidelines suggests it has a lot to say about Kingdom Hearts 3, a game originally announced at E3 2013. It is due to launch sometime this year, so it’s probably a good bet that at least the release date is finally announced. The game itself should take up a lot of space in the program too.

The series has made legions of devoted fans for its delightful crossovers with classic and eclectic Disney characters. Polygon went hands-on earlier in May, and if a publisher is giving those kinds of previews, the game is probably ready to go. We found the segments we played thoroughly delightful. Square Enix has to lay its cards on the table here, and that includes telling everyone when they get this long-awaited sequel.

Square Enix

Final Fantasy 7 Remake

Square Enix fandom is all about the long play. Its ideas are rumored, discussed and baked for what seems like eternity until there’s an announcement, which somehow can be both anticipated for years and yet still seem to come out of the blue. Square Enix got rapturous applause when it showed Cloud Strife and his unmistakable Buster Sword from behind, in fully redone high definition for modern consoles, at the 2015 event. But we haven’t heard much about it since then.

Like with Kingdom Hearts 3, it wouldn’t make sense for Square Enix to do an E3 show for the first time in three years and not say something about this game. We just don’t know what that will be — if anything.

Just Cause 4

Square Enix hasn’t officially announced a new Just Cause, nor are their strong indications that the reveal of Just Cause 4 is imminent — with the exception of a recent leak that’s looking more and more accurate every day. In May, retailer Walmart Canada outed the existence of Rage 2, Lego DC Villains and a new Assassin’s Creed last month alongside a listing for Just Cause 4. Series developer Avalanche Studios is coming to E3 2018 armed with Rage 2, but perhaps they’ll have another open-world sandbox action-adventure in tow as well. The most recent Just Cause game came out in 2015, so arguably we’re due for another.

The Avengers Project

Crystal Dynamics and Eidos Montreal are working on this, which was announced in January 2017 and is to be a series of games based on Marvel’s franchise. It’s hard to say where The Avengers game(s) sits exactly on Square Enix’s deliberate publishing calendar, as Avengers: Infinity War just premiered last month. That said, Avengers 4 is due May 2019. The last word, in January, was that the developers had brought on a lot of serious talent and made “tremendous progress” since it was last discussed. Any kind of trailer, teaser or oh-by-the-way at the end of the show would be a thrill, so at least keep your eyes peeled for it.

Life is Strange 2

Dontnod Entertainment said a year ago that it was working on a sequel to the original episodic adventure that premiered in 2015. Last year at E3, Dontnod showed off something completely different, Vampyr (which launches this week) so maybe after a year there’s been enough progress on the teen adventure game that it can be shown off. Again, with a critically acclaimed, very story-driven series, it’s hard to say for sure that a sequel is going to be shown off only a year after it was announced. But it is on the table.

octopath traveler Square Enix

Octopath Traveler

Square Enix’s retro-skewing, Nintendo Switch-exclusive RPG is due out in July. It’s a turn-based adventure heavily inspired by Square Enix’s library of classics, albeit with a uniquely detailed art style and a surprisingly dark story. The team has been candid about the development process since first announcing the game in January 2017, and with a launch date coming just a month after E3, the conference is a great time to show us the final touches.

Dragon Quest Builders 2

We know that a second Dragon Quest Builders is on the way. But Square Enix hasn’t told Western audiences much else about when the sequel to the charming crafting game will arrive. Additions will include multiplayer and new features to build, as well as fast travel — all of which sounds good to us. And although Dragon Quest Builders 2 is small potatoes compared to its big brother Dragon Quest 11, now seems like a great time for Square Enix to throw us some more teasers and a release date for it.

Just Cause 4

It’s a solid bet we’ll hear more about Avalanche Studios’ over-the-top, open-world action-adventure now that a Steam marketplace listing has leaked the game. Rico Rodriguez is back in action, parachuting into dangerous jungle terrain to deliver unbelievable stunts and bring the bad guys to justice, the action-movie way.

Update (June 8): We’ve added additional details to Just Cause 4, following a leak on Steam.