STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Everything you need to know about STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN WANDERER OF THE RIFT

Jack vs Gilgamesh. If you’re a FINAL FANTASY fan, that’s probably all you need to know. But for everyone else, here's what you can look forward to in the new expansion.
By Duncan Heaney

Jack Garland vs Gilgamesh!

If you’re a FINAL FANTASY fanatic, that’s probably all you need to know about WANDERER OF THE RIFT - the second expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN.

The rest of you, however, may be wondering - what’s all the fuss about? With the new content now available to download and play, we thought we’d give you a brief summary of everything you need to know:


What is WANDERER OF THE RIFT?

This is the second part of the STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN Season Pass. Set after the previously released TRIALS OF THE DRAGON KING, it introduces the dimension-hopping Gilgamesh and a ton of new content, including a new job to play as, a new type of dungeon and new gear.

Oh, and also a tonberry blacksmith!

We’ll talk about what’s been added in a bit, but for any newer FINAL FANTASY fans…


Who the heck is Gilgamesh?

First introduced in FINAL FANTASY V, Gilgamesh is a figure who appears throughout the series. His portrayal can vary wildly between games, but he’s usually characterized by his many arms, a self-satisfied attitude and a love of swords that could charitably described as ‘obsessive’. He’s also often battled on big bridges.

In that first appearance in FINAL FANTASY V, he’s a recurring boss and a source of comic relief.

Gilgamesh as he appears in FINAL FANTASY V pixel remaster


Despite his fearsome appearance and self-satisfied attitude, he’s not much of a threat. His cowardly nature and inherent clumsiness mean that he’s as much a threat to himself as others - though he does help Bartz and the gang out by the end of their adventure.

The character - and his name - continue to echo throughout future games in the series. For example, he makes a memorable appearance in FINAL FANTASY VIII, replacing the summon Odin when Seifer cleaves him in two.

Gilgamesh as he appears in FINAL FANTASY XII THE ZODIAC AGE


A personal favorite is his appearance in FINAL FANTASY XII, where he battles the party on a bridge, armed with legendary swords from across the series, including Cloud’s Buster Sword from FINAL FANTASY VII and Tidus’ Brotherhood from FINAL FANTASY X. Except, look a bit closer and you’ll realize they’re just knock-offs - and he’s just as full of empty bravado as you’d expect.

Gilgamesh as he appears in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online


We’d also be remiss not to mention Greg… uh, we mean Gilgamesh in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online, where he‘s involved with one of the only characters with an ego as out of control as his own: Hildibrand Manderville. As the Warrior of Light, you’ll face off against him on several occasions, all crazier than the last. Have you ever fought as a green chicken?

A very different portrayal can be found in EPISODE GLADIOLUS for FINAL FANTASY XV. Here, you face off against a much more deadly Gilgamesh, as Gladio tries to prove he’s worthy of the title Shield of the King. The traits are still there - obsession with swords, bravado, but this time he’s got the skills to back them up.

There are plenty more examples we could pick from - from appearances in spin-off titles like Chocobo GP, to examples of the name being used, even if the character himself isn’t. But this is already becoming an essay, so let’s move on to the big question…


What’s Gilgamesh’s role in STRANGER OF PARADISE WANDERER OF THE RIFT?

As the name implies, the dimension-hopping warrior arrives in Jack’s world, and his appearance adds an unwelcome element of chaos to Jack’s plans. And you all know how he feels about Chaos…

Rest assured, you will have an opportunity to face off against Gilgamesh, but don’t expect him to be a joke or pushover like in earlier games. STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is all about fast-paced, challenging combat, so expect him to put up quite the fight!

Wielding swords and spears in both hands, he attacks Jack with fast, damaging attacks. You’ll have to dodge, block and use Soul Shield carefully, and look for openings for your own counter attacks.

Be careful though - he may also use his fabled ‘missile’.


What’s new in WANDERER OF THE RIFT?

The arrival of Gilgamesh also heralds the addition of tons of new content to STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN, including:

Rift Labyrinth

This mysterious labyrinth appeared when Gilgamesh appeared. A new story plays out while you take on a series of short, randomly generated dungeons.

The bite-sized and ever-shifting nature of these monster-filled mazes makes for a compelling gameplay loop that plays into the game’s strengths - the brutally satisfying combat and the massive selection of different jobs to play as.

Speaking of which…

Blue Mage job

Jack has some new tricks up his sleeve thanks to the addition of the Blue Mage job. He’s always been able to steal monsters’ abilities with Soul Shield and use them himself, but Blue Mage lets him take that to another level.

You’ll get the Blue Mage job after progressing a certain way through the Rift Labyrinth and it’s a fantastic addition to Jack’s toolkit. When you have instant abilities available, you can use R2 / RT to use them without using up a charge. Alternatively, you can hold the button to power them up with MP - with devastating results!

Dimension Bringer

Progress through the Rift Labyrinth and you’ll also gain access to Dimension Bringer - a very cool new command ability.

When you use it, enemies nearby will be slowed down, and every time you use a combo ability, the damage you inflict will go up. Also, while the effect is active, you can use a special attack in the place of Soul Shield and make it easy to chain combo abilities - it’s great for taking down foes really quickly… and quite stylishly too.

GILGAMESH difficulty

Accessible once you’ve beaten TRIAL OF THE DRAGON KING, this new difficulty mode will test your high-level gear loadouts like nothing else.

Not only can you take on enemies with higher levels than normal, you can also earn relic gear with Summon Blessings!

Summon Blessings

Some equipment contains special effects, received from the blesssings of Summons like Ifrit, Odin and Bahamut. These can be wildly useful effects that improve your stats based on the blessing value - so they’re well worth equipping!

To get these blessings, you first have to take acquired gear to a new tonberry blacksmith for appraisal. Don’t worry, it won’t take long - tonberries apparently work faster than they walk!

Monster Bells

These new items let you call on a monster to come support you in battle. First you need to find a summonstone and complete a special event with a monster, but when you do, you’ll be able to call them into the fray.

Taking on the hordes with a Malboro at your side? As awesome as it sounds.

Chaotic Monsters

These are not, as the name implies, monsters who lack organizational skills. Quite the contrary - they’re quite efficient at their job, which is primarily to murder Jack and his friends.

Chaotic monsters are super-powerful versions of beasts that are far more dangerous than the standard variety. But if you take the risk and take them, there are much greater rewards to be had. Provided you can beat them, of course.


As you can see, there’s lots to get stuck into in WANDERER OF THE RIFT. The new content is available now as part of the Season Pass for the game.

This also gives you the first additional mission: TRIALS OF THE DRAGON KING, as well as the yet-to-be released third expansion: DIFFERENT FUTURE!

If you’ve yet to play STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN and you’re eager for some Jack on Gilgamesh action, then the game is available to buy now for PS5, PS4, and PC via the Epic Games Store:

Finally, for more news and updates about the game, be sure to follow the team on social media:

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN: WANDERER OF THE RIFT - a closer look

The next wave of content for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN arrives on October 26, 2022! Here’s what to expect:
By Duncan Heaney

The second mission in the STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN Season Pass is nearly here!

Titled ‘WANDERER OF THE RIFT’, the new content launches for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and Epic Games Store on October 26, 2022!

It tells a new tale, set after the events of the original game, and the previously released TRIALS OF THE DRAGON KING. We’ll avoid going into detail to avoid spoilers for the story so far, but we can say a new visitor arrives before Jack Garland and his allies. Someone who are long-time fans of FINAL FANTASY and/or big bridges may well recognize…

As tantalizing as that trailer is, we’re sure you want to know more. So let’s take a closer look at what’s new in STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN: WANDERER OF THE RIFT!


New character: Gilgamesh

It’s Gilgamesh!

Able to wander freely between dimensions, Gilgamesh’s very existence is an oddity.

He rises to challenge Jack and his comrades, bringing chaos to the world.

Wielding swords and spears in both hands, Gilgamesh battles Jack and his comrades with an abundance of dynamic attacks.

When the time comes he may even use his fabled missile...

But Gilgamesh isn’t the only addition coming in Wanderer of the Rift…


New gameplay: The Rift Labyrinth

A strange labyrinth also manifested when Gilgamesh appeared in Jack’s world: the Rift Labyrinth!

A new story plays out as you conquer a series of randomly constructed short dungeons.

New job: Blue Mage

We all know STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN’s main man is a Jack of all trades - White Mage, Black Mage, Monk, Dragoon, Thief… he can do it all.

Now he has another job to add to his repertoire: Blue Mage!

The Blue Mage job is unlocked after progressing a certain way through the Rift Labyrinth. It lets Jack learn enemy abilities and turn them into his own powers.

When playing as a Blue Mage, you can push R2/RT to use Blue Magic when these instant abilities are available. Holding down the button lets you charge them up for an even more powerful attack.

This makes it possible to activate instant abilities without using up charges, and power them up with MP.


New Command Ability: Dimension Bringer

Dimension Bringer is a new command ability that Jack can learn in WANDERER OF THE RIFT.

Once activated, enemies in the vicinity will be slowed and the damage the player inflicts will increase each time an action ability is used.

While the effect is active, a special attack can be used in place of Soul Shield. Unleash the special attack and rapidly take down the foe with combos.


New ‘GILGAMESH’ difficulty level

WANDERER OF THE RIFT adds a brand new difficulty level to the game: GILGAMESH!

GILGAMESH difficulty is only playable if you’ve completed the TRIALS OF THE DRAGON KING, and it adds a whole new level of challenge to the game. Enemy levels are raised further, meaning that even more fearsome foes will appear to threaten Jack and friends.

When playing on GILGAMESH difficulty, you can obtain special relic equipment that comes with Summon Blessings attached - various special effects received from the blessings of summons like Odin, Ifrit and Bahamut. Equipping this equipment will improve your character’s capabilities based on the blessing value.

These blessings can be obtained by appraising relic equipment at the Tonberry Blacksmith.


New: Tonberry Blacksmith

You read that right - WANDERER OF THE RIFT adds a Tonberry Blacksmith to the game!

…what, you thought because they carry a chef’s knife, they could only work in the catering industry? It’s that kind of assumption that could make someone hold a grudge…


New item: Monster Bells

Since the world of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is dangerous, it’s good to have a little help from time to time. In that respect, Monster Bells are just the thing!

These are items that let you instantaneously call up a monster to support you during battle.

To receive the support of a monster, you first need to find a Summonstone and then complete a special event with that monster.

You can increase your affinity with the monster through conversations, feeding it and using items.

When your affinity level increases sufficiently, you will receive Monster Bells that can be used in battle to temporarily call up the monster to fight for you.


New threat: Chaotic Monsters

When playing on the “GILGAMESH” difficulty level, monsters infused with Chaotic energy can occasionally appear in all missions, including the Rift Labyrinth. These are called “Chaotic Monsters”.

Chaotic status is indicated by the crown icon at the start of the monster’s name. These Chaotic Monsters are more dangerous than standard monsters of the same type - but they can earn you greater rewards when defeated.

As you can see, the new content expands STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN in a pretty dramatic way!

You’ll get to experience it all for yourselves on October 26, 2022 when WANDERER OF THE RIFT launches for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and the Epic Games Store.

To access this new content, you must have purchased the STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN Season Pass, which is available now. This also gives you access to TRIALS OF THE DRAGON KING, and a future third expansion: DIFFERENT FUTURE.

If you’re yet to experience STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN, then you should get on that. It’s a thrillingly brutal action RPG that acts as an unabashed love letter to all things FINAL FANTASY series while adding its own fresh spin and unique tale. The game is available now:

Finally, to stay up to date with news and information about the game, be sure to follow the team on social media:

8 of the best dragoons and spear-users in Square Enix games

Spear-wielders are a mainstay of Square Enix games. Let’s celebrate some of our favorites with some pointed remarks…
By Duncan Heaney
Estinien from FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

We’ve previously looked out some of our favorite White Mages, beloved Black Mages, and fist fighters in Square Enix games. Today, we’re taking a look at another common fighting style: spear users!

Whether they’re a classic FINAL FANTASY dragoon with their signature Jump attacks, or a versatile warrior who uses the weapon for precision and power, each of these awesome characters has thrust their way into our hearts.


Jade - DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition

Estinien from FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

To her friends, Jade is a steadfast ally, with a protective nature and a wry sense of humor. To those who oppose her… well, they don’t oppose her for long.

Jade may primarily be a martial artist, but she can wield a spear with uncommon skill. Her many techniques let her hit multiple foes at once, deliver critical hits, attack with elements and much more!

The flexibility of her skillset makes her capable of bringing the pain, whatever the foe or situation.

Of course, as a martial artist Jade has training beyond spears - she’s also skilled with claws and has a real talent for fisticuffs too. I guess her name’s appropriate because all that talent’s enough to turn you green with envy!


Kimahri - FINAL FANTASY X HD

Estinien from FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

Kimahri may not be the most vocal of characters, but he’s great at getting his point across. Especially when that point is at the end of a long stick.

This Ronso guardian is a strong and flexible fighter. While most of the party in FINAL FANTASY X lean towards specific roles and functions in combat, especially in the early hours of the game, Kimahri’s upgrade path lets you mold him into the warrior you want him to be. Plus his Lancet ability, which lets him learn enemy skills, gives him even more versatility in the field.

That flexibility stands in stark contrast to his personality. Kimahri presents himself as stoic and guarded, but that gruff exterior hides a heart as warm as his fur. He cares deeply about his companions and will rush to protect them against anyone that threatens them.

He may worry about his status among the rest of his species, but as far as we’re concerned, he’s the ultimate Rons-bro!


Jack - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Estinien from FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

What? We’re including Jack… again? Well, all together now… he’s a Jack of all trades!

Jack is able to take on multiple spear-wielding jobs, including lancer and dragoon. He’s a dab hand at them too - the range afforded by the big pointy weapon lets him jab and break enemies before they get close enough to lay a finger, tentacle, or chef’s knife on him.

Depending on the specific job, he can hurl his spear at foes from afar, jump into the air and spike down from above and much more. It’s a technical weapon for those who like their fights to be about precision, rather than chaos.

And we all know how Jack feels about chaos…


Riesz - Trials of Mana

Estinien from FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

Riesz wears a lot of hats. She’s a princess, a doting sister and, most impressively, Captain of the Amazon Guard.

She commands enormous respect from her warriors - not because of her position as daughter of the king, but due to her abilities as a warrior. Despite her young age, Riesz is a ferocious fighter who uses a spear with as much skill as someone twice her years.

She uses those skills to protect others with near-total commitment. The only thing she values more than her kingdom is her little brother Elliot, who she’s helped raise since her mother passed away.

Sure would be a shame then if something were to happen to him…


Cid - FINAL FANTASY VII

Estinien from FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

Despite FINAL FANTASY VII not having defined ‘jobs’ in combat, Cid retains many of the elements of the classic FINAL FANTASY dragoon, He uses a spear, and has access to jump attacks via his Limit Breaks - he even shares a surname with the series very first dragoon in the series, FINAL FANTASY II’s Ricard Highwind (big shoutout to the OG!)

But Cid brings his own distinct style to combat, using his affinity for airships, high explosives and a temperament best described as ‘prickly’ to find imaginative ways to devastate foes.

In fairness, he has a reason to be embittered. Once he was to be the first man in space - but faulty technology and Shinra’s abandonment of the project have left that dream in tatters. But after meeting Cloud and company, he finds a new purpose and proves himself to be a strong, reliable ally.

So much so, that when Cloud is indisposed, he takes over as team leader!


Freya - FINAL FANTASY IX

Estinien from FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

Poor Freya endures her fair share of tragedy. She loses the love of her life to absence and amnesia, her hometown of Burmecia is destroyed and she fails to stop the devastation of its neighbor Cleyra. Yeah… it’s a lot.

So with all of that, it’s a testament to her inner strength that she’s able to stay focused and positive. Freya is a Dragon Knight, a highly skilled warrior who uses her spear and agility to deliver a lot of very pointy pain to her foes.

That sharp mind is demonstrated throughout the rest of FINAL FANTASY IX too. She provides useful guidance throughout the adventure, is able put personal grudges aside for the sake of the bigger picture and is willing to kick Zidane’s butt when he deserves it.

All said, she’s a brilliant character and we Jump for joy whenever she’s in the party.


Estinien - FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

Estinien has become a real fan-favorite, though we can’t imagine why…

Estinien from FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

What Estinien lacks in social graces, he more than makes up for with his abilities as a dragoon.

This spear-wielding warrior bears the title of the Azure Dragoon and is greatly admired for his combat prowess. He’s less adept at being in the spotlight as he hates politics and parties and won’t mince words when dealing with others.

Although he began a little cold and brusque, Estinien has grown over the course of the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online saga so far. Initially driven wholly by revenge, his adventures alongside the Warrior of Light have helped him find perspective.

While he remains stoic and direct at times, his personality has softened, and he’s become a trusted ally throughout many adventures.


Kain - FINAL FANTASY IV pixel remaster

Estinien from FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

Looking for a character that encapsulates everything awesome about dragoons? This is Kain - and he’s able.

Kain follows in the footsteps of his father Ricard Highwind - a spear-wielding warrior who died while Kain was still very young (shoutout to the OG again!).

Adopted by the King of Baron, he grew up alongside the game’s protagonist Cecil, and formed a strong bond with the hero. But tensions simmer beneath the surface of the friendship - the two also share a strong rivalry, which is only exacerbated by Kain’s hidden feelings for Cecil’s lover Rosa.

This comes to a head when Kain is put under the influence of the evil Golbez - and betrays and even battles his former comrade.

But despite these unfortunate events, Kain is a good man at heart - and an exemplary warrior. His physical strength and diverse skillset make him an invaluable addition to the team - particularly in boss battles, where he can really deal some damage!

