E3 is fun every year, and a big part of that is all the new stuff you didn’t see coming. In recent years, leaks have become more powerful than ever, making those surprises more scarce. Now, I don’t believe in the concept of “spoilers” for things like obvious sequels and marketing materials, but like anyone else I enjoy a good surprise. Part of that E3 magic is watching a briefing from a big publisher and screaming when something you had no idea existed suddenly does. In the spirit of that hype energy, I figured I’d compile a list of what I thought were the best surprises out of the show, the ones that really took me off guard and have me looking forward to the coming months. That said, I’m keeping it PlayStation Lifestyle here, so as excited as I am about playing The Witcher III on my Switch, or how confused but intrigued I am about a Blair Witch video game, all these list items will be PlayStation-adjacent in some way or another.
Phantasy Star Online 2 is Finally Happening
Some of my most fond young gamer memories stem from dropping dozens of hours into Phantasy Star Online on my GameCube. The energy of that game was so distinct, no MMO has ever been able to recapture it. It seemed like Phantasy Star Online 2 would do exactly that so many years ago, but despite Sega announcing a localization it never happened. Now, nearly a decade later, it’s happening. And it’s going to be free to play! This was announced on the Xbox stage with a heavy emphasis on Azure, but Phil Spencer later confirmed PSO 2 will come to other platforms. I doubt the Vita version is coming over, but we’ll at least be able to play on PS4.
Final Fantasy VIII is Remastered
Video game development was the Wild West back in the era of classics, and as a result of that… people threw stuff away. This especially happened in Japan, where developers would move on after a project was done, and not really keep anything. Square Enix is notorious for publicly sharing this information, and we know things like the Kingdom Hearts HD remasters were built from, almost, scratch. Final Fantasy VIII has long been missing from Square’s wave of re-releases, save for some quick drops via PSOne Classics and Steam. Now, we have a full remaster on the way, with totally souped-up character models. It looks awesome!
Trials of Mana Makes its North American Debut
Yeah, this list is a little Square Enix heavy. Sue me. Seiken Densetsu 3, or the third entry in the Mana series, was long a holy grail of untranslated video games. A fan translation was a huge deal back in the day, and after that finally came out everyone figured that was the end of it. But now, Square Enix is going all out for Mana fans. Not only has the Mana Collection been released, complete with a brand new, official localization for the original Super Famicom version (ported by emulator heroes M2), but a full remake is also on the way. Now branded as Trials of Mana, the remake looks like it has much more juice behind it than the previous two Mana remakes. You’ll need a Nintendo Switch to play the collection, but the remake is coming to PS4.
SaGa Takes the E3 Stage
Ever since Final Fantasy II, one director at Square Enix has always had a reputation for doing weird things with the JRPG formula. I’m talking about Akitoshi Kawazu, the man who strongly believes progression in JRPGs needs to be an uphill battle akin to how getting better at things works in real life. His brainchild is SaGa, a series that has long been viewed as one of Square Enix’s strangest and most commercially nonviable property. So many releases have gone unlocalized, save for a recent Romancing SaGa 2 port. But this month, in the middle of an E3 stage briefing in one of the premium time slots, SaGa got some freakin’ air time. Not only is Romancing SaGa 3 getting a port, but SaGa Scarlet Grace: Ambitions, the most recent entry, is also being released. This was a huge moment for obscure JRPG nerds. Please let us enjoy it.
Double Fine Productions Joins Xbox, but Psychonauts 2 is Safe
Microsoft’s Xbox division has been going wild with acquisitions in the past year or two. With Phil Spencer in charge, new energy and resources have been dedicated to making sure the Xbox brand revitalizes its first-party offerings for the next generation. Studios PlayStation fans have come to know and love are leaving them, such as Ninja Theory. This year’s big surprising acquisition was Double Fine, everyone’s favorite indie studio. Now, this news follows the previous publisher of Psychonauts 2 being in big trouble, and we’ve all been wondering what the fate of that project would be. Now, we know Microsoft has stepped in with its infinite coffers. But what of the game? The good news is, Psychonauts 2 is still coming to PlayStation 4. Will future Double Fine projects continue to be multiplatform, or will it be Xbox only in the future? Only time will tell. But for now, it’s great to know Psychonauts 2 is alive and well. I know this one is stretching “PlayStation-adjacent,” but I was really worried about Double Fine, okay?
Anyway, those are my favorite surprises from E3 2019, the moments that made be exclaim, “yooooo!” Yes, I’m a big Square Enix stan and I don’t really care about Cyberpunk 2077, sorry. Keanu Reeves is cool and all, but I’ll stick with Ghost in the Shell for my cyberpunk needs. Anyway, did you think Keanu Reeves taking the stage was your favorite E3 2019 surprise? Or was there something else that blew you away? Let’s talk about it. You know, in the comments. I’ll read them!