And let’s be honest: that armor looks awesome, right?


Those were just a few of our favorite spear-slinging heroes, but we’re sure you have suggestions of your own. Why not let us know your ideas on social media:

7 of the best monks and pugilists in Square Enix games

It takes a very special kind of person to dive into danger with nothing to protect them but their own two fists. Let’s give these heroes a big hand.
By Duncan Heaney
Tifa from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

We previously celebrated White Mages and Black Mages here on the blog, so we thought: this time, let’s get physical.

Plenty of Square Enix characters eschew swords, spears and firearms in favor of their own bodies. You can call them monks, pugilists or simply brawlers - whatever the label, we wanted to pay homage to those characters who rely on their own two fists to overcome adversity.

Let’s get to it:


Snow - FINAL FANTASY XIII

Tifa from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

Optimistic, protective, passionate… there are a lot of words you could use to describe Snow Villiers. ‘Subtle’ is not one of them.

This self-proclaimed hero tends to rush headlong towards his problems, relying on brute strength and an unbendable will to overcome the challenges before him. He’s the kind of guy who’ll throw himself into the direst conflicts if it means protecting others - no matter the personal cost.

Some would (and do) call that approach reckless, but in fairness to Snow, he’s got the skills to justify it. In combat, he attacks primarily with his fists, using technologically augmented strength to batter his opponents with a flurry of blows.

He’s got it where it counts on defense too - not only does he have some impressive skills that let him bolster his and his allies’ resistances, he’s pretty hardy in his own right.

But then, considering how many times he gets smacked in the face by Lightning, he’d have to be.


Sabin - FINAL FANTASY VI pixel remaster

It should be obvious why Sabin’s on this list: this is the guy who can suplex a train!

But Sabin’s so much more than mere memes: he’s big, buff, burly… and a brilliant character in his own right.

This prince of Figaro abandoned his claim to the throne years ago for a life of freedom. He’s spent the years training under the martial artist Duncan and mastering his powerful Blitz techniques.

These years of study have turned his body into a weapon - not only is Sabin exceptionally skilled at various martial art techniques, he’s also incredibly strong. Whether he’s single handedly propping up a collapsing building, wielding a steel girder, or simply smashing an enemy, Sabin’s physical prowess never fails to impress.


Kevin - Trials of Mana

Tifa from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

As the son of a Beastman and a human, poor Kevin is trapped between two worlds. He’s too wild to mingle well with humans, yet too gentle-natured to fit into the Beastmen’s home of Ferolia. As a result, he tends to spend a lot of time alone.

Although he struggles with this internal conflict, he’s far more capable at dealing with external ones. Kevin is a powerful fighter, who relies on his brute strength to take down the many monsters who oppose him.

He only gets more ferocious at night, when his beast form takes effect, and his power increases dramatically.

He may not be the most articulate character in Trials of Mana, but when he lets his fists do the talking, the message comes through loud and clear: Kevin is awesome.


Zell - FINAL FANTASY VIII Remastered

Tifa from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

Zell is loud, overenthusiastic, and hot-tempered. He’s also brave, reliable and one of Balamb Garden’s finest students.

Whether he’s taking on dangerous missions as a SeeD mercenary or trying (failing) to grab the last hot dogs in the cafeteria, Zell approaches every task with total commitment. Although this boisterousness irritates the game’s willfully introverted protagonist Squall, he soon comes to appreciate the value that the more social Zell brings to his group.

Also, the strength - Zell is a powerful fighter who batters enemies with his punches and kicks. His Limit Break technique, Duel, is particularly impressive, letting the excitable young man use special attacks like piledrivers, uppercuts and more!


Jack - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Tifa from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

Not only is Jack Garland a capable White Mage, and a devastating Black Mage, he can also throw one heck of a punch!

As we’ve said time and time again, he’s Jack of all trades, and as such is able to take on many fist-focused jobs, from pugilist to the powerful tyrant.

Jack’s impressive speed and powerful combos allow him to make short work of most enemies - he can get in close, unleash a flurry of blows, and get out again before they even know what happened. His fast-flying combos are particularly effective at reducing an enemy’s break gauge, setting himself up for an instant Soul Burst kill.

Trust us - few things are as viscerally satisfying as smashing a Malboro into crystal shards with your bare hands. It just feels good…

By the way, Jack is back in the first expansion Trials of the Dragon King - find out about that here:


Yang - FINAL FANTASY IV pixel remaster

Tifa from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

Yang is as respected a monk as you’re likely to find. His impressive combat skills combined with a kind and humble nature have made him a person of some standing in the kingdom of Fabul.

In battle, he’s an impressive damage-dealer, striking hard with bare hands and claws alike. His ability to target multiple enemies with kicks, brace himself to withstand more damage and even focus to allow for even more devastating assaults.

That strength is very welcome when he’s part of the team… although less so when, due to a series of unfortunate events, you have to face him as an opponent instead!

Misunderstandings aside, Yang proves himself to be a noble protector, valued companion and one of the most beloved brawlers in FINAL FANTASY history.


Tifa - FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

Tifa from FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE

How tough is Tifa? Let’s put it this way - while her friends take on Shinra’s giant robots with oversized swords and guns, Tifa splinters them into scrap metal with nothing but her hands and feet!

This bar owner from the Sector Seven slums is also a member of the resistance group Avalanche, and in many ways, the heart and conscience of her cell.

When it is time for action though, Tifa doesn’t hesitate. Her perfectly honed martial arts let her deliver massive amounts of damage very quickly, pressure and interrupt enemies, increase stagger damage and more.

Honestly, the only thing in Midgar that probably hits harder is one of her Cosmo Canyon cocktails.


Those were just a few of the fist-flingin’ fighters who we think are a hit - there are plenty more we’d love to highlight, but perhaps we should leave that for another time.

Of course, you could beat us to the punch by telling us your picks right now on social media:

What’s in the first expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN?

Trials of the Dragon King adds loads of new content to the action RPG! We take a closer look at what to expect from the expansion!
By Duncan Heaney
Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

The first expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN launches July 20, 2022, and it’s called: Trials of the Dragon King.

If you’re a FINAL FANTASY fan, you may already have an inkling as to who that Dragon King may be…

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

The new expansion adds loads of new content to the game, including new missions, a new weapon type, three spectacular new jobs that use it, deeper equipment and character customization options, and a higher difficulty mode!

Read on and we’ll take a closer look at what’s coming, starting with the story…


WARNING: Please note that Trials of the Dragon King takes place after the main game, so there are spoilers in this article.


The Story

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

After countless deaths, countless cycles, a man assumed the mantle of the dark god of chaos and seized the very power of creation.

All this was according to plan - a meticulously orchestrated scheme to shatter the shackles that the Lufenians had placed upon the world, and free Cornelia from their grasp.

His first task complete, he sets the wheels of a new design in motion. Across time eternal, he and his allies would nurture and guide heroes worthy of the title of Warriors of Light - just as a friend had once guided him and his comrades.

For in the end, it is only the light that can sever the fetters of the past and lead the world to a brighter dawn.


Characters

There are some new characters in Trials of the Dragon King that… well, let’s just say that you may have heard of them.

Here’s a closer look:

Bahamut

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Bahamut is the king that rules over dragonkind. It sets trials for the brave and awards them titles.

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

It takes an interest in Jack and the others and lends them its counsel and strength.

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Warrior of Light

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

The Warriors of Light appear in Cornelia.

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

They fight to restore the light to the crystals and save the world.

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

New Job and Weapon

The first expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN equips Jack with a new weapon and a new job chain, giving him excitingly fresh new ways to smash his foes into crystal.

New Weapon: Staff

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Staves are striking weapons that attack enemies over a wide area by adjusting the length of the weapon.

During a normal combo, you can perform thrust attacks or an upward attack.

A thrust attack closes distance, while an upwards strike increases the distance between you and your enemy. By using the best strike for different situations, you can turn the battle to your advantage.

New job: Pilgrim

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Pilgrims can use their job action to perform an assault hook, which changes the length of the staff and grabs an enemy.

This job is all about setting up advantageous situations in battle - depending on how you use the staff you can leap towards the enemy or bring them close to you.

New job: Evoker

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

With this job, you can use the Job Action Evoke to summon a spirit to aid you in battle. This spirit will automatically attack your foes and can also unleash special abilities on command.

It provides backup as you fight - for example, its blast wave staggers enemies, shackle seals enemy movement, Interrupt delays enemy actions and heal restores the HP of you and nearby allies.

New Job: Summoner

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Summoners can use their Job Action - Summon - to call Bahamut into battle!

While the Dragon King is active, your MP and max MP will continually decrease, but you can control Bahamut and its powerful abilities.

Depending on the amount of maximum MP that has been consumed, Bahamut will be able to use megaflare, gigaflare, and exaflare. All of its attacks are extremely powerful, with a wide area of effect, making them highly effective when you’re surrounded by enemies.

You can increase the duration of the summon by attacking enemies to restore your MP.


New mechanics

Trials of the Dragon King adds new features that give you even more options when it comes to customizing your build. These additions are only available when you have completed the original game’s story, and include:

New Equipment Category: Accessories

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Accessories are a new type of equipment that can boost stats, grant special abilities and much more.

Some of these special abilities can’t be gotten from weapons or armor, and some even let you use specific abilities like enemy skills!

One accessory can be equipped to each battle set.

Chaos Equipment

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Equipment found while playing on HARD or higher difficulty may be imbued with powerful ‘Chaos’ abilities

These are stronger than regular special abilities and grant effects such as increased damage against specific enemies.

The higher the difficulty level, the greater your chance to obtain chaos equipment - but the reward is worth the risk!

Changing Classes

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Trials of the Dragon King adds the ability to change classes from the job tree screen. There are two different classes available to choose between: Evocation and Ultima. Each empowers certain job actions in different ways.

Using a “Rat Tail” on the class tree screen will also allow you to learn new abilities.

Changing characters

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Want to play as Jed, Ash, Neon and Sophia outside of multiplayer? In the latest update coming to Trials of the Dragon King, you'll now be able to choose whether you fight as Jack or another of his recruited warriors.

Note that the character’s appearance will change in gameplay, but not cutscenes.


Additional missions and difficulty

This first expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN adds a new difficulty setting: BAHAMUT.

On BAHAMUT difficulty, the Bahamut tab will be added to the game menu. This contains three options:

Trials of the Dragon

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

During these trials, you’ll be forced to fight under a variety of disadvantageous effects. However, when you complete the test, you’ll earn valuable dragon treasures.

What’s more, raising your trial rank makes it easier to obtain powerful chaos equipment.

Exchange Shop

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Dragon treasures earned in trial can be traded for items and equipment at the Exchange Shop.

The Exchange Shop’s stock can be refreshed and clearing a certain number of missions will increase the number of times you can do this.

Conversations with Bahamut

Bahamut in the Trials of the Dragon King expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

New conversations with Bahamut will be unlocked as you complete dragon king trials. Conversations with Bahamut will unlock new missions and progress the main story.


How to get the Trials of the Dragon King expansion

Trials of the Dragon King is the first expansion for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN and is included in the game’s Season Pass. It is not available to purchase separately.

The Season Pass will include three expansions in total:

  • Trials of the Dragon King (releasing July 20, 2022)
  • Wanderer of the Rift (coming soon)
  • DIFFERENT FUTURE (coming soon)

The Season Pass is available to purchase from July 20, 2022


We hope you enjoyed this brief look at the Trials of the Dragon King expansion, and that you’re looking forward to grabbing a stave and jumping into the action!

To stay up to date with information about this and the other upcoming expansions, be sure to follow us on social media:

7 of the best black mages and spellcasters in Square Enix games

Fireballs, thunderbolts and much more: let’s celebrate the some of the best spellcasters in all of gaming!
By Duncan Heaney
Vivi from FINAL FANTASY IX

Earlier this year, we showcased some of our favorite white mages and healers in games (read that here!).

Today, let’s take a look at a role that’s a bit more… destructive.

Every RPG party needs an offensive spellcaster. The ability to pepper enemies with magic attacks is not only useful, it’s also just plain cool.

You could say the same about the ones doing the casting - whether you call them wizards, witches, or black mages, they’re some of the most memorable in their games.

Here are just seven of our favorites:


Veronica - DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition

Vivi from FINAL FANTASY IX

Veronica is a powerful mage whose temperament is as incendiary as a Frizz spell.

A run-in with the forces of darkness leaves her trapped in the body of a little girl, but thanks to the Luminary’s help, she’s able to restore her magical power. Along with her sister Serena, she accompanies the Luminary on his journey to defeat the Lord of Shadows.

And we’re glad she does. Veronica’s magical might lets her cast a wide variety of powerful spells. She can even sap an enemy’s defenses and agility!

She may not always be the politest member of the group, but she’s a welcome reminder that sometimes good things really do come in small packages.


Palom (and Porom) - FINAL FANTASY IV pixel remaster

Vivi from FINAL FANTASY IX

Considering their young age, you might assume that these twins would be unable to fling a fire spell without setting their own hair alight. I mean, have you seen a six-year old try to do… anything?

Yet Palom and Porom are each intensely powerful mages in their own right. And together they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Of course, only Palom is a black mage, but to separate him from his white mage sister just felt wrong. Not only do they enhance each other’s magic, they balance each other’s personalities too.

For example, Palom may be a little kid, but has a big ego. It’s always good to have his ‘older’ sister around him to knock him down a peg when necessary. That’s what siblings are for, right?


Jack - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Vivi from FINAL FANTASY IX

Hold on you confusing, yet surprisingly insightful blog monkey!” I hear you cry. “You put Jack in your list of white mages too! What gives!?

As I said then, the protagonist of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is a Jack of all trades - he’s able to take on multiple jobs from the FINAL FANTASY series, including the Black Mage.

This job lets him fire off black magic spells, from Fire to devastating Firaga. In fact, when it comes to pure, unfettered destruction, Jack’s among the best. We’ve all seen a mage cast Blizzaga at a foe for massive damage, but how many can follow up by turning them into crystal and crushing them beneath their heel?

Brutal, yes, but oh-so effective.


Lulu - FINAL FANTASY X HD

Vivi from FINAL FANTASY IX

Lulu may initially come across as intimidating - she’s stern, reserved and could flash-fry you with a single wiggle of a cuddly moogle. That’s if she doesn’t cut you down to size with some scathing words first.

Yet beneath that composed exterior is a kind-hearted, witty, and supportive, black mage who will stop at nothing to protect her friends. Even though she’s still recovering from personal tragedy, she steps up to guide and support Yuna during her Pilgrimage to defeat the murderously moist Sin.

She’s equally valuable in combat too. The monsters of Spira can be very tough and swords or spears won’t always cut it. Lula’s devastating magic is essential to your success - even the most armored foes don’t enjoy a lightning bolt to the face.

And she does all this while wielding some of the most adorable weapons in FINAL FANTASY history. What a class act.


Pyromancer - Outriders

Vivi from FINAL FANTASY IX

Wait! Before you all rush to Twitter to tell us (I assume very politely) why Outriders are in no way mages actually, allow me to state my case.

The Pyromancer is a class in the game that has the ability to control perhaps the most traditionally wizard-friendly element of all: fire.

If you go Pyromancer, you can set foes alight, blow them up with powerful thermal explosions… even summon a literal volcano to rain hot lava down upon them.

Okay, so maybe it’s not ‘magic’ in the traditional sense, but if that’s not traditional mage schtick, I don’t know what is.

Not even remotely coincidentally, Outriders Worldslayer is out now. It’s the ultimate form of Outriders, featuring a whole new campaign (plus the original story is also included), a fascinating villain, deep new endgame content, and a host of tweaks and new systems that make your sort-of-black-mage-like powers even more… well, powerful.


Y’shtola - FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers

Vivi from FINAL FANTASY IX

Y’shtola hasn’t always walked the path of black magic - when we first meet her in FINAL FANTASY XIV: A Realm Reborn, she’s a healer all the way.

But during the Shadowbringers expansion, the cultured conjurer undergoes an unexpected career change and becomes a black magic-casting sorceress instead.

Whichever role she uses, Y’shtola has a curious and insightful nature, and a commitment to justice that serves her well as one of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn. She’s one of the most steadfast allies to the Warrior of Light and has steered them right through many adventures.

She can hold her own in battle too, and thanks to the Trust system, which lets you play through Shadowbringers and Endwalker dungeons solo with prominent NPCs from the story instead of fellow players, you can also take advantage of her incredible destructive abilities!


Vivi - FINAL FANTASY IX

Vivi from FINAL FANTASY IX

Vivi may have awesome power, but as far as we’re concerned, he’s a special treasure who must be protected.

Perhaps the feeling’s to be expected - FINAL FANTASY IX puts poor Vivi through the wringer. The lonely little mage is tricked, his search for identity leads him to an existential crisis, and even worse, he has to deal with that EXPLETIVE DELETED skipping rope.

That he’s able to emerge from his trials a stronger, more confident person is a testament to his strength of character - and his skill as a spellcaster.

In fact, Vivi is a true black mage through and through. Not only is his design a callback to the original FINAL FANTASY, his awesome of spells can devastate the many misty monsters that move against him.

This contrast between destructive power and a humble nature is just one reason Vivi’s such a fan-favorite character. He’s the little mage that could.


Those were just a few of Square Enix’s superb spellcasters, but we’re sure you have thoughts of your own.

Share this blog on Facebook and Twitter, and let’s get the conversation going!

Making Chaos (Shrines) in STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Director Daisuke Inoue takes you deep into the first level of the game to reveal the secrets (and Tonberries!) of the Chaos Shrine.
By Daisuke Inoue
Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

Hello everyone - my name is Daisuke Inoue, and I’m the Director for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN.

This new action RPG is full of beautiful locations, that take inspiration from all across the FINAL FANTASY series - but what goes into making these levels? I thought it would be interesting to reveal a little about the many considerations that go into building an area in the game.

And what better place to focus on than the Chaos Shrine? Not only is this the first level in the game, it was also included in the two TRIAL VERSIONS released during development. In other words, a lot of players have experienced it first-hand.

Here’s the story of how we made it.

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

A FINAL FANTASY origin

When we started work on STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN, we always knew we wanted the Chaos Shrine to be the first level in the game. It’s one of the first locations you visit in the original FINAL FANTASY, and since our game takes place in that world, it made sense to have it be the first step here, too.

This decision did present us with a challenge though: what should it look like?

In the original FINAL FANTASY, there are two versions of the Chaos Shrine - one in the past, and one in the present. The version in the present, the one visited first, is a very small dungeon - only a single floor. As a result, it was difficult to use that as a visual motif for our dungeon: there simply wasn’t enough to draw from.

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

Yet we knew the area was important: this location makes a strong impression in the original FINAL FANTASY - it’s where players meet Garland, and where he’s taken Princess Sarah. Our version needed to have that same kind impact, and it had to feel connected to the original.

We looked beyond the game itself for reference material, and we found one in the original NES-era artwork of FINAL FANTASY artist Yoshitaka Amano.

Mr Amano had drawn an illustration of Chaos, sitting on a throne. We looked at the design of the throne itself and used that to inform our look for the Chaos Shrine. That way, we were able have that link to Chaos and Garland, and make sure any additions we made fit the threatening atmosphere of the area!

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

Monster mash

One thing that adds to the sense of threat in the Chaos Shrine is the monsters. As it was based on the first dungeon of FINAL FANTASY, we knew it had to have goblins, but we thought extremely carefully about how to use them - and which other creatures to include.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is an action game - something quite new for the FINAL FANTASY series! As a result, we wanted the Chaos Shrine to act as a tutorial that would introduce players to the basic controls and teach them how to fight.

We needed to start with some relatively straightforward enemies that would let the players learn how to attack and defend effectively - a role that the goblins were perfect for!

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

The next enemy we introduce were Bombs - a classic FINAL FANTASY foe that casts fire at players. We added these to introduce the idea of concept of instant abilities - players quickly learn that they can ‘steal’ fire and cast it back at them to cause the enemy to self-destruct.

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

The third major enemy type we added was wolves - aggressive beasts that attack in groups. We intentionally made it so that there are too many enemies for players to easily push through with the attacks and strategies used up to that point, so they’re encouraged to use the Lightbringer mechanic.

This makes it easier for the player to take on mobs of foes, as it makes it far easier to break and Soul Burst them - an important lesson for new players to learn!

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne
Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

Giving up control

As you can tell, everything was placed very carefully with the player in mind - but we didn’t want to be too controlling and force them to do things in a particular way. We tried to balance things so players could find different ways to approach each challenge.

For example, in the area where we introduce the wolves, there are some Bombs on a higher level, which you can knock down onto some of the wolves to thin the pack. Alternatively, the player can simply take them on head on - it’s a much more difficult challenge without Lightbringer, but it is achievable!

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

Sometimes it’s good to vent

Another element we introduce early on in the Chaos Shrine is the Dark Vents. These growths of corruption block a player’s path and spawn dangerous enemies for them to battle. Jack has to break and shatter them to progress.

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

We wanted to have parts of each level which players could cause a dramatic change in - either by opening up new paths or destroying part of the scenery. To do this, there had to be a sign for players to know that’s something they can do.

In addition, we wanted to create a cycle of gameplay where players defeat monsters and, while they’re feeling that sense of achievement, get an additional thrill by opening up the next area of the map.

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

We were able to bring all these ideas together by typing the mechanic into the lore. This world is covered in darkness, so it made sense that something connected to the land would be spewing out this darkness and creating monsters. It’s an example of how gameplay and story can come together in harmony!

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

Enter the Tonberry!

There is a particular enemy in the Chaos Shrine that’s not intended to teach players a particular lesson but give them a challenge: the Tonberry!

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

This foe wasn’t there in early builds - originally, we had a Griffin placed in the same location. However, that is a flying enemy - something that’s very valuable in stages where space may be limited - so they appeared in quite a lot of other areas.

In addition, the two TRIAL VERSIONS that we launched had featured the Griffin, and we wanted to make sure the final game had something to surprise players who had already explored the Chaos Shrine.

With all this in mind, we thought: let’s put something in that will make FINAL FANTASY fans very happy… and what better foe than a Tonberry?

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

Tonberry fear factor

I say we wanted to make fans happy… but we also wanted to make them scared. After all, the original concept for Tonberries is that they instill fear in players as they slowly walk up to them, and then stab them with a knife.

But that slow, step-by-step approach is difficult to replicate in an action game, where there’s a much greater sense of speed. If they simply walked towards players, you could simply run away. Not very scary.

To recreate that sense of dread, we explored lots of different options. For example, we experimented with letting Tonberry suddenly warp up close to the player, and even creating areas where the player couldn’t run away - blocking the exit with fire or something similar.

Of course, there have been other iterations of Tonberries in the FINAL FANTASY series that have had similar experiments, and we looked at these for inspiration. It took a lot of experimentation and iteration to get the enemy right, but I do think we were able to achieve a proper ‘Tonberry-level’ of fear!

The battle for a brilliant boss

Another enemy that players should feel trepidation about is the boss of the area: Chaos Advent.

This was a tricky fight to design - even though it’s the first boss in the game, we didn’t want to just give it away to players. STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is intended to be a challenging game, so we had to make sure the boss delivered an appropriate level of difficulty.

At the same time, we didn’t want it to be too punishing or feel unfair - if it was, many players would just put the game down and give up.

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

In the first build of the game, Chaos Advent was far stronger than they are now - but after listening to feedback from across the team, we decided that certain attacks were more than players should be expected to cope with when they’ve just started playing and looked at making them a little more forgiving.

Getting the balance right was extremely difficult and we went back and forth, making them stronger and weaker over and over again until we found the ideal balance. One thing that really helped was the improvements to party AI of over the course of development - once Ash and Jed started pulling their weight more, the battle became much more manageable!

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

Trials and tribulations

It wasn’t just our own feelings we relied on when working on the Chaos Shrine, of course. This area featured in TRIAL VERSION 1 and 2, and the feedback we received from players was invaluable in making it a successful stage.

For example, after TRIAL VERSION 1, a lot of people criticized the Chaos Shrine for being too dark. It was hard to see where to go, and enemies were obscured by shadows, leading to unfair damage. We put a lot of effort into improving the lighting of this area to make for a more positive experience - while not diminishing the oppressive atmosphere we were aiming for.

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

Other improvements came about from watching people interact with the game in those trials. For example, the level features a very dangerous corridor that’s full of bombs. Our original intention, from a level design standpoint, was that players would go out on the terrace, and go around this hotspot rather than through it.

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

But when we watched streamers playing the game, it was clear that this wasn’t adequately communicated - many players missed the exit to the terrace. What’s more, we saw that some streamers were enjoying the challenge of making it through the bomb corridor and taking on all these bombs.

As a result, we slightly rebalanced the section for the final game so that taking the direct approach was a more viable option.

Chaos Advent sitting on a throne

I hope you enjoyed this exploration of the Chaos Shrine in STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN. The level, and the throne room in particular, represents the beginning and end points for our journey in many ways, and I’m proud of what the team has achieved.

If you want to explore it further… you can do so in the game! STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is out now for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC via the Epic Games Store!

You can also try the free demo - out now on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One:

And if you’re already playing the game, many thanks from everyone on the team - I hope you enjoy Jack’s action-packed journey to defeat the darkness. We’re not done with the game yet, and we’re working on some very exciting things, including DLC, so please look forward to that!

To stay up to date with news about the game, make sure you follow the team on social media!

The STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN Speedrun Challenge

How quickly can you defeat the darkness? Win awesome prizes in our new Speedrun Challenge - read on for all the details!
By Duncan Heaney
Jack battling an enemy on horseback in STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Jack Garland is out to kill Chaos - and he’s pretty good at it.

The protagonist of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN has so many options for taking down the forces of darkness, from multiple job classes to an arsenal of powerful (and awesome looking) weapons.

Now that you’ve all had some time to get to grips with them all, it’s time to put your skills to the test… and win prizes in the process!

Our new STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN Speedrun Challenge presents three tantalizing tasks for you to take on. We’ll be looking for how quickly you can achieve these goals, so fight fast, efficiently, and with resolve!

Be the fastest, and you could win amazing STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN prizes! Read on for all the details:

Jack battling an enemy on horseback in STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

The Challenges

There are three challenges to compete in. You must record your attempts, as we’ll be watching the videos to determine the winners!


1. Speedrun

It’s your classic speedrun challenge! How quickly can you get through each of the game’s levels? Fight, dodge and soul burst your way to a top time!

  • The Challenge: Complete the game from the “Illusion at Journey’s End” level at Chaos Shrine through the boss battle in Terra Tortura as quickly as possible in action mode.

  • Entry period: Friday, March 25 - Monday, March 28 from 6:00 pm GMT / 11:00 am PDT

  • The Prize: The winner of the challenge will receive a STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN Bomber Jacket.


2. Unlock 27 job classes

How quickly can you become a Jack of all trades? There are 27 job classes to unlock - so that seems like a pretty big task, right?

(Oh, and we’re not counting any secret ones. Also… shh - spoilers!)

  • The Challenge: This one’s pretty simple: be the fastest person to unlock all 27 jobs in the game. Complete levels, earn anima… the choice is yours. Just be quick!

  • Entry period: Monday, March 28 - Tuesday, March 29 from 6:00 pm BST / 10:00 am PDT

  • The Prize: The winner of this challenge will receive a STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN Bomber Jacket.


3. One-Hour Run

How far can you get in 60 minutes? This challenge tasks you with completing as many stages as possible as quickly as possible.

  • The Challenge: Get as far as possible within one hour of gameplay, starting from the ‘Illusion at Journey’s End’ level at the Chaos Shrine in ACTION mode. We will be checking for how many stages you can complete in that timeframe - so fight fast and efficiently!

  • Entry period: Tuesday, March 29 - Wednesday, March 30 from 6:00 pm BST / 10:00 am PDT

  • The Prize: The winner of this challenge will receive a STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN Bomber Jacket. The second-place winner will receive a STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN Crystal-making kit!

Jack battling an enemy on horseback in STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

How to submit your entry

All entries must be submitted and verified by Twitter. To enter your run, you must do the following:

  • Send a link to a Twitch, Facebook, or YouTube video or VOD to @fforigin and @gamesight on Twitter. Make sure you include both accounts, or your entry won’t be registered!

Your runs will be confirmed and verified by the Gamesight analytics team and when winners are selected, they’ll be announced on game’s official social media accounts.

For full terms and conditions, click here:


That’s basically all there is to it. Will your run be precise, efficient and fast, or will it just descend into chaos?

We can’t wait to find out - good luck everyone!

Bringing STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN to life with LittleJem

We talk to prop-making and cosplay master LittleJem about bringing the weapons of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN to life.
By Duncan Heaney
Sword from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

In STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN, protagonist Jack wields some incredible weapons.

Take his default Greatsword for example. This massive blade is as beautiful as it is imposing - the kind of elaborate weapon that could only exist in a FINAL FANTASY game.

…or is it?

Thanks to the talents of propmaker LittleJem, Jack’s sword has been brought to life in stunning detail. This full-size sword captures all the details that make the game’s weapon so eye-catching, but in a tangible, physical object. Take a look:

You may already be familiar with LittleJem - she’s built an incredible reputation thanks to her meticulous quality of her cosplay and hand-crafted props, inspired by games, TV shows, anime and more. Check out her Instagram and other social media accounts to see her amazing work:

Sword from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Photo credit: LittleJem


Her new FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN-inspired Greatsword may be among her most impressive accomplishments yet - and she actually made two of them! But how did they come to be? We talked to LittleJem to discuss the making of the blades, the art of cosplay, and the wild ride her career has taken her on so far.

Sword from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

How did your career as a cosplayer and prop-maker get started?

It was probably around eight years ago now.

I watched a lot of anime and played a lot of games, and as I was going into a store to buy some merch from, I saw there was a poster for a convention with their voice actors on. But on the posters, they were dressed as their characters.

I thought: “What the heck? I want to do that!”

I went online and I tried to find costumes for the characters I really loved, but I couldn’t find them - so I realised I would have to make one.

When I went to my first convention wearing my own costume, everyone just loved it. It was such a nice feeling - there were so many other people who’d made or bought their own costumes, and everyone looked great. I felt like: “Okay, I need to keep coming back to these things,” and it snowballed very quickly from there.


You’re very accomplished at cosplay and prop-making, but where do these skills come from?

Trial and error - a lot of error at the start!

I don’t mind that - if you’re doing a hobby, you should welcome error. Every time I got it wrong, I’d just tell myself: “That’s fine, just try again,” or move onto the next thing.

I did that for so long, but now I’m getting to the point where I feel like I’m starting to discover things that haven’t been taught by somebody else. I have been doing my own tutorials, which hopefully can help others.

I’m also perfecting other stuff that I’ve already learned through classes - for example, I did a leathercraft workshop with official teachers. That was very cool, but I don’t think I’d have been able to do it at the start - it would be quite intimidating.

So, it really is a bit of everything - for about five or six years, it’s been trial and error, YouTube and Google.

Sword from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Photo credit: LittleJem


What are your favorite series to work on?

I tend to do game characters more than anything else. This year, it’s been FINAL FANTASY XIV - with everything going on in the world, and being in my house a lot more, I have loved playing that. I’ve been very inspired by the beautiful designs in it.

FINAL FANTASY in general has been a series I’ve loved while growing up - especially FINAL FANTASY X as that was the first one I really fell in love with. But then, I also keep coming back to the games I’ve been playing for years, like League of Legends and The Legend of Zelda.


Do you consider the props part of your cosplay or as a separate project?

That’s a good question. Props are what I look forward to the most. I should probably go to sewing school or something like that, because I haven’t had as much motivation to learn to sew at a very professional level (laughs).

I tend to look at props as a reward - like the desert of a meal. Once I’ve done all the sewing, I can do all the foam-smithing, and make the props. So, yes, they are separate in a way.

Sword from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Photo credit: LittleJem


Let’s talk about the amazing STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN Greatswords you’ve created. How did you get involved in the project?

I've worked with Square Enix on a few other projects before, such as NieR Replicant, which was awesome.

Someone from the company emailed me to ask if I was up to the challenge of making props for FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN.


What reference material did you use for the sword?

I was fortunate enough to have what I call a bird's eye view - or plan view - of the sword, which was given to me by the art team at Square Enix.

That was very useful, but I also took a lot of textures from the official trailers that have come out. I paused them, screen captured, zoomed in… and so on, just to grab a little bit direction.

Sword from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

What materials did you use for the sword?

Because this sword is nearly two meters long, I really had to think about the weight, and how practical it might be if it was going to be picked up by someone.

So, I went with a very strong wooden dowel in the center, with the rest made entirely from a very light version of EVA foam. I use as what’s known as craft foam, which is the lightest, but the hardest to use because it’s what I like to call ‘fluffy’ - it has a lot of holes in it.


Can you take us through the process of actually making the props?

What I normally do for projects like this is make the canvas the exact size I would like and scale the image in Photoshop - in this case based on the plans that Square Enix gave me. That keeps width and height accurate. I then trace over the design to create what I call a blueprint and I print that at full scale.

For Jack’s Greatsword, I got my dowel sword and made sure it was centered on top of the piece of paper and marked where that would be.

Next, I transferred that over to the foam. To work out the sword’s thickness, I looked at side views in the trailer, and stacked and then glued the foam sheets together to match it. Then, I literally just carved it - just as you would do with a sculpt.

The next task is to sand it down, which I actually had a lot of difficulty with. I have a standard UK garage, and the sword is very big and hard to move around. We also had constant rain while I was making this, so I couldn’t take it outside to sand it.

In the end, I broke the sword apart so I could move it, and then glued it back together again when I was done.

Sword from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

What came next? The detailing on the blade?

Actually, once I'd done the main blade, I swung around make sure it wasn't going to break! Cosplayers like to do sort of different tests - they’ll either just throw it on the floor to see if it breaks or swing it round like a crazy person and make all the neighbors wonder what the heck they’re doing (laughs).

After that I did the details, which is a similar process to what I’ve described but a lot smaller and more manageable. But also very, very time consuming!

I used the same foam and the same glue but had to make sure I used my original drawn pattern to keep the sword symmetrical - or as symmetrical as a hand-made prop can be.

I glued the detailing on, and then sealed it using rubber sealant. Then it was just a case of painting it.


How long did it take to make end to end?

I tend not to keep track because it’s a bit daunting!

I made two swords in the end, which took around seven days, working nine to five. It takes a long time to make sure that the details are in the right place, and you haven’t been messy with the glue.


How big and heavy is the final prop?

This sword is 190cm long so it's a new it's a new record in terms of size for me! It’s very light though - I think it’s around 1.2kg, or something like that.

Sword from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Photo credit: LittleJem


What was the most challenging thing about making the swords?

The size, for sure.

Because I wanted to keep the weight as low as possible, I used craft foam - it’s got more holes in than other foams so it’s lighter. But that also means that it’s harder to sand and soaks up more rubber sealant and paint. That’s much more difficult to deal with - especially when you have a space issue like in my garage.

When it came to painting, you obviously can’t do that in an enclosed space. It needs to be in a well-ventilated area, which for me is outside. If I got a break in the weather, I’d run outside quickly, and spray it while I could.

I would keep my eye on the weather app constantly, though it did lie to me a few times so sometimes I would sit by it and literally watch paint dry.


What part of the project are you most proud of?

Probably the symmetry. Whenever I see a prop with good symmetry, I really appreciate it because it’s one of the most difficult things to get right.

Also, I realised that the handle looked like a wrap I’d never done before! It took a while to research what it could be and realized that it’s inspired by what’s called a ‘bullwhip’ wrap.

So, I had to spend a long time on YouTube working out how to do it. I actually had a friend doing it next to me because he was so sure he could do it before I could, but I did it so much faster than him. To this day, he’s still not done it (laughs).

But learning new techniques, is something that always happens when you're making props. It doesn’t matter if it's just ‘another’ massive sword - you will learn something else that you didn't know. That’s why it’s always really fun and exciting for me.

Sword from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Is there anything you’d still particularly like to cosplay or make?

I’ve always wanted to cosplay a female version of Tidus, from FINAL FANTASY X.

I love the Brotherhood sword he uses - the one with the water effect on it. It’s honestly stunning. I’d love to do that with resin - it would probably weigh too much, but I feel like it needs to be made.

Also, any time a game with a female lead is announced, I’ll look at the designs before it’s out to work out if I can make them, and then when I play it decide on the characters I really love. For example, when FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE came out I did a Tifa costume, because I absolutely love her.

Finally, do you have any advice for anyone who wants to do what you do?

If you’re going to do really big props - which I encourage - work out where you’re going to store them first.

I actually have most of my big props on my wall, not because I’m showing off (well, maybe it’s a little of that), but because that’s the best place to store them. If they’re lying around, they kind of get in the way, especially if they’re two meters long!

My strong advice for cosplay, especially if you’re new, is that you’ll be learning so much, so quickly and that can be stressful. So, if you really want to see a character or prop come to life, just make sure it’s one you really, really love.

Sword from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Many thanks to LittleJem for speaking to us - and her incredible STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN props!

You can see much more of her work on her Instagram, YouTube channel and more. Go check it out:

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is out now for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC via the Epic Games Store:

Follow the team on social media:

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN in the words of the creators

With the game out now, Producer Jin Fujiwara and Director Daisuke Inoue share their vision for this exciting action RPG!
By Duncan Heaney
Jack from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN has arrived - and if you’re expecting a typical FINAL FANTASY experience, you don’t know Jack.

Specifically, Jack Garland - the protagonist of this brutal new action RPG from Square Enix and Team Ninja. As Jack, you’ll explore beautiful environments and fight ferocious FINAL FANTASY foes, in a bid to defeat the ultimate enemy - Chaos.

To celebrate the game’s launch, we asked Producer Jin Fujiwara and Director Daisuke Inoue to give you one final overview of the game - and share their vision on everything from the combat to the pacing.

Jack from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

The Story

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN follows Jack and his four companions on a quest to destroy Chaos and lift the darkness from the kingdom of Cornelia.

At the request of the King and the Royal Family, the group sets out to restore the brightness of Cornelia’s corrupted crystals, all the while driven by a growing hunger to defeat Chaos - even if they don’t necessarily understand why.

As they triumph over foe after foe, people begin to hope that they may be the fabled Warriors of Light - saviors foretold of by an ancient prophecy. And yet, nobody can imagine the truth that’s about to be uncovered….

The development team wanted to tell a distinctly different story than a traditional FINAL FANTASY game. That manifests itself in a few ways - most notably that hero Jack may not necessarily be on the side of the angels by the end…


Inoue-san:

The central story of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is an imagined reinterpretation of how a certain boss in the very first FINAL FANTASY might have started down that path.

We’ve made it so the game can be enjoyed by pursuing the central story, but there are also some reports scattered throughout the game that delve into the world and lore, which means you’ll be able to feel how it links to the FINAL FANTASY series.

Fujiwara-san:

SOPFFO is a daring game in the way it shines a spotlight on a ‘villain’, who views the world from an entirely different perspective to the ‘Warriors of Light seen in previous games.

I hope that many more players find this direction to be compelling!

Jack from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

A fresh new take on FINAL FANTASY

It’s not just the story that’s doing something new - the gameplay is also a bold new direction for the FINAL FANTASY series.

Instead of a deliberate, command-based battles, this game throws you headfirst into the action. You’ll take on hordes of enemies in brutal encounters where your reflexes and skill are just as important as your battle strategy.

It’s intended to be very different experience for FINAL FANTASY fans, but one that the developers hope they embrace:


Fujiwara-san:

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is an authentic action game unlike anything else in the FINAL FANTASY series to date… and with a villain as the protagonist, it also paints a darker world.

If you’ve played other FINAL FANTASY games, you might be a little unsure of this direction. However, as you play the game, I’m sure you’ll feel for yourself that this is unmistakably a FINAL FANTASY game.

You’ll see it in the intricate story that Jack, the protagonist, follows, which is both tragic yet hopeful. You’ll see it in the dungeons that use past instalments of the FINAL FANTASY series as a motif, in the job system, and in many other aspects of the game too.

Inoue-san:

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is an action RPG - but there’s no feature that allows you to stop time while you choose the appropriate command. The game has been made so that it can be completed with a real-time action approach.

The RPG elements make it easier to make progress through the game by allowing you to find your own custom build, from choosing equipment to powering up stats like elemental alignment.

Your character’s strength relies on your ability to read the situation and make split-second decisions - observing enemy movements and determining the best time to attack, or whether to defend or evade.

At the same time, we’ve made it so that discovering a job you like and collecting more powerful equipment that suits that job will increase your character’s stats, making it easier to progress through the game.

You’ll learn how to defeat enemies through pure action tactics, by collecting equipment to increase your stats, or by crafting even better gear. Plus, you’ll be able to play for even longer with a harder difficulty mode unlocked after completing the game!

Jack from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Pacing and length

The game’s action-packed approach makes STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN feel satisfyingly fast and immediate to play. There’s a lot to experience here, with a lengthy story, lots of jobs to explore and level up, a robust crafting and customization system and more.

The developers wanted to ensure that players spent the majority of their time… well, being players.


Inoue-san:

Although we’re calling FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN an action RPG, the overall structure of the game was constructed with a lot of care given to its pacing as an action game - in part because Team NINJA worked on the development, and they excel at creating these types of experiences.

We’ve intentionally made the structure of the cutscenes and similar elements less verbose than in other FINAL FANTASY games, meaning that you can play through the main story at a good pace.

Fujiwara-san:

If you progress through the main story at a good pace, you should be able to reach the end in about 40 hours of playtime.

However, there are of course gameplay elements you can explore in greater depth. For example, the job system, one of the iconic systems of the FINAL FANTASY series, has evolved into a new form that can only be realised in an action game.

There are 27 different jobs included, so you can develop the ones that best suit your playstyle, or you can elect to master them all - the choices are limitless!

Additionally, there are side missions that are separate from the main missions, and thanks to the ability to customise equipment at the Smithy, you’ll be able to play potentially forever.

Jack from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

The challenge

If you’re familiar with action RPGs, you’ll know they can be challenging. Enemies are dangerous and can hit very hard - and learning to overcome these obstacles feels enormously rewarding.

While this experience is present in STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN, the game is intended to be enjoyed by everyone. To that end, there are multiple difficulty options that let you tailor the game to your liking - whether you want a smooth ride through the story, or something that will put you to the test.


Fujiwara-san:

Many people may view STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN as a punishing action game, but it is also possible to play at different difficulty levels.

The most casual difficulty is STORY, which allows players who may not be particularly confident with action gameplay to experience the story, whilst still enjoying the action gameplay, which is the game’s greatest appeal.

And for players who want to take on that punishing action, selecting the ACTION or HARD difficulties should more than satisfy.

Jack from STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Co-op multiplayer

Another way to face the challenges of this dangerous quest is to bring backup. STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN supports up to 3-player co-op, letting you team up online across each of the game’s expansive areas.

Despite the harshness of the game’s world, the team wanted the online experience to be as welcoming as possible.


Inoue-san:

Co-op modes in these kinds of action RPGs are often a little intimidating to jump into - unless you have a certain level of skill.

However, we’ve included all kinds of jobs in STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN, so even people who may not be the most proficient at action games can play and enjoy it.

For example, there are support jobs like White Mage and Red Mage, which allow you to provide backup for the party. The flexibility of the gameplay allows individual players to discover the job that suits them best, and consciously build a party formation that allows them to fulfil that particular role.


Many thanks to Fujiwara-san and Inoue-san. STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is available now on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC via the Epic Games Store.

We hope you enjoy this exciting new FINAL FANTASY adventure. Remember - to stay up to date with news and information about the game, make sure you follow the team on social media.

What’s in the STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN DEMO?

A free demo for the action RPG is out today on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One. Here’s what to expect, and a few tips to get you started.
By Duncan Heaney
STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

Want to try your hand at STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN before the March 18 launch?

A free demo is available today on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One consoles. This generous slice of the game lets you get to grips with the fast-paced combat system, see some of the different jobs available, and a world that’s mysterious, but may also seem familiar to FINAL FANTASY fans…

What’s more, all the progress you make in the demo can be carried over to the full game! Read on and we’ll tell you more.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

What’s in the STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN DEMO?

The new demo lets you explore multiple areas from the full game, either solo or with two other players, each one full of dangerous creatures from across the FINAL FANTASY series.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

You’ll explore the dark corridors of the Chaos Shrine, fending off bombs, goblins and even the occasional (gulp!) Tonberry!

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

Soon after, you’ll explore the coral caves of Pravoka Seagrot, where you’ll battle spiders, pirates and the extremely dangerous Captain Bikke. Watch out for his massive axe.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

You’ll also head to the Western Keep - an ancient castle full of fresh dangers. Get ready to dodge giant arrows as you explore the treacherous battlements.

Taking on these deadly areas isn’t easy, but fortunately you have access to multiple jobs. These are ‘roles’ that Jack can be assigned in battle - up to two can be equipped at a time and switched between at the push of a button.

You start as a Swordsman, and over the course of the demo get access to the Black Mage, Lancer, Pugilist and many more.

You’ll also be able to enjoy the game’s extensive loot system, which lets you earn gear from finding chests, defeating enemies and completing missions. As you explore and build your skills, you’ll strengthen Jack and his allies… and make them look good while doing so!

And best of all, all your progress and loot will carry over to the full game, so nothing will be lost when you start your journey proper on March 18, 2022!

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

Where can I download the demo?

The STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN DEMO is available to download today from the PlayStation Store and Microsoft Store.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

5 essential tips to get you started

The world of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is extremely dangerous, so it may be useful to go in armed with a bit of knowledge.

With that in mind, here are 5 simple tips to help you on your journey to free the land from darkness.


1. Understand how to defend yourself

Jack’s a tough guy, but there’s only so many hits a man can take before he’s down for the count. As a result, it’s best to avoid taking any blows at all - easier said than done in a world as dangerous as STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN’s.

The simplest option is to block - so long as you’re holding the button, many enemy attacks will be neutralised. Be careful though - your break gauge will take a hit each time you deflect an attack, and when it’s gone, you’re vulnerable to attacks.

Another option is to use Soul Shield. Using this drains the break gauge quickly, but it also means that some enemy abilities can be stolen and learned. He can then cast these back at foes. Using Soul Shield effectively requires some practice, but the rewards are more than worth it.

Finally, you can dodge in any direction. Some attacks may hit an area or can’t be blocked. In those cases, you should be ready to get out of the way as quickly as possible!


2. Enemy abilities can be invaluable

The enemy attacks you can steal with Soul Shield can be enormously useful. For example, casting their own Fire back at the Bombs will make them grow, and eventually self-destruct. It’s a great way to take them out fast… just make sure you keep your distance.


3. Your allies are here to help

Remember that Ash, Jed and Neon are always available to help you deal with a particular enemy. By using left and right on the d-pad, you can direct them to unleash their abilities more frequently. This is useful for taking down foes faster, but also giving you some breathing room to heal or get your bearings. It’s especially useful during boss battles - so if Chaos or Captain Bikke are giving you a hard time, go sic your friends on ‘em.


4. Be a jobsworth

Make sure you play with all the options available in the demo to find your perfect combat style. You may find that you gravitate to one or two particular jobs or mix and match across all the different options - both approaches are equally valid.

Every job in the game is viable, but digging into their strengths, weaknesses and unique abilities will make you an even more effective fighter. Plus, it’s a lot of fun.


5. Explore the difficulty options:

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN can be a challenging game - the enemies hit hard, and boss fights are brutal.

If you find yourself struggling with a particular encounter - or just want to enjoy the tale of Jack and his compatriots without stress - try changing the difficulty to STORY. This will lower the challenge and help you progress.

You can reduce the level of difficulty by interacting with cubes in the environment and on the level select screen, and don’t be afraid to do so. While it can be fun to ‘git gud’ - and the game definitely rewards that - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is intended as an action RPG for all players. So, experience it however you want!

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

The demo is available to download and play today - we hope you enjoy it!

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN launches for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC via Epic Games Store on March 18, 2022.

Anyone who pre-orders the Digital Standard and Digital Deluxe Editions of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN will receive 72-hour early access to the full game (24-hour early access for PC version), as well as the Braveheart weapon and Lustrous Shield, and early-purchase bonus: the Rebellion.

For more information on the game, check out the STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN website, and follow us on social media:

Sunken Shrines, Caverns of Earth and… Frank Sinatra? A chat with the creators of FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

We chat with the Director of the new action RPG about newly revealed locations, crafting systems and more!
By Duncan Heaney

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is more than a bold new take on FINAL FANTASY - it’s also a loving tribute to the series.

That’s apparent in its connections to the original FINAL FANTASY and its world of Cornelia, but also in how it features ideas and motifs from other games in the series. For example, we recently unveiled two new locations from the game - the Sunken Shrine and the Cavern of Earth. Both may look a little familiar to long-term fans of the series.

We recently say down with Director Daisuke Inoue and Producers Jin Fujiwara and Fumihiko Yasuda (Team Ninja) to discuss this element of the game, the collaboration with Team Ninja and some of the other new reveals.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is a collaboration with Team Ninja - what made them the right choice to develop the game?

Inoue-san: When we decided STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN was going to be an action game, it seemed like the logical choice to get in touch with Team Ninja.

The team there has a lot of experience with action, and makes such reliably high quality games, that it felt like a perfect fit.


Let’s talk about the new locations you’ve recently shown. What was appealing about putting the Sunken Shrine to the game?

Inoue-san: In FINAL FANTASY I, the Sunken Shrine was the dungeon where you came face to face with Kraken, the Fiend of Water.

Since Kraken also appears in STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN, we thought that the Sunken Shrine would be one of the places that Jack and his allies absolutely had to visit on their quest to complete Chaos.

It seems like you’ve taken inspiration from… certain other parts of the FINAL FANTASY series. How did you decide which environments to use as motifs?

Inoue-san: You’re right that there are some dungeons from other games in the FINAL FANTASY series that have been used as motifs. We paid a lot of attention to many different aspects when we incorporated them into the game.

For example, would we be able to fit them into the world of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN? Would the content be similar to other dungeons? Would all of the dungeons have a similar design? Which dungeons would fans of the original games recognise if they were included?

Take the Sunken Shrine, for example. This location is underwater, and the motif used was a dungeon from the original FINAL FANTASY VII that’s in the sea.

When we were looking at all the elements we needed to design it, we thought about turning to document from back in the day, or even looking at how FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE had interpreted the original game in its level design.

However, given that FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE is a dedicated remake, as opposed to one environment, it’s only natural that it’s been made with an incredible amount of detail. The dev team apologised and said that it wouldn’t be possible to make it in the same style (laughs).

So how did you approach the challenge?

Inoue-san: Instead of focusing on depicting areas with the same degree of faithfulness that FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE did, we decided to make sure that the level design in STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN was fun in its own right and created our own interpretation of the dungeon as best we could.

I believe we’ve made an interesting dungeon, with lots of differences in height, and where the level design makes you think: “…is this that place?”


What was the inspiration behind including the Cavern of Earth in the game?

Inoue-san: In the original FINAL FANTASY, the Fiend of Earth lies in wait in the very depths of the Cavern of Earth. To match that feeling in our game, I thought that the dungeon should use a motif that featured the undead and have an atmosphere that feels really “earthy”.

This idea of a location crawling with the undead led to the concept of it being a place where the dead sleep, so we decided to take inspiration from tomb area in FINAL FANTASY XII.

What elements did you take from it?

Inoue-san: The original area in FINAL FANTASY XII features quite an impressive boss - even by the FINAL FANTASY standards! - who stands in the way of the player, and we wanted to channel this concept into our dungeon. However, it would incur a lot in the way of costs if we were to make it a boss, so we ended up implementing the idea into the dungeon as a mechanic.


In general, what are you looking for when creating a dungeon for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN?

Inoue-san: Firstly, we spread out the world map from FINAL FANTASY I and thought about things like: “This forest is close to where elves live, so it should probably have a magical atmosphere to it.”

Or, when we looked at the Floating Fortress from the original game, we imagined that it probably wouldn’t be able to fly so high in the sky with your run-of-the-mill science and technology.

In this way, we thoroughly explored the atmosphere and lore of the dungeons in the original games.

Let’s talk about the crafting system next. Why is this in the game?

Inoue-san: One major factor was that there are limits to what you can achieve when the gameplay relies purely on finding loot.

If you collect a large amount of equipment, it’s inevitable that some of it will end up not being used. When thinking of a secondary purpose for that unused equipment, we thought it’d be good to a have a mechanic that lets you use them as materials.

Also, even if you look for good equipment by gathering loot that drops, you won’t always find a piece that has the effect you were looking for. By using the crafting system, the player will be able to control the effects of their equipment to a certain degree. This also allows more freedom in terms of creating a build which is tailor-made to you.

What inspirations did you look at for the crafting system? Are there any you particularly like?

Inoue-san: I personally like the the crafting system in FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES RINGS OF FATE and FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES ECHOES OF TIME, so I suggested a similar mechanism!

However, I think that the development team wanted to make use of the knowledge they gained from series that they had worked on in the past.

I do remember debating with the devs about whether we should make it so that you could craft anywhere, or if we should limit it to certain places. In the final game, you can craft at the Smithy, which I think is a good system.

Okay, let’s talk story. With Frank Sinatra's My Way and the intense song that Jack listens to after beating Chaos, it seems like he has an eclectic taste in music… but it also seems to come from our world. How is that possible?

Fujiwara-san: Jack’s line in the trailer, “Where do I come from?!”, shows that he is a ‘stranger’. He isn’t from Cornelia.

Perhaps the place that he and the others originally came from incorporated cultures from lots of different worlds, including the one that we ourselves live in. This mystery will be uncovered during the course of the story, along with the memories of the strangers.


In other words: spoilers. Alright then - unlike many games of this type, you’re not going it alone in STRANGER OF PARADISE - you have a party alongside you. Why was this important?

Inoue-san: We wanted a lot of people to be able to play the game, and we thought that a party would be the best way to do that.

When we were looking at that balance, two people didn’t feel like enough and four people felt like too many. After looking at all the different options, a three-player party felt like the sweet spot for us.

The second consideration is that the player character can switch between different jobs, but the other party members can only have one job. Again, this felt like the right kind of balancing.

In total, there are five party members including Jack. But Lukhan’s Prophecy - as alluded to in the original FINAL FANTASY - says there are four Warriors of Light. So… what gives?

Fujiwara-san: You are quite right in noting that it is different to Lukhan’s prophecy.

That is related to how the story will change - if there were just four Warriors of Light like in Lukhan’s prophecy, that would just be a remake of FINAL FANTASY I.

It’s these kinds of things that show that the story is moving in a different direction. People will say: “Five? There are supposed to be four!” That’s exactly the kind of thing we want them to notice, and it will come into play in the story.

Finally, you collected a lot of feedback from players during the TRIAL VERSIONS of the game. How has this been incorporated into the final release?

Yasuda-san: We have made adjustments to the final version of the game based on the feedback we received.

In particular, there were lots of comments about improving the AI for the party characters, framerate stability, and how difficult it was to match in multiplayer, so we prioritised these areas.

We also received lots of other feedback regarding playability and adjusting the difficulty levels, which really helped us improve the game.


Many thanks to Inoue-san, Fujiwara-san and Yasuda-san for taking the time to answer our questions (and so deftly dodging our attempts to get spoilers out of them).

You won’t have long to wait to experience the game first-hand: STRANGER OF PARADISE launches on March 18, 2022, for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC via the Epic Games Store.

Anyone who pre-orders the Digital Standard and Digital Deluxe Editions of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN will receive 72-hour early access to the full game (24-hour early access for PC version), as well as the Braveheart weapon and Lustrous Shield, and early-purchase bonus: the Rebellion weapon!

To make sure you’re up to date with news about the game - or just to see some cool stuff - make sure you follow us on social media:

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN: fiery fiends, new jobs and more revealed

Take a look at new info from the upcoming action RPG. We reveal some new jobs, showcase a dangerous new enemy, and some new levels you’ll explore in the full game.
By Duncan Heaney
Malirith

There’s not long to go now - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is mere weeks away!

Of course, when you’re excited about something the last few weeks always feels the slowest. So to tide you over, we thought we’d give you a fresh look at some more of the amazing things you can see in the game.


Characters

Over the last few months, we’ve introduced you to friendly faces and fearsome fiends. Today we’re heating things up with a frightening flaming foe and something a bit more… ambiguous.

Marilith

Malirith

Malrith is the Fiend of Fire. She uses her six arms to launch a barrage of attacks and confounds Jack and his allies with swift movements, such as slamming down her long tail.

Malirith

You’ll have to be extra-careful to avoid her petrifying "Stone Gaze" attack.

The Lufenians

Malirith

Jack exchanges words with these mysterious people during snatched glimpses of his fragmented memories.

Malirith

Their strange clothes make it impossible to gauge any emotions from their words or actions.


Story and events

Jack’s journey to defeat the darkness that infests Cornelia is full of mystery. Here are just a few questions to ponder…

Malirith

The Lufenians gave Jack a mysterious crystal - but what links our protagonist to these strange people?

Also, you may notice that behind the stark, sterile white room is a golden meadow.

Malirith

It appears that the crystals possessed by Jack and his allies possess some sort of function. What could it be?

Malirith

Here we see Jed talking in the golden meadow. Has Jack been here with him before?


Locations

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN takes you to many dangerous locations, from underwater shrines to pirate caves.

We have three new areas to show you today - each one full of dangerous creatures and hidden secrets.

Mount Gulg

Malirith

This volcano contains many environmental perils, such as molten lava which blocks the way, and gas pockets that explode due to the presence of fire magic. One thing’s for sure - it will be difficult to reach the summit unless you can stop the lava from gushing out.

The Ancients’ Tower

Malirith

This white building has an unshakeable sense of otherness. Eerie mechanisms await the unwary intruder, such as devices to trap those who enter and urn-like objects that float through the air.

The Wicked Arbor

Malirith

The Wicked Arbor is a dense expanse of forest that lies at the foot of the volcano - so dense that moonlight only just manages to peek through the canopy. The area is shrouded in a thick, gaseous miasma, while walls made out of ivy and plants that spit poisonous gas stand in your way.

The job system

Jack and his allies are able to equip various jobs, which imbue them with skills they can use in battle. Jack is able to equip two jobs at a time, and switch between them seamlessly with the press of a button.

Malirith

Every job has access to a unique action ability - special attacks that inflict large amount of damage on an enemy’s break gauge. If you reduce the gauge to zero, the enemy is stunned and can typically be instantly finished off with a Soul Burst attack. This also increases your maximum MP, allowing you use your abilities more often!

But action abilities don’t just inflict a large amount of damage on an enemy’s break gauge - they deplete the maximum capacity too! The more you cut the capacity of the gauge, the easier it is to break them and use Soul Burst!

Let’s take a look at some of the Expert Jobs in the game, and their unique abilities:

Dark Knight

Malirith

This high risk / high reward job grants enhanced attack power when you’re on the brink of death. The unique action souleater lets you sacrifice HP and MP to deal additional dark element damage.

All this makes the Dark Knight the strongest job in terms of sheer attack power… as long as you’re willing to pay the price.

Void Knight

Malirith

The Void Knight job lets you catch your enemy’s magical attacks and turn them into power.

While your unique action runic is being used, guarding deploys a magic circle that neutralises incoming magic attacks and absorbs their power!

You can then use this power to replenish your MP or unleash it as a powerful slash attack.

Ninja

Malirith

As a Ninja, you have access to many combat tactics with your unique ninjutsu ability.

You can make use of special ninja tools which allow you to pin down enemies and apply status effects onto weapons without consuming any MP.

Ninja tools are limited but can be replenished by visiting a cube - the basecamp for your exploration.


STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN’s release is fast approaching. The highly anticipated game releases for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC via Epic Games Store on March 18, 2022.

The game’s available to preorder now. Anyone who pre-orders the Digital Standard and Digital Deluxe Editions of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN will receive 72-hour early access to the full game (24-hour early access for PC version), as well as the Braveheart weapon and Lustrous Shield, and early-purchase bonus: the Rebellion weapon!

To stay up to date with news and information about the game, make sure you follow the team on social media:

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN: See new enemies, jobs, levels and more!

Take a look at two dangerous Fiends, a couple of new areas you’ll explore, some advanced jobs, crafting and more!
By Duncan Heaney

2022 is here at last, and what better way to celebrate the new year than by taking a look at one of its most anticipated games!

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN releases March 18, 2022 and offers a savagely exciting new take on the series, with brutal action-based gameplay, and a story that links to the very first FINAL FANTASY!

We’ve previously revealed some of the characters you’ll meet, locations you’ll visit, and jobs you’ll use - today, we wanted to show you even more.

Starting with…


Story and events

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN follows Jack and his four companions on a quest to destroy Chaos and lift the darkness from the kingdom of Cornelia.

Driven by an ever-growing hunger to defeat Chaos, the group tears their way through hordes of monsters, and as they do so, people begin to hope that they may be the fabled Warriors of Light - saviors foretold of by an ancient prophecy.

And yet, nobody could imagine the truth that will be uncovered….

The following screenshots showcase some of the events and cutscenes you’ll experience in the game.

“That mist comes from the darkness.”

Wherever Jack and his allies go, they find a sinister black mist that swallows people up.

It seems to engulf them - but just what is this mysterious mist?

The dark crystals absorb the black mist when raised aloft. It seems like they’re protecting the group from its effects…


Characters

Jack will encounter many different characters during his quest. While some of them are friendly and offer him aid, others are altogether more… Fiendish.

Kraken is the Fiend of Water, and attacks ferociously with tentacles and rush attacks.

It uses abilities that steal buffs, and water-element attacks that make use of the surrounding environment. Trust us - you don’t want to get hit by any of them!

Lich

The Fiend of Earth is another fearsome foe for Jack and his companions. Lich is distressingly adept at slinging spells and attacks that inflict status ailments.

It’s a tricky opponent that can inflict curse, which saps the upper limit of the Break Gauge, and summons forth skeletons.


Locations

The journey to defeat darkness will take Jack’s party to many fascinating locations. Let’s reveal a couple more here:

Sunken Shrine

This high-security facility on the ocean floor is controlled completely by machines, and it’s brimming with water energy. Could this mysterious light be the lifeforce of the planet that the facility extracts?


Cavern of Earth

An underground cavern, thick with earth energy. All kinds of traps obstruct those who would enter. Strewn with the dead, it resembles a vast tomb - but what could be slumbering in the very depths of the cavern, far beneath the earth…?


Job System

Jack and his companions are able to equip jobs, which define their abilities in battle. Jack can have two jobs set at a time, and switch instantly between them seamlessly during combat.

There are all kinds of combat styles available, depending on the combination of jobs you have set. Advanced jobs use actions that are even more distinctive, and many let you wield multiple weapons.

Here’s a look at some of these Advanced Jobs:

Red Mage

Red mages are versatile magic users who can wield both black and white magic. That makes them able to both attack enemies, and support allies.

The red mage also has a unique action called chainspell. This lets them cast spells in very quick succession - perfect for inflicting elemental vulnerabilities.

Berserker

If you want to dominate your enemies with unbelievably powerful attacks, Berserker will have you seeing red in the best way possible.

It’s a job that specialises in direct attacks, using both axes and greatswords. It also gives you access to the Berserk ability, which increases attack power dramatically, but removes the ability to use potions. Better hit hard and fast!

Samurai

Feeling a lack of MP? Switch to Samurai - it’s a job that excels at MP recovery.

While using the Samurai’s unique action, meikyo-shisui, normal attacks will replenish a greater amount of MP, and parrying will also restore the precious resource. You can then use the katana combo abilities to unleash a flurry of blows with your replenished MP.


Upgrading equipment

As Jack delves deeper into each area, he’ll earn loot - typically new armor and weapons that he can wear to become stronger. But what can you do if there’s a particular piece you like that’s no longer strong enough to use?

Simple - you head to the Smithy!

At the smithy, you can use materials to add to or upgrade your equipment’s special effects. This lets you customize your equipment to suit your job and fighting style! One way to obtain materials is through completion rewards from missions.

You can also dismantle equipment you don’t need any more to obtain materials. Recycle and reuse!

You can gain equipment by defeating enemies or opening treasure chests. The same piece of equipment could have different job affinities or special effects. As a result, it could be well worth your time to take on a mission more than once in the search for rarer gear.


There’s not long to wait for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN - the game releases on March 18, 2022.

The game’s available to preorder now. Anyone who pre-orders the Digital Standard and Digital Deluxe Editions of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN will receive 72-hour early access to the full game (24-hour early access for PC version), as well as the Braveheart weapon and Lustrous Shield, and early-purchase bonus: the Rebellion weapon!

We’re sure to have more to share about the game as we get closer to release, so make sure you’re following on social media to see it:

What’s coming from Square Enix in 2022?

Forspoken! Outriders! STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN! Here’s what you’ve got to look forward to in 2022!
By Duncan Heaney

2022 is here! A new year full of new experiences, new possibilities and - yes - new games.

It’s going to be a particularly exciting year if you’re Square Enix fan. In 2022, you’ll set off to battle the darkness in STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN, discover a whole new world in the stunning Forspoken and reunite with some old friends in the Life is Strange Remastered Collection. And that’s just scraping the surface of what we’re releasing this year!

So let’s take a look ahead at just some of the console and PC releases you can look forward to in 2022!


Life is Strange Remastered Collection

  • Release: Feb 1, 2022

Get ready to reunite with Max Caulfield, Chloe Price and Rachel Amber!

The Life is Strange Remastered Collection includes the original Life is Strange and Life is Strange: Before the Storm. Both games have been seen significant improvements, with remastered character and environment assets, improved lighting and full motion-captured facial animation in Life is Strange.

Fans will get a real thrill out of seeing these beloved games looking better than ever. And if you’ve never played one or both of these seminal narrative adventures before… well, here’s the definitive way to do it.


BABYLON’S FALL

  • Release: March 3, 2022

This exciting new co-operative game has been developed in partnership with PlatinumGames - the action masters behind games like NieR:Automata.

You and your friends take the role of powerful warriors known as a Sentinel and enter the titanic Tower of Babel in search of the great legacy that sleeps inside.

As you ascend this deadly tower, you’ll face hordes of dangerous enemies - fortunately, the ability to equip as many as four weapons at a time means you’re more than equipped to survive. There’s an enormous number of builds to experiment with, and it’s intensely satisfying taking on the challenge of the tower.

And, of course, it’s all presented with a beautiful brushwork art style, which makes every frame look like a painting.

Long story short, there really aren’t many games that look and feel like BABYLON’S FALL - it’s definitely one to watch out for when it releases on March 3, 2022.


Chocobo GP

  • Release: March 10, 2022

What kind of vehicle does Chocobo drive? A Gysahl-guzzler!

Ok, so that joke isn’t great, but this new racing game is. Speeding onto Switch on 10 March 2022, it brings together lovable characters from across the Chocobo and FINAL FANTASY series and pits them against each other in a race for the ultimate prize - anything their heart desires!

With lots of modes, including Story Mode and online races for up to 64-players and more, it’s sure to be… a Kweh-zy time.

That one was better.


STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

  • Release: March 18, 2022

Team NINJA from KOEI TECMO GAMES present a savage new take on the FINAL FANTASY series.

You take control of Jack Garland on a quest to defeat the darkness that threatens the land of Cornelia. You’ll explore sprawling locations full of monsters, traps, and secrets - and switch between a dizzying number of jobs in order to overcome them, from Swordsman to Mage.

Of course, it’s not just a compellingly challenging action RPG - it’s a love letter to the FINAL FANTASY series as a whole. You’ll visit locations featured in the original FINAL FANTASY I, including the Chaos Shrine and Pravoka as well as some others that might cause a few twinges of nostalgia for fans of the series. Plus the attentive among you may have already clocked Jack’s last name…

It’s shaping up to be an amazing game that offers all the brutal challenge and customization that fans of action RPGs adore.

That said, if you’ve previously been put off the genre due to their difficulty, STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN also includes a ‘STORY’ difficulty setting, which balances the strength of enemies and allies in such a way that anyone can get through the adventure. In short, it lets you become the punisher rather than the punished.

However you choose to play it, we can’t wait for you to experience Jack’s journey into darkness on March 18, 2022!


Forspoken

  • Release: May 24, 2022

This striking new action RPG from Luminous Productions has turned a lot of heads - and for good reason.

You play as Frey Holland - a seemingly normal New Yorker who is thrust into the dangerous and unfamiliar world of Athia. This world may be beautiful but it’s also cruel - its ruled by a group of destructive and ruthless matriarchs known as ‘Tantas’. As if that wasn’t problematic enough, a relentless miasma called ‘the Break’ has ravaged the land, corrupting all it touches.

Long story short, Frey’s got a big job ahead of her to save this world. Fortunately, she’s equipped with powerful magic that lets her take on dangerous enemies and flow through the world with incredibly smooth and satisfying parkour.

Forspoken releases for PS5 and PC on May 24, 2022. We’ll have much more to share about this next-gen exclusive game in the future, but for now, make sure you follow the team on social media so you get all the big news first:


FINAL FANTASY VI pixel remaster

  • Release: February 2022 (TBD)

One of the all-time great RPGs returns in 2022!

FINAL FANTASY VI has been updated with beautiful new 2D visuals, quality of life improvements and more.

If you’ve played the rest of the pixel remaster series (FINAL FANTASY I - V are already available), you’ll have a good idea of what to expect - a loving remaster, amazing art and a rearranged soundtrack that absolutely slaps.

It’s coming in February 2022 and will be available to buy separately, or as part of the full pixel remaster bundle.


Outriders Worldslayer Expansion

  • Release: 2022 (TBD)

Outriders won a lot of fans last year thanks to its crunchy combat, super-flexible skills system, and compelling loot. Late last year, the game got even better with the massive New Horizon update, which improved the endgame, loot drops and customization system.

But we know that fans want new content, and that’s exactly what’s coming in 2022. The Worldslayer expansion will take you to the furthest reaches of Enoch, where new stories, new challenges and new threats await.

We’ll have more to share on the upcoming expansion this year, so make sure you follow the team on social media to hear the big news first:


STAR OCEAN THE DIVINE FORCE

  • Release: 2022 (TBD)

STAR OCEAN THE DIVINE FORCE is a brand-new RPG that fuses science fiction and fantasy. With two protagonists, several allies, beautiful character designs by renowned artist Akiman, and an unprecedented level of freedom for the series, it’s shaping up to be something very special.

You play as either Raymond or Laeticia. Raymond hails from an advanced civilization, and the captain of the space trading ship Ydas, whereas Laeticia is a princess-knight from a kingdom on an underdeveloped planet.

Regardless of which you choose, you’ll have a genuinely impressive amount of flexibility over how you traverse the world - not only can characters run freely on the ground, they can also fly! Explore the mountains, valleys and towns of the world freely!

The combat system’s equally nimble, with fast-speed attacks, and enemies that force you to dodge and think about your position.

Unfortunately, we can’t give you a release date yet, but the game will release for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and Steam in 2022.


As you can see, it’s going to be a bumper year for games. We hope you’re as excited to play these as we are!

Of course, we may well have some surprises to share over the course of the next 12 months, so make sure you visit the blog regularly and follow Square Enix on social media to see all the announcements.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN: characters, locations and more

Take a look at Sophia, Astos and Tiamat, some of the places you’ll find them and much more!
By Duncan Heaney

Last month we showed you some new screenshots and information about STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN. Today, we have even more to reveal, including new characters, locations, and jobs.

The new action RPG from Team NINJA offers a dark and brutal take on the FINAL FANTASY series, particularly the game that started it all, FINAL FANTASY I. When you look through the shots below, you may notice more than one reference to that classic game…

We’ll start by introducing you to a few as-yet unrevealed characters…


Characters

The story of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN sees protagonist Jack Garland embark on a dangerous journey to bring the light of the crystals back to Cornelia, a kingdom conquered by darkness.

Along the way, he’ll meet many fascinating figures - some helpful, some dangerous, and a few somewhere in-between…

Sophia

This warrior holds the same unwavering conviction as Jack and his friends - that they must defeat Chaos. She joins the group on their journey.

Astos

The king of the dark elves, Astos lives in the Western Keep. It is said that he knows the location of the crystals. Although possessing a certain beauty, he carries an air of pestilence. He seems to know about Jack and the others.

Tiamat

This multi-headed monstrosity is the Fiend of Wind. It attacks directly using its long necks and tail and can also use wind-element attacks, Whirlwind and Tempest.

One attack in particular you’ll have to watch out for is Macro Burst, where Tiamat’s breath radiates out from its multiple mouths.


Locations

You’ll meet these characters and more in the expansive, varied and brutally dangerous locations in STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN. Let’s take a look at three newly revealed areas:

The Western Keep

An ancient castle bearing the stark scars of war. This place shares a deep connection with a certain sovereign; a despot skilled in cunning and artifice, who took tyranny to its extremes.

Watch out because as you explore the Western Keep, giant arrows will come flying towards you! You’ll need to be alert and avoid these as you make your way through.

Crystal Mirage

A beautiful, translucent tower that rises above the trees deep in the forest. There are many devices that react to magic, and it’s no small feat to reach the highest levels.

The Flying Fortress

As the name suggests, it’s a castle that towers high into the sky. Inside the fortress, there are lots of remnants of an advanced civilization, including mechanical contraptions. Apparently, the wind crystal can be found in the innermost area.


Event scenes

This next set of screenshots are captured from some of the event scenes in the game.

Astos, the king of the dark elves, awaits the group in the Western Keep. He shows them a futuristic-looking map, appearing to be giving some kind of advice.

The party follows the directions, but at the destination lies the Fiend of Wind: Tiamat. Things are about to get very dangerous…

Look closely and you can see that Sophia possesses a dark crystal - just like Jack and the others. What could it mean?


Job System

You can assign Jack and his companions with different roles in combat, known as ‘jobs’. There are many different combat styles available, from steel-swinging swordsman to the spell-slinging mage.

You’re encouraged to experiment with the different options available by changing which jobs are active on which member of the party. Jack himself is able to seamlessly switch between two options during combat.

There are basic jobs like swordsman and mage, as well as advanced jobs that are unlocked as you level up basic jobs. There may be even higher-ranking jobs waiting for you if you continue to level Advance Jobs.

By defeating enemies and levelling up, you will obtain Job Points, which can be used to learn new abilities and unlock new jobs in the Skill Tree.

Here’s a look at three of the Basic Jobs you’ll have access to in the game:


Swordsman

Swordsman, Jack’s initial job, can equip a greatsword and excels at both guarding and attacking. Use the job’s unique action spinning slash to rotate your greatsword and perform a sweeping attack on enemies in a wide area.

Mage

A job that employs basic elemental attacks, using a mace as a weapon. Magic can be powered up depending on the length of the casting time; for example, from Fire ⇒ Fira ⇒ Firaga.

Pugilist

A job that specialises in using melee-range weapons, like claws and knuckles. The Pugilist action Explosive Fist can chain together hits on enemies and provide and increase in damage.


STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN releases for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC via Epic Games Store on March 18, 2022 and is available for pre-order.

Anyone who pre-orders the Digital Standard and Digital Deluxe Editions of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN will receive early access to the full game (72-hour for console, 24-hour early access for PC version), as well as the “Braveheart” weapon and “Lustrous” Shield, and the early-purchase bonus: the “Rebellion” weapon!

That’s all for now, but you’ll be able to get even more glimpses at the game in the coming months by following the team on social media:

New STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN info and screenshots!

Take a look at these brand-new images from the upcoming action RPG and learn new information about the game!
By Duncan Heaney
Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN isn’t out until March 18, 2022, but we know that a lot of you are hungry for more information. So, how about some new screenshots?

The upcoming action RPG from Team NINJA offers a brutal new take on the FINAL FANTASY series, but fans of FINAL FANTASY I in particular may spot a few things they recognize.

Let’s take a look:


Story

Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

The story of FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN focuses on Jack and his fight to return light to the crystals of Cornelia - a land overrun by darkness. Will restoring the crystals' light usher in peace or a new form of darkness... or perhaps something else entirely?

Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

The King of Cornelia reveals the Prophecy of Lukahn to Jack and his friends, in which the Warriors of Light are mentioned. He believes the four of them could be those fabled warriors and places fresh hopes on them to banish the darkness that clouds the crystals.

Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

In this image, we see Sarah playing the lute, while she observes the comings and goings outside. Her sister Mia listens on enthralled. Incidentally, the song Sarah’s playing is the FINAL FANTASY prelude!

Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

After crossing the northern bridge to Pravoka, Jack and his companions encounter this intimidating chap: Captain Bikke.


Locations

Pravoka is just one of the fascinating you’ll visit in FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN. Let’s take a closer look at it.

Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

After crossing over the northern bridge to the continent, you will find the port town of Pravoka. The people of the town are looking for crystals with aid from the king of Cornelia.

Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

After making your way through the caves, you’ll encounter a pirate ship moored in the Pravoka Seagrot.


Characters

Speaking of pirates, this seems like a good point to properly introduce some of the characters that Jack - and by extension you - will encounter on your journey.

Captain Bikke

Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Captain Bikke is a pirate captain who rules the town of Pravoka in place of a governor.

Unfortunately for him, with the oceans now wreathed in darkness, the piracy business has all but dried up. The ships that he would normally target - and the treasures they carry - no longer venture out.

In battle he swings a two-handed axe with wild abandon.

King of Cornelia

Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

The ruler of Cornelia sees something special in Jack’s burning desire to stop Chaos and pins all his hopes on him.

Queen Jayne

Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Queen Jayne is the mother of princesses Sarah and Mia. Calm and grounded, she always puts her daughters and the people of Cornelia first.

Mia

Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Just like her older sister Sarah, Mia has a strong concern for the citizens of Cornelia. At times, she’s even been known to confront ministers.

Minister Lagone

Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

A shrewd man who tirelessly seeks someone who matches the prophecies of Lukahn. He decides to record the journeys of Jack and his comrades for posterity.


Combat

This next set of screenshots focus on combat and one of its key features - the break gauge. This appears as a yellow bar above enemies and wearing it down should be a priority in combat.

Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Combos and abilities will reduce the enemy’s break gauge, shown as a yellow bar above an enemy. Once the gauge is depleted, you can unleash a powerful Soul Burst to crystallize them and take them out in a single blow!

Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

It’s not just enemies that have a break gauge - Jack does too, shown above in the bottom-center of the screen.

Jack’s break gauge depletes when he guards against attacks or uses Soul Shield. The gauge will recover over time, but Jack will be staggered if it ever reaches zero. So be careful!

Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

What is the Soul Shield, you may be wondering? If you use the Soul Shield to block an ability with a purple name, you can capture and store the enemy’s attack to use as an instant ability back at them!

Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

If you use Soul Shield, you may discover all kinds of interesting and unexpected strategies for battle. Here’s an example: if you capture the Fire ability from a Bomb and cast it back at it three times, it’ll self-destruct. It’s always satisfying when an enemy is hoisted by its own petard!

Captain Bikke - STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

The quest to lift the darkness is not an easy one - the world of FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is full of dangers that can leave Jack bloodied and bruised. That’s what makes these cubes such a welcome site - touching one will heal your HP and MP and restock your potions.

Be careful, though! Using a cube will also resurrect all the monsters in a dungeon. At least if you’re wiped out, you’ll start at the last cube you touched.


Hopefully you enjoyed this latest look at STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN. The game will release for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC via Epic Games Store on March 18, 2022.

The game’s available to preorder now. Anyone who pre-orders the Digital Standard and Digital Deluxe Editions of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN will receive 72-hour early access to the full game (24-hour early access for PC version), as well as the Braveheart weapon and Lustrous Shield, and early-purchase bonus: the Rebellion weapon!

We’ll have much more to share on the game as we get nearer to release, so make sure you follow the team on social media to get the news first!

“Please forgive us for killing the cactuar!” - FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN interview

The creators of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN tell us about their vision for the game, why the hero is the villain, and murdering a beloved FINAL FANTASY icon.
By Duncan Heaney

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is not a game that’s afraid to take risks.

If you tried the second trial version (which ended earlier this week), you already know this - its intensely brutal combat and beautifully hostile world make it quite unlike any FINAL FANTASY game before.

We recently had an extended chat with three of the key creators behind the game about the exciting new action RPG: Jin Fujiwara (Producer), Daisuke Inoue (Director) and TEAM NINJA’s Fumihiko Yasuda (Producer).

Our conversation touched on many topics: the multiplayer, the challenges of balancing the game, the mystique of Garland, brutal cactuar murder and more.

But it started, appropriately, at the very beginning:

Hello everyone - many thanks for speaking to us today. So how did this project get started?

Fujiwara-san: The original idea came from Tetsuya Nomura.

Actually, it was two ideas. The first was that he wanted to create an action game that was all about taking on different locations - working and fighting your way through different dungeons.

The second thing he was thinking about was creating a story focusing on Garland, who was quite an unexplored character in FINAL FANTASY I.

These two ideas were combined to create a single game - and the concept for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN.


So why Garland? What made him such a compelling figure to focus on?

Fujiwara-san: Well, I can’t speak for Nomura-san, but from my perspective, I think it’s the fact that Garland is the last boss of FINAL FANTASY I, yet there isn’t a lot of information about him in that game. We know he was once a good knight, and that he somehow becomes evil, but not much else.

As a result, it becomes interesting to look at him and his motives - and find out what turned him the villain we all know.

How did TEAM NINJA get involved in the project?

Fujiwara-san: Around that time we came up with the concept for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN, we were working on DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY NT with Team Ninja.

We thought that if we’re looking to create an authentic, high-quality action game, who better to ask than them?


Let’s talk about the Trial that just ended. The new Refrin Wetlands area seems to have more than a passing resemblance to Sunleth Waterscape from FINAL FANTASY XIII…

Inoue-san: Right. When we were thinking about different areas for the game, we looked at the entire FINAL FANTASY series for inspiration. There are a lot of locations across the games, so there were a lot of places for us to look at.

Of course, we can’t lift any area from another title and just drop it into FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN. For each one, we had to think about whether the designs and motifs were suitable for the world we were building, and then how to translate it for the new game.


So we can expect to visit areas inspired by other FINAL FANTASY games?

Inoue-san: …all I’ll say is it’s unlikely that we’re only taking our motifs from FINAL FANTASY XIII (laughs).

Well, the Chaos Shrine area is from the original FINAL FANTASY, of course. How do you convert an area previous represented with pixel art into modern 3D graphics?

Inoue-san: I have experience working on the DISSIDA series - and that’s another example of when we take something that was previously only portrayed in pixel art and convert it into modern visuals.

That could mean adding some things or thinking about how a character would move realistically… there’s a lot to consider.

So I had that past experience that I could bring with me onto the FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN project, which did help when reinterpreting the Chaos Shrine.

It’s difficult to explain exactly ‘how’ we did it - there’s no simple method, or a formula for translating these 2D environments. A lot of it comes down to instinct.

One thing that’s clear from the Trials is that STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN feels like an authentic FINAL FANTASY game, despite having a very different style and tone. How did you achieve that?

Inoue-san: Firstly, we get that FINAL FANTASY atmosphere across in the game’s world and lore. Also the vocabulary itself - there are words that crop up in FINAL FANTASY again and again that help make everything feel connected.

Then there are the representative systems too - FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN includes the job system, which hearkens back to the older FINAL FANTASY games. The various jobs you can take on, as well as the actions and abilities associated with them, are quite emblematic of the series.

But perhaps the biggest reason it fits in is that it’s doing something different.

The question of ‘what makes a FINAL FANTASY’ has been discussed many, many times over the years. Whenever anyone makes a new game, they must consider: “how can we make this feel like part of the series?’

One thing that characterizes a FINAL FANTASY is that it always takes on new ideas. That’s what some of the legendary developers who have worked on the series have said to me - doing new things is what really makes something a FINAL FANTASY.

That advice has really helped me take on the challenge of this game.

Speaking of challenges, what are the biggest you’ve faced working on the game?

Inoue-san: For me, it comes back to Garland. Having the protagonist be a villain is quite a big challenge in terms of a FINAL FANTASY game.

We had to really think about his different characteristics and the emotions would really encapsulate that character. We went through a lot of trial and error in trying to pin that down.

Fujiwara-san: For me, it would be the fact that FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN uses the world of the original FINAL FANTASY as a motif - that game being the starting point for a series with a 35 year history!

There are a lot of people who’ve worked on the FINAL FANTASY series, and many people who have left their influence on it. There’s a lot of pressure to be involved with something connected to the FINAL FANTASY that started it all - it’s much more challenging than creating a new IP!

One particularly cool feature of the game - and people can experience this in the new Trial - is that you can play 3-player online co-op. Why was multiplayer so important for the game?

Inoue-san: When you think about the FINAL FANTASY series, many of the games are pure RPGs. As a result, there may be fans who aren’t particularly used to action games as a genre.

When we considered that fact, we decided it would be good to implement co-op multiplayer. That way, that people who aren’t familiar or comfortable with this type of game can play it together with friends or get support from other players.


Is that also why you added the STORY difficult level?

Inoue-san: Yes - our priority is that we want a lot of different players to be able to play and enjoy the game.

That’s why we added lots of different difficulty levels - to suit different types of games and let them play the game the way they want to.

Outside of the STORY difficulty, STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is designed to be challenging. How do you find the right balance, where the game will push back without being frustrating?

Yasuda-san: Balancing an action game, and considering all the different difficulties, is pretty challenging, as you can imagine!

It’s particularly tricky with a game like this, because there are a lot of different aspects like the multiplayer mode, or the RPG elements - all of which can have an impact on the difficulty too.

At TEAM NINJA, what we always consider most important is that it doesn’t feel unfair. If the gameplay feels unreasonable or illogical, people just won’t want to play it again, right?

We spend a lot of time testing levels and making adjustments to try to find the perfect balance. But to be honest, from our perspective as developers, we get used to it, so we get numb to the difficulty to a certain extent.

That’s why the TRIAL versions are so important - we're look forward to reading everyone’s feedback on whether it’s too hard, or too easy. We'll use that to make even more adjustments and further improvements to the game.

Are there times you’ve thought: ‘oh, maybe this is too hard, or too easy?’

Yasuda-san: Oh yes - the boss of the Chaos Shrine is a perfect example.

Right up until just before we released the Trial, Chaos was really powerful - like, ridiculously strong. We thought: if we leave it like this, nobody is going to complete the Trial at all!

As a result, we made that fight slightly easier. But what we found was that when we released the trial version, even more people completed it than we expected! It reminded me yet again that the power of players to go through trial and error and to learn is impressive (laughs).

Finally, we have to ask this… in the new trailer we see Jack violently killing a cactuar. HOW COULD YOU DO SOMETHING TO MEAN TO THAT ADORABLE CACTUAR?

Inoue-san: (Laughs) The original plan was for it to meet a much worse end! We’ve actually made it a lot kinder!

But please forgive us for killing the cactuar (laughs).


You know what? We’re not sure the apology there was genuine.

Even so, many thanks to Fujiwara-san, Inoue-san and Yasuda-san for taking the time to speak to the Square Enix Blog.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN will launch for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and Epic Games Store on March 18, 2022.

The game’s available to preorder now. Anyone who orders the Digital Standard and Digital Deluxe Editions of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN will receive 72-hour early access to the full game (24-hour early access for PC version), as well as the Braveheart weapon and Lustrous Shield, and early-purchase bonus: the Rebellion weapon! 

To stay up to date with news and information about the game, and the FINAL FANTASY series as a whole, make sure you follow us on social media:

How your feedback has improved STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

What were the results of the first Player Feedback Survey, and how have they been used to improve the second trial version?
By Duncan Heaney
STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

During SQUARE ENIX PRESENTS at Tokyo Games Show 2021, we announced that a second trial version for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is now live!

Available for PS5 and Xbox Series X|S, it lets you play through an entirely new area, the Refrin Wetlands, fight new bosses and more. It also includes the Chaos Shrine stage from the first trial version, and you can even play in online multiplayer with up to three other players.

If you played the previous trial on PS5, you may notice that things are a bit different. Dare we say…better. That’s due in part to the player feedback survey. Many thanks to everyone who completed it - the entire development team was impressed and flattered by the completeness and thoughtfulness of your responses - particularly since typing on a gamepad isn’t exactly the easiest way to type something!

The new trial incorporates features and improvements based directly on that feedback - it’s been instrumental in helping refine and improve the game further. Let’s take a look at some of what you told us, and how it’s been acted on so far.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

Visuals have been improved

One of the most common criticisms of the previous trial was the graphics - fans wanted better, clearer visuals.

To be honest, the team was already aware that was room for improvement here and had a lot of internal discussions about how to enhance and polish the graphics.

Those improvements are still being worked on, and will continue to do so over development, but some visual enhancements have been included in TRIAL VERSION 2. Take a trip back to the Chaos Shrine (the area in the first trial is also included in the new one) and you’ll see for yourselves how much better it already looks.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

The darkness has been lifted (a bit)

STRANGER OF PARADISE was supposed to be a ‘dark’ FINAL FANTASY game thematically… but feedback on the first demo revealed that many found it too dark—literally. There were some areas where people felt they were unable to see anything, and that was getting in the way of the gameplay experience.

So, for the new trial, the team fixed it. They paid more attention to the portrayal of light and darkness in each area, ensuring that players are able to see what they need to clearly.

At the same time, they didn’t want to make it over-lit - it was important to preserve those moments where the juxtaposition between light and dark adds drama and excitement to an encounter. The game now has dynamic lighting, so when you hit an enemy with an attack in a dark area, the area lights up with a bright flash, making it feel impactful and satisfying.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

The new trial supports 4K

Some observant players who tried the previous trials noticed that the visuals were a little blurry overall.

You’ll be pleased to hear that the new trial looks much clearer and crisper. What’s more, the team put a lot of focus and energy into making sure that the game runs at a high framerate, even at 4K resolution.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

Actions have been rebalanced

One element of the previous trial that was well received was the actions and abilities. The feedback survey was positive, with most players saying they enjoyed the various combat options available to them.

Even so, the team wanted to make them even better! As a result, they’ve put a lot of focus into making the actions stronger and easier to use. For some actions, these changes come in the form of small tweaks to things like responsiveness. For others, they’ve made much bigger changes to how they work.

A good example of this would be Lightbringer. This is an ability that Jack can activate at the cost of some MP and makes it easier for him to break enemies (stagger them and set them up for an instant MP-replenishing kill called a Soul Burst), while bestowing additional effects for different jobs, such as faster spell charging.

In the new trial version, Lightbringer is much stronger than before. It consumes more MP, but the effect lasts longer. There have also been additional changes - the amount players can chip away at the upper limit of an enemy's break gauge has increased, allowing players to deliver a finishing blow using Soul Burst more easily.

All these changes mean that using Lightbringer now encourages a more high-risk / high-reward playstyle.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

The AI of companions has been improved

Back to some constructive criticism from the player survey - fans weren’t particularly impressed with the AI of NPC companions in the previous trial. No arguments from us there - it was still in the early stages.

For this new trial, the team has implemented ways to improve the behavior and effectiveness of the computer-controlled characters. It now feels much more like you’re fighting as a party - something you’ll likely notice when you play the new trial.

They’ve also added a new feature called Resonance, which lets you boost the strength of your companions for a limited period of time.

While Resonance is active, an AI party member will proactively use their abilities more, which opens up all kinds of strategy for the player. For example, using Resonance on Ash makes him draw the attention of enemies in the area, letting the player focus on casting magic.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

Companions can now be customised

Your fellow party members are much better integrated into the game in this second trial - for example, you can now change the equipment and abilities of allies in addition to Jack.

This is good news - one complaint we received was that enemies dropped a lot of loot, and players couldn’t use all that equipment. Now that there’s a greater emphasis on being able to gear up allies, you have more use for that loot - to help your companions become stronger as you fight together.

What’s more, you can also change your allies’ jobs in the retail version, giving them new roles in combat. When you do so, their behavior will change to suit that job.

These additions, combined with the improvements to AI and Resonance feature, add an extra layer of strategy to encounters, making the player think about equipment, abilities, jobs, and experiment with combining these different elements.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

Tutorials are less overwhelming

The first Trial Version went quite heavy on the tutorials, and according to the feedback survey, many players found it overwhelming. It was quite difficult to take all the information in at once.

For the second Trial Version, we’ve taken a different approach. This time the team implemented a world map, through which you can play the tutorial at any time - not only the beginning of the game. There are also now tutorials for each weapon! That means you can experiment with the mechanics at your own pace.


Difficulty has been adjusted

Finally, the game’s difficulty has been rebalanced to ensure it delivers a smooth, satisfying, and challenging experience for players.

The names of the difficulty levels have also been changed to ‘STORY’, ‘ACTION’, and ‘HARD’. That’s because we want to emphasise that STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN caters to players who care more about story than challenge, and players who want to focus on intense, challenging action alike.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN screenshot

As you can see, the feedback you delivered during Trial 1 has been gratefully received and acted on. The team’s still making improvements to the game, so expect more changes as we continue development, but you can partially see our progress in the new trial.

The trial is available now through October 11, 2021 7:59 a.m. (PDT) / 3:59 p.m. (BST) on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. So give it a go… and let us know what you think!

There is a second feedback survey, so please do send your feedback - positive and negative. We’ll use it to make the game better and better!

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN launches for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC via Epic Games Store on March 18, 2022.

The game’s available to preorder now. Anyone who orders the Digital Standard and Digital Deluxe Editions of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN will receive 72-hour early access to the full game (24-hour early access for PC version), as well as the Braveheart weapon and Lustrous Shield, and early-purchase bonus: the Rebellion weapon! 

To stay up to date with news from the game, make sure you follow on social media:

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN: What’s in TRIAL VERSION 2?

A second trial version is available now on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. Here’s what you can expect when you step into this brutal world…
By Duncan Heaney
STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN key art

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is not your typical FINAL FANTASY game.

This is a darker, brutal take on the series - a fresh vision that combines challenging enemies, careful exploration, and some absolutely stellar combat.

But you don’t have to take our word for it - you can see for yourselves right now. A second trial version for the game is available - and it’s a chunky one too, with lots of new content that wasn’t in the first.

You can get it here:

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN key art

While you’re waiting for the download to complete, here’s a preview of what you’ll see when you play it.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN key art

A new area full of familiar threats

The second trial version of the game sends you to a new area: the Refrin Wetlands.

This lush and verdant rainforest features gigantic trees with sprawling roots, damp ground, and some interesting weather changes - long-term FINAL FANTASY fans may find it reminds them of somewhere else…

With its vivid flora and open skies, it’s a far cry from the dark, oppressive halls of the Chaos Shrine - yet no less deadly.

Dangerous creatures hide themselves in every nook and cranny of this region. You’ll have to contend with the razor-sharp barbs and teeth of the disgusting Crawlers, defend yourselves against thunderous Coeurls, take on bands of menacingly moist Sahagins and more.

If you’re a long-time follower of the series, you’ll get a real kick out of seeing how some of these FINAL FANTASY mainstays have been reimagined for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN - and rest assured, they’re particularly vicious here.

Fortunately, you’re not short of ways to deal with them…

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN key art

Eight new jobs to dig into

Jack is an incredibly versatile protagonist, able to switch between lots of different jobs, each with their own unique skills, abilities, and playstyles. You could say, he’s Jack of all trades… literally!

As to how many he’s a master of… well, that’s largely dependent on how much you dig into them. And there’s a lot to dig into in TRIAL VERSION 2 - it adds a whopping eight additional jobs to get to grips with.

At first, you’ll have access to three new basic jobs:

  • Pugilist
  • White Mage
  • Swordfighter

Once you’ve explored the intricacies of each one, you can experiment with the new advanced jobs:

  • Duelist
  • Red Mage
  • Knight
  • Thief
  • Monk

Whether you’re pummelling foes into submission as a Pugilist or throwing out white and black magic as a Red Mage, every job has distinct strengths and weaknesses for you to get to grips with - you could conceivably spend hours just experimenting with all the different options at your disposal.

And let us not forget that all this is in addition to the original six jobs from TRIAL VERSION 1, making a total of 14 jobs! That’s a lot of very satisfying ways to brutalize your enemies!

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN key art

A new boss that will probably kill you repeatedly

There is, as you’d hope, a boss fight in the Refrin Wetlands, and it’s a real doozy.

How do you feel about battling a gigantic flame elemental with an equally fiery temper? What about a water elemental that wants to wave you off? What about both of them at the same time?

To take down these forces of nature, you’ll have to get to the core of the problem - but that’s easier said than done.

Good luck.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN key art

An improved Chaos Shrine

The Refrin Wetlands isn’t the only area in the download - the Chaos Shrine from the first trial version is also back.

For those that missed it the first time, this area sends you on a treacherous trek through a crumbling temple that may seem more than a little familiar to fans of the original FINAL FANTASY.

Returning players will notice that’s it’s had a bit of a facelift - it’s a little brighter for one thing. That doesn’t mean it isn’t still dark and daunting - it very much is - but it’s easier to see what’s lurking in the dingiest corners.

The gameplay has also seen some changes and rebalances, including tweaks to the break gauge and MP recovery speeds, which is great for players who like to go for a high risk / high reward playstyle. It means that even if you’ve traversed the Chaos Shrine before, it’ll still feel fresh.

Oh, and yes - the boss is still a colossal jerk (in the best way possible).

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN key art

Control your companions!

While the STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN TRIAL VERSION 2 is positively overflowing with things that want to kill you, there is some good news: you don’t have to face them alone.

Jack is accompanied by a group of trusty companions, and they’re here to help. Not only has their AI improved from Trial 1, making them more effective, you also have much more control over them.

For example, you can now manage your allies’ equipment. As you defeat enemies, they’ll drop new equipment - you can equip this to your companions to make them stronger and increase their chances of survival against some of your more… unruly opponents.

Even more excitingly, a new face is joining team Jack - but we’ll let you discover who that is when you play…

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN key art

3-player co-op

If you prefer your companions to be a little more flesh and blood, you can play online with up to two other players!

It’s a blast to battle through the zones with a friend and use all your various abilities to help each other and hinder foes.

It’s a true co-op experience too - the world of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is savage, and the more you work together, the more chance you have of overcoming the darkness unscathed.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN key art

TRIAL VERSION 2 is available on Xbox Series X|S and PS5

The first STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN trial was playable exclusively on PS5, but now Xbox Series X|S players can join the party too.

TRIAL VERSION 2 is available today from each platform’s respective storefront. It’s free to download and can be played until October 11, 2021 7:59 a.m. (PDT) / 3:59 p.m. (BST).

So, what are you waiting for? Chaos isn’t going to kill itself.


STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN launches on March 18, 2022 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC via Epic Games Store - and it’s available to preorder now!

In addition to the Standard Edition, which is available physically and digitally, there’s also a Digital Deluxe Edition for consoles, which includes a digital artbook, digital mini-soundtrack and a DLC Season Pass, which includes the additional missions: Trials of the Dragon King, ‘Wanderer of the Rift’ and ‘DIFFERENT FUTURE’.

Preorder any digital version of the game, and you'll also get some neat bonuses, including 72-hour early access to the full game (PC players will have 24-hour early access). You’ll also get some in-game items - the Braveheart weapon and the Lustrous Shield. You’ll also be eligible to get the Rebellion weapon too. Plus those who pre-order from PlayStation store will also receive an original PS4™ theme too.

With that, all that’s left to say is enjoy TRIAL VERSION 2! When you’ve played through a few times, don’t forget to fill out the Player Feedback Survey (access it on the title screen). This information is invaluable for helping the team refine and improve the game as it nears release.

8 and ½ tactics to help you conquer the free trial for STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN!

Take control of Jack and his band of warriors and master the Chaos Shrine with these tips and tricks for our free trial of the game on PS5!
By Edward Price

The introduction of STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN doesn’t just represent a bold new approach to the series but something of a challenge, too. This action RPG is unlike anything in the FINAL FANTASY world before it, and those expecting to just stroll through the Chaos Shrine may find themselves surprised.

For those who can’t wait for 2022, the STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN TRIAL VERSION is available on PS5 until June 24, 2021 7:59 pm PT / 3:59pm BST, and we’ve got plenty of helpful tips to help you see it through to the end.

If you’ve yet to try it out, it’s available at the following link:

1. Make your defence as strong as your offence

A key skill all fighters should possess is knowing when to block and when to evade, and this holds true for Jack, too. Not every situation will warrant evasion, and it’s not an infinite action either, meaning that trying to roll out of the way could sometimes leave you open to a follow-up attack or surrounded.

The solution is to keep your guard up and be prepared to block. The virtue of the day is patience; and rather than brute-forcing your way through every encounter, there’s merit in choosing your moments and knowing when to absorb attacks.

It’s always better to take a small bit of damage now than take a lot through a failed dodge, or because you’ve missed your attack and left Jack wide open.

2. Distinctions of Defence

It’s not just about knowing when to block, but also how you choose to do so.

In STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN there are two distinct methods of defence, and knowing when it’s best to defend and when to employ your soul shield will make all the difference in combat.

Your standard block will help you absorb attacks, but the soul shield mechanic can be used to stun your opponent, damaging the opponent’s break gauge. If you quickly attack in this moment you can land a powerful counter-blow, and render your foes deceased.

If you work your soul shield ability into your repartee, you will strike back even harder, and learning when to employ this manoeuvre can help you turn the tide against the onslaught of foes in the Chaos Shrine. We’ll explain more in the next tip.

3. Absorb the onslaught with soul shield, then strike back harder

Although you’ll come across a menagerie of enemies throughout the Trial Version, not all of them fall the same. Some of them have special abilities, which when unleashed can make short work of Jack and his team. While some of these moves can be defended against, you can also turn your defence into offence with the soul shield, learn from your foes, and let them hand you the keys to their own destruction.

When you use soul shield on selected enemy attacks, these abilities can be temporarily absorbed, allowing you to strike back with a vengeance. For example, swiping moves from Goblins allows you to toss stones at a distance, distracting or beckoning foes towards you.

Likewise, Bombs can spew flames at you, but those who’ve been taught the adage of fighting fire with fire will know that throwing it back towards your explosive foe can be deadly, and allow you to control their detonation.

Just make sure you do that at a safe distance, lest you find yourself back at a rest point.

4. Learn the ropes of your new role

Throughout the trial, Jack will have access to the three distinct job roles - swordsman, mage, and lancer, allowing him to switch between spells, greatswords, and lances with ease. With enough levels put into each job, these roles can eventually be upgraded to warrior, black mage, and dragoon. These give you the opportunity to fight close up, at a distance, or with power at a premium above all else.

However, these jobs have more subtleties going on than you may have first realised. Black mages, for example, have six different spells in their repertoire when you start out, and not all of them necessarily need to be used on your enemies (we’ll come back to that later).

As you progress throughout the Chaos Shrine you may find that your regular spells could do with a little extra ‘oomph’ to dispatch your foes. That’s possible with a little levelling up and some build-up of the special gauge. If you have two or more sections of the bar filled up, then holding down your attack button will allow you to charge your magic from Fire to Fira, and eventually all the way to the ‘aga’ level.

Black mages aren’t the only one with hidden depths - when Jack is a warrior and decked out with his mighty greatsword he can let loose a series of special attacks if the player moves the left stick in different directions mid-combo. These special combos could get you out of a tight spot in the Shrine, so it’s worth learning them early.

We’d tell you the secret behind dragoon too, but it’s always good to have a little mystery.

5. Dress for the job you want

As you explore the Chaos Shrine, you’ll find plenty of equipment and attire to deck Jack out with. Some of these will also come with additional and randomised stat-changing properties or set bonuses, meaning that there’s plenty of reason to take the occasional rest and try on your latest spoils.

What you may not know, however, is that you can equip Jack with different clothes for each job role. As a mage, you can optimise your outfit to be more resistant to magic, while your role as a lancer can have you decked out to maximise your strength, and your Swordsman wardrobe can put defence above all to help you get stuck in with your greatsword? It’s all possible.

Even better, you can quick-change your role at the press of a button, allowing you to swap out your loadouts in the heat of battle and deal destruction in all occasions.

6. Become a master of your environment

As you explore the Chaos Shrine, you may find more than a few obstacles blocking your path… and we don’t just mean the myriad of monsters roaming its hallowed halls. If a path seems inaccessible, or a Bomb has spewed fire on the battlefield, help is at hand from your own menagerie of spells.

Once Jack learns the mage job role, you’ll soon discover that spells aren’t just useful against enemies, but against the Shrine itself. For example, if you break down the pillars that lie in your path, you can do considerable damage to the break gauges of enemies that are caught up in its collapse, and even break several foes at once. Meanwhile, fire can be hosed down with a well-placed water spell, allowing you to make your way through perilous flames unscorched and even score some critical damage if any Bombs happen to be floating in the way.

Speaking of Bombs, you didn’t hear it from us, but there may be one hidden in the heights of a certain hall that’s crawling with wolves. Would certainly be a shame if Jack were to, say, knock it down into the pack below and make the ensuing fight easier. There could be plenty of other tricks to add to your arsenal if you take the time to explore to become a master of this domain.

7. Good luck against the boss, you’re going to need it

No, really. This boss is the business. His stagger gauge replenishes quickly, he has two health bars, and if you can’t land your attacks effectively, his can easily take a massive chunk out of yours.

This fight is not for the faint-hearted, and trying to brute-force your way through it will leave you meeting with defeat.

Seriously, good luck.


…1/2.

Okay, fine. If you can roll behind the boss then attacking his back will give you some well-needed critical hits. Watch out for when he employs his Flamebringer move, as he’ll need to stop and charge it up for a few seconds - vital time to duck, dodge, dip, dive, and stab him in the back.

Use your soul shield to absorb their attacks and unleash counters, avoid charging moves, and don’t try to force a full combo if you don’t want to be punished.

You’ve got this. Probably.

8. When the going gets tough, the tough change difficulty

It’s okay, really. The STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN TRIAL VERSION comes with adjustable difficulty settings, allowing you to tone it down if you’re unable to surpass the boss, find the fights overwhelming, or even if you want to make yourself feel more powerful as you cut through swathes of monsters. If the forces of the Chaos Shrine are too much, enemies can also be defeated more easily if you raise your job levels and invest your hard-earned experience into learning new skills.

On the other hand, if you’re someone who relishes a challenge, you can raise the bar to give yourself an even tougher time. Just keep in mind that pride comes before a fall (of difficulty), and could mean the difference between being the architect of Chaos’ destruction or your own.


STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN – the Famitsu interview

Creative Producer Tetsuya Nomura, Producer Jin Fujiwara, and Director Daisuke Inoue talk about the dark, brutal world of the game, the connections to FINAL FANTASY I and more!
By Square Enix Team
STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN made quite a splash when it was revealed during the SQUARE ENIX PRESENTS Summer Showcase. The new game is unlike any in the series before it - dark, brutal and challenging, it presents a bold new vision for FINAL FANTASY.

The Japanese gaming magazine Famitsu recently conducted a very interesting interview with the game’s Creative Producer Tetsuya Nomura, Producer Jin Fujiwara, and Director Daisuke Inoue about the new title, and the many exciting questions it’s raised for fans.

A translated version is below - we hope you enjoy it!


Jack and his allies are the absolute opposite of the “Warriors of Light”!? The secrets behind the designs and names of the characters.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Interviewer: Firstly, let me start by asking about the title of the game, STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN. What kind of meaning is there behind the title? The incongruity between the dark world and the title of “Paradise” creates a very strong impression.

Nomura: The game uses FINAL FANTASY I as a motif, so the setting is also based on FINAL FANTASY I.

In FINAL FANTASY I, at the end of the game you find out who the Warriors of Light, the protagonists, really are and where they came from. Jack and his allies are also “strangers”. Who are Jack and his allies? Are they the Warriors of Light? These questions lie at the heart of the story, and this idea of “strangers” is central to the plot.

One meaning of Paradise is “the land of the saved”. The title represents the strangers – Jack and his allies – gathering in this land of Paradise.

Inoue: Strangers of Paradise means exactly what it says that these strangers are in the land of Paradise. At the same time, it could mean “people who shouldn’t be in Paradise” - I think it is a title that represents the story of the game perfectly.


Interviewer: Strangers…people who shouldn’t be in…you must be talking about the protagonist, Jack, and his allies? I suppose they do feel like they’re somewhat out of place in that dark fantasy world. To start from a more basic question, we hear the words Chaos, the Chaos Shrine and the Warriors of Light cropping up in the trailer, so am I right that there’s obviously some connection to the world of the original FINAL FANTASY I?

Nomura: That’s right. It’s a new story that uses FINAL FANTASY I as a motif, rather than being directly connected or an equivalent. The trial version covers the Chaos Shrine, which you’ll visit towards the beginning of the game – which is similar to the progression in FINAL FANTASY I as well.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Interviewer: Speaking of FINAL FANTASY I, the premise was that Garland - defeated by the Warriors of Light - uses the Chaos Shrine as a base to travel back in time over and over, giving rise to conflict again and again. Is this connected to the fact that Jack and his allies have such a modern look about them?

Nomura: Yes, people probably imagine characters that look like the emblematic Warrior of Light when they think of FINAL FANTASY I, but as you say, if you’re familiar with the premise of FINAL FANTASY I, you might be able to pick up some clues from the designs of Jack and the others.

The initial outfits for Jack and his allies are nothing more than a hint to show that they’re not of that world. They don’t represent anything about their character. Like other games where you can change your equipment, this is simply their plain state. Perhaps.


Interviewer: I see - since this game has elements of the hack-n-slash genre (games where you defeat monsters in dungeons, gain exp and find equipment to strengthen your character), and you’ll be able to change outfit, it’s nothing more than the starting equipment.

Nomura: Additionally, one of our concepts was to create something that looked completely different to what people might picture when they think of the Warriors of Light fighting Garland in FINAL FANTASY I. Jack and his allies have the mission to defeat Chaos, but we needed them to be characters that people would think of as totally separate to the Warriors of Light.


Interviewer: In other words, you didn’t want to make them look like heroes?

Nomura: That’s right. The reasoning behind Jack’s appearance is purely related to the story. Likewise, there’s meaning behind all of their names. But that would be a spoiler, so I’ll save that for another time.


Interviewer: Their names too!? I thought they seemed rather too conventional for a FINAL FANTASY game with you working on it, Mr. Nomura (laugh).

Nomura: Jack, Ash and Jed have the same meaning hidden in their names.


Additional allies to Jed and Ash

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Interviewer: The sharper among us may have realized, but there were four Warriors of Light. Which means, as well as Jed and Ash…

Nomura: There will be more.


Interviewer: Really?!

Inoue: However, during combat, you’ll fight with a party of three members, so you’ll be swapping people around for battle.


Interviewer: The key art showing Jack is a bloody image, and it’s a dark style that we haven’t seen in previous FINAL FANTASY games.

Nomura: It’s the initial teaser, so we really wanted to make an impact.

Unlike other games in the FINAL FANTASY series, it has quite a high rating (17+ in Japan), so it’s a rather severe kind of atmosphere. We used the representative color of FINAL FANTASY, white, as a base. On top of that, we worked in the red coloring that stands out in the game itself, from red crystals and spraying blood.

The game is the story of an angry man, so we’ve represented those dark, blackened emotions as well.


Interviewer: On the throne (?) of the Chaos Shrine, there’s someone who says he will “become Chaos” but…he’s not Garland!?

Nomura: That would be a spoiler, so you’ll have to play the full game when it comes out and find out for yourself.


The key to making a challenging action game with the soul of FINAL FANTASY - without making it overly punishing

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Interviewer: Next, I’d like to ask a little more about the combat. The challenging action battles feel like they fit the dark world, but which do you start with when creating a new FINAL FANTASY game – the story or the gameplay?

Fujiwara: A while ago, Mr. Nomura had given me the concept of a game where you fight your way through different areas, and that came together with this gritty story of an angry man that he’d been working on.

Inoue: Another consideration was that we wanted to undertake a new challenge together with Team NINJA from KOEI TECMO GAMES, who we’d worked together with on the arcade version of Dissidia FINAL FANTASY. Team NINJA specialize in action games, so we decided to make use of their expertise, which led to us settle on the genre of action RPG.

Nomura: Personally, what I was envisioning was a FINAL FANTASY game that wouldn’t specifically use the FINAL FANTASY name, under a completely new title, “Stranger of Paradise”, that would feature action gameplay focused on fighting your way through dungeons. The current game is a result of Mr. Fujiwara and Mr. Inoue refining it further, but I’m glad that traces of that original concept still remain.


Interviewer: In other words, it’s a game that places a lot of emphasis on beating dungeons? With Team NINJA working on it, I imagine you’ll have both the best parts from Nioh and the unique character of FINAL FANTASY. What parts of FINAL FANTASY were you certain that you had to include?

Inoue: Although we’ve included some surprising developments in the story, we really wanted to ensure the pacing of the game was appropriate for an action game as well as having a solid story befitting an RPG. That balance is something we feel very strongly about.


Interviewer: A lot of challenging action games can be relatively lacking in storytelling, but the main scenario is written by Kazushige Nojima, so will we be seeing the kind of depth we’d expect from a RPG, and from a FINAL FANTASY game?

Inoue: Absolutely, I think the story has plenty of depth.


Interviewer: The FINAL FANTASY series mostly consists of RPGs, and so I imagine some fans of the series might struggle with action games. What kind of difficulty level are you aiming for with this game?

Inoue: If we made it an especially punishing game, then only the players who actively seek out that kind of game would play it.

One of our aims in combining FINAL FANTASY with this kind of challenging action genre was to make these kinds of games more accessible. We want to make it a game where players can get a taste of how rewarding challenging action games can be, so our ultimate aim is to develop it as “challenging” rather than “punishing”.

Of course, we’re also hoping it will be a good opportunity for fans of action games to experience FINAL FANTASY as well.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Interviewer: Could you give some specific examples of what you’re keeping in mind to make it challenging but not punishing?

Inoue: The penalty for dying (the penalty when the player can no longer fight) is quite lenient, and, with a lot of experimentation from the development team at Team NINJA, we’ve balanced the actions like evasion, guarding and the soul shield to be relatively easy to perform successfully.

In terms of difficulty settings, we’ve implemented a CASUAL mode as part of EASY mode. For people who aren’t familiar with action games, I would recommend playing with these settings initially, and trying to increase the difficulty as you become more familiar with the game. We’ll continue to adjust the difficulty settings using the feedback from the trial version, so I’d really love to hear everyone’s opinions.


Interviewer: When I played the trial version, I struggled in the last battle against the one who is “to become Chaos,” but when I realized how to defeat him and managed to put that into practice, I really felt a sense of satisfaction and exhilaration.

Fujiwara: That’s one of the best parts of the game, and where Team NINJA’s experience with action games really shines through.


Interviewer: It’s not too easy and can seem difficult at first, but I feel like it’ll become even more enjoyable as you understand how to defeat the enemies and can reliably put it into practice. It’s incredibly well balanced in that regard. I really appreciated how I could take advantage of openings my allies created for me with their attacks as well.

Inoue: Actually, some people in the development team were of the opinion that it would be better to have Jack fighting by himself, but we decided that since it’s a FINAL FANTASY game, having a party would be best. That’s how it ended up with the current style of going on these adventures with your allies.


Interviewer: Will you be able to give commands to your allies, or customize their growth?

Inoue: I think that’s something we’ll investigate on the basis of the feedback we get from the trial version. At the very least, the plan is to be able to customize their growth and equipment.

Each of your allies will have certain jobs that they excel at – if you imagine that Jed might be suited to being a thief, while Ash might be suited to being a monk. We’re envisaging different kind of playstyle, for example, where you could get your teammates to act as a target while you attack with magic.


Interviewer: In the trial version, Jack can equip a great sword, mace, and spear, which each have an associated job. How many other types of weapon will appear in the game?

Inoue: There will be eight weapon types in total. The weapon types that don’t appear in the trial version are the one-handed sword, axe, knuckles, daggers, and katana.


Interviewer: Is the mace the only weapon that can use magic?

Inoue: Not at all, other weapons like the one-handed sword can use magic as well. If you picture the knight and red mage jobs, that might give you an idea.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Interviewer: The ability to switch between two battle sets (a combination of job and equipment) seems like an important characteristic of the game. How did you come up with this system?

Inoue: Part of the fun in hack-n-slash games is getting to frequently upgrade your equipment, so we added the system of switching between battle sets to correspond to this. I hope people can experiment with this new kind of FINAL FANTASY action through their strategies and experiences – for example, surveying the enemy formation and surroundings, considering your own position, and then deciding how to best use the abilities of the two different jobs


Interviewer: How many types of equipment are there in the game?

Inoue: I thought you might ask that so I counted them, but…let’s just say there are a lot (laughs).

Nomura: That’s your answer, even after you counted them? (laughs) The outfit designs come to me to be checked, and there are quite a lot.


Interviewer: Can you change your allies’ equipment?

Inoue: You can - there’s some strong equipment that Jack can’t use, which I think you’ll want to give to your allies. Each character has certain restrictions on what they can equip.

Nomura: In the trial version, you can only change Jack’s equipment. The teaser trailer and the trial version cover the same scope, so in the cutscenes, only Jack is in his default initial costume. Which means that you’ll be able to share equipment with your allies in the full game.


Interviewer: It’s nice to be able to see the characters wearing a piece of equipment that you worked hard to get. Can Jack equip every weapon type?

Inoue: That’s right, Jack can use all the jobs and equipment.


2022 Release

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Interviewer: The powerful music in the trial version really creates an impression. Who is in charge of the music?

Fujiwara: The main composer is Naoshi Mizuta, who composed for FINAL FANTASY XI and FINAL FANTASY XIII-2. Hidenori Iwasaki (FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL CHRONICLES, among others) and Ryo Yamazaki (WORLD OF FINAL FANTASY, among others) are contributing to the soundtrack as well.


Interviewer: What kind of instructions did you give for the music?

Nomura: For the song in the trailer, I asked them to challenge themselves to create something unlike anything they’d done before. I asked them to create something with a tempo that shifts between intense and poignant.

Inoue: The background music for the game as a whole was created with input from myself on the overall feel.


Interviewer: During the boss fight in the trial version, the refrain from the battle music of FINAL FANTASY I really stood out to me.

Inoue: I asked the team to not just use the refrain, but to adjust the melody to suit the game.


Interviewer: Mr. Fujiwara and Mr. Inoue, you work as Producer and Director on the mobile game, DISSIDIA FINAL FANTASY OPERA OMNIA as well. I imagine that you must be considering having Jack and the others make an appearance?

Fujiwara: Mr. Inoue and I are still heavily involved with the operations of OPERA OMNIA, so I hope that one day we’ll be able to have Jack make an appearance.

Nomura: How strange to make a FINAL FANTASY game yourself, and then have that character make an appearance (laughs).

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN

Interviewer: (laughs) Release is planned for 2022, but do you have a message for the fans?

Inoue: It’s a game trying something a little bit different, so I fully expect to receive a wide range of feedback. I’m sure that everyone’s thoughts on the trial version will help us to dramatically improve the quality of the final game, so please do give us your feedback. I’ll do my best all the way through to release!

Fujiwara: We ran into an unexpected issue on the first day that the trial version was released, and I’m really sorry for making you all wait. The story is only touched on very briefly in the trial version, but once it unfolds, it’s a very impactful story that will really hit you emotionally. Please look forward to the game and keep an eye out for further news.

Nomura: For now, we’re only revealing information from the trial version, but the trial version only covers the very beginning of the game. In the full game, there will be even more characters, the game will be a lot broader, and I think the story is quite compelling. It might be a bit confusing to see these characters come out of nowhere, completely unlike anything you were expecting, but I hope you’ll keep an eye on upcoming information.

Speaking of the trial version, since there was a period of time where it was unplayable due to issues on the day it was released, we’ve extended the period that it will be available by another two days. It will now be available until 14:59 (UTC), June 26, 2021. If you have the setup to play it, we would really appreciate it if you could give it a go and let us know any feedback that you might have. All the staff are working our hardest - so we hope you’ll continue to look out for the game.


Interview by Weekly Famitsu.

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is under development and equipment, job roles and functions referenced in this interview may be subject to change.

The STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN Trial is available to download and play now on PS5 (trial period ends June 26, 2021, 7:59 pm PDT / 3:59 pm BST)!

Follow the team on social media:

Introducing STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN… and the trial version available now!

Find out about the upcoming action RPG from Team NINJA and how you can play the trial version for yourselves on PS5!
By Duncan Heaney

UPDATE: Both the STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN Trial Version and survey period have been extended.

You now have until June 26, 2021 to defeat Chaos, and until July 2, 2021 to send us your feedback.


Every new FINAL FANTASY game is exciting, but this one is set to be something truly special… and very different. Allow us to introduce STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN.

Revealed during E3 2021 at our SQUARE ENIX PRESENTS livestream, the new action RPG presents a bold new vision for the FINAL FANTASY series on PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC in 2022.

What’s more, there’s a trial version available on PS5 for free today, so you can experience it for yourselves. Read on and we’ll tell you how.

What is STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN?

First though, let’s talk the game itself. STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN is a brand new original game, developed in collaboration with Team NINJA from KOEI TECMO GAMES.

That’s the team behind NINJA GAIDEN and the incredible Nioh series too. They’re masters of the dark and visceral action RPG, and they’re bringing all of their brutal experience to the FINAL FANTASY series.

You take the role of Jack who, along with allies Ash and Jed, sets off on a quest to defeat Chaos. Burning with resolve, and with memories of their struggle deep in their hearts, are they the foretold Warriors of Light?

Your journey will take you into a dark and challenging fantasy world, filled with iconic monsters from the FINAL FANTASY series. Fortunately, Jack isn’t exactly defenseless - he can use powerful spells and abilities from a range of jobs, including warrior, dragoon and black mage.

How do I play the STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN TRIAL VERSION?

If you really want to get a sense of how the game plays, you can experience it for yourself. The trial version is available today on PS5.

This sample of the game takes you and Jack into the Chaos Shrine, where you’ll be able to explore, battle some horrifying monsters, and try out some of the different jobs available.

Once you’ve given it a go, why not share your thoughts? Those who try the game are invited to take part in a survey to provide feedback to the development team. Your thoughts can help shape the outcome of the game, so make sure you participate. You can access the survey from the menu screen of the trial version.

Now here’s all the small print and legal stuff, so buckle up. The TRIAL VERSION is available for free on PS5 beginning June 13, 2021 and until June 26, 2021 7:59 pm PT / 3:59pm BST. Once that period is over, the demo will no longer be able to be played.

You must also have an active internet connection and a PSN account to play it, and save data can not be carried over to the full version of the game.

When is STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN releasing?

STRANGER OF PARADISE FINAL FANTASY ORIGIN will release in 2022 for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One and PC.

We’ll have more information to share about this exciting game in the future, so follow the team on social media to see the latest updates